“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
The current situation in the Middle East, along with the increase of terrorist attacks by ISIS and other Jihadist groups, has created much fear among people in Western countries towards those from the Middle East. Unfortunately, the church in the West has also followed the crowd and is full of fear.
Fear is indeed a factor, and we can’t deny that these terrorist groups are a very dangerous threat to our society. However, the Bible tells us over 300 times “Do not Fear.” I do not underestimate the risk and danger of terrorism in anyway. But I call upon the church in the West to overcome her fear and fulfill her role as an agent of transformation and a messenger of peace.
As God’s people, we are to see things through the lenses of Jesus and the Bible. In Matthew 5:43,44 we hear our Savior saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. The Bible has gone even further by commanding us to feed our enemy if he is hungry and to give something to drink if he is thirsty, for by doing so we will heap burning coals in his head (Romans 12:19-21). As Christians, we cannot allow our fear to hinder us from loving our Muslim neighbors and even our enemies. Let us always remember that Muslim people are not our enemies, rather the spirit or ideology behind Islam.
Today, there are millions of Middle Eastern people living among us here in our blessed and beloved Western countries. Some are neighbors, coworkers or classmates. What should we do in order to overcome our fear towards them?
So much can be said to answer such a big question, but I will limit my answer to two suggestions: build relationships and show love in action.
First: Build Relationships:
One of the most effective methods of overcoming our fear is by building relationships with our Middle Eastern neighbors or coworkers. Unfortunately, many have argued that it is almost impossible to build a true and successful relationship with a Muslim person. But from my many personal experiences, I have found that building relationships with Muslim people is much easier than we imagine. Christians just need to step out of the small circles of friendship to expose ourselves to them.
A 75 year old godly Canadian/American lady at my home church, has committed herself to building relationships with her Muslim neighbors. Over the last few years, this woman started to see the fruit of her labor when many of her Arab Muslim neighbors started calling her mom and/or grandmother. The Lord was able to use her faithful witness in bringing many Muslims to Himself, some of them are now members at our local church.
A few years ago, my wife and I invited a Jordanian Muslim couple into our home during the month of Ramadan. Before our evening meal, we explained to them that as Christians we always thank God for his provision before eating. So I simply asked them if they wanted us to pray for any of their specific needs. The wife responded first by requesting prayer that she would be able to build some relationships as she felt so lonely at home. The husband asked me to pray for success in building friendships with his classmates. Our relationship with this family grew deeper over time , and we were able to share with them the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. This couple is now faithfully following Christ and are dear friends in the Lord.
Second: Show love in action:
Love is one of the secret weapons that Christ gave us when we accepted him as a Savior. We must put love into practice as we seek to glorify our Father among the people of the Middle East who live in our midst. There are so many ways in which we can show and express this love to the people of the Middle East. Tutoring them as they learn English, introducing them to our Western culture and customs or simply making ourselves available to them as they express their sorrows and joys are simple steps most anyone can take.
As we approach the Christmas season, let us overcome fear by Building relationships and showing love in action to our Muslim neighbors. Invite them to your home! The Bible tells us to “practice hospitality.” Most Muslims are open to a meal and dialogue on spiritual matters. While in your home, explain to them the real meaning of Christmas and God’s plan for salvation.
William J. Saal, wrote, “In Christ, God has provided everything necessary for the Muslim’s salvation; apart from Christ, Muslims are without hope.” You are part of that provision, God’s plan is that you and I would proclaim this great salvation to all nations, even Muslims. Especially Muslims that are right in our neighborhoods.