The “Grace and Truth” Affirmation: Toward Christlike Relationships with Muslims (part2)
5. Be Respectful and Bold in our Witness
In the spirit of the Prince of Peace, respectful witness focuses on giving a positive presentation of the gospel. It does not attack the other or avoid presenting truth. As the apostle Peter says: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). Numerous biblical examples (i.e. Acts 4:31; 9:27-28; 13:46; 14:3; 17:30-31; 19:8) invite us to emulate the boldness of early believers in sharing the good news. In obedience to the Scripture, we seek to be both respectful and bold in our witness.
6. Be Prudent in our Google-ized World
In the past, when leaders in a religious community spoke, it was only heard by their own community. But today our words ricochet around the world. When we try to explain who we are, what we believe, what we do, and why we do it, our words may reach beyond our primary audience and enter the global marketplace of ideas. After saying something controversial, an outspoken leader may try to clarify his statement. But the damage is already done. Words are powerful. Prudence is required. “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint” (Prov 17:27).
7. Be Peaceable and Uncompromising in our Dialogue
Dialogue between Muslims and Christians provides us with opportunities to understand Muslims, build relationships, engage in peacemaking and share our faith. We seek to share the gospel respectfully and boldly, without compromise— as Paul “reasoned with” people (dialegomai – Acts 17:2, 17). Through dialogue, we work toward mutual respect, graciously bearing witness to our faith and working toward religious freedom. Ultimately, we long to see as many as possible reconciled with God, through the person of Christ.
8. Be Loving toward All
The world’s Muslims are our neighbors, as Jesus used the term (Luke 10:29-37). The command of God to his people stands for all time: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18; Luke 10:27b). How can a follower of Christ take seriously Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, and at the same time address the real threat of terrorism (by those who position themselves as our enemies)? Jesus’ teaching about love of enemy (Luke 6:35) is among the most radical and most ignored commands in the Bible. We do not want to engage in the “hermeneutics of evasion”— figuring out ways to interpret Jesus’ command so it doesn’t apply to our lives.
Both peacemakers and those who love their enemies are described as “sons [or daughters] of God” (Matt 5:9, 44; Luke 6:35). They are called children of God because they are acting like their Father: the God of Peace (Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23). In other words, peacemakers and those who love their enemies demonstrate their authenticity as children of God by their words and acts of peace. Jesus modeled this by loving us and laying down his life for us, “while we were enemies” (Rom 5:10; cf. Col 1:21). Responding to enemies with self-giving, sacrificial love demonstrates the gospel.
We have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18, 19). The commission to “make disciples of all nations” has not been rescinded. Neither have the commands to demonstrate sacrificial love and to work toward peace. There is no separate gospel for wartime and peacetime. The message of God’s love in Christ is for all times, places and peoples. We affirm the nine biblical guidelines presented here for all followers of Christ, that we may remain faithful to him and become more fruitful in our relationships with Muslims.
Dialogue between Muslims and Christians provides us with opportunities to understand Muslims, build relationships, engage in peacemaking and share our faith. Ask that Christians will seek to share the gospel respectfully and boldly, without compromise – as Paul “reasoned with” people (Acts 17:2, 17). We have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:18-19).
- Pray for Christians ministering to Muslims, for breakthroughs in making disciples of these precious people.
- Pray that we Christians will receive grace to demonstrate sacrificial love and to work toward peace.
- Ask for special opportunities to share Jesus’ love with Muslims during the next 30 days.
Declare God’s Personal Names and the Name of Jesus above Allah
- Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people (Gen. 22:14).
- Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” Stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory; the one who fights for His people (Ex. 17:15).
- Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” Points to the Lord as the means of our peace and rest (Jud. 6:24).
- Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military figure portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
- Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” Portrays the Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes (Ex. 31:13).
- Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Portrays the Lord as the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 23:1).
- Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Portrays the Lord as the means of our righteousness (Jer. 23:6).
- Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 48:35).
- Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations (Jud. 5:3.; Isa. 17:6).
- And above all the Name of JESUS (Philippians 2:9)