BLOG. 1/23/18. OUR OBLIGATION TO MUSLIM NEIGHBORS? LOVE AND HOSPITALITY.
I am constrained, what with the remarks by some prominent national leaders (not to mention some ostensible Christians of prominence) making prejudiced and demeaning references to Muslim immigrants as well as to Muslim nations as though they were the source of wickedness. To be sure, there are some in minority Islamic sects who engage in extreme behavior, … but then there are those within the Christian orb who are also engaged in behavior that is an embarrassment, alas!
Such demeaning and prejudiced references need to be challenged forthwith. Our discipleship, as Christ’s followers, is that of responding to the New Creation that he inaugurated by his life and teachings, and his cross. We are those who are the followers of him who came to “seek and to save the lost” after all. We are those who live with his commission to make disciples of all nations (people and ethnic groups). And did I miss something? … Was it not our Savior responding to a God seeker assuring him (and us) that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall be saved”?
… or that we are to love even our enemies?
… or that Christ’s followers were to literally live-out the Beatitudes, even is what is so often a totally inhospitable world?
… and that those Beatitudes include one that asserts that we are blessed when others revile us and persecute us and say all kinds of evil against us or his account?
… or that his kingdom people are always to be peacemakers.
… and that we are to minister to strangers in his name.
… and that our daily armor is to include having on our feet the gospel of peace.
There are in this world of ours 1.6 billion Islamic people, those heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. They are distributed over a score and more nations across the world. Most are sincere, god-seekers who respond to their culture–all they have ever known–in which they are formed by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (just as our western culture is formed by Hebrew-Christian traditions). It is all that they have ever known. They have produced remarkable cultural contributions. Not to menion that western-Christians, who have lived in Muslim-dominant countries, have often testified of how hospitable their Muslim neighbors have been to them.
Now, with the turmoil in that whole area of the world where Muslims have lived, there is a surge of migrants seeking a better life, and our country is frequently their goal. Then there is the omni-present influence of social media, so that Islamic people are not isolated from what is going on elsewhere. So, we now find that Islamic/Muslim folk are our neighbors, that they are the clerks at the check-out counter, staff for those companies that provide us services. There are mosques springing up in our American cities. More American people are curious about the Quran, and about the vast diversity of the Islamic community in the world, about the Shia and Sunni divisions that determines so much of the turmoil in Islamic nations.
What then is to be our response to Islam? to our Muslim neighbors? My answer that is that it should be the same as to all: love and good works, genuine hospitality—especially hospitality. Invite your Islamic neighbors and friends to your home for tea. The quest for God, for meaning, for a center and some creative source is true of them as it is for us. Yes, we believe that the Islamic faith is based on fulfilling their law, and that God, in Christ, came in grace bring forgiveness and acceptance through Christ. But our Muslim will discover that primarily if they see it demonstrated in us, in our caring lives of love and good works. … Stay tuned.