How should followers of Jesus respond to Muslims?This is an essential question for those who want to see the gospel take hold in Muslim communities. We can debate all we want about the differences between Christianity and Islam, between the God of the Bible and Allah of the Qur’an—and these are important, foundation-laying questions to answer. But at the end of the day, they’re not sufficient as a response to our Muslim coworkers, neighbors, and friends—or to Muslims who persecute Christians. We need to reach out with love and service, not just knowledge, if we are truly going to respond as Jesus would have us.
Ken Boa discussed this topic of a Christian response to Muslims in a Facebook Live event hosted by Global Media Outreach during Ramadan 2020. Watch the conversation here.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
First and foremost, our response to Muslims should be based on the command of Jesus in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies. This is a difficult command to obey, because it goes against every one of our natural inclinations to see justice triumph over wrongdoing.
It helps if we first recognize that although many terrorists are Muslim, most Muslims are not terrorists. At the same time, the Qur’an teaches Muslims to distrust “people of the Book” (e.g., sura 2:109; 3:69). As a result, even your Muslim neighbors and coworkers are likely to be turned off easily by the gospel message and may treat you as an enemy. When encountering this reaction, Jesus calls us not to succumb to our human inclination toward anger and hatred, but to love and prayer.
Jesus calls us not to succumb to our human inclination toward anger and hatred, but to love and prayer.
But Jesus did not merely give this command with His words; He fulfilled it in His life. As He—the only sinless victim in history—hung on a cross, what did He do? He prayed that the Father would forgive the sins of those who put Him to death: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” He said (Luke 23:34). It is no exaggeration, therefore, to affirm that Jesus loves all Muslims, including terrorists.
I am convinced that such a response requires a supernatural grace from God for followers of Jesus. Although most of us won’t go through the kind of persecution that some of our brothers and sisters experience at the hands of Muslims, there is more persecution of Christians around the world right now than ever before in the history of the Church. In our own power, we cannot respond to these things the way Jesus did. God invites us to imitate Christ in a way that is beyond our own capacity. He invites us to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
God invites us to imitate Christ in a way that is beyond our own capacity.
“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Our second response to Muslims in our lives is related to the first: service.
If Jesus came serving us even while we were enemies of God (Romans 5:10), how much more should we as followers of Jesus seek to serve those who consider us their enemies?
If you are working together with Muslims in your business or have contact with Muslims on an everyday basis, there is no better way to break down the barriers that stand between you and them than by genuine acts of love, service, and kindness, without expecting anything in return. This will contradict everything the Qur’an says about “people of the Book.”
There is no better way to break down the barriers … than by genuine acts of love, service, and kindness.
When you “keep your behavior excellent among [them]” in this way, the result may be that “in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Light in the Darkness
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Love and serve. But do not expect immediate results. Anticipate strong pushback, especially from those who take seriously the Qur’an’s warnings to Muslims against trusting or befriending Christians.
Even if we’re treated poorly (even hatefully), Jesus urges us still to love and forgive much, just as we have been loved and forgiven much (Luke 7:47). In this way, the light of Christ will shine all the brighter in the darkness. And by the power of the Spirit, God will use our testimony to reveal Himself to Muslims—as in fact He has already done and continues to do in many places.
Jesus urges us still to love and forgive much, just as we have been loved and forgiven much.
Watch Ken Boa teach on the Christian response to Islam and Muslims in part 5 of his Understanding Islam series: