As I mentioned yesterday in my sermon, our Turkish tour guide was a guy by the name of Omar. He lives in a city of 17 million people, in a country that is 99% muslim. He of course, is a muslim guy leading a group of Christians through some of the biblical sites. I found him to be very respectful of our religion as we were of his freedom to follow Muhammed as well. Here's the question we lived out over the last five days of our trip: How do Christians influence Muslims without offending them?
I guess I should begin with "Should we try to convert Muslims to Christianity?" Well, yeah! If you believe anything that Jesus and Muhammed said you will find their religions and their teachings to be diametrically opposed. In other words, the notion that somehow you can synchronize both into being the same thing is silly! Muhammed completely rejects Jesus as Lord and God (which Jesus continually claimed to be) and Jesus completely rejects Muhammed as a false teacher (many will come and say, "i am he"). Let get past this societal teaching that somehow all teachings are the same. They simply oppose each other too much. So how do we influence those whose world views are obviously not Christian? Well, we do it as we did on our trip (I was so proud of our people) on hours of bus trip conversations! So with apologies for a silly alliteration. Here are three "L"s for interacting with Muslims:
1. Lead with questions, not statements. We asked lots of questions like: How do you get eternal life? What happens when you die? What do women get in heaven? Is Muhammed in heaven? What is Allah like? These questions usually lead to questions about Jesus and Chrsitianity which gives opportunity to talk about Jesus in a non-threatening way. simply telling Omar about what we believe and why we believe it.
2. Listen. You have to listen to a lot of stuff you don't believe and frankly don't want to hear. As Omar shared the founding of Islam over the microphone for about 30 minutes, I was really on edge. Basically he was preaching the message of his faith, but that courteous listening gave us a chance for him to listen. You simply won't win anyone (muslim or not) without listening.
3. Live Jesus. Finally, as we've said before; your first and best witness is the life you live. We showed genuine love for Omar. Laughed with Omar. Talked with him. Showed the fruit of the Holy Spirit and I think it genuinely affected him.
Finally, it's the Holy Spirit's job to do this spiritual work. Omar has asked for a copy of our video teachings we did in each Bible location which we will when we get it edited. We will also make this available for small groups to study soon at church. In the meantime, keep playing.