Russell and Duenes

to the muslims I became as a muslim

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I’ve been to Kazakhstan twice, short-term. My wife spent five years in Uzbekistan. We currently live in a building full of Turkish refugees. What is the common thread through all of these facts? Islam. Not the kind of Islam that makes the news, mind you; more like a folk/cultural Islam. Kind of similar to a cultural Christianity that one might find, oh, just about anywhere in the U.S.. These are the kind of Muslims who don’t read the Quran, don’t go to Mosque, and really don’t know or bother with Sharia Law. Nevertheless, these Muslims of Central Asia, the kind we see and interact with regularly around our apartment are part of the large, worldwide umbrella that is Islam.

I bring up my connections with Muslims not to explain some sort of “credentials” I think I might have in talking about Islam. Even with my limited experience, my credentials don’t amount to a hill of beans. I bring it up because of the tension I feel within me. The tension between wanting Muslims to know the love, salvation and hope that are found by trusting Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior; and yet wanting to stand for a culture and society in this fallen world where all citizens are free to live by those “unalienable rights” that have been so precious to us as Americans and to many throughout the world. My ultimate allegiance is to Christ and His purposes in this world (though that allegiance is not often what it should be), and thus, my allegiance to a free society is quite secondary. But the conundrum comes when trying to decide whether these twin allegiances are mutually exclusive. In other words, as a disciple of Christ, should I care whether European, American and, indeed, all “Western” governments fall under the influence of Sharia Law? Or should I only care whether whether Muslims are hearing about and experiencing the love of God through the spread of the gospel? Should I go casting about for “the whole story” about Islam, the good and the bad? Or should I just ignore the uglier parts, find as much common ground as possible, and look for ways to share the love of Jesus? Surely “Christianity” and our own church history are filled with all manner of sordid and evil doings. Do I like it when every Tom, Dick and Harry atheist trots out all the usual crimes of Christianity? I most certainly don’t. Yet I find myself getting riled up inside when I hear so many Western attempts to “make nice” with Islamic theology, history, and current fundamentalist practices. I don’t want to stand pat while Muslim immigrants seek to infiltrate our culture and replace it with Sharia Law.

Again, the Muslims amongst whom I live and who I consider to be my friends don’t, as far as I know, have designs on seeing Sharia implemented here. I gather that a great number of Muslims worldwide don’t want it. Further, I think about St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “I have become all things to all people, that I might win the more.” Paul seems utterly unconcerned about whether the Roman society around him is “free,” except insofar as there is freedom for Christians to “lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness.” How does it advance the cause of Christ to go around sounding the alarm bells about Islamic fundamentalists? Then again, might staying quiet about them lead to the further subjugation, oppression, and even death of countless people at their hands? Is God in favor of that? And if Christians stay quiet about this virulent Islam, isn’t there a bunch of other things we should stay quiet about, like abortion, euthanasia, racism, and the like? Shouldn’t we just focus on the proclamation of the gospel? Gads, you see this is a rather age-old problem when it comes to integrating our faith into the warp and woof of life on this planet. 

This has been a rather clumsy and rambling attempt to form good questions so as to think well about this issue. The realities of Islam are upon us as never before. And each Muslim is a unique and valuable human being, created in the image of God for the purpose of knowing and enjoying God. Jesus commands us to “make disciples of all the nations,” baptizing them and “teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us.” At the end of the day, this command must hold sway, and we must seek wisdom as to how to best obey it. So at the least, I should repent of my pride and of whatever I think I ought to be toward Muslims and let the Spirit of God, applying the Word of God, in conjunction with the people of God, be my guide. God doesn’t need me to be an expert in knowledge about Islam, though knowing truth is never a fool’s errand. I hope that whatever truth I come to possess, its end would be greater love for Muslims. May the gospel of Jesus Christ run and get the victory among the Muslims of the world. Amen. 



Written by Michael Duenes

August 10, 2009 at 4:29 am

Posted in Duenes, Islam

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