1 Corinthains 14:20 | Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
My Muslim friends in Australia are peaceful, likeable, and friendly—as are all the Muslims I’ve met overseas. The vast majority of terrorist activities in today’s world are carried out by Muslims claiming Islamic texts and Mohammad’s life as their authority and example.
Are you confused? Whatever your political stance, in two sentences (both of which I hold to be true) I probably both won your interest and made your blood boil—and not necessarily in that order. The meteoric rise of IS last year, and a recent shocking string of attacks in Australia, Pakistan, France and Nigeria have seen this topic become more heated and divisive than ever.
But this isn’t just a “topic” for debate. These are real people. Victims. Terrorists. Peaceful Muslims caught in the crossfire. A thousand social commentators drawing wildly differing conclusions. All confronted with evil on a scale not seen in a generation.
“The meteoric rise of IS last year, and a recent shocking string of attacks have seen this topic become more heated and divisive than ever.”
Fear and anger and sophisticated forms of denial are all understandable reactions. But when the dust settles, will we have a more considered response? Should we bury our heads? I don’t like it anymore than the next person, but at the dawn of 2015, this is our world.
As a Christian, I’m particularly fascinated at the response of Christians in my Facebook feed. We seem as divided on this as anyone else: stop immigration / let anyone in; Islam is a religion of peace / Muslims have a secret agenda to take over our country.
Why are we so torn? And why do we seem to think that those first two sentences I wrote can’t both be true? Am I Islamophobic for daring to write sentence number two? Do conservative political views have to blind people to the beauty of Muslim cultures and Muslim people? Does loving Muslims have to mean defending their religion for them?
“People who, a year ago, were living in lands inaccessible to the good news of Jesus have now settled in our suburbs.”
I think we’ve forgotten the example of Jesus, who believed he was acting consistently when he both saved a prostitute from public execution and then, with compassion in his eyes, told her to “go and sin no more”. Who promised he will return to this earth to avenge every evil, and yet whose unyielding love will hold his people secure in joy for eternity.
If we consider ourselves sophisticated, let’s ditch the simple-minded, manipulative dichotomies and be a little more nuanced like Jesus. But let’s be like Jesus in other ways too.
In the last month I have heard incredible stories of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus—in big numbers, in recent weeks—right here in Australia. Jesus appearing at the foot of a man’s bed in an Adelaide detention centre. Dozens of Muslims requesting Bibles and baptism in northern WA. Jesus is busy, and he is calling very ordinary people to join the effort.
“Jesus is the only name under heaven by which Muslims can be saved—not only from brainwashing by extremists, but life without God forever.”
People who, a year ago, were living in lands inaccessible to the good news of Jesus have now settled in our suburbs. Many of them don’t have a scrap of earthly hope. On hearing about a heavenly hope—a Saviour who has reconciled us to the Father—many of them are responding! Before I was born they used to call this sort of thing “revival”.
I lived in South-East Asia for two years in a region deeply scarred by terrorist atrocities. I’m half way through reading the Quran, and I’ve read the violent verses. I’m no scholar, and there’s probably a lot I don’t understand, but I can’t buy the idea that the terrorism we’re seeing “has nothing to do with Islam”. Sorry.
But will I let that embitter me, and close my heart to the countless people, made in his image, that God is bringing to our shores? On the other hand, will I deny that Jesus is the only name under heaven by which Muslims can be saved—not only from brainwashing by extremists, but life without God forever? No way. I’m going to go play soccer and befriend some Afghanis and see what God does. Let me know if you want to join.