The subject line of an email informed me, “This will give you cold chills.” I read on with a pre-loaded sense of foreboding. It was the transcript of a speech by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament. He outlined how Europe has already fallen to Islam’s global political agenda. The warning to Americans: our turn was coming soon. He wanted us to be afraid.
But fear is a poor guide.
There must be some way that we as Jesus-following people can be educated about dangers that exist in the world, but avoid the cloudy judgment that results from fear. There is no place in the Bible where we are taught to fear anyone but God himself. I think the first place to begin overcoming a fear of Islam is to practice empathy. What do Muslims think of us? How do they feel?
I remember trying to sleep the first night I spent in south Lebanon, fifteen years ago. I imagined the explosions I heard outside were sounds of terrorist violence. In the morning my host chuckled as he explained that I’d heard the fireworks at a wedding celebration. I was embarrassed. My fear had invented danger that wasn’t there.
Christianity as a Global Movement
Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Muslims are becoming disciples of Jesus all over Africa and Asia? Jerry Trousdale describes this phenomenon as people movements in his book Miraculous Movements. Muslim leaders who are aware of these statistics must fearfully wonder how to control the Christian horde that threatens to end Eastern Civilization.
Could it be that both Christians and Muslims are experiencing the results of globalization rather than nefarious attempts to subjugate each other?
Our two belief systems demonize each other by assuming that the opposition is knowingly sowing evil and chaos in an attempt to destroy. Believing the worst about each other causes the avoidance of contact. Nobody wants to get to know the person whom she believes hates her.
At the same time Muslims and Christians each see ourselves as honorably offering our enemy that which we hold most dear – true faith in God. Can you accept the idea that a Muslim who wants to convert you to Islam sees his efforts as an act of love? Could it be as difficult for a Muslim to believe the good intentions of a Christian?
The Obligation of Jesus Followers to Makes Disciples in The Nations
I read an excellent article by Ralph Winter in a course called Perspectives on The World Christian Movement. The Kingdom Strikes Back explains how the fame of Jesus spread around the world, even in historical moments when his followers forgot the task to “Go, and make disciples of all nations.”
It turns out that when Christians haven’t gone with the good news, God has brought nations without it to come to them voluntarily.
Consider the Viking invasion of Christian Europe. Geert Wilders’ barbarian ancestors were eventually won to Christ as they were assimilated by the monotheistic civilization they came to plunder.
Can you blame people for wanting the better life that exists in wealthy western nations? If you lived in Somalia, Iraq, or Pakistan, wouldn’t you want to move here too?
A Better Response Than Fear
Geert Wilders failed.
Instead of making me afraid, his warning increased my passion to obey. I’m committed to demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus in the growing Muslim communities in our US cities. I see opportunities to build a kingdom for the King, not a threat of Christendom lost.
How have you engaged with Muslim neighbors in a way that honors Jesus? Please share in the comments section with practical suggestions so we can learn from each other.