An Open Letter to my Muslim Friends….

I’m writing this to real people.  You know who you are. I am thinking of you when I write this. You live in the Middle East. In America. You are young. And some slightly less so.  Wealthy.  Middle Class.  Sunni. Shi’ite. Serous Muslims. And some not so much.  But you are my friends.  I’d do anything for you. I love you. You know that.

Now here’s the deal. Many of my Christian friends here in the States don’t really understand my love for the Arab world. For the Muslim world. They think I’ve compromised truth.  The truth mainly being that unless you receive Jesus Christ as your Master (lord) and personal savior by acknowledging your sin and his death on the cross to atone that sin – you’re doomed to an eternity without hope and life. Hell.

So when I seem to act as if I love and respect you as you are, they – my well meaning Christian friends here – get nervous. Not about you….about me. They wonder why I don’t tell you.  That if I really and truly loved you, I’d tell you.

So is my life. Caught between two worlds who both partially misunderstand. My Christian brothers and sisters who are concerned I may be a heretic.  And you – who still, after all my years with you, wonder if I’m a missionary trying to convert (change) you into the religion of Christianity.

Well, here is the full and honest truth. I am concerned for you.  For the world you live in. For the instability you live with.  For the ones who have hijacked your religion and used it against you. The ones who have bred fear in your midst. Who rule with the Sword of Top-Down Power and Intimidation.  I hate to say it, but you’re unlikely to get it back.

Out of love, concern, here’s what I suggest.  Surrender. Don’t fight back. Don’t think you can beat “them.”  Whoever “they” are. I’ve heard for 30 years as I’ve lived in your region that it’s America. Israel.  The Terrorists in your midst. The bad regimes you live under. And the temptation – ours as well – is to fight.  Eliminate this evil and we will be free. It’s not true.

Surrender. It’s what Islam means anyway, so go ahead.  Fully surrender. To God.  To the one you can trust. Throw yourselves on his mercy and compassion.  Surrender.

As to our theological differences. Here’s what gets me in trouble on this side of the pond – don’t worry about theology. Worry about your heart. Honestly seek him – as I attempt to do – and draw near to him.  He will come near to you. He will reveal all who Jesus is.

I constantly and almost annoyingly speak of Jesus.  I do this because I still don’t think you fully grasp what good news he is.  What his life lived here among us, exemplified.  What he did for us.  Where he can lead us.  And…lest you think I’m sounding preachy here…listen, I need this news as much as you. My people – Christians – also don’t know who Jesus really is. They have a Tame, White, Westernized, Wimpy Jesus.  He’s not the real one either.

The real Jesus – the one you need and the one I need – is out of control. Literally above and beyond our control. He is Messiah. His is Freedom. He is Life. I want you to know him as I want to know him.

Surrender.  And let’s walk this walk arm in arm, discovering the real Jesus from Nazareth. East and West. Arab and American. Muslim and Christian. It will offend many. Most will not understand.  But it doesn’t matter as the one who calls us will keep us.  Carry on my friends, carry on.

Your brother and friend. With tons of love and respect for who you are!

carl


Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    I love this letter Carl. I am learning how to speak of Jesus more often, but I still have a lot to learn and am hungry to do so. Your words are inspiring. I want to be a heretic in your style. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. airgore says:

    Carl, I love how you suggest that they and we surrender to God and draw near to him. It reminds me of what it says somewhere in John that everyone who has heard and learned from God, comes to Jesus.

  3. J.J.Morton says:

    So let me get this straight. The Arabs don’t know the real Jesus. Christians don’t know the real Jesus. So who does know the real Jesus? If I’ve been deluded all these years I need to know the real Jesus.

  4. randdmiller says:

    JJ Morton —- who knows the real Jesus?

    Not even his disciples – who walked in his midst figured that one out. The Bible remarks on their amazement, surprise, doubt, and questions enough to convince me of that fact.

    If His disciples didn’t know the real Jesus — who am I to say that I do?

  5. travist81 says:

    The disciples didn’t understand Jesus at first, which is very clear in the gospels, but after Jesus’ resurrection they appeared to understand Him more due to the Holy Spirit enlightening or showing them.

    When you read Acts you can observe a shift in their understanding of who Jesus was when He walked with them on the earth, of course with some bumps in the road (Peter treating Gentiles differently when Jews were present).

    Looking at the disciples lives and reading their letters, I would side on the idea that they knew Jesus really well. Paul even said to be like him, because he was wanting to be like Jesus. Paul couldn’t have said that unless he knew Jesus. With that said of course we can strive and pray to be changed to be more like Jesus, but we won’t be completely like Him in this present life.

    I have a hard time believing if you read the Scriptures that testify to who Jesus said He is with the Spirit of Christ that you don’t or can’t know Him. That is very problematic and quite frankly not biblical at all.

  6. randdmiller says:

    My comment was intended as a point of humility, not an acceptance of ignorance.

    I think as Christians – we start by admitting – we cannot (at least on our own accord) know who Jesus is.

    So – we spend time in Scripture studying Him – getting to know Him (I believe in divine inspiration, and accept the authority of the Bible – and go through the book of Luke in detail – twice a year — a chapter each week with a 1 week pre-view, and a 1-week overview).

    That said – I have a hard time with so-called preachers who all-to-quickly put words into Christ’s mouth.

    I think as Christians we can (and should) be more like Christ. (ergo your reference to the book of Philipians).

    That said – no – beyond a spirit-guided reading of the scriptures – we as imperfect non-gods (I do not consider equality with G-d something to be grasped) – enjoy no monopoly on defining who Christ is.

    1. travist81 says:

      Rand,

      I agree… I had a hunch you weren’t accepting ignorance. 🙂

  7. Carl Medearis says:

    Obviously, you have to catch this SPIRIT of what I wrote. Since in the West we’re trained to knit-pick, then we can discuss things like “who knows the real Jesus” and all that – sort of like the Pharisees did.

    But those who have ears to hear, I think catch the heart of my point. “Humility” is a good word for that – thanks Randy.

    carl