Enemy Image?

The advance and agenda of Islam is the greatest challenge the church faces today in relation to the Great Commission. While there is much focus on politics, the Tea Party, the socialist agenda of the liberals and the economic problems of our nation, none of these really have any bearing on the true task of the church — to reach those in darkness. Who is in greater darkness than those deceived by the teachings of Islam? What false religion has more people enslaved in darkness? What false religion is more aggressively seeking to conquer the world and bring more people into the darkness? How should we respond?

I can remember the response of the church in past years to false religions. Walter Martin wrote a classic work called The Kingdom of the Cults, a study of the four major cults of Mormonism, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science and Seventh Day Adventism. And yes, in spite of the fact that some of these groups now talk about Jesus, use a lot of Christian terminology and are now considered part of the “Christian” church, they are still cults.

Churches studied these movements so their false teachings could be accurately and effectively refuted in personal witnessing. Our motives were right. We desired to see those in darkness come to know the love of Christ and see the light of the gospel truth. We didn’t want any of them to live on in deception and face the eternal consequences of their error. We believed the gospel of Christ was the only true way of salvation. Our desire was to become knowledgeable enough that the Lord would perhaps use us to help deliver someone from the darkness. I remember a lady from our church who turned to one of these cults and my parents spent hours with her trying to reverse the damage of the brainwashing perpetrated by her newfound “friends.”

Why has our response to Islam been so different? We have found the enemy and it is them. We are the good guys and they are the bad guys. We have seemingly retreated into the safety of our faith and have no intention of reaching out to them. We have no plans to become instruments of their deliverance.

I will not gloss over the terrorist agenda nor do I have my head buried in the sand about the radical agenda of true Islamic teaching. It is a force that must be reckoned with politically, militarily and with whatever other measures need to be taken to protect our liberty. We are justified in our righteous indignation toward this advance upon our autonomy as a nation. But our response to the individual Muslim must be radically different.

Let me borrow a couple of thoughts from Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler. We must forever set aside the idea that the individual Muslim is our enemy.  We have assigned to all Muslims the enemy image of the terrorists who seek to hijack planes and crash them into buildings, blow themselves up taking others with them, or take over our embassies and hold innocent people hostage. The moment we do this, we make it impossible to reach them with the gospel. God cannot use us. As long as we have an enemy image of any people, we cannot love them and we will not reach out to them. God cannot call us to any nation or people for whom we cannot shed tears while we pray.

I would love to hear of churches that have started study groups with the desire of reaching out to Muslims with the love of Christ and becoming instruments God can use to help deliver from the darkness. I long to hear of Christians whose hearts have been stirred to make a difference and whose spirits are no longer dominated by the fear of them. The individual Muslim is not our enemy – the devil is. He is a powerful foe, but we are not striving for victory, we stand in the place of victory. We have the truth that has the power to light the darkness.

The Muslims in America – numbering almost 8 million –  are a mission field. Could God use us to recruit some of them into the army of the Lord? And could God then use some of them to influence other Muslims around the world whom we may never encounter?  The world of 1.5 billion Muslims can be reached with the gospel. The gospel of Christ is still the only way of salvation. It still has the power to change the hardest hearts. It still has the power to apprehend those farthest from the truth. We must recognize the price Jesus paid at Calvary was for them also. We must remember that behind the crescent walls are souls just as valuable to God as our own.