For many Americans, an awareness of Islam did not begin until 9-11-2001 when our nation was attacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists. Prior to the attacks, Islam seemed a distant, somewhat exotic religion from the Middle East to many people. Since that time most American Christians have formed views about Islam and the Muslim people. In the book, Engaging Islam, author Georges Houssney identifies five common Christian reactions to Islam.
Fear is a rather prevalent attitude when it comes to Islam. There are different aspects of fear – some truly fear for their physical lives; others fear a loss of western freedoms and a systematic takeover of the U.S. by Islamists and still others have a fear of man – fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and insulting those who may have a different culture and belief system than their own. There is certainly validity behind our fears – it is estimated that somewhere around 171,000 to 176,000 Christians are martyred each year for their faith, and many of those deaths are the result of Islamists. Even in the U.S., there have been those who have gone into hiding as a result of threats against their lives because of radical Muslims. Throughout the past thirty days, the articles in the Ramadan series have shown there are indeed some Muslims who are attempting to turn our nation into an Islamic state.
Oftentimes, fear leads to the second common response to Islam – fury. Since 9-11, the fear of more attacks from Islamists has actually altered our American way of life and that understandably makes us angry. It is because of a group of terrorists from the “religion of peace” that we have to take off our shoes, carry small containers of liquids in tiny bags and stand in endless security lines at the airport. As Christians in our nation seem to lose more and more rights, it makes us angry to see that Islam is gaining more rights and compromise of truth in our nation is evident.
Ironically due to the fear and fury some Westerners have exhibited toward Muslims, another group of Christians sympathize with the adherents of Islam because of what they feel are unfair and vicious attacks against Muslims. These Christians exhibit another common response – fascination. They see Islam as an exotic religion with a rich, cultural heritage, but they fail to realize the teachings of Islam are markedly different from those in Christianity. There are Christian churches and organizations that open their churches for Muslims to hold Islamic services all in the name of “loving their neighbor,” but this love is misguided and even “unsanctified mercy”.
Forgetfulness is another common attitude. Christians are busy and there are countless other important issues that vie for our attention. Many falsely believe that Islam does not affect their day-to-day lives; therefore they are apathetic regarding Islam.
Finally some Christians respond to Islam with fatigue. They are tired of hearing about the latest outrage or offense someone has supposedly committed against Islam. From a call to shut down Nike shoes because Muslims thought a design on the heel of their shoes looked like Allah in Arabic to Muslim cab drivers refusing to allow passengers into their cabs with seeing eye dogs, some American Christians are weary of listening to the religion of perpetual outrage’s latest offense.
Fear, fury, fascination, forgetfulness and fatigue describe the reactions of many American Christians, however God calls us to react to Islam with faith. Faith that our God did not take a 1400-year coffee break, and is now surprised there are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world. He has a plan and a purpose for the Muslim people, and He has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.
As Christians, we must separate the system of Islam from the people. Fearful Christians do not share their faith or in order to protect themselves they water down the truth of the Gospel. Fascination also leads to compromise so we no longer have a distinct Gospel. Untruths or half-truths will never advance the Kingdom of God.
Fatigue can lead to exhaustion, and in a place of exhaustion we may find ourselves too tired to look beyond the religious system of Islam and see Muslims as individuals in need of the Savior. Forgetfulness can lead to apathy. Many Christians pray for God to send forth the laborers into the harvest, but few Christians actually believe they may be the very one God wishes to send forth. The phrase “send forth” in the passage actually can be translated from the Greek as “cast out”. Maybe God knew in our reluctance that some of us would have to be “cast out” into the harvest.
Scripture says, love casts out fear and produces boldness. I John 4:7-18, “In this way, love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness…There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” May we walk in boldness, presenting the gospel to those around us with love and pray as the early believers did. “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
Fury, however can lead to strife. We cannot be faithful servants of the gospel if we are motivated by strife. The Bible tells us, “Be angry, but don’t sin.” There is a righteous anger that does need to rise up in every American Christian in this nation – not anger at Muslims, or atheists, or gays, or abortionists, but an anger at ourselves for not guarding and appreciating this unique nation, which God has given to us. An anger that motivates us to fall on our knees and cry out for mercy on behalf of our nation.
We have seen the past 30 days of our reports that Islam’s impact on American culture and on the seven spheres of American society has been significant. The inroads, the infiltration, the propaganda thrown at the western world has been incredible and thus far effective. We are playing “catch up” to many years of information warfare. The only hope for the defeat of radical Islam is Jesus Christ, the Son of God … the only Way, Truth and Life. And it starts by inviting Him back into our nation.
PRAYER FOR ISLAM IN OUR NATION
- Pray that the American people in our nation will be drawn to seek God on behalf of the United States — praying that we, as a people, will return to the God of our Fathers and to our foundational beliefs.
- The Muslim people in our nation need their hearts prepared to hear the truth of the gospel. Pray that God will soften their hearts and that the Church will rise up boldly and confidently, with love, sharing the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Muslim people.
- Speak God’s blessings over the Muslim people! Pray that “what our enemy [Satan] has meant for evil” God will turn it around for good and bring forth multitudes of Muslims into the kingdom of God. May God be glorified in the United States of America!