I woke up at 12:30 am tonight and it’s 1:30. I cannot sleep. I have been having dreams of speaking Arabic, visiting Mosques, and sharing my faith with my Muslim friends. In my dreams I am constantly opposed by people who are angry because of what I am doing. They say that I am compromising my faith and that I am not being “Christian.” In my dream I ignore them because my heart is overwhelmed with love for my friends. And the sadness that accompanies my love is for those who claim to know Christ, but refuse to share him with those they consider enemies.
Friday morning I was returning to my office from Denton and I was listening to the Mark Davis show on 820 AM WBAP. I caught the last portion of the topic. They were discussing our Church, Northwood. They were talking about the “Building Bridges with Fellow Texans” event that we are having this Sunday. I have always enjoyed Mark Davis’ show because he seems to be a conservative with logic and reason. A lot of conservative talk radio that is available has a disdain for people of other cultures and faiths, particularly Muslims. Mark was discussing the event and from what I heard, he thought the event was good and that it was a good idea for Christians and Muslims to get to know one another. A caller came on and was belligerent, to say the very least. He was making vague and broad claims that Churches today are compromising their integrity and faith by inviting people of other faiths into their places of worship. Mark caught him and pointed out his vague generalizations, and asked for specific evidence that this is happening. Mark pointed out that if we are claiming Jesus is the way and then later backing down from that message, the he would understand the problem, but he didn’t think that was the case. The caller went on and he continued to say that we shouldn’t be doing this.
What I heard on the radio may be a contributing factor to why I am awake tonight, but this was not the first time that people have expressed their opposition to Northwood inviting Muslims to the Church. I have had personal encounters with people who are opposed to the idea of Muslims coming to the Church. It’s really shocking to me that these same individuals are supportive of missions and say they want to see Muslims come to Christ, but refuse to go to a Mosque or make friends with Muslims. They have lofty ideas that Muslims need to be reached on the other side of the world, but can’t see the forest from the trees. We are surrounded by Muslims in Tarrant County. Some Christians want to ignore them when they pass by them in the mall (sometimes it’s obvious to notice Muslims, other times it’s not). They want to pretend that they are foreigners and are visiting the United States. The truth is that many of the Muslims they pass by in public places are second, third, and some fourth generation Americans. Some Christians feel that Muslims, living in this country, is an attack on their own culture and religion. It’s funny to me that Muslims and Christians share life all around the world, except here. We believe that we are preserving “our Christian heritage”, but forget that “the earth is the Lords and the fullness therof” (Psalm 24:1).
If western evangelism of Muslims had a mission statement, it would be this: “Serve to convert.” The methodology in which this would happen would be: Berate the other faith, point out their faults, demonize their beliefs, and then offer them the alternative of Christianity. We have brought Christ to Muslims like we bring business proposals to competing markets. “The other company’s product is not that great. It has a lot of malfunctions. The other company is bad business. But, you can fix all that right now if you purchase our product.” It really breaks my heart that we have placed Jesus Christ in a box, labeled him, and shipped him overseas.
The new mission statement of evangelism is this: “We do not serve to convert, but we serve because we are converted.” Our methodology is simple: share our lives openly with others, without hidden agenda’s, without walls, and live Christ to the fullest. If we do this we don’t have to worry about what we will say, or the seven points on evangelism, or some other theologically marketed punch line. Christ will radiate in our conversations. The more naturally we love people and share our lives with them, the more adamant our desire will be to reach them.
Say you had a son and he had decided, for whatever reason, to leave your household and travel far away. You longed for your son to return and you cried several thousands of tears and begged God that he would return your son to you. You would stay awake many nights wondering if he was ok and if he would ever return. Being your friend, I understood your hurt and your pain. Being your friend, I had prayed with you and listened to you express these concerns. Now let’s also say that I happen to be in that far away place and I saw your son. What kind of friend would I be if I said nothing? What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t try to reconcile your son to you?
The Church of America today has become the prodigal son’s brother. Though it was our responsibility to reconcile the father to the son, we have done nothing to reconcile the situation, yet instead, grumbled and complained about our “rights” as sons. We have hurt the father even more by causing him further disgrace because of our feelings of entitlement. When Jesus told that story he was referring to the Pharisees as the prodigal’s brother. Today, we have become the thing we have despised. We have become indignant, lovers of self, self-righteous, spoiled children of God. God’s house is open for anyone who wishes to enter. If you have a problem with that, please take it up with the man of the house.