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!