Fear of those who belong to the Islamic faith is not a completely irrational fear. It is natural to be afraid of those whose religion teaches them to kill infidels who will not convert to Islam. It is natural to fear those whose religion has motivated suicide bombings, hijackings, and all matter of atrocities all over the world. However, while fearing Muslims might be natural, it is certainly not Christian. It is not “of Christ” to fear “those who kill the body” (Matthew 10:28). Nor is it “of Christ” to hate them.
I have heard people – who claim to be Christians – speak with utmost disdain, hatred, and fear of those of the Islamic faith. Personally, I think we need an attitude adjustment.
1. They are Our Neighbors
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach the principle, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:14). Of course, the people of Jesus’ day felt they were being obedient to the command by loving only those who were of their race and their religion. Jesus was discussing this principle with an expert in the Law, and the lawyer, “desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor'” (Luke 10:29)? In response, Jesus taught the parable of the “Good Samaritan.”
If Jews and Samaritans were “neighbors” and God expected His people to love Samaritans as themselves, don’t you think God would expect us to love our muslim neighbors as ourselves?
2. They are Our Enemies
Obviously, not all Muslims would consider themselves Christians their enemies, but many of them would. If you will not love Muslims because they are your neighbor, then at least love them because Jesus told you to love your enemies. Jesus said in Luke 6:27-31,
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
We are not talking about having a warm and gushy feeling in your heart. We are talking about benevolent love. We are talking about love that can be seen. We are talking about giving to them generously and treating them in the same way you want to be treated. Jesus went on to say in Luke 6:35-36,
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Love, kindness, and gentleness are virtues we should express to everyone, including those who hate us, despise us, and persecute us. If we cannot be kind and merciful to our enemies, we cannot be “sons of the Most High.”
3. They are Lost
I have heard many Christians express sentiments like, “We should just drop a nuclear bomb on the whole Middle East and turn the whole thing into a parking lot!” I’m not saying we don’t have a right – and even an obligation – to defend ourselves against attacks; but as Christians, our desire should be for Muslims’ salvation – not destruction. Doesn’t the book of Jonah teach us that? And doesn’t God’s nature teach us that as well, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
I think Christians should study the religion of Islam, be familiar with the Quran, learn about the Sunnis and the Shiites, and know who Muhammed was. We don’t need to learn these things in order to fear them or hate them, but to know how to reach them with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. If they don’t hear and obey the Gospel, they will be lost eternally (Romans 10:14-16). And that breaks my heart!
“What if they kill us, Wes?”
“That’s alright. I’m going to heaven. Besides, we don’t walk by fear. We walk by faith (Matthew 10:28; 2 Corinthians 5:7).”
“What if they don’t listen, Wes?”
“That’s alright. We’ll be like Ezekiel and preach whether they hear or refuse to hear (Ezekiel 2:5).”
The bottom line is this, we need to love and pity anyone who isn’t in Christ. We need to reach out to them in love. We need to share the gospel with them when we have the opportunity. Even when they attack us and hurt us, we must be careful not to develop a bitter and hate-filled heart. Let me leave you with the words of the apostle Paul from Romans 12:17-21,
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I love you and God loves you,