“An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, ‘Whoever received this child in My name received Me, and whoever received Me received Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” Matthew 9:46-48
Recently, I read a twitter feed discussion about the Messiah (Jesus) returning to earth as a Muslim. I have read other commentaries stating that at the Judgement Day Jesus will bow down in heaven to the Prophet Muhammad. Yesterday, I introduced myself to a Muslim woman who expressed to me that they (the Muslims) believe that no person (Jesus) can take away another person’s sins because people would just keep on sinning. She stated Muslims believe that we can all ask forgiveness for sins, but we should not intentionally sin. I attempted to clarify for her the Christian teaching on sin, but she didn’t really listen, and kept on repeating that no one can take away sins.
I read the Holy Quran, pray for discernment, and actively defend Islam while attempting to educate Christians regarding the numerous misunderstandings of the Islam religion. Due to the increased terrorist activities with the associated prejudiced blaming of Muslims, I am a strong advocate for establishing peace among the Jews, Christians and Muslims. We are at a dangerous turning point in our society that could lead the world into chaos, and the United States into a similar scenario as the Holocaust.
The term, “Islamaphobe” is frequently used by Muslims when discussing the ignorance based prejudice of non-Muslims towards Islam. There is increasing prejudice against Muslims all over the world, but in the U.S. there seems to be a significant amount of ignorance regarding the tenets of their faith.
When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right, and the other on His left. Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:33-34
Many Muslims are working towards educating non-Muslims about Islam, and there is certainly movement towards peace and understanding. However, these same Muslims are repeatedly angry about their mistreatment and misunderstanding of their religion. Oftentimes, this is expressed towards each other in confirming their group identity by discussing the ways how Islam and the Prophet Muhammad is better than Christianity and other religions. I met two Moroccan Muslim men who were elite runners at my gym who were training for the Olympics at altitude, and began a discussion with them about Islam. They told me a story of how a Dallas Seminary Professor went to an Iman in their country to prove how Christianity is the truth over Islam, and subsequently the Professor converted to Islam and became an Iman. The two men continued by telling me that the Qu’ran is just one cohesive book, and the Bible is two books, The Old Testament and the New Testament, which distorts the truth. I attempted to explain how the O.T. and the N.T. fit together, but I could tell by the expressions on their faces as I began explaining that they were shut down to anything I could teach them. My intent was not to convert them, or to prove Christianity is better than Islam, but to objectively educate them regarding our word of God.
As I am educating Christians about Islam, I recently came to the realization that Muslims also need to be educated about Christianity. Christians, Jews and Muslims all have misunderstandings regarding each other’s religions. Using name calling, beginning a conversation with the mindset that our respective religion is better than any others continues to build barriers, and destroys peace and understanding.
In the Holy Quran:
“I shall turn away from My revelations those who show pride in the world wrongfully.” (7:146)
“And in this way Allah does put a seal on every arrogant disdainful heart.” (40.35)
“Certainly He does not love the proud ones.” (16:23)
Muslims, Jews and Christians all worship the same monotheistic God. But, we all express our faith through different cultures. God placed this understanding on my heart:
You are my friends,
the sons and daughters
of the Light.
Let us seek the Beloved together,…
And bathe in His wisdom.
My brother, my sister
Muslim, Jew or Christian
we are one in our love
for the Beloved.
Let us be at peace
Understanding in righteousness,
We are on the same path,
the Way, the Truth, the Light.
He has woven us as different colored strands
in Joseph’s coat.
And how beautiful Joseph’s coat is!
The metaphor of Joseph’s coat is the understanding that we are all God’s people but we express God’s love through different cultures. That doesn’t make one colored strand better than another colored strand, but we are woven together to express God’s will to the world. God placed a vision in my mind of one strong cord woven with three different strands. Woven together we become strong; able to express God’s love and purpose more effectively and to withstand the coming storm upon humanity.
Should I call those Muslims who refuse to let me explain my religion to them Christianphobes? I think many Muslims believe that if they learn the truth about Jesus and Christianity, then they will somehow betray their love for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I love the Prophet Muhammad and everything he did to educate and spread the knowledge of the one true God. I support and defend Islam. This doesn’t mean I am betraying Christ. I will always be a follower of Christ. However, as I’ve mentioned in previous writings, God has blessed me with clear direction that we are not to convert Muslims unless the Holy Spirit specifically guides us to a specific person, and likewise for Muslims converting Christians. We worship and love the same God. The People of the Book express their respective religions through the filter of their cultures. If we focus more on our cultural based differences, we will oftentimes fail to see the beauty that unites us which is our love of God (Allah).
What most Christians fail to understand about Islam is that the Arabian tribes during the Prophet Muhammad’s time period would never have had anything to do with Western Christianity because the culture it was enmeshed in was too different from the Arabian culture. When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was called to be God’s messenger these tribes were constantly warring with each other and worshiped numerous gods. God gave the Prophet Muhammad the knowledge of the one true God, the Old Testament, and Jesus. The Prophet himself stated his intent was not to start a new religion, but to bring the truth to the polytheistic culture where he lived. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was God’s arrow to lovingly reveal Himself to that culture.
Unfortunately, we enjoy our ignorance regarding each other’s religion because of our pride and superiority. We love to talk for God much like in the book of Job in the Old Testament where Satan is sure that the righteous Job will turn against God if Satan puts Job through severe trials of all sorts. God allows Satan to attack Job, and Job friends provide all sorts of reasons why God is allowing Job to suffer. God responds to Job and his friends by reminding Job who created the earth and all that is in it, or in other words, reminding Job and his friends that He is the Creator over the entire universe, and they are faulty in their assumptions of God’s dealings with Job. God states to Job, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it” (Job 40:2). Job in humbleness responds to God, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things to wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eyes see You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).
Oh, how we think we know what God’s will is and we even determine it from the earthly viewpoint of our culture. We are so little compared to God, and yet our egos and pride step all over God’s will. This was evident when God sent Jesus to lovingly show us a human representation of God’s expression in the world. Many Jews did not believe Jesus was the awaited for Messiah because of their own determination of what the Messiah would be like and what he would do (take over the Roman government like a mighty warrior and king). How could the Messiah come from Galilee, that backward place? How could the Messiah be this humble man talking about love and forgiveness? He wasn’t even trained in the Torah by any of the great teachers, and yet, this man is so gifted in knowledge and wisdom that He claims it has been given directly to Him by God. Oh thou puny man, who determines God’s will and purpose?
God loves His creation so much, He wants no one to be lost. So He provided His presence and knowledge to the Prophet Muhammad to teach His will to the polytheistic Arabian tribes, and yet, non-Muslims have determined Islam is not God’s will for this particular culture. We are like little ants running about to and fro, with very little wisdom and knowledge, blocking God’s will with our own arrogance. Who are you that you think that you can talk FOR God. God has sent numerous Prophets who didn’t speak FOR God, but God spoke directly through these Prophets to express His will and direction. Many did not obey God as spoken through the Prophets, because they refused to acknowledge God’s Sovereignty or determined they themselves knew God’s will.
Walter Brueggemann writing in The Prophetic Imagination, uses a term called, “royal consciousness” which applies the characteristics of Solomon’s reign in today’s spiritual landscape. “The royal consciousness with its program of achievable satiation had redefined our notions of humanness, and it has done that to all of us. It has created a subjective consciousness concerned only with self-satisfaction. It has denied the legitimacy of tradition that requires us to remember, of authority that expects us to answer, and of community that calls us to care.” And, “The task of prophetic imagination is to cut through the numbness, to penetrate the self-deception, so that the God of endings is confessed as Lord….The prophet provides a way in which the cover-up and the stonewalling can be ended.”
The Israelites called out to God for help because of their pain and suffering as slaves of the Pharaoh of Egypt. God revealed His Sovereign power to the Pharaoh, then took the Israelites in a seemingly overlong, illogical journey to the Promised Land. Their cry was the human cry of a baby asking God to relieve their pain. However, He had other plans according to His will and purpose. He raised up his chosen people by keeping them in liminal space until they could learn to be obedient and submit themselves to God’s will. Then He provided His son as an example of the fullness of spiritual maturity. Brueggemann describes this next stage of spiritual development as a transition from being chosen, to expressing God’s love by showing others how they are chosen as well.
God blessed me with a vision yesterday of His hand reaching out holding three people; a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian. He said, “You are my chosen people whom I love, I now want you to love each other.” I used quotes on arrogance and pride from the Quran, and the nature of servanthood from the Bible. We must be open to learning about each other’s religions, and come to a full understanding that those characteristics that are different are based upon our respective cultures and are not to be a basis for superiority over one another.
When I was called to be a Pastor, God provided signs and wonders, and one of the first I experienced shows even God can be humorous. I was getting ready for church one morning applying my make-up and I said to myself, “I wish I could make my eyes pop and look big like my friend’s eyes.” While I was sitting in church, I suddenly was filled with God’s Holy Spirit which was pouring out of my eyes like a waterfall. I could even sense bubbles popping as this strong river of His Spirit poured out of me. Later, I heard, “God made your eyes pop!” Jesus stated many times that He provides living water that will never run out. The living water is a metaphor for God’s wisdom and will that has been poured out on civilization through the ages. God provides messengers to bring humanity to the next stage of spiritual growth moving closer to His kingdom. However He chooses the place, the person, and the time to deliver the message.
Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done…” With the conflict and violence that is presently happening in our world, we too are crying out to God for help. However, help is not the Father giving us a bottle of milk to sooth us, but to bring us out of our numbness into pain, so we may move closer to the Promised Land; God’s Kingdom. His Kingdom coming is going to be a transformative power that is going to shake us like we’ve never been shaken before. I had a vision this morning of myself passing out bowls of soup signifying He has called me to serve by handing out the truth of His will.
Jesus frequently stated, “for those who have ears to hear…” I too am calling out for you to listen. God has revealed to me that the world is moving into chaos like we’ve never experienced before in the world’s history. He has revealed that a huge storm is coming and if you don’t listen (and many of you won’t listen) then your work, legacy and your souls will be burned up. He also revealed to me specifically that presently there are militant groups forming who plan to “take out” Hillary Clinton if she becomes President.
For the People of the Book, He is calling for you to love one another. As the Prophet Muhammad taught regarding pride, we must be aware of our pride and learn from each other, and pray for God to help us work together for His common purpose. Three strands woven together in one cord are much stronger than individual strands which can be easily broken. That strength is going to be important to make it through the coming storm.