As I close this morning, I'm reminded of a number of things that I'd like to offer as final encouragments and exhortations.
- Remember your own conversion. We labor under the perception that people from Muslim backgrounds are extra difficult to reach with the gospel, that their hearts and minds are harder than average folks. I suppose I understand why that perception exists... the antipathy between East and West is pretty high, distrust abounds, the "foreign" status and stigma that attaches itself to our Muslim (especially Arab) neighbors. But, in fact, a Muslim's conversion isn't any more difficult for God than our own. How hard was our hearts? How distant were we from christ? And how disinterested were we in spiritual matters, preferring the stench of this world instead? And yet, our Sovereign Deliverer God brought us to our knees in repentance and gave us the gift of faith in Christ Jesus His Son. As we witness to Muslims, let's recall the supernatural intervention that is our own conversion and be stirred with the remembrance that there is no human heart strong enough to resist our omnipotent God!
- Remember that there is nothing to fear. I find that I need to actively recall this point in my evangelistic efforts and attempts to share the gospel with folks I presume will not be interested. For me, it's fear of man more than fear of bodily harm or some angry altercation. I don't want to be thought poorly of or be seen as offensive. I have to nail that to the cross and remember the scorn and ridicule my Lord suffered that a worm like me could be called by His name. I have to remember His challenging words, that if I am ashamed of Him before men He will be ashamed of me before my Father in heaven! Ouch! And I have to remember that He has already overcome the world and given me that faith which overcomes the world. There is nothing to fear when sharing the gospel with Muslims.
- Remember not to chase rabbits. These conversations can spin out into many directions. My African-American Muslim friends love to recall the abuse of Christians involved in slavery and the slave trade. My Arab Muslim friends love to point to current geo-political conflicts as evidence of the West's and Christianity's anti-Arab bias. Ever tried to chase and catch a rabbit with your hands? Pretty ridiculous exercise to even imagine, huh? These kinds of conversations are rabbits darting toward underbrush for safety. Don't chase them lest you sprain a mental ankle. Let your friend exhaust him or herself on these issues, but remember to stay on the gospel. There will be a time where calm discussion of these events and histories will make sense, but almost always they are diversions when you're in the midst of Christ-centered discussion.
- Remember not to insult Muhammad. The fiasco that erupted all over the world because of the drawings of the prophet Muhammad are a good case study in why insulting or attacking Muhammad is a bad strategy. You'll create more enemies than is necessary. Let the cross and a high view of Jesus be your offense. Indeed, every Muslim will find the Sonship of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus terribly offensive, the highest blasphemy. Don't pour gasoline on the fire with ill-informed, ill-timed, or ill-tempered ad hominems against Muhammad. When asked what you think about Muhammad, turn the conversation back to Jesus. "I think Muhammad was correct to teach Muslims that Jesus was a prophet, who did greater miracles than any other Prophet, that Jesus is the word of God, and that His followers must believe in Him. But I don't think Muhammad went far enough about Jesus. Jesus is also the Son of God who gave himself on the cross for the sins of all who would repent and believe in Him."
- Remember Who is on your side in sharing the Gospel. The Triune God of Redemption has commissioned us to go and make disciples, to declare the Good News about the Son. He fights the battles of His people. He is our refuge and strength, our banner and our shield. And it is God alone who saves. We should take confidence in knowing His arm is not shortened that He cannot save, and that He has been pleased to work through the foolishness of preaching and weakness of men.
Let us rejoice in the great opportunity the Lord of heaven has given us to proclaim His good news to the ends of the earth. And let us rejoice that we have the privilege of sharing with Muslims in particular, whom the Lord seems increasingly pleased to make our neighbors and to bring close to the call of the gospel. And let us be faithful, full of faith, to proclaim this Good News. I pray the Lord would prosper us all in this work!