Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Christmas Gift to Muslims

“…Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love.”  I John 4: 7b-8

Have you ever felt guilty loving Muslims? Perhaps, like me, you have journeyed from fear or dislike of Muslims to acknowledging they need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.  After some  internal wrestling  you decided to be obedient to the Great Commission and got involved with an ESL program or connected with a neighbor, classmate, or colleague.  But you have not yet been able to say unashamedly and openly that you love them. Something plagues you inside and you don’t want anyone to know your secret. You are beginning to love your Muslim acquaintances. I don’t mean you are being pulled into the religion of Islam. No, rather, you actually feel a warmth toward the Muslims you know. You’re not sure you are allowed to love them so you guard your heart and affections from fully loving them. You may work with them, help them, even live among them but there is a shield protecting your heart from loving them. Perhaps in your church circle it does not seem politically correct.  You wonder if it is even Biblically correct. After all they deny the Deity of Jesus Christ and that He is God who appeared in the flesh. On top of that there is a denial of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. You have heard that Muslims want to wipe Israel off the map although you have not heard your Muslim acquaintance voice that as her personal wish.  Now that you know some Muslims personally your affections are being touched.  You have discovered it was much different when you did not know any Muslim personally. Back then, before you met any, you had not looked into her eyes or held her baby or laughed or cried with her. You had not heard her story or even what she believes.  But after you met her she invited you for a meal and put on a lavish display of food before you.  Maybe she showed care when you shared sad news with her or came to visit you after surgery and brought you food.

It is okay to love your Muslim colleague, neighbor, or acquaintance. Really?  Yes, really.  It is experiencing the compassion of Jesus who loves the whole world.  Loving Muslims does not mean you have to agree with their religion. 

If I could speak Arabic or Urdu but don’t have love for my Muslim acquaintance I am like a noisy gong. I may understand her Islamic culture well but if I don’t love her what would the benefit be?  If I could tell you all about prophecy in the Middle East but don’t love my Muslim acquaintance what good would my ministry be? If I know how to answer every opposing argument – know everything about everything - but do not have love my outreach will be empty.  If I teach, write, or speak about Muslims but don’t love those I am sent to by God my ministry will be busy but not fruitful. If I get exhausted taking the initiative to visit my Muslim neighbors and help them with their practical needs or work long hours extending hospitality to them but do not actually love them my ministry will be of no value. 

Frequently I tell my Muslim women acquaintances "I love you". My heart is full of love for them. They are so precious to God and to me. My sisters, if you have never said(or written in a card) those three heart-warming words to your Muslim lady friends, why not try it this Christmas? It would be the best Christmas gift you could give them.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You loved me before I loved You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.