Build Bridges of Love to Muslims
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2001 5 Oct
Muslims have acquired a bad reputation since the horrific attacks Muslim terrorists carried out against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. But many Muslims abhor violence, and genuinely want to please God. In fact, many Muslims respect Jesus, and would be open to learning more about who He truly is if they had a mutually respectful relationship with a Christian in which to explore faith together.
Here are some ways you can build relationships with Muslims:
- Read and understand the Koran, Islam's holy book. Study the passages that mention Jesus, and notice some of the similarities to the Bible (such as His virgin birth and His miracles).
- Develop genuine friendships with Muslims, built on mutual trust and a recognition that all people are made in God's image and that Jesus loves everyone. Establish common ground in various aspects of your lives.
- Invite Muslims to share spiritual discussions with you. Schedule times to get together for these conversations, starting with the Koran and what it says about Jesus. Realize that many of these passages will arouse a Muslim's curiosity to discover the fullness of who Jesus is, and that when he or she is interested, you can study both the Bible and the Koran together. But it's important to begin with the Koran rather than the Bible, because Muslims respect the book they know and need to have that as a starting point to move toward the Bible.
- Separate faith from culture. Realize that people can come to know and worship Jesus within the context of any culture, and that it's vital not to impose Westernized cultural traditions on Muslims from Eastern cultures. Allow them the freedom to seek Jesus in ways that are culturally relevant to them (perhaps by men and women praying separately or by prostrating themselves in worship rather than standing), without the pressure of having to alienate themselves from their family, friends, and larger community.
- Live a holy life, relying on God's grace to help you do so. This will enable Muslims to see Christ's light shining through you. When you make mistakes, be honest about them, and let Muslims see how God works in your life after you repent and rely on His grace to transform you.
- Rely on the Holy Spirit's guidance as you discuss faith with Muslims, so you can understand God's wisdom on what to speak about and when.
- Be aware of how deeply politics sometimes mixes with faith in Muslim nations, and ask God to show you how you can best share conversations with people living in those countries or who have come to the United States from those countries. Maintain pure motives, and be aware of what is and isn't considered appropriate when discussing the Gospel.
- Pray for God to deliver you from evil and keep Satan bound so he can't harm you or thwart your efforts to build relationships with Muslims.
- When discussing spiritual principles, talk about: how God has purpose for people's lives and wants to have relationships with them; how sin separates people from God; how people can't save themselves no matter how many good works they do; how God has provided a solution to the problem through the cross; how God's provision is through the person of Jesus Christ; how the focus is on what God does and not on what people do, so salvation is achieved not through a philosophical or religious system, but through a living relationship with God Himself through Jesus, the Word of God; how truly submitting to God's will means accepting and embracing what He has done for people; and how to begin and grow through a relationship with Jesus. Take the time to discuss these principles gradually and chronologically, showing how the Koran logically points to what the Bible says.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your Muslim friends to the truth, and trust that God will use the truth to set them free in Christ.
Adapted from Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam by Fouad Elias Accad, copyright 1997 by Bridges of Peace International. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colo., www.navpress.com, 1-800-366-7788.
Fouad Elias Accad grew up in Lebanon in the Greek Orthodox Church and dedicated his life to reaching out to Muslims. He became an ordained pastor, and was a scholar who knew ancient Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, and Armenian. In his later years (he died in 1994), he was a respected hakeem (or "wise one").
Why is it important to reach out to Muslims, especially in the wake of the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001? How have you built a friendship with a Muslim in your life? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.