Good news for the seeker: God wants to be found
Many of you know people who are seeking to begin a relationship with the living God. Some of you are in that position. I have good news for the seeker: the God of this universe wants to be found. He loves and cares for each of us, wanting each one to be part of His family so that He can love them as a good father loves a child, and also as a faithful friend loves a friend.
Rather than try to provide an answer for the intensely personal journey of a seeker, may I suggest the following for those seeking God: ask Him, “Please show me who You are, and I will follow You.” If a seeker prays that prayer sincerely, I believe He will lead and direct that person into the truth about who He is and the steps to take to enter into a personal relationship with God.
Keywords: seeker, evangelism, prayer
Insights for evangelizing Muslims from my testimony
Part of my testimony provides useful insights into evangelizing Muslims:
[Please] let the [Muslim] seeker know that they will not see all of Christ in a single person. Also, you cannot be all of Christ to any individual. Even though I could see the likeness of Christ being formed in my Christian friends, no single one of them carried Christ’s entire image. It was seeing many Christians loving each other and me that showed me much of Christ in them. I could see that He was transforming them, and recognized that I could not expect any one of them to be perfect. Neither do you have to be perfect to be effective in sharing the gospel.
Before I became a Christian, people at the university I attended knew that I was a Muslim. They also knew that there were not many Muslims that became Christians, and those that were Christian wanted to see Muslims come to the Lord. In fact, some were determined to see me come to the Lord. However, in their zeal, they did not use the best of methods.
At first, they simply tried to argue with me. When they were not trying to convince me, they really did not pay much attention to me. I am very independent, and did not need attention, but I was examining their conduct to try to find out if Christ was who He said He was. I was searching for the truth at the time. They did not know that. One day, after they had confronted me with the Bible, I told them that they would be much more effective if they actually started living the way that they believed and loved me rather than trying to force me to become a Christian. I also told them I felt that they were trying to cram the Bible down my throat rather than reason with me, and their entire approach lacked love. I told them, not wanting sympathy but to tell them the truth, that their approach made me feel like I was to them simply an object to be converted – a potential notch on the belt – rather than a person. I also told them that if becoming a Christian would make me treat people like that, I did not want to become a Christian. I thought that would be the end of their attempts at trying to convert me.
Thankfully, my words had the opposite effect. I later found out that what they did was they listened to what I had said, realized that they needed to change how they were doing things, and spent some time in repentance and asking God to show them how to love me properly. They started including me in things that they were doing and actually showed care and concern for me as a person. I started to see Christ in them, rather than people who were trying to convert me. Seeing the change as they begin to actually live out their faith was a powerful testimony to me, and part of the reason that I continued to seek understanding regarding the nature of Jesus. For any person wanting to share the gospel, please show the love of God to the people you are talking with, even if it is just for a few seconds. That love will be remembered, and is an extremely powerful way of drawing people to Christ. It is also part of obeying the Lord.
The above excerpt is from my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, available in digital format from this website (EPUB and MOBI) and on Amazon (Kindle (MOBI)). The printed version is only available on Amazon.
A more detailed testimony, including how God answered my three main questions (asked by most Muslim seekers) about the virgin birth, the Trinity and the nature of Jesus, can also be found in the book.
Keywords: insights, evangelism, Muslim, salvation
How much does God love you and me?
He loves you so much it’s difficult to properly describe. The Bible gives us great help in seeing that love. Psalm 22 contains a prophetic description of Jesus on the cross. In part of it, Jesus looks forward to telling his brothers and sisters about the salvation that they can have. Yes, He was looking forward to being with us and was talking to us while He was on the cross.
Hebrews 12:2 (WEB) says:
looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Please note the phrase, “for the joy that was set before him.“ That was not about taking up His eternal position again – He had already had that and would not have gone through everything He did to simply regain what He already had. He was wanting to gain, and that gain was you and me. His entire effort was to make a way for your salvation. His joy, then, must have been and must still be the people that He loves.
That is How much He loves you. You are so special to Him that even when He was on the cross He looked forward to being with you. You brought Him so much joy that He could endure the horror of the cross itself — the physical pain — and of becoming sin — the spiritual pain. He did all of that so that He could spend eternity with you and others. He loves each of us fully, as well as fully loving His entire church. The extent of that love for us is further shown in John 17, in which Jesus is intent upon asking that He could be in those that He loves. He, the perfect One, chose to give up everything and endure the most excruciating pain while thinking of you and me He chose to make his dwelling place inside those who believe and fully yield to Him (who follow Him as Lord and Savior). That is how close He wants to be to you and me. All of the things above show how special you are to Him and how much He loves you.
Keywords: God’s love for us, God in us, cross, crucifixion, God wants to relate
Grace and mercy
People need both grace and mercy, but what are they? How do they impact our lives? Many people use them interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
Mercy is the unmerited favor of God — we get good that we do not deserve and we do not get the punishment that we do deserve. We receive mercy through following Jesus as Lord and savior, and receive forgiveness and life through the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection. We are given mercy by God so that we can be saved, and are saved by grace through faith.
Grace, according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, is “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” It is a gift from God. The Greek words also convey a sense that the giver of grace is leaning towards the receiver. The receiver has favor with the giver. The giver’s acts will confer benefits on the life of the receiver that will become evident in the receiver’s life.
Grace contains some of the idea of mercy in that grace is not deserved. Based on the definition in Strong’s, an amplified definition of grace involves God’s action on a person’s heart which results in at least two things: the desire to do God’s will and the ability to do God’s will. These two things produce a godly impact in a person’s life. Please note that God’s favor comes before the performance of God’s will. In Christ, you have His favor before you act.
Keywords: grace, God’s action on a person’s heart, mercy, undeserved favor
What does a Muslim seeker risk to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
There are a host of risks that a Muslim seeker considers prior to becoming a Christian. There are also associated questions to answer. Some of the risks and questions are below, from the perspective of a seeker:
Losing God and heaven: The way I believe says that becoming a Christian means hell for me. Am I sure about Christianity?
Losing nation, culture, community and family: If my family and community reject me, I may have to leave my family, community, culture and country. Will I even fit in anywhere? Will people value me for who I am rather than treating me only as a convert? How will I properly pass on the heritage that I still love without family and community support?
Losing status in life: I value the status that I have because of my family name and my own status, but could lose all of that if my family and community follow Sharia law. What will become of my life? Will I also be disinherited?
Losing friends: If my friends reject me, I will be very lonely, especially if my family does and I also have to leave. How will I be able to cope?
Losing financial security: Because of community reaction, I may lose my job if I stay and will almost certainly lose it if I must leave. How will I survive? Also, if I have to leave in a hurry, I may lose all of my possessions. Again, how will I survive?
Losing my life: If I become a Christian, those around me, and perhaps even a stranger, may use Sharia law or the country’s apostasy law to kill me or have me killed. Is it worth dying to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
A Muslim seeker faces losing his or her identity, relationships, possessions, future and even his or her life if he or she follows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Muslim seekers face an immediate hurdle of laying down their entire lives to follow Him. From talking to hundreds of Muslim background believers — former Muslims who now follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior — the answer is clearly, “It’s worth it!” God provides help, mercy and grace, and meets needs. The road is rarely smooth, and is often difficult, but I can tell you from experience that knowing God in Christ is worth paying any cost.
Keywords: Muslim seeker, cost of conversion, worth it