The Muslim Next Door

In Western cities Christians are increasingly encountering global cultures and religions; realities that were once only the realm of “foreign missions” are now next door, down the street, and on the job.  One common example is found in the Muslim Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Turks, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Somalis, Bosnians and others who have migrated to the West in search of a better life.  But why is it that Christians are often hesitant, or fail outright, to show kindness and hospitality, along with loving gospel proclamation, to these neighbors lost in sin and apart from Christ?  Undoubtedly part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the religious system(s) of Islam, along with the diverse cultures represented by Muslim immigrants.

This can be solved without great difficulty: there is a vast amount of helpful material online for equipping Christians to minister to the growing population of Muslims in the West. One of the best websites is Answering Islam. With a wide array of contributors ranging from Christian scholars of Islam to missiologists, missionaries, and Muslim background believers, this is the number one place to begin. The site is theologically diverse, broadly evangelical in nature.

For those who want to dig more deeply into understanding Islam, here are a few short, worthwhile articles in Islamic studies from a Christian perspective:

Islam United? A Comparison of Shi’ite and Sunni Islam
Sufism: The Mystical Side of Islam
Hadith Authenticity: A Survey of Perspectives

The reality for many of us though is that the core of our problem goes deeper: a failure to love our neighbors as ourselves–or as we have been loved. We too often are the priest and the Levite travelling the road to Jerusalem, skirting around the man on the road. (Luke 10:25-37) The answer is found in coming again to God in Christ for his all-sufficient grace, and remembering, knowing,

that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ… that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 1:18-19, 2:9)