What Muslims in Saudi and Christians in Kansas have in Common!
They both read what I write.
I called my friend Samir in Saudi Arabia a few months ago and he had a bunch of friends over at his house. One of them grabbed the phone (another Muslim friend I know) and said “Hey Carl, how weird. We were just looking at your website all together and reading your latest blog. And here you call us… Wild.”
Don’t know if you’ve thought about this or not. But my wife and kids read my emails, blogs and Facebook posts. My friends who are pastors of churches read them. My dad and mom and two sisters read them. I have liberal and conservative Christian friends reading them. I have Americans who would not call themselves Christians and who are not following Jesus, reading them…. And…I have friends all over the world reading them. Many of them Muslims.
How do you speak when you’re in mixed faith company? Do you speak to the lowest common denominator? Dumb it down a bit? Do you use your typical “Christian” vocabulary? Or…what? It’s hard isn’t it.
Have you noticed Jesus was a master at this. His “Sermon on the Mount” was originally given to his disciples, but by the end it says that “the crowds marveled at his teachings.” He somehow was able to speak deep words that would challenge his closest 12 while at the same time gain the hearing of the masses. You see this in his life over and over. He speaks to the Pharisees in front of the adulteress. (Was he speaking only to them when he said “He who is without sin cast the first stone)?
Many years ago I made a decision about my public speaking – whenever I can, I will be sure there are non-believers in the audience. When I’m speaking about Muslims, I want to have some Muslims there. It keeps me honest. Holds my feet to the fire. It doesn’t allow me to speak about “them” as a target I’m trying to reach. If “they” are in front of me, it makes me think and speak differently.
I have to choose words carefully when I write. I want to be clear about Jesus. About my trust and faith in him as I follow him. But I also don’t want to act as if he’s mine and others have to look in from the outside to see him. I want my friends who don’t know him the way I do to be able to see him without me standing in the way. Jesus was incredibly inclusive socially. He made some very exclusive claims about who he was, but socially he invited all into his circle of friends. He turned no one away (not even Judas).
I want to be someone who can write and speak about Jesus in ways that are inviting to all. What each listener or reader chooses to do with Jesus is up to them (and him). But that’s not my call. Mine is to lift Jesus up above the clutter of religion – even my own.
You? Can you take this on as a challenge? To speak about your faith in a way that intrigues and invites all to peer into this life of the one we call our Messiah?