Just friends? Agenda to convert? Or…?
I’ve recently been in an email exchange between a prominent Christian leader here in the States and a top Islamic and political leader from the Arab world. It’s been interesting to say the least…
The conversation has gone sort of like this:
Muslim Leader (ML): So…do you want to just love me for who I am or do you want to convert me and just pretend to love me?
Christian Leaders (CL): I do want to love you unconditionally. Just for who you are. And of course I’d like you to follow Jesus….
ML: So, then you DO want to convert me!
CL: No not “convert” you to the religion of Christianity, but I pray that you will find conversion through Christ – as I pray for myself.
ML: So are you willing to try to work for peace between our people simply for the sake of peace?
CL: Of course. And working for peace will ultimately point people to the Prince of Peace.
ML: So you do want to convert me!
And on and on it goes. It’s the story of my life. Here’s the issue we all face – we want people to see the amazing wonders of who Jesus was and is. We do want them to have life in Him in a way they may not be experiencing now. That’s just plain ole good news!
But everyone is SO sensitive to being “converted” to another religion. I know I don’t like it when my Muslim friends in the past have tried to convert me to Islam and even told me I was going to hell if I didn’t. That doesn’t feel too good!
As you know, what I believe, is that Jesus did NOT come to start a new religion called Christianity for all to join. He came to give his life so we could have life now and forever more. I do NOT want to convert people to Christianity – I actually think that’s a serious form of heresy!
But the nuance of that issue is lost on many. Both Christians and Muslims don’t understand sometimes. It can actually appear sneaky or even deceitful. As if I’m PRETENDING to not convert them to Christianity by simply inviting them to “follow Jesus” but all the time knowing that’s just a trick to get them “in.”
So…question – is is possible to truly love someone of another religion or belief system and NOT try to convert them, but still truly want the best for them? What are your thoughts on this? I could use help in articulating this better!