When I think about the posture we Christians take towards Muslims, I think immediately of Monte. Monte’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchild recently moved to a country where, as Christians, they are in the very small minority. Muslims are the very large majority. This young trio relocated there to serve the citizens of that country and to be a blessing to them. Monte says “When I hear Christians using inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric regarding Islam, I tell them, ‘My grandchild and her parents live in a country surrounded by Muslims. Before you say another disparaging word, would you please think about them?’ ”
Monte’s point is that there’s a better way. He’s a dean of a Christian University, so he likes to think in categories from Scripture. Monte says, “Think of how the Christian God responded when faced with a world of people whose lifestyles, beliefs, and customs were not exactly his own. In essence, God said, ‘I want to be with you.’ That’s what the incarnation of Christ was all about. It was God moving near. It was God saying, ‘I want to be with you.’ And then God said, ‘I will lay down my life for you.’ That’s what the crucifixion of Jesus was all about. It was God sacrificing himself for others.”
While we were together at a recent retreat, Monte said to me, “I wonder what would happen to Christian-Muslim relations if those two messages were the ones Muslims heard from Christians? What if the way Christians responded to Muslims communicated something like ‘I want to be with you. I’m not going to isolate myself from you. I want to do life with you.’ And what if the way Christians responded to Muslims communicated something like ‘I will lay down my life for you. I’m here to serve you even if it costs all I have.’ ”
That was God’s way. It was a way which said “I want to be with you. I want to lay down my life for you.” Perhaps it should be our way.