Fear runs pretty strong in the America I love these days. It bothers me. From the folks I have talked to, it seems to bother a lot of us. Some in our country seem to be cashing in on the fear and they are stoking more of it. The fear, in particular, seems to center around people who are not like us. Racial tensions are rising, polarizing attitudes over immigrants and immigration run strong, and fear over the increasing marginalization of the church has captivated many.
Fearing the Muslim Community
I have particularly paid attention to the fear and concern surrounding many in the Muslim community. This matters to me because I have many friends in the United States Muslim community, I have spent a lot of time overseas on Muslim-majority countries, and I have many global friends who are Muslims. Over the years, a number of these friends have given me the opportunity to ask hundreds of questions about them and their faith. More than a decade a go, a mentor pushed me to not read books or talk to other Christians to learn about the Muslim community, as was my first inclination. He recommended I get to know some Muslims. For me, that meant visiting the local mosque where I got to know the president and some key leaders. I want to recommend you do the same.
My guess is that you know, at least marginally, someone who is a Muslim. If you find yourself struggling with understanding Islam or wondering if you should fear those in the Muslim community, let me encourage you to fight your fear with a meal. Specifically, take someone out to lunch or have them in your home. A meal is a perfect place to develop relational ties, enjoy conversation, and learn more about each other. Initiating a meal and a conversation opens doors for them to query you about your own faith and experience. In fact, it has been rare for me to have a meal with a Muslim friend and not have an opportunity to share what I believe about Christ and the gospel.
Questions to Ask
I regularly share with my friends that I am constantly trying to learn more about what others believe, and would like for them to help me know more about what they believe specifically. These four simple questions have provoked incredible opportunities to build relationships, share my faith, and open up further opportunities to get to know each other.
- What do you believe about God?
- What do you believe about salvation?
- What do you believe about Scripture?
- What do you believe about Jesus?
Those questions have opened the door for me to ask about everything from marriage and family to Sharia law. In my experience, relationships and shared meals have demystified the Muslim faith, opened up doors for understanding, and provided opportunities for me to share my faith. What’s more, it has helped to almost completely dissolve any anger or mistrust I might have previously had.
While governmental solutions matter, I am convinced that the world could be transformed if followers of Jesus would get more serious about building relationships with those they disagree with than they are about watching the news or reading biased websites. Who knows? God might just use it to bring some of your friends to faith. I know He can use it to make you more like Jesus.