Christians, Islam, and Quranic Ignorance

When you work in social services, you have the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life. Persons with different religion, philosophies, and hygiene habits. As a Christian these interactions can sometimes be culturally shocking – especially when you consider the immersion adherents of other world religions have with their respective faiths. I frequently recall a story of a time I interacted with a client at his home and during our meeting the Muslim call to prayer (Adhan) began playing over a speaker system in the home. This visit was awkward and created some discomfort, but reminded me significantly of just how different Christians and Muslims are in their practices, particularly in the West.

There are many facets of Islam that are concerning to Americans due to the increased media coverage, influence of ISIS in the Middle East, and the history of terrorism frequently involving individuals who claim Islam as their religion. But even the most skeptical critics of the “religion of peace” miss the bigger part of the picture. Whenever there is debate or question raised by talking heads and other religious readers I wonder if they have ever read a Quran? More so, have they considered the pervasive nature of Islam and how it impacts social, political, and spiritual facets of the believer’s life?

At the end of the day, we are only going to change the “evil” effect of Islam through the independent conversions of those that have become lost in its grip of deceit. Just like any other problem we must know the barriers before we can cross them. Most importantly we must remember Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbors – even the Muslims.

Personal experience has shown that the ability for a Muslim to find validity in your Christian witness is through the experience they have with you as a person and follower of Jesus Christ. If you seek to know them and their faith, they will respect you and yours. This is the crucial point where our dialog gains traction and the power of the gospel finds its root.

Thankfully, Justin Taylor has provided some excellent linkage from Adam Francisco (who has a Ph.D. in Islamic-Christian relations from Oxford University) is professor of history at Concordia University in Irvine, California. at his blog entitled, “A Crash Course on the Muslim Worldview and Islamic Theology” with several digestible 5 minute clips. The post also contains links to several other resources for further learning. I recommend your get on over and start studying.

The loveless church and spiritual apathy

photo   © 2010   Bob , Flickr
photo © 2010 Bob , Flickr

What you see is what you get, a helpful axiom that has aided my ability to judge most situations in life as helpful or unhelpful. But then, someone comes along and tells you to not judge a book by it’s cover. Now you are forced to save face, give in, and examine an otherwise undesirable situation further. In most cases, things really are exactly how they seem. But if you dig deeper, you can find a few excuses to tolerate otherwise unfavorable events or relationships with people.

Love. What do you feel or experience when you hear that word? Depending on your culture or upbringing, it has various connotations. I for instance, imagine a bunch of hippies wearing tye-die t-shirts, ripped blue-jeans, and smoking reefer. Some may envision the intimacy between a man and a woman in marriage. You can even describe love as being the emotion that causes the emptiness and feeling of loss when your favorite pet dies. Regardless of the schema love has in your mind, it is a powerful emotion.

Love ultimately facilitates the cohesion of living beings to other living beings. Therefore, the absence of love paints a picture many of us can see when we turn on the evening news. Wars, violence unto others, and the governments of the kingdoms of this world that consistently posture themselves for personal gain are fair representations of lovelessness.

Jesus defined love quite profoundly. Examining his entire ministry provides many other anecdotes that make good sermons on love. But that just over complicates my point. The message he gives seems much simpler. Continue reading The loveless church and spiritual apathy

Waiting on tables as ministry?

At the Koinonia Blog the weekly feature “Monday’s with Mounce” includes an excellent induction of the topic of ministry and waiting on tables as read in Acts 6:2. Often gifts in the New Testament are structured in order of importance in our modern implementations. Rarely, do we see the gift of this or that exalted above Preaching/Teaching. Bill Mounce of ‘Basics of Biblical Greek’ fame states,

‘Is preaching more important than serving the widows? I know the quick, evangelical answer is, “Of course it is.” But what is James’ answer? “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their time of trouble.” What was Jesus’ model? Do we see him giving a significant priority to preaching over helping people? I don’t think so.’

You can read more on this post at Koinoniablog.

Peace in a greeting, peace for eternal life

Matthew 10:12-13 As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.

When you visit someone, do you greet them or bless them?

What unworthiness would necessitate the withdrawal of a blessing? The immediate context appears to be hospitality or households refusing to take in the disciples (Mat 10:9-10), provide sustenance for them, and give tribute worthy of their meat (Mat 10:11). But what ministry from these messengers cause them to be worthy of the gift of meat?

Note, the phrase peace to you in the scriptures as a greeting, come from the Lord after he has been resurrected (Luke 24:26, John 20:19-21, and John 20:26). But curiously,  peace to you occurs only once in the Old Testament from the mouth of a servant to Joseph’s household, “Peace be to you, fear not…” (Gen 43:23). Without promoting a false understanding of prosperity, health, and riches, and the subsequent security that comes from financial provision, one can see plainly the provision God has given to the children of Jacob through the hand of Joseph, by means of Egypt, which is an interesting provision for Hebrews indeed. Continue reading Peace in a greeting, peace for eternal life

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 5

This is the fifth entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. How do you interpret 2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence

Continue reading Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 5

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 4

This is the fourth entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. How does Social Work interface with Christianity? Continue reading Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 4