Today we re-post a blog from last year's "MOVING TOWARD MUSLIMS" series of posts by "Anna," a Christian living and working among Muslims in the Middle East.
Last month, I shared how I felt like a project when my Muslims friends try to convert me. But what if I turn the tables and ask myself: Should I, as a Christian, convert Muslims?
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did a lot of converting. In fact, they traveled “over land and sea to make one convert.” Impressive, right? Not to Jesus. He said those efforts to impose religion were making the spiritual condition of their converts worse than before! (See Matthew 23:15.)
Instead of starting a new religion, Jesus of Nazareth ushered in a kingdom where he reigns as King. In this kingdom, people are healed physically and spiritually. The poor finally have some Good News. Dead people are raised to new life in Jesus.
For any of us to move toward Jesus, the supernatural must occur. The Holy Spirit wind of God must blow through my life, regenerating my enemy soul. In Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 describes the miracle: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (NKJV, emphasis mine).
As I interact with Muslim friends, I attempt to introduce them to Jesus Christ and the reality of his kingdom reign. With a growing admiration for Jesus, we can learn together what it looks like to obey him gladly. I look for the day when Muslims unburden themselves at Jesus’ feet, without taking on my religious baggage in the process. This is clearly supernatural!
In my years of building relationships with Muslims, I have shifted my focus away from winning converts to my religion. Muslims are not prizes to be won. We are all flawed human beings who desperately need Jesus. I am identifying more with John the Baptist, who saw his role as a “mere stagehand” in the drama Christ is unfolding in the nations (Luke 3:16 MSG).
With this shift in focus, I can begin to recognize God’s everyday miracles of stirring the spiritually dead:
- A friend in turmoil is comforted by a psalm of David.
- A family matron asks a question about Jesus and her attentive daughters and nieces listen to the answer.
- A light bulb goes on for a university student and she remarks, “God is showing me how much he cares about me!”
I will never “convert” Muslims. Instead, by God’s grace, I will live wisely and take every opportunity to point to Jesus. I may be a player in the drama God is unfolding in my friends’ lives, but I want Jesus to be the star of the show.
He must increase, and I must decrease. Because, let’s be honest. If I tried to run the show, I would operate much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and make my convert twice as much a child of hell as I am.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Do you agree with the author’s premise that Christians should not convert Muslims? Is it possible to make a convert worse off spiritually than before?
"Anna" blogged each month last year for VOM, writing about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.