It’s a tricky role, isn’t it? Guiding a group of disparate, messed up people on the way of Jesus? Prophet, teacher, counselor, referee and sometimes janitor. Pastors hear the worst of the worst, which might be juicy and interesting the first time or two, but not the 400th! They are expected to encourage and help believers navigate the present world while preparing for the future one. It’s no small task and I’m sure I’m not alone in my sense of empathy and respect.
Islam poses a unique challenge for pastors. “How do I help my people think like God does about Islam? How do I help them love Muslims as Jesus does? What does it mean to be both Christian and American relative to these issues? How do I boldly, yet carefully, walk the prickly path between truth and political correctness, love and wisdom? Remembering that Jesus walked it well and it led him right to the cross.”
Assuming most pastors aren’t pursuing advanced degrees in Islamic Theology, what might actually help them be the thought leaders in this arena we need them to be?
I’d also be happy to hear your ideas. What would help your pastor lead in regard to Islam?
Monthly Archives: July 2017
I saw something stunning this week: A young woman shared her story of deciding to follow Jesus in a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim. She endured intimidation, rape and other brutality before eventually fleeing for her life.
Men did terrible things to her; some, at least, in the name of Islam. I don’t pretend to understand this, neither the objective facts nor the underlying issues and subtleties. But this does happen. Certainly not always, but too often.
What is stunning about this woman’s story is her response: She wisely, I think, fled for her life. Then in the neighboring country where she settled for a time and now in the U.S., she winsomely and boldly befriends Muslims. Who would blame her if she insulated herself from everyone with any relationship to Islam? How do you process what she dealt with? How do you move on with your life?
She chooses engagement over estrangement. Filled with the love of Jesus, she seeks ways to kindly share that with others, particularly Muslims. Not knowing her entire life, I assume she stumbles in this occasionally, but she’s trying to be like the man who extended mercy, empathy and kindness, even to the ones who executed him.
What have I suffered at the hands of Muslims? Nothing really. What have you? I don’t know your story and I don’t dismiss indirect suffering. What I do want though is the grace to imitate this woman as she imitates Jesus.
Send me an email if you’d like to know more about this young woman’s story.