Muslims, Christians and Jesus

Who hasn't thought about the relationship between Muslims and the rest of the world at least once in the last few years? I know I've spent more than a few hours on this subject while contemplating how to move forward in this post 9/11 world.

So the second book loaned to me recently is entitled Muslims, Christians and Jesus by Carl Medearis. Carl and his family spent around 12 years living overseas in Lebanon and he used that time to develop his unique perspective on how to relate to Muslims.

Muslims, Christians and Jesus is extremely easy to read - it's not a scholarly work. Rather, it's a very practical guide to the similarities and differences between Muslim and Christian worldviews. And of course, Medearis beautifully places Jesus as the bridge between the two.

He points out that the Christian love (respect, perhaps?) for Jesus is shared in many ways by Muslims. One of the most useful parts of the book is Chapter 3 - "Islam's Holy Book: What the Qur'an Says about Jesus". Carl lays out a long list of teachings from the Qur'an on Jesus and the similarities between Muslim and Christian views of Jesus are striking.

The problem for Muslims is the word "Christian" as a category that dredges up centuries of political strife, wars, fear and misunderstanding. Medearis' central point, then, is to stick with the person of Jesus and forget the "Christianese".

Even looking at eschatology, there is much to agree upon between Christians and Muslims.

One other aspect of Medearis' approach that was so appealing to me is his casual evangelistic posture. He presents several beautiful stories of conversations between he and his Muslim friends.

These stories remind me so much of those wonderful times discussing faith with my Jewish friends, pagan friends and all manner of unchurched co-workers and acquaintences.

They remind me of the first time I ever led someone to Messiah where it was just "me, them and the Holy Spirit". I knew it was by far the most meaningful thing I'd ever been a part of. I realized that nothing - no experience in business or ministry - compares with it, and I all I wanted to do was more of that.

So do yourself and the Kingdom a favor and grab a copy of Muslims, Christians and Jesus. And then let's go live it.

Father, thank you for your Spirit that gives us what we need to do our part of the Great Project. Help us find creative ways to bridge the gap between ourselves and the world you sent Messiah to renew and re-create.


Unknown said...

What a blessing it can be in today's United States to be unchurched.......It has been pointed out that today there are likely thousands of different ‘Christian’ religions. I tend to think of them as different denominations, but we can all accept that there are differences in beliefs, minor, major, or both. These differences in beliefs describe our differing views on the relationship between God and Man. I have heard so many times in my life from "Christians", “It does not matter if we agree on theology, as long as we agree we are saved by grace through Christ Jesus".

Of course my personal belief system recognizes some distinct long term advantages to accepting the Father's sacrifice of his Son as payment for my sins, I will NOT go so far as to say that other beliefs that people hold in relation to their world view and God, do not matter. In fact, there are enormous consequences to holding false belief systems, sometimes for the holder of those beliefs, and sometimes for the people around them, and always the conflicts that naturally result from these false beliefs. It is the false belief systems of the Christians and the Muslims that give birth to the major conflict of our time.

Some American Christians today hold a very passive, and peaceful view of God's son, Jesus Christ. When I read the New Testament, I see a dynamic, aggressive Christ, not afraid to buck the system and shake things up everywhere he traveled. He scared the 'power brokers' of the time so bad, they wanted to kill him. This false belief system of passivity, will ultimately bring the downfall of the Churches which believe in this way. Truth matters.

Christians love to worship Jesus, it is what they do best. My Bible says the Lamb is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. When someone dies for you, the depth of love you feel for them inside can be overwhelming. This may be why so many ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" It is just so easy when people sin and hurt you or other people to ask, "What would Jesus do?"

Now if you are the Son of God, and sent to save the world, you likely have the power, influence, and wisdom to say things like, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" , and live to speak another day. Most of us would just have likely been stoned along with the woman in that situation just for speaking up.

Maybe a better question when people sin, is to ask, what would God do? We find the answer in John. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

We must get the nature of the relationship between ourselves and our Creator right. We must properly distinguish between the Creator of all things, and the first of creation. It is the love and WILL of the Creator that his creation not perishes. Jesus clearly articulates this in John 6:38,
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me."

Jesus describes himself as the 'first of creation' in Revelation. Jesus also speaks very clearly about who should be worshiped in John 4:23 and 24,
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such people the Father seeks to be his worshipers.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth."

Here again we find that the truth matters, both in who you worship, and how you worship.

It appears to me that many Christians are emotionally fixated on Christ, rather than the Creator of Christ, and our Creator. Jesus never sought worshipers for Himself, but only to Glorify His Father in Heaven. Perhaps the question "What would Jesus do?" has some merit after all? Jesus is the bridge, not to himself, but to our Father in heaven. I suspect when Jesus puts that last thing under his foot, 'death', that all this will be righteous enough to be turned over the the Father. Praise be to God now, and when we get there!!!

While the Christians are overly fixated on Jesus, and ignoring the Creator of all things, the Muslims are in fact not paying enough attention to the significance of God sending his Son to pay the debt of our sins, and the fact that we can be saved through Christ and our Creator's grace. Remember whose will sent Jesus down from Heaven? John 6:40,
"For it is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

The Creation is neither equal to nor greater than the Creator. The First of Creation never sought equality with God. We must get the nature of these relationships right. We must worship in spirit and in TRUTH! We must know who and how we are supposed to worship. "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. And please Father; understand if I thank you every day for Your love and the sacrifice of Your Son."

Dustin said...

I think that we (on this post) all agree that we must follow the Messiah. The Messiah is the only door into the Kingdom that is coming on the earth. That is a truth that I put stock into.

I do know that while I hold one view very strongly, we must be not be so ridged that we cant look at other's views and be able to understand them. Once we have understood others, then we can be their friends and find things in common. I think Mike is trying to draw a line from our commonality to a way to convert through friendship the Muslim peoples.