Monday night was one of those nights. Interesting stuff. Seven of us sat on a panel and answered questions from about 80 Muslims and 30 Christian guests. The local Imam of the mosque. The former Mayor of Baghdad. An American Jew from D.C. A former Congressman and Ambassador. Two local church pastors. And moi.

Some of the questions were:

  1. Why do Christians play instruments in their churches?
  2. Are there Muslims who stay Muslim but follow Jesus?
  3. Do Imams preach from the Bible in their mosques?
  4. How do you (all) experience God?
  5. What’s the best version of the Qur’an and the Bible to read in English?

There was a sweet, congenial spirit there. The challenge was this – could I speak in a way that wouldn’t offend people unnecessarily, while maintaining integrity? Difficult. Here’s what I’ve found to be true in a mixed audience like this.

Some of the Christians are wanting me to preach. Give the “whole gospel” so to speak. (One of the pastors did just that – gave a little evangelistic deal). However, the Muslims who are there, are all feeling very sensitive to that very possibility. They do not want to be preached at, and frankly, are assuming one of us will do just that.

I want to build a long-term friendship with the local (very influential) Imam. So I want to speak the truth, but without going “too far” and losing him.

There’s a built-in tension. I erred on the side of caution. I talked about Jesus. I spoke about the Bible (I gave an explanation of what the Bible is and how it works). I repeatedly let the Muslims there know how much I loved them and cared about how they thought and how they felt. The Imam asked me afterwards if he and I could do this sort of thing more often and he invited me to his mosque.

But a couple of the Christians felt I had sold the deal short. Hadn’t shared enough. Didn’t call the Imam on the carpet when he said things we would disagree with. “Did I disagree?” one person asked. “Of course,” I said, “but why do I need to tell everyone I disagree with what I disagree?”

It is a fine line. I get that. Lots of wisdom needed and lots of grace – flowing in several directions…

I think in years past, I would have given anything for the opportunity to “preach the whole gospel” to such a group. I would have thought “No one else is doing it, and maybe no one will ever tell these people the truth about ALL of Jesus, so I better.” Except in rare occasions, I just don’t feel that way anymore. God’s bigger than that.

“But what if they leave and get run over by a bus and you didn’t tell them how to get to heaven?” you may ask… I say – God is bigger than that.

I go as far as I can. I try to go as far as the Holy Spirit seems to be going. Do I always get that right? Of course not. But that’s my thought….

It’s a tough one. I need prayer. These things happen all the time and I DO need to hear from God. It’s now your turn. You can pray for me!