In the last message of Mixed Signals, we take a look at Islam and how Kingdom people should be responding to the growing worldwide Islamic movement. We explore the growing disparity between the life Jesus led and calls us into and the normal worldly response to those who are different or potentially threaten our way of life.
For many western people, the word Islam immediately conjures up thoughts of terrorism, radicalism, Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and growing worldwide violence associated with Islamic extremists. News stories and documentaries have seared the demonic images of beheadings and bombings in our minds and many have responded out of fear. Our brains function, especially when we’re afraid, by recognizing patterns and responding to protect our self. Unfortunately this has led to many associating all Muslims with terrorism. Although the religion of Islam has exploded in growth over the past few decades in America (4x growth in the Twin Cities) and around the world (estimates near 1.6 billion worldwide), the fraction of Muslims participating in violent extremism is extremely small.
As Kingdom minded people we need to guard our hearts from being sucked in to a fear based way of living that dehumanizes people by putting labels on them. We are called to live in love – live in a way that drives out fear. Our love isn’t complete if we’re living in fear. We’re not called to love based on merit, but rather indiscriminately like God who loves like the rain falls and the sun shines. Instead, many Christians have let fear guide their actions toward prejudice, hatred, and retaliatory violence.
In reality, much of peoples’ fear is irrational and has been swayed by the extremely small minority of Muslims that participate or support violent activities. While it is true the Koran doesn’t have a New Testament like prohibition against violence, we as Kingdom people must by honest when asking ourselves how many Christians actually adhere to Jesus’ teaching on non-violence and enemy love. In fact, whether or not Islam is based on violence or not is actually irrelevant when defining what our response to Muslims should be. We’re called to love in a way that drives out fear whether it actually does make sense to be afraid or not.
In Matthew 5 Jesus was talking to a Jewish audience under the unjust persecution of the Roman Empire who ruled by a form of power over terrorism. These Romans are the people Jesus told the Jews to love sacrificially, bless, and do good to. This would be analogous to America being taken over and ruled by ISIS, and our call as Kingdom people to treat ISIS the same way the Jews were called to treat the Romans. Loving of enemies is one the distinguishing marks of a Kingdom disciple. We are known as God’s children in so much as we love the way Jesus loved, dying for those who were persecuting him, forgiving them with His last breaths while they were still enemies.
The question isn’t what percentage of Muslims are acting violently towards us. Whether it’s 0.000006% or 100%, our call is to put our trust and authority in Jesus Christ who modeled love by His death on the cross, even for those who couldn’t deserve it less. It wasn’t common sense, but it was beautiful. We’re called love people as individuals, not file them in to categories.
Lastly, there are actually many areas of commonality with Islam and Christianity that can spark healthy conversations with Muslim folks we’re meeting. Islam has a very high regard for Jesus as a prophet, but differs in several key areas. They don’t believe he rose from the dead and because they view Him as merely a human prophet they see it as blasphemous to worship or pray to Him. In the Koran a person is judged solely on their merits, so the NT idea of forgiveness and grace for free is a very foreign concept to Muslims. That said, because everyone human being was created with a longing and hunger for unconditional love, this can be a great area to engage and share the uniquely Christian picture of God.
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11 thoughts on “Hijabs at the Gym”
Really enjoyed that sermon as usual, and i agree with what you are saying.. BUT….. lol.. there is a but. I can understand on an individual level we are to love our neighbour, and we are to love our enemies, but does that apply on a national level? How loving am I to my neighbour if I sit back and watch evil slaughter them? How is that loving my neighbour? Also Muhammad was a military leader and a violent one at that. The very foundation of Islam is one of violence and war. He was very different to Jesus – as light is to darkness. Just one other point – soft Jihad. We are seeing it even here in New Zealand where the rights of Muslims seem to override our own. In one of the meat processing factories here they no longer are allow pork in it, as it offends Muslims. Where do we go with this. Does Jesus expect us to smile and sit back and say that’s all good? I would love the individual whether they are dark, white, Muslim or Buddhist – but where is the line drawn? When do we stand against evil? Because Jesus did. He loved the person, but had no qualms against institutions that were evil or practicing evil. Can you tell I am confused? I know i am not the only one. I get what you are saying on an individual basis Greg, but God did institute laws and governments for countries to protect them from evil invading them didn’t he?
The Rubáiyát of Omar –
“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”
Omar Khayyám – (1048 – 1131)
Testimonies of Muslims who converted to Christianity.
I have been reading and studying about Islam. The more I read the more questions I have especially when evil is being done under the name of Islam. I question why other Muslims won’t speak out. Recently I finished reading “10 Amazing Muslims Touched by God”. They converted to Christianity. For some their families rejected them and for others, family members attempted to kill them due to their conversion. Not Christians, but their own families. Here in this country Sharia law is carried out. A few years ago a Muslim cab driver killed his two teen daughters in his cab for dating American boys. While I worked in a predominately Muslim school students that I tutored would say to me “I hate Jesus” and other derogatory statements against Christianity. I wondered where these children were learning this language especially being so young. These were 2nd and 3rd graders. One boy shared with me that he had to attend Doci school (not sure of the spelling) on Saturdays along with other Muslim children to learn the Quran and if they made mistakes they were hit. He shared that he did not want to go back any more. He asked me not to share this with anyone. I did report the incident to the head teacher due to the nature of violence he described. The stats that I have read indicate that Anti-Semitism is higher than Anti-Muslim. It guess it bothers me when evangelicals are lumped into one group and described as not showing the love of Christ. I listen to pastors who are praying for Muslims and all people to come to know Christ. I know that there are people who do the opposite but there needs to be a balanced message when sharing this information. There are safe houses being created by Christians for Muslims converting to Christianity in spite of the thousands of Christians being slaughtered around the world. We should be praying against and for any anti-people groups. In regards to the hijab, Muslims wear hijabs for a various reasons not just faith. Some wear them to honor their families. When I worked at the Muslim school I would ask the girls why some did not wear their traditional dress and many said they did not like them because they were too hot. I have witnessed young Muslim ladies dressed in Western styles and traditionally dressed Muslim women giving them strange stares. Again, we should be praying for all people and I believe that most Christian understand that and practice this according to scripture.
Thanks for the great message. As you clearly stated, true Christianity is counter-cultural. When you have been influenced by culture for years it can be difficult to wrap your mind around Jesus’ message of love. The prior responses on this blog illustrate why the Mennonite Church and other peace churches have lost hundreds / thousands of members since 9/11. It is easy to be for peace when there is no conflict. It is hard to declare your loyalty to Christ and what he taught when it runs opposed to our culture. There is a price to pay on earth for following Christ, but thankfully, this is not our home.
Thank you for staying true to your convictions and encouraging and empowering others to do the same.
May God bless you and continue to use you as a vessel for showing his love to others. Based on Jesus’ example, you often take a social justice view of situations. Though your sermon focused on an over-emphasis on violent Islam, I was surprised the treatment of women was left off the table. Mostly, I would love to hear your thoughts on how to live Christ’s example in this space. There are numerous Muslim activists fighting for women’s rights who are calling on Western feminists to support them… and I wonder what that looks like in this messy space of loving but not judging/affirming individual worth. Is this something you “let them sort out” or how can you act with grace while still opposing the notion that women are often seen as “less than” in the faith? Please reach out if my question doesn’t make sense 🙂 Blessings.
I understand that we are to love all people and value that they are children of God. What I struggle with are the people who choose evil, embrace violence and really give their souls to satan. When a person from ISIS for example, makes that life decision, aren’t they evil?
We are to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. I understand loving the sinner and hating the sin, but when someone has turned to evil, that feels different. It’s like their mind has been taken over by the evil one. Are we still called to love that person who has made that choice?
Well in that situation, I’d then try to still love the person and hate [with empathy] the “evil choice” that they’ve made! It sounds really easy here to state some quippy platitude but then again, when that “evil” is directly perpetrated on you personally, one’s natural retaliatory instinct for revenge and justice bursts forth.
Also, standing up to “evil” by not allowing the continued abuse and victimization of others is noble, but spiritually problematic if we emulate their behavior. Often when confronting such situations we can easily get pulled into the angry vortex of their conflict. It’s times like those where being “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matt. 10:16 comes into play. Inverting evil in on itself is one strategy. Coming at evil situations “obliquely” as well through Cross-like love is often not anticipated by the Enemy. It usually involves a step backwards in order to move the situation forward. What initially looks like a desperate miscalculation and defeat, ends up securing the victory for all involved.
When it comes to resisting evil without violence I think of people like Corrie Ten Boom’s family. They risked their lives to show love to the outcast and persecuted but did not use human weapons. Corrie lost all whom she loved most and had to go to God with the agonizing question of loving our enemies at such a great cost. She tried to communicate what she learned, that this is not a war we can win with natural abilities. And it is not a war that will be won in one fell swoop. This is a war that is won like a mustard seed, very small and with seemingly insignificant results ~ at first. But we are promised that it will grow to be massive and eternal!
I support an organization that ministers to people who are persecuted terribly under Muslim law and I got the chance to go and meet some of them. I am humbled every time I read their testimonies. They do not ask for the suffering to end, they ask to remain faithful and to show God’s forgiveness and love. Their understanding is that persecution is a given and we are supposed to show God’s light in the midst of it. I find I have to constantly take this to God because I want to have fun and be comfortable and safe. But my persecuted brothers and sisters keep reminding me in their small voices that Christ has not only commanded us to do this but enables us to do this.
Love makes no sense.
Love is contrary to the world’s prioritization of self-preservation.
We Christians love the “yeah, but.”
“Love the sin, yeah, but hate the sinner.”
“Yeah, Love the Muslim, but fight against the growth of Islam.”
“Yeah love, but always fight evil.”
But there is no “yeah, but”…there is only love.
That is why this message is revolutionary. And hard. And necessary.
Thank you for having the courage to speak it.
To be strong and of a good courage means when, as the Allies beat the Germans and Japanese in WWII, as soon as the Axis Powers stopped… the Allies stopped… and built their roads and power plants… and bought cars from them.
This is the LOVE of Western Enlightenment, of being strong (so we aren’t killed off by the head-choppers-of-the-day) and of a GOOD courage so we don’t do to the head-choppers-of-the-day what they would do to us if they won.
So Jesus said we needed two swords, but to not live and die by the swords. Western Enlightenment, which is from the OT and NOT, enables a fight wherein the good guys fight or wage war… and they really don’t have hate in their heart, at the high end… they have sadness that they must do their man-of-war duty and get the war over quick… which is the most merciful thing.
So pacifism is wrong in the face of any head-choppers-of-the-day. Russian Martial Art Systema teaches men how to handle themselves in a confrontation such that there is only love as an emotion… when one puts down (without harming them) an attacker. Russians call it “King David’s Art”… because a thousand years ago they learned it from traveling Hebrews, who then forgot what they learned from Father Abraham. But the Russians remembered.
Lastly, this being strong and of a good courage is of God’s past, our present and also our future. In the Star Trek movie “Undiscovered Country”… Captain Kirk ends up on a volcano cliff-edge fighting a bad guy Klingon. When the Klingon slips off the cliff (and is no longer a threat) Kirk immediately extends his hand, catches the Kingon’s hand in his own… and invites the Klingon to crawl up.
THIS is Western Enlightenment Christianity. This is the OT and NT… This is how to fight with love. Your pastor needs to believe this is possible and real. The Allies did it in WWII.
By the way, the Klingon cannot live with this knowledge. (Can you pastor? Or must he remains un-grown-up and pacifist and liberal? Or can he take Love’s hand and climb up out of regressive worldview thought?) Well, the Klingon let go and fell into the lava. Everyone has free will!