My experience with Islam is somewhat limited. I went to India about five years ago on a “missions trip,” and while there, I set foot inside a mosque for the first time ever (the Jama Masjid, pictured on the left). I had heard all the nasty, horrible ways that American media portrays muslims, and I was a little tense walking around this place that muslims call holy. However, while meeting with the missionary that talked to us about muslim culture and customs, I learned something I really didn’t know about muslims: they follow Jesus Christ. Tony Kris had this same experience with two Muslim scholars while he was in Albania, and describes his experience like this:
I was moved by their unmistakable reverence for the historical Jesus. They spoke of Jesus like he is a real person. They quoted his teachings from memory. They were verbose in their devotion. As I listened, I found myself wishing that more Christians could speak of Jesus as these Muslims spoke.
I heard this exact same kind of talk from the missionary we met in India, thousands of miles from Albania! Upon further research, I was amazed to find how much Jesus plays a role in Muslim thinking. Yes, he’s only a prophet to them, but he’s considered by many to be the most inspiring and honorable prophet, second perhaps to Mohammed.
I tell you this because, as most of my friends that read this are Christians, I want to show you how much you can learn from Muslims about God, in particular their understanding of God. Right after this, Tony talked to them about how he was a Christian missionary, hoping to continue God’s work in Albania. He asked them how their work was going, and here was their response:
I would say that we do no work at all. It is God who is at work all around us. It is also not about success or no success. God does not need me for his plans. He also does not need you, young missionary. God is all strength. He does not need you to do his fighting for him. Be assured, this does not mean that you are not important. It is the opposite. He is inviting you to sit and watch him perform his wonders. Sometimes he will even let you take the credit. That is what humility does.
When I read that, it floored me. Often, evangelicals will tell you that God needs you to take his Gospel to the farthest reaches of the Earth, that everything rests on your shoulders. Here, muslims are demonstrating how an almighty God functions; that he invites us to work and partner with him and take part in his wonderful works of bringing the world together under his love and glory. How beautiful, how wonderful is that! Bo Sanders over at Homebrewed Christianity is always talking about partnering with the living God, and I feel like this is exactly what these two men were articulating.
I want you to meditate on that. Think about God not as someone who needs you to do his work for him, but a living, almighty, loving entity that invites you and compels you to partner with him in his works in this world. Let it influence and change how you see others, how you work, how you live. God doesn’t need you, but he does WANT you.