What Would Jesus Say to a Muslim?

It seems a bit presumptuous to assume I could know what Jesus would say to a Muslim today.  After all, there are 3.3 million followers of Islam living in the U.S. today. That’s equivalent to 1% of our population. And, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. So how could I know what Jesus would say to a Muslim?

Many of us who read this blog don’t know much abouCross-in-the-foreground-the-Dome-of-the-Rock-shrine-in-the-Old-City-of-Jerusalem-in-the-background_larget who they are and what Muslims believe other than what we see on TV or read in the news. That’s why I am writing this series on Islam. I want to help us become better informed and better equipped for the world we live in as followers of Jesus.

That brings me back to this crucial question of what Jesus would say to a Muslim, because the answer to this question gives us strong guidance for how Jesus invites us to engage this world we live in.

What would Jesus say to a Muslim?

The responses to this question generally fall within one of three different categories. The first is characterized by the main idea that Muslims, Jews and Christians all believe in the same God. When a Muslim says ‘There is no God but Allah’, they are proclaiming loyalty to the same Unique, One and only true God that Jews and Christians proclaim. The term ‘Allah’ is the Aramaic equivalent to the word we use in English for ‘God’. So, people who think of Islam in this way would see Jesus saying the same thing to a Muslim, as He would say to the rest of us who follow him; “I no longer call you servants…instead I call you friends,” Jn 15:15. Thus, Islam is part of the one big family of faith and is fundamentally a religion of peace. It’s just another way of worshipping God. That’s one view.

There is a second category of responses, which swings to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This view is characterized by the main idea that Muslims worship a false god whose ultimate agenda is to force the world into submission using whatever means possible, including war and acts of terror. The only way to safety and security for the rest of us is to either build a wall to keep them out or launch an all out war to wipe them out. So from this perspective, Jesus would tell Muslims they are children of the devil and that He has come to destroy the works of the devil; 1Jn 3:18. Islam is a religion of violence and all Muslims are terrorists. That’s the opposite end of the spectrum of perception regarding followers of Islam among Christians.

While the first group is more progressive and tolerant, the second group is more militant and oppositional. One tells us “we are all the same” and the other tells us to “keep ‘em out or wipe ‘em out.” It is interesting to me that the progressives in Jesus’ day were called Sadducees and the militants were called Zealots. Neither group could get behind the Kingdom of God way of life Jesus announced. Instead, they would ultimately join forces to crucify him. Think about that for a moment.

Jesus is Lord of the third way. When presented with a forced choice between two binary options, Jesus always chose something different. The third way in this Christian conversation is the view that Islam is an incomplete religion. Sadly, Muslims do not have a full understanding of the One true God they worship. There are over 90 names for ‘Allah’ in Islam, but none of them conveys the intimate relationship with Abba Father that is characteristic of God in the Christian faith. Muslims also do not have full assurance of salvation because their faith is based on obedience and good works rather than the ultimate work of Christ who paid the debt for all our sins on the cross. So what would Jesus say to a Muslim? We are called to look to scripture for our answers. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest… take my yoke on you and you will find rest for your souls,” Mt 10.28,29. “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jn 14.6.

Jesus is the fullness of God incarnate in human form, Col. 1.15,19.  He is the Universal Lord of an uncompromising Gospel and the one and only cure to our sin problem, Col 1.13-14, Col 1.19-22, Mt 26.28, Acts 4.12, Eph 2.8   Those who place their trust in Him are made new and have a secure hope for eternity, Jn 3.16, 2 Cor 5.17; Ro, 6.23.

Understanding Islam as an incomplete religion gives us clear guidance as followers of Jesus. The One, Almighty, Compassionate, Gracious, and Loving God has revealed the fullness of His grace and truth in Jesus Christ. This wonderful good news is for everyone, including Muslims. Yes, some Muslims are extreme terrorists and have a warped, not incomplete, understanding of God. But they are a very small minority and are the reason many Muslims are abandoning Islam in the Middle East and here in the U.S..

Muslims are people: people we are called to love, not fear. People we are called to welcome and seek relationship with, not to exclude.  People who need a Savior and His name is Jesus. So what can you do today?  Begin praying for the salvation of your Muslim neighbors. Ask God to give you a Muslim friend. Pray that God will send followers of Jesus to show and tell the Good News of the Gospel to Muslims in places where they have no access to the Gospel. Find out more about one of the ministries Belpres supports to share Jesus with Muslims.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Rom 10.13-14.

Steadfast Senders, Rally the Troops!

“Social consciousness beckons each of us across the board, but the ways we could respond are as varied as our holy passions. We are called to tend to the poor, but adjust your lens and see what specific opportunities make your heart jump…or sink.” – Beth Moore

Seven BelPres Impact Teams of brave Jesus followers head out across the globe this summer to share the good news and serve alongside His brothers and sisters. Some have never been on a short term mission experience in their life and some are seasoned veterans. Some are 7 years old and some are 70 years old. But they all have one thing in common – the faith to step out and be used, however they can, by God to love His people and further His Kingdom.

Oftentimes we think, in order to change the world in a most significant way, we must have a unique or useful skill or be given a position of influence or fame…or travel across the world.

In actuality, mission trips wouldn’t be possible without Steadfast Senders. Those who may never board a plane, but give value to a little girl who received a handmade doll they created or hope to a boy who received a baseball mitt they collected. Steadfast Senders are also the ones who lift up team members by name in prayer each and every day they are on the field, serving as spiritual protectors and mighty encouragers.

So, how ’bout it? Are you ready to step out in faith and be used by God to love His people and further His Kingdom by being a Steadfast Sender?

Here are our seven BelPres teams going out into the world this summer. Be a part of their specific sending in a variety of ways by praying, gathering items to be donated or hosting a work party to raise funds.

Bolivia: Two teams, one from Senior High Ministry and one composed of BelPres Families, will be embarking on an incredible mission experience together in mid-July to Bolivia serving alongside those at Niños con Valor. To learn ways you could send this team off with overflowing suitcases and hearts, contact Laurel Fortin, fortinlh@hotmail.com, or Colin Robeson, crobeson@belpres.org.

Cambodia: An Impact Team will be returning to Cambodia August 17 – 28 to serve alongside the CUSP ministry and lead an English Camp in Kampong Thom for high school students. For specific ways to experience Cambodia without enduring 100+ degree Cambodian temperature, contact Ray Durr, reldurr@msn.com.

Costa Rica: Our Senior High Ministry will be taking a team again July 26 – August 2, as they do every year, to visit the Abraham Project in Costa Rica. They will participate in building projects and cultivate lasting relationships with the children and people served by the Abraham Project. For specific ways to send this highly motivated group of students and leaders, contact Daniel Triller, dtriller@belpres.org.

Guatemala: As they do multiple times a year, an Impact Team will visit our Nicolás Fund for Education scholars July 18 – 26 to build relationships, pray alongside and encourage our friends there. They also work in the village primary schools to provide educational enrichment projects, support village primary school teachers, and to foster relationships with the students. For specific ways to show love and care for this team and their mission, contact Becci Merritt, beccimerritt@comcast.net.

Guatemala: August 1 – 8 the BelPres Singles Ministry will be returning to Guatemala to serve alongside the Arms of Jesus ministry by building homes, installing Eco stoves, and building relationships with the sponsored students at Arms of Jesus. For specific ways to make a difference in a beautiful, Guatemalan community, contact Kat King, kking@belpres.org.

Nicaragua: A group of families will be returning to the community of Cedro Galan in Nicaragua July 16 – 28 to serve with Alongside Ministries. To ask about specific ways you could partner with this team without getting on a plane, contact Laurie Los, llos@crgevents.com.

Rebellion Against the Status Quo

 

By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor
 
 

Dick Eastman, author and creator of the Change the World School of Prayer writes; “In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God’s work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer.””

Prayer helps us partner with God in reviving what is broken and unjust in our world. Prayer is rebellion against the status quo. It is to say, “these things are unacceptable. The way things are, are not the way things should be. So in Jesus name, I urgently plead that the present status will be radically and eternally changed. Prayer places the one praying in the midst of God’s Kingdom movement, points toward people, places and circumstances God is not currently reigning in and calls for all Heaven to show up. Your Kingdom rule come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

One book I often use to engage me as a partner in what God is doing in our world is “Operation World” by Patrick Johnston. You can order or read a shorter version of the book here: http://www.operationworld.org. It’s a great way to learn about specific countries, people groups, historical and economic realities and the Christian movement around the world. More importantly, it gives specific prayer requests which engage us in rebelling against the status quo.

Rebelling against the status quo in prayer changes us. It helps us see as God sees, love as God loves, and act as God acts. But most importantly, it engages us in God’s revival project and unleashes His Kingdom around the world.

So how can your prayer become more rebellious? Who and for what will you pray for? Keep a record of your prayer and write down any changes that take place. Start praying rebelliously and just see what God will do.