One of the most common questions I get asked is whether I think Muslims want to take over America. Are they really coming in order to control the school systems, local government positions, and the White House? Or are they normal people who won't bother us after all? The implied question within the question is essentially - do I have to do anything about this potential "problem" or can I breathe easy?
When it comes right down to it there are two common answers and accompanying responses. One, if Muslims are going to take over, then we need to do something about it and fast. The knee-jerk reaction to this usually tends along the lines of immigration reform whereby the 'what to do' becomes 'restrict the amount of Muslims which will enter our country.' The other response comes with the supposition that they are not, after all, planning on taking over. The typical reaction which accompanies this thought is a great big sigh of relief.
Neither answer, however, is correct. Let me propose a completely different thought than those stated above. I propose that Muslims already have "taken over." Let's look at a few facts. There are Muslims on school boards and in prominent positions within the education system throughout America. The religion of Islam and its ideologies are being taught in the Common Core - the nationwide, Whitehouse-approved, federally mandated curriculum. Muslims are in all levels of politics including the Whitehouse (and I'm not referring to the common suggestion regarding our President here). In terms of take-over, they've already done a pretty good job.
The problem with this supposition for many people is that neither the political knee-jerk reaction nor the reaction of relief is applicable. So what should our reaction be? "Grass roots" gospel activism! Taking action at the "grass roots" level is necessary and required if we are to assert the right to desire any lasting change within the temper of American Muslim society. We cannot simply bemoan the loss of Judeo-Christian ethics from the moral fiber of America. Declaring 'woe is us' after hearing the latest news story of ill morals displayed in our school system is not enough! Feeling 'bad' for the thousands suffering in Syria and Iraq is not enough! We must, of necessity, act.
Many Muslims are becoming disillusioned with Islam. They figure, if ISIS is a true representation of what it means to worship Allah, they would rather not. Muslims are seeking truth like never before. Many long for hope which they have not gained from Islam. And do you know what they are finding? Atheism. Buddhism. Agnosticism. Secularism. Materialism.
"Why is this?" you ask.
Dear Christian, a Muslim cannot receive the hope of Christ if we are not willing to go out and give it to them; if we are not willing to do the uncomfortable and at least try to share the gospel. How did you get saved, dear Christian? Undoubtedly someone at some point decided to share with you the precious hope-filled and life-giving words of the gospel. Imagine - if no one had shared with you the precious news because they were uncomfortable or afraid of offending you! How dreadful your life would be today! Thousands of Muslims are living in this place, hoping and searching but never finding, never hearing.
We must act!
Spend time upon your knees interceeding for the lost and dying of the Muslim world. Then take that oh-so uncomfortable step into the unknown and reach out to a Muslim neighbor. Individuals, you are needed to make a change. I can't do it for you, your church can't to it for you, you must do it for you. There will be no lasting change without the commitment to make it happen. So let's be committed. Starting in our own "Jerusalem" let's commit to pray for and share the gospel with Muslims! Will you commit to do this with me? Don't just watch others; take it into your own hands! Will you pray for an opportunity to talk to a Muslim and share the gospel?
My friend, take this challenge: talk to one. One Muslim by the end of the year. If we each start by talking to one, the entire world can be changed.
"Tolerance" is a pretty hot buzz word these days. It basically amounts to a cultural understanding that we are to be nice to everyone, say nothing that might "offend," live at "peace" with all humanity, and otherwise keep our mouths shut.
The problem with this picture, however, is that to create any lasting change in the world "tolerance" must be set aside. If we want safe streets, we must not "tolerate" criminals which roam them. If we desire a good economy and prosperous trade, we cannot possibly "tolerate" those who would launder money or siphon it from our bank accounts. On all of these issues, the majority of America would shout a rousing, "we agree!" but when it comes to the most important matter of all, the majority of America is silenced.
Thousands of people are going straight to hell all because of "tolerance." That sounds harsh, probably even cringe worthy. But it's true. Thousands are trudging through life, longing for something to offer hope, but are not given the answer because the answer might "offend." Christians, we cannot possibly "tolerate" this norm of culturally-induced silence in reply to false beliefs if we desire that the lost be found.
Never before has the Muslim mission field been so accessible to the church. It was not that many years ago that pioneer missionaries such as Samuel Zwemer had to go to Arab lands, facing persecution and hardship, in order to bring them the good news of the gospel. Today, Muslims are coming to us by the thousands! They are shopping in our stores, attending our schools, and making America their home. While there will always be a place for missionaries to go overseas, if we are not careful, we are going to miss out on an opportunity to step into the mission field that is literally right outside our front door.
Just as any lost soul needs the light of Christ, Muslims desperately need the gospel. Some will be open to it, some will not. But all need to hear it! "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14. We MUST risk the thought of *gasp* offending someone! We MUST reach out in love and sincerity and share the gospel! Do we not care that these precious offspring of Abraham have no other eternity than hell if they do not believe? This is not a matter of being politically correct! This is a matter of LIFE AND DEATH!
My fellow Christian, please cast aside the notion that we will all live in peace if we simply stick our head in the sand. Cast aside the idea that the best thing you can do for a Muslim is to be "tolerant." I challenge you! Be intolerant and share the gospel! Do not allow mainstream America to so affect you! The gospel is foolishness - "for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" I Cor. 1:18a, but it is also the power of God to those who are saved! I Cor. 1:18b. Yes, the gospel is offensive but if the one offended is won to Christ, how beautiful is that offense!
The gospel must be lived out. It must be spoken and taught and preached. It must be given in a spirit of meekness and love and grace. But most importantly it must be given!
I will leave you to dwell on this quote from a former Muslim:
We have a HUGE problem in America today. A mosque-sized problem.
Mosques are popping up in every major city across the country. Chances are, if you live in a populous city or state, there is mosque coming to a " street corner near you." The number of mosques rose a whopping 74% in the 2000-2010 decade, growing from 1,209 to 2,106! There are mosques in every state in the union and in each of our territories. There are 246 mosques in California alone! New York wins out as having the highest number in the nation with 257 and Texas is well on its way with 166.
But is this really the problem? I am going to take a bold step here and say a very emphatic NO!
The building of mosques at an exponential rate is not the problem. Muslims coming to our shores and integrating into our society is not the problem. This, my dear friends, is an opportunity!
The mosque-sized problem is that generally we in the western church are doing a great big nothing about it. I say "generally" because certainly there are ministries and churches which do, indeed, reach out to this growing populace living in darkness and in dire need of Christ. By and large, however, we as a church turn and look the other way, refusing to acknowledge the Muslim walking down the grocery aisle let alone say "hello."
I say these things with the full realization that there are a few major obstacles in the "way" of reaching out. Firstly, there is the "fear factor." Considering everything seen on any news station around the country, most Americans equate "Muslim" with "9/11" and now "ISIS." The other issue is a lack of understanding in the "how-to" realm. The oh-so common question of, "What if I offend him/her?" swirls around our heads before we even get up the nerve to say hello. Combine these two issues, and the typical Christian turns the other way or simply ignores the Muslim walking opposite them in the grocery store.
How many "well-meaning" Christians turn away instead of engaging the Muslim who has come to our shores? So many that in only 10 years the number of mosques "grew" by seventy-four percent! They are not afraid of offending us, my friend. How dare we let "fear" keep us from potentially "offending" them!
I want to challenge you today. Our problem isn't Muslims or mosques. Our problem is our own lack of reaching out with the glorious gospel of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Having lived overseas in a Muslim context, I can promise you, not all Muslims are going to want to murder you in your sleep. Yes, there are "extremists" who would be more than happy to do so, but may I also be so bold as to say they need Jesus too! Throw aside the fear and doubt the devil would so love to hinder you with and the next time you see a Muslim walking down the street, gather up the courage to say hello! As far as offending them goes - "Hello" is not a very offensive word.
Here are a few "how-tos" for those of you who have Muslims living in your neighborhood.
1. If you are going to say hello and introduce yourself, make sure you say it to the correct gender. Men socialize with men and women socialize with women. Period. In a husband/wife situation, the socialization rules are pretty much the same. Husbands speak with each other, wives speak with each other.
2. Let your beliefs infiltrate your speech. Including things like, "God brought me to this town 12 years ago..." and, "Lord willing..." are great ways to let a Muslim know you worship God and aren't afraid to show it. And while we're on the subject, don't be afraid to show it! For the most part, Muslims live, eat, and breathe Islam. We should live, eat, and breathe Jesus Christ!
3. If you are able to strike up a conversation, offer a way for further contact. If you just met these people, give a phone number (again, remember #1) or your street address and invite them over! Muslims are very hospitable people and though they may not seem super friendly at first, they will warm up to you through a genuine offer of friendship. Remember, they are largely ignored and ostracized due to media attention and the fact that most people would rather they just leave instead of adjust and fit into our society.
I cannot possibly overemphasize #2. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE is a commandment, not a suggestion. Muslims are won to Christ by seeing and hearing about the love, grace, mercy, and light of the Lord Jesus through His Gospel. Speak of Him, love Him through your actions, let Him affect and flavor every single thing you do. Be the salt of the earth. Reach out with the love of Christ. In Jesus' day harlots and Samaritans were the ignored and ignoble people of society. But many of them are in the kingdom of God because Jesus purposely spoke to them about redemption, their need for it, and the way they could obtain it.
Let us reach out, let our light shine, and speak the glorious news of the precious gospel!