It breaks my heart—completely breaks my heart—when I hear Christians say hateful things about Muslims. When I hear things like “I hope they burn in hell” or “We need to kick them all out of the United States” I am embarrassed on behalf of all Christians. When I see Christians toting heavy weapons protesting in front of a mosque to scare, intimidate, and threaten Muslims, I feel great sadness and righteous anger.
How can Christians be so arrogant as to essentially say, “I deserve God’s mercy and Muslims do not”? How can these people dare to call themselves Christians when the love of God is not in them?
It breaks my heart. I don’t understand it. These hateful attitudes are not of God.
It fills me with righteous anger. I find myself rising up to defend the Muslims because no one else will. Why?
Muslims Are Individuals
As Christians we don’t have the luxury of looking at Muslims with political or ideological perspectives. A Muslim is a person, not a political entity or a religious ideology. A person. Let that sink in. Forget considering the 1.6 billion followers of Islam around the world. Jesus didn’t look at the masses. He saw individuals with needs and He met those needs and touched the individual life with dignity and grace.
Jesus touched the lepers who were outcasts because they were ceremonially unclean. He saw the woman who touched the hem of his garment and was healed of her hemorrhaging. He let a prostitute wash and anoint his feet in the home of a Pharisee, an ultra-religious person who was offended at her presence. Jesus ate and drank with sinners, even when the religious fundamentalists accused him of partying too freely. And with grace, Jesus maintained the dignity of the woman caught in adultery. He did not come to condemn sinners, but to rub elbows with them and give himself on their behalf.
How then can we go around self-righteously condemning sinners? We must look at them as individuals and give ourselves on their behalf. We must give and love and serve the Muslim next door. We must sacrifice ourselves to make friends and give our time to building relationships. We must pray and serve and love until those relationships bear fruit for eternal life.
It’s not about being pushy with our Christian views or developing an “us versus them” mentality. It’s about loving a person into the kingdom of God. A person. Never forget that a Muslim is a person.
For too long, Christian history has been marred with an aggressive stance toward Islam. The Crusades were not our finest hour as Christians. The mistake was in trying to use a military solution to eradicate an ideology. Extermination of an ideology is the exact opposite of Christ’s mandate to love the individuals. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of Christian history. Let’s put aside politics and ideologies and love individuals.
Who Is Our Neighbor?
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God and the second was to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Everyone! Anyone! (Luke 10:25-37).
If that’s not clear enough, Jesus also said, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28). Love and pray. For whom? For your enemies.
The Bible also says: “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them” (Romans 12:14). And then there’s this: “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1 Peter 3:9).
Don’t just love your neighbor (or your enemy). Don’t just pray for them. Bless them! Pray that God will bless them! Payback means giving them a blessing! Can you pray that God will bless Muslims and really mean it?
Who Is Our Enemy?
Muslims are not the enemy. Satan is the enemy and he has lied and deceived Muslims into a distorted view of God and Christ. We’re talking about individuals who have been blinded by Satan. They are victims, really. If you’re going to be angry, be angry at Satan. He’s the real problem here. Muslims are blinded by the lies of Satan and as Christians we are to do the spiritual and relational work of freeing them from spiritual blindness so they can see the truth of God for themselves. That’s why it’s so important to see them as individuals. They are deceived individuals who need a Savior.
We’ll talk about these things and more in the daily readings that follow. I hope you’ll join me in being stretched beyond our comfort zone so we can become a little bit more like Jesus.
My Prayer for You
Before we begin this journey of learning to respect and love Muslims the way Jesus did, may I pray for you?
Lord, I ask you to meet the reader where he or she is right now. Where there is hatred, I ask you to fill our hearts with your love. Let your love flow and overflow in our lives.
For the reader who feels some inner conflict about praying for Muslims, I ask you to bring peace that passes all understanding. For the reader who harbors a any subtle animosity or ill-will toward Muslims, I ask you to heal the wounded heart and fill it with grace and mercy for others just as you have showered us with your grace and mercy.
I ask you to give all of us your heart for Muslims, who are blinded to the truth. Give us a glimpse of your passion so we can be energized and encouraged by your expansive love for those who do not know you.
Hear our prayers and answer according to your will. May we be vessels used by you in the physical realm and in moving mountains in the spiritual realm. Thank you for your love that never gives up on us.
Love Your Neighbor–Muslims Are Our Neighbors
30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World
This is the official site for North American participation in the international 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World. The site has prayer booklets and resources on Islam. They will also post a daily reading from their prayer guide to help inform your prayers. I’ve had a sneak peek at the booklet and it has some wonderful information and is beautifully done in full color.