Christians have been asking many questions about Muslims. Who are they and what do they believe?
Do all Muslims sanction violence? Most importantly, what attitude should Christians have toward them? Why do some Muslims use the Koran to justify violence while others condemn it?
All important questions.
It is important to understand that not all Muslims are terrorists. In fact, only a small number of them promote violence. Most are decent, peace-loving people.
Some are quite secular in their outlook and way of life. They claim to be Muslims but do not faithfully practice their religion. They may not even know much about its teachings. Other moderate Muslims believe Islam is just a religion and try to practice it faithfully. Most are peace loving and generally only use peaceful persuasion to make converts. They are often embarrassed by acts of terrorism that are carried out in the name of Islam.
Fundamentalist Muslims, on the other hand, have a political as well as a religious agenda. They believe everyone should live in submission to Islamic law. They take the teaching of the Koran and Mohammed's commands to fight for the cause of Allah literally and believe violence is justified for taking control of the world.
Wrong and Right Responses to Muslims
Muslims around the world are watching to see how Christians respond to them. How we react to them may very well determine whether we draw attention to the Gospel or obscure it.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to Muslims by demonstrating the love of Christ. This is not to say that we must close our eyes and simply overlook acts of violence. Scripture teaches that those in authority have been empowered by God to punish the responsible ones (I Peter 2:13-14).
But, individually, we must never respond with hatred or revenge. To do so is not the way of Christ. "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (I Peter 2:21, 23).
In his editorial in the October 27, 2001, issue of World magazine, John Piper said it well when he warned of the danger of falling into the sin of hatred.
"The spirit of revenge sends the false signal that Christ is not an all-sufficient, all-satisfying Savior. We justify our own little jihad, and seek our satisfaction by injuring the adversary. But true Christians treasure Jesus above vengeance."
However, neither is it right to cave in to the shrill voices that are preaching a warped view of tolerance and saying that all religions, including Islam, lead to God. Piper said this emphasis is equally wrong.
"In reaction against indiscriminate hate there is now a stampede to pluralism and twisted tolerance. If Muslims are hated, then let us call ecumenical gatherings, and let us all praise the virtues of Islam and the wisdom of Allah and the goodness of Mohammed. But let no one speak the intolerable and indispensable truth that Jesus is the only way to God."
Jesus clearly said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). We should never hesitate to boldly say that the only way to God is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
To react to Muslims by falling into these equally wrong traps of hatred and tolerance is to hide the message of eternal life from them. Both of these attitudes are wrong and keep Muslims in spiritual darkness. Let us stand against these sins and instead focus on lovingly sharing with them the message of salvation through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.
Loving in Jesus' Name
You can make a huge difference by praying for Muslim nations and individuals in them. In fact, when fear begins to grip your mind, stop and pray for Muslims -- even those who promote terrorism!! Pray for Muslims to have open hearts and for the Gospel to reach them. Ask God to raise up workers to help evangelize Muslim countries. Pray for those like the Voice of Christ Media team who are already doing this.
Then ask God to use you to befriend and evangelize the Muslims you know. Show them practical love. Be loving and humble. Don't advocate a particular culture or political agenda. Focus on Jesus Christ and His uniqueness. Offer to study the life of Christ with them by reading through one of the Gospels. Ask God to give them spiritual understanding and to draw them to faith in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only answer. Ask God to show you what part He wants you to have in evangelizing Muslims. Trust Him to use you to reach out to them with loving, courageous witness.