Muslims, Jesus, and Truth. Looking back to January, 2015.
Just a year ago this week, I was at Chicago's Northwestern University taking a weeklong mediation course. Being away from home, being in new settings and also dependent on other transportation modes, the situations are ripe for great conversations-at least for me. I smile as I remember this conversation like yesterday, and the thoughts it prompted.
It happened again ... the rearview mirror thing.
'How're you doing this cold morning?' I asked my cabdriver. I couldn't delay any conversation I hoped to have, as the ride was relatively short. 'Oh, I'm fine,' he said, as I noted his thick accent and very dark skin. 'Where 'you from?' I asked. 'Somalia,' came his terse reply. Short on opportunity, but curious just the same, I cut right to it-'so would you be a man of faith?' 'Yes.' 'Muslim, perchance?' I asked. And up came his right hand to cock the rearview mirror down to get a look at who was asking. I had seen the right-hand move to the mirror before. (It makes me smile, because obviously, once they get a look at me, they realize I am no physical threat.)
Deciding I was safe, he then asked me, 'How about you-you a person of faith?' 'Oh yes, I am.' I smiled and said, 'I'm a Christian.' Then he got busy, uncovering his center console glove compartment, producing two tracts, which he turned and proffered: What Muslims believe about Jesus, and What does Islam say about Terrorism? In spite of myself, I smiled again-at least inside; here I am trying to make inroads with strangers about the great love of God, evidenced by Jesus, but this guy snuck one in on me. ;) It was okay, because I listened, I learned, I took his tracts, tipped him very well, read the literature, and learned more.
And here's what I have to say to you-
You must be a person who wants to know truth,
and you must be willing to only deal in truth.
As a person of Christian faith,
You have to want nothing less . . .
And certainly Jesus wants nothing less for you!
Hear me: I am not saying you go around denigrating other folks' beliefs-nothing like that; but what I am saying, is that you personally must know truth; you must search out truth as though your life depends on it
-because your eternal life does, or perhaps your minor kid's life depends on it--and here's the thing, if you do not know TRUTH, you just may not see lies as they come your way. Fact is, you've heard the same thing I have-part of the training for federal bank agents is to handle so much of the 'real stuff', that when counterfeit bills come through their hands, it is easily recognizable. Great article on this, actually..1
Back to my Somali friend-to be frank, as I was flying back west on my way home, carefully reading the literature he had given me, I saw at once how easily a person could be taken in by the rhetoric in the Islamic tracts. For instance, the citing of the Q'uran's position on Jesus, bumping it up against the words of Jesus, from the gospels could easily confuse. To the Bible-illiterate mind, it is quite conceivable that the words quoted from the Q'uran might catch one up. Please, oh please, hear me through these words:
you must read Scripture for yourself.
You must spend time in the Word of God, so that when you read literature that refers to Jesus as 'prophet' you will realize that it is in error;
Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh,
one third of the beautiful Trinity that is our God.
Anything less, anything short of that is a lie. Oh, okay, Miss Tolerant, perhaps we can start out by saying, 'Anything less than referring to Jesus as God is inaccurate, it is an aberration.' But no, it is more than that.
Anything other than referring to Jesus Christ as God is an outright lie, another's attempt to deceive.
Which is why you and I must be well read. We must know what the Word of God says, why it is set apart as the best-selling book of all time, never-to-be-equalled by another. But you and I must read the Bible for ourselves. Our only sources of Christian instruction must not come from another; please, I implore you, read the Bible for yourself! The King James Version on which I was reared would read, 'I beseech you therefore my brothers!' Ask God the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your mind and heart for understanding, and then read. Whether you read a passage of verses, a whole chapter or a single verse, get into God's Word, and it will get into you. I promise. And I have never written that. In eight and a half years of writing these Morning Briefings, I have not penned 'I promise'. God's word does not go out to folks without making an impact on them.2
For this reason, we are reviewing where we have been in the gospel of Matthew. I pray that you will desire to know the words of God, that you might apprehend them, and learn to abide in Him who loves you as no other, through his words. I pray that your heart might echo the words of Jeremiah, "When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven's Armies."3
Whether you encounter the faith of the Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS, Scientology, or just a 'spiritual' person-you, my friend, must know truth. And here's the thing, our Jesus said: You shall know the
truth, and the truth shall make you free.4 Read what others believe; the Christian faith-yea, God himself-does not restrict your gaining of knowledge by reading the publications of other faiths, though other faiths discourage or prohibit doing such. That alone should give one pause.
Why do you believe what you believe? Explore. Oh, and what do you believe?
** Grab a notepad and write down what you personally believe about God.
3 - Jeremiah 15.16, NLT
4 - John 8.32, NKJV
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