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Monday, February 4, 2013

Islam and Christianity

Christianity, by its nature, is expansive.  The mission of every Christian is to share Jesus with the world and announce the Kingdom of God that was inaugurated in the coming, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

A popular notion in American and Western culture is 'tolerance,' and contained within this notion is the idea that people should not try to win others to their religion or cause.  Christians should not try to evangelize Jews or Muslims or atheists.  We should be happy being Christians and let others be happy being what they are.  There a few problems with this notion.

First, it is impossible for a Christian to be truly happy if he ignores Jesus' command to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).  If we think we can roll along and just not deal with the "evangelism thing," we will be out of step with the Holy Spirit of God.  Some Christians may be uniquely talented in evangelism.  But all Christians are called to practice evangelism and live evangelistically.  The Bible is full of stories about people made uncomfortable by God when they try to ignore his call on their lives.  We cannot truly follow Jesus if we ignore evangelism.

A second problem with the notion of tolerance as I have described it is it is not accurate.  The fact that Christians attempt to share Jesus does not impinge upon a Muslim's ability to live happily as a Muslim.  I will lay this out by way of analogy. 

Mormons want the entire world to become Mormon.  They are very distinct in their evangelistic approach.  They dress in an easily recognizable way and they go door-to-door.  Advocates of 'tolerance,' as it is popularly understood, would criticize this aggressive evangelistic approach taken by Mormons.  They would say Mormons are not allowing non-Mormons to be happy as they are. 

But, I am a non-Mormon.  And I do not feel put upon by their approach to evangelism or proselyting if your prefer.  In fact, if someone, in the name of tolerance, tried to prevent Mormons from spreading their faith or Muslims from spreading their faith, I would fight to defend the Mormons and Muslims.  I want them to have the right to share their faith and I want that same right.  Mormons coming to my door do not ruin my happiness or affect my practice of evangelical Christiantiy.  If I am feeling up to it, I may invite them in and engage in a conversation.  If I am not, I try to politely say I am already committed as a follower of Jesus.  Either way, Mormon evangelizing efforts do not bother me in the least. 

The thing about tolerance as I think a lot of people understand it is it eliminates real conversation at a deep level.  It removes critical thinking.  "Go along to get along" is intellectually lazy and spiritual inexcusible.  Christians are called to confront the world with the love of Jesus.  We are to make this confrontation in a the way of love, peace, and gentleness.  No matter how our efforts to share Jesus are received, we are to share his love.  But to avoid evangelism is to say Jesus didn't know what he was doing when he commissioned the disciples and the early church.  I believe he knew exactly what he was doing.

Without him, people are cut off from God.  I think this includes Muslims and Mormons, Jews and Hindus, and everybody else.  So my life is committed to sharing the love of Jesus and the salvation he offers.  I greatly respect those of other faiths who share their beliefs evangelistically as I share mine.  We disagree, to be sure.  But we can talk about our disagreements in a friendly way.  We can meet in love and be friends even when our foundational faith convictions are to opposed to each other.  If I have the truth on my side, the Holy Spirit will convict the other's heart.  That's God's job.  I cannot convict another's heart and I shouldn't try.  I should just represent Jesus well and tell others about Him.

I want to close by recommending two articles.  The first is an interview with a Muslim who has become a Christ-follower.  The way he follows and worships Jesus might seem very odd for Christians in America, but I think he is reaching people the aver American Christian never will.  Check it out -

The second article is from a Muslim perspective and is about some Muslims who are trying to recapture the good in the term "Jihad."  I invite you to seriously consider what these Muslims are trying to do.  I see a similar effort in Christanity in trying to recover the good in the word "evangelical."  -

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