Did you know that Christians are praying for Muslims during Ramadan?
I have a list of people that I pray for and it includes Muslim colleagues. Just this morning in church we prayed for Egyptian Christians who are undergoing persecution simply for being Christians in a country that Muslims consider to be Islamic. Attacks in the name of Islam have taken quite a toll on many innocent people in the last 15 years and many frustrated people have grown antipathetic to Muslims, if not downright hostile. What is to be remembered however is that Muslims are souls in need of salvation, and every Christian was once in need of salvation too.
By that logic, many Muslims would be pre-Christians.
I saw a sign on the N1 highway this morning that posed a question about religion. Religion can burn a person out, thereby offering the appeal to know God instead of trying to do stuff for him. Many years ago, I worked for an insurance brokerage that was run using Scientology, the religious system devised by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard in the 1950s. Scientologists measure production on a graph which can range from ‘danger condition’ (line on graph trending down) to ‘emergency condition’ (line on graph either trending slightly down or level) to ‘affluence condition’ (line on graph trending sharply up), and other various conditions in-between.
Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy the whole Scientology angle, it gave me a glimpse into how religion can almost become corporatized or incentivised.
Taking that church sign into account, religious activity can burn a person out because we can almost put it on a graph and track faith by the things that we do: so much money given as charity, so many prayers at so many times, or so many hours of fasting.
Is God really like that? Requiring graphs and stats and PowerPoint presentations of corporate growth? Or can statistics be misleading? Ever heard of that saying? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics…
…the idea that religious activity can measure up to God’s key performance indicators for humans takes a large assumption for granted, that anything on our scale could ever measure up.
Neither is zeal the measure of salvation if the zeal is misplaced. Paul the apostle expended a lot of serious energy opposing ‘Followers of that Way’ (as Believers were called before they were known as Christians) and when confronted was very surprised that it was the God he thought he was serving that he was ultimately persecuting:
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
” (Acts 9, NIV)
Islam is many things, but it cannot be argued that the religion is tolerant of conversion away from it. Yet for all that, and despite the dangers involved for Christians is proselytizing, Muslims are still becoming Christians with many reports of people seeing Jesus in a dream like the testimony below:
If God’s name is YHWH and he sent Christ and his gospel is true, then it cannot help but have an impact on the hearts of all people in need of the message, even Muslims, and even in the face of persecution.