Archive for February, 2010

Meeting our neighbors

February 9, 2010

Many of you were here last Sunday night for our fifth Sunday night service about ministry to and among Muslims. I’ve felt much convicted of the need for me to build relationships with the Islamic Society downstairs, and last week I had a chance to begin that process. We received a letter to them in our mailbox by mistake, so I took it down there one afternoon and ended up talking with three men for upwards of an hour. They were very respectful of my position as a pastor and welcomed me in for tea and conversation. They gave me lots of information about Islam, which I was glad to take because my knowledge about it is far too thin. Al-min, who had married a daughter of a Baptist pastor, at one point asked me how one enters paradise as a Christian. I told him, “faith in Jesus Christ.” He said, “faith in Jesus Christ and…?” I repeated, “faith in Jesus Christ.” I explained that because we are sinners, righteousness can only come from Jesus who was sinless and both God and man. I talked about how some people think the books of Romans and James are contradictory because the former speaks of justification by faith and the other speaks of justification by works and not by faith alone. Al-min seemed to jump on this and talked about the need to please God. In fact, one of the brochures they gave me, entitled “The Concept of Worship in Islam,” says, “Islam being a way of life, requires that its followers model their life according to its teachings in every aspect, religious or otherwise. This might sound strange to some people who think of religion as a personal relationship between the individual and God, having no impact on one’s activities outside rituals.”

The followers of Islam have great concern about living consistently. Al-min talked about one’s “walk” and “talk” agreeing. My burden for my new friends downstairs is that they would come to grasp the reality that it is only through a personal relationship with God that one can get beyond religious rituals.