Thursday, December 09, 2010

In preparation for Sunday

Sunday's the last week of our Coexist series. We're talking about Islam. It should be fun.

We'll today I came across this on Perry Noble's blog. I think it's a great article and a great primer for Sunday. Read it and let me know your thoughts:

A few months ago when I was in England I had a great conversation with a Muslim…here’s how it went…

The group I was traveling with had to get up early to make our flight…so we had made arrangements for a driving service to pick us up at our motel and take us to the airport. It was around 4am and I stumbled through the lobby and sat down in the front seat of a car next to our driver, who I later found out was named Abdul.

Now…I’m a firm believer in what the Scriptures teach in Acts 17:26-27, that NOTHING that happens on the planet is by accident…there is no such thing as luck or coincidence. We’re placed here on this planet as ministers of reconciliation (see II Corinthians 5:16-21) and so I began a normal conversation with Abdul and begged the Holy Spirit to open a door…

HE did!

I asked Abdul about his family, how long he had been working for the company he was with and we made small talk for several minutes. Then…I asked him where he was from. He told me he was originally from Bangladesh…to which I replied I had never been there. I then asked him what the primary religions of Bangladesh were and he told me that the people there were mostly Muslim, although there were some Christians.

Then I asked him what religion he practiced.

There was a very long pause…he gulped and then said these exact words to me, “I am a Muslim, but I’m not a terrorist.” Which was good to hear considering we were literally driving down the road at 100mph!

I asked him why he was so quick to separate himself from the terrorists and he told me, “most Muslims are not like that. I don’t believe that if you blow yourself up you get 72 virgins…I believe if you do that you go to hell.”

I thought that was interesting…and so we continued to talk about his religion, how devote he was and how often he was able to live out his faith. (Christians…please notice I did not begin to dismantle the Five Pillars of Islam one by one, I did not attack Muhammed, I did not talk about the perceived problems of his religion…I simply asked a lot of questions and listened. It’s amazing how people will open up when they do not feel like a project and/or attacked.)

I then asked him the big question, “so…what do you think about Jesus?”

He replied, “Jesus was a great man, a great prophet, but He was not God’s Son…because God doesn’t have a Son.”

Interesting.

We had a great conversation about Jesus for about the next 10 minutes. Honestly, I would love to be able to end this story by saying I shared the Gospel with Abdul and that he pulled over on the side of the road and received Christ and is now the director of one of the largest Christian organizations in the world. (Isn’t that how most preacher stories go?)

BUT…that didn’t happen. Honestly, the door for me to be able to share the Gospel never opened. AND…believe me I tried. But…as Abdul drove away I honestly felt THE reason I had come into contact with him was to ask him the question, “What do you think about Jesus?”

As I sat in the airport that morning reflecting on all that had taken place I had several thoughts…

#1 – The reason that many Christians can so easily hate Muslims is because they have never actually had a conversation with one. It’s hard to hate someone once you begin to understand they have a story, a family, desires…AND a SOUL!!!

#2 – Just like all Christians are not ridiculous, sign carrying, funeral protesting idiots…all Muslims are not sitting in basements assembling bombs and planning the takeover of the world.

#3 – The world needs to know WHO Jesus is and WHAT Jesus taught (He said something about that in Matthew 28:18-20!) Because, knowing these two things completely take away the argument that He was a good man and a great teacher but not God’s Son. (Because, if He was a good name and a great teacher/prophet…then He could not have taught lies.

#4 – God doesn’t always want us to shove the Gospel down people’s throats…but He does want us to be available and open to walk with Him step by step.

I will honestly have to say that my conversation with Abdul was one of the best things about my London trip. I am convinced now more than ever that all of the religions of the world do NOT basically teach the same thing…and that the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ has GOT to be preached to everyone everywhere…but it has to be done so through people actually loving, caring for and respecting the people that HE has called us to reach…because…

…NO ONE has ever converted to Christianity because of our arrogance…but rather because of what Jesus said for us to be all about in John 13:34-35.

Everyone has a soul…a story…a heart, and everyone needs Jesus. AND…I believe when the church is willing to move past our prejudices and our misconceptions about WHO we are trying to reach…it is THEN we will see the reality of Matthew 24:14 right before our eyes!

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