11/29/15 Yasser about 30
He was working diligently on his computer at the coffee shop, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was busy. I asked if he had time to answer an interesting question, and when he heard my question about eternity, he forgot what he had been doing and graciously gave his opinions about what happens when we die. Yasser, about 30, turned out to be Muslim and we soon realized we were both pretty committed to our respective beliefs. So does the conversation have to end there? It does not, because there is value in finding common ground between our beliefs and in understanding the differences. I had already invested some time in hearing some of Yasser’s story and his own personal beliefs within Islam. After all, not all Muslims have the same beliefs just as there is variety within Christianity. What did we have in common? We agreed that our faiths, along with Judaism, can be traced back to Abraham and the belief in one God. We agreed on the importance of prayer, though Yasser was limited to reciting memorized prayers. We agreed that God is holy and good and has moral laws and is justified in punishing those who break them. We both believed in Jesus as a great prophet and who will come again at a final judgment. So what about our differences? I asked if he knew why we Christians insist that Jesus is God’s Son, part of the Creator rather than just a prophet or angel or some other created being. Yasser was willing to listen to my explanation because I had already spent time hearing his beliefs and because we had already talked about many beliefs we had in common. Yes, there are many differences between Islam and Christianity. But the most important concerns the person and work of Jesus. Islam, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, refuses to acknowledge Jesus’ divine nature. As John wrote in 1 John 4: “,,, many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” Yasser has grown up in Islam. Like people of most faith traditions, he has a relational and emotional attachment to his faith that one doesn’t just abandon for no reason. So let’s give them a reason – Jesus!