UI –Part 259 – Oh Maya
The daughter of a distinguished military commander, Admiral (4 star) Elmo Zumwalt, today professes her faith as a Muslim. She claims to have studied Christianity. From history she sensed Christian’s dishonored God, believing it was a one-time-forgiven religion and then never being responsible or godlike. She was led and chose to follow Allah. She felt most Christians were cultural (my term), acting more as members of a social club when going to church than worshipping. God, when Jesus was present, was different from Allah.
She wrote a short testimonial[i] (read it) to which, if I were her father, I would respond. Having daughters I grant them the right to choose their faith. That is what the freedom of being a Christian allows. We pray, however, that the light of the triune God falls on each (and sons too) and they grow in believing life on earth has purpose, as intended by God, knowing “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Having freedom to choose to worship as one wishes is a right. It is free will. Free will does not always satisfy God’s desire. However, if that right is in any way constrained it is not the Creator but the created that see their lives separate from God’s. The created use the power and authority their selfish natures prefer, the offerings of Satan, to the restrictive life one must volunteer to live to seek God’s ultimate Glory.
Free will and freedom also allow for pluralism, tolerance and personal decision-making when it comes to religion. If free to only be a Muslim then there is no freedom. As a Christian you are free to be as you choose. As for sin, Christians are sinners too. Condemning another for their sins is an error of judgment in that ‘we all sin.’ Find one who is without sin and let them “be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7 NIV)
In her words, “Until that point in my life (when she chose Islam), the Quran had been known to me as a dangerous book. The members of the Southern Baptist church I was raised in greatly discouraged opening the Quran, much less reading it!…. Eventually I found a Quran… and when I read the opening, I could not stop the tears. I learned there was much peace that comes from reading this book of God. I compared it to the bible, my questions ever-increasing. Why did I worship Jesus all this time when, even in the bible, Jesus clearly instructs the crowds to worship the one true Lord, and to serve him only (Luke 4:8)? Why did I think there would be true satisfaction in a religion that teaches one time forgiveness? I had watched my Christian community suffering because of this for my entire life. There were so many who believed “accepting” Jesus as God and professing this once was all the worship that God requires. They stopped praying. They stopped seeking God. They ignored the commandments of the Old Testament and increasingly turned the church into a social club and not a house of worship. My eyes were opened to the mess the Christian world had become! Islam, as I learned, was pure and perfect. I’d spent my entire life in a vicious cycle of questioning Christianity, then accepting, then questioning again – only to be told by every Christian elder in my life, “Just have faith.” But what good is faith in something you can’t even defend?“
Discouraged Opening the Quran
Her comment about access to the Quran from her Southern Baptist Church is more a function of her church, not Christianity. The Quran, interestingly enough precludes reading the Bible out of concern the readers might be dissuaded. In Sura 5:102 the Quran states, “A people before you indeed asked such questions, then became disbelievers therein.” It also suggests that doubt of the Quran is forbidden, as by doing so you become an infidel (and so much hatred is expressed towards infidels), Sura 4:135 states there is to be no deviation from the Truth (of the Quran), and in Sura 4:136 it says, “whoever disbelieves in Allah…and His Books and His messengers and the Last Day, he indeed strays far away (becomes an apostate)” Note: Jesus is a messenger in Islam. Muhammad wanted apostates killed.
Recently I attended such a Church – Southern Baptist. The guest presenters were missionaries all active in Muslim Countries – the Middle East, Asia, India, Bangladesh, and Africa. There was a couple living in a Muslim dominant area of the UK as well. They respected and enjoyed the company of moderate tolerant Muslims, but many lived in fear when carrying their Bibles in the presence of less tolerant Islamists. They admitted their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ in hostile environments was dangerous, but this is where God wanted them. Those from Saudi Arabia, when in that Country, just kept their Bibles hidden. Why? A reading of Sura 8:12 suggests, “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve (in Allah). So smite them above the necks (beheading) and smite every finger-tip of them.”
You can sit in any church with a Quran in your lap and not be afraid for your life. Try to sit in a Mosque with a Bible opened in your lap.
The One True Lord
God is One. There is but One. God’s presence on earth, incarnate, was so man could know God. Jesus is God. Jesus is truth. A relationship with God was made manifest, was made known, and the reality of our having a personal relationship with our Creator became a divine truth in fact. That truth remains indwelling in us by the Spirit. He was and remains as God with us. The Trinity explains the oneness of God.
Denial of the Resurrection is to blank out history’s most impactful event. It opens the pathway to a lifestyle without the Grace of God. It is a return to the conditions preceding Christ and the impossibility of man ever being right (righteous) with God. Can man ever be right with Allah – everyday, always? This denial allows a return to questioning whether or not a relationship with God is possible.
One Time Forgiveness
Seeing Christianity as a one-time-forgiveness religion is being blind to the truth. A profession of faith in Christ is only a beginning – a birth. What follows is growth, development, understanding and clarity of purpose. Free from the shackles of law believers rely on the truth they know, guided by the Spirit, God’s presence within us. God will judge our actions. He knows the heart of the true believer. Surely Law will remain for the common good of all people to be enforced by man, that is, however, man’s Law and not God’s.
There was something clearly missing in Maya’s Christian education. Maya is an intelligent, possibly determined, woman. She may one day read the Bible again and discover that Christ died for our sins, past, present and future, but, and this is most important, it is believing that is the most difficult. I pray for her return.
Sure it is often said, ‘Just have faith.’ But there is more to it. As a believer the actions for which forgiveness is otherwise required are avoided voluntarily, temptations resisted, efforts are made daily to live life as God wanted, in total obedience to Him. It is out of Love for God and the knowledge God loves unconditionally. Sura 3:32 states, “Allah surely loves not the disbelievers.” That is not what the Bible says; God loves even those who do not love him; His arms remain open for their return – the return of the Prodigal Son.
For a Christian there will be persecution, suffering, trials and tribulations but life without God would be meaningless. Having a heart for God, filled with the Holy Spirit, is a guarantee of salvation IF…if you believe. Ephesians 4:21-24, “With regard to your former way of life you were taught to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We are all sinners, every day sinners. How can we ever be right with God? God made that possible, erasing any doubt that we can have a fellowship with the Creator. He is our friend and savior. He died for our sins. He made our salvation possible; we do not have to earn it. As believers we lead a life with Christ as our example.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:8-10)
Islam, Pure and Perfect
The example for Christians, as god-man on earth, was “pure and perfect.” What better example could there be, one who was a servant, who suffered for you, for me and for Maya, for Jews, and Gentiles (to include Arabs and Asians – Muslims) and who remained humble, never superior. Who do you know who would die for you, for your transgressions? Jesus instructed his followers to respect authority; he was not attempting to establish a Theocracy, leaving the temporal and spiritual separate. Believing is an individual matter, not a communal liberation. Worship, guided by effective and honest teaching, is to aid in understanding and clarification. It is intended to deal with the doubts we all have and help to erase concerns with evidence, truth, witnesses and history. If the crowd is heading in the wrong direction, then don’t go with it.
Purity and Perfection also point to truth, truth without compromise, or without deception.
The missionaries I mentioned prior expressed another concern. There was a concern for aspects from the Quran that permit lying and deception to advance the faith. What does this suggest? Muslims can be caring, kind, helpful, but like Allah, they can be the best at deception, at planning for the expansion of their ideology. Read Sura 9:3, “Allah is free from liability to the idolaters, and so is His Messenger….” Sura 7:182-183 notes the process to destroy non-believers is ‘step by step’ and Sura 3:54, makes it clear that “Allah is the best of deceivers.” Sura 5:51 says make no friend of the Infidel. “O you who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends of each other. And whoever amongst you takes them for friends he is indeed one of them.” So when Muslims are polite and gracious towards a non-Muslim neighbor, are they being honest? Sura 4.144, “O you who believe, take not the disbelievers for friends rather than the believers,” adding emphasis to being only cordial, not reaching out.
What adds ever greater emphasis and a concern for a Muslim being kindly towards non-believers, especially in areas where they are not the majority, is Sura 4:36, “be good to…the alien neighbor, and the companion in a journey (non-Muslim) and the wayfarer (non-believer)….” This does not suggest loving your neighbor as yourself. One way to see it, and admittedly this is negative (non-Christian) is they are laying in wait until the day they can succeed and have Sharia Law the common law. Then there is Sura 60:4, “We (Islamists) disbelieve in you and there has arisen enmity and hatred between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone….” This is the warning sign of grave concern to non-Muslims that unless the superiority of Islam is acknowledged we may suffer the same fate as the Banu Qurayza Jewish (Read more) tribe in Medina, beheaded as punishment for dissing the Prophet.
One added point – hypocrisy. Maya looked at the church and found many that were not the Christian they claimed to be or that she expected. They were hypocrites. Many Christians see others in the church the same way. That does not lessen their love for Jesus. They believe because they accept Grace, not because of the actions of others. The following is from John Orthberg’s book, Who is This Man?, “Religious hypocrisy is one of the great barriers to faith for any thoughtful person. Why become a Christian when the church is filled with so many hypocrites and deeply flawed people?….Every belief system will attract people who do not live up to it.”[ii] He notes also, “According to Jesus, hypocrisy is not just the failure to live up to what we aspire to. Everybody does that. The core of hypocrisy is deception – mean-spirited and selfish, although sometimes even unconscious, deception.”[iii]
Maya fails at her basic Jesus 101 learning. Her independence is flawed or her dependency heightened when as at one time a Christian, believing in Jesus Christ, she could then turn away from her guarantee of Salvation because she feels many in the church are hypocrites. She may be right about the hypocrisy, but wrong in allowing that to dissuade her own Christian foundation. She is being deceived. Oh how Satan works.
Just Have Faith
Maya is a sensitive and caring person. She made her decision. I am not condemning her freedom of choice, but I do question the basis. I am not ‘mad’ as even the Quran suggests Christians may be, as by Sura 15:6, “O thou to whom the Reminder (the Bible) is revealed, thou are indeed ‘mad’.” The Bible is often referred to in the Quran; it is referenced. It is the Word of God. Why would God (Allah) want to change it or need to change it? Referencing Sura 15:9, “Surely we have revealed the Reminder (the Bible), and surely we are its Guardian. (Muhammad, as Messenger, and Allah)” Does God make mistakes? Or is the Quran suggesting God and Allah are not the same? Even the Quran says, Sura 10:64 – “there is no changing words of God (Allah). “ What have they done? Then there is what I refer to as the ‘go back’ clause, Sura 10:94, “But if thou art in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Thee ask those who read the Book before thee (the Bible).” Certainly the Truth has come to thee from the Lord, so be thou not of the doubters.”
The Quran does not say, ‘Just have faith;’ it says ‘have no other faith, or else!’
Defense of Christ, the Bible
There is much evidence of the historical, foundational, prophetic and Biblical threads that weave the Christian faith tightly that provides a most adequate defense. I would refer the reader to Josh McDowell’s Book[iv] The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict for a thorough and cogent defense that Maya and others seek.
She continued, “My education continued, with Youssef as my guide. I craved the moral lifestyle of the true Muslim community. I learned the difference between political Islam, and Islam of the Quran. I learned that the most violently victimized people of the East are in fact Muslim, not Christian. I learned that the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was a loving, wise man who encouraged fairness and peace and servitude. I learned that there is much more satisfaction in living to be a servant of God then there is pointlessly striving to be his “child”. My mission revised and Alhamdulilla (Praise to God), I became Muslim.“
The moral lifestyle of the true Muslim community
Has Maya chosen as yet to leave Virginia and take up residence in an ideal Muslim City? Does she feel free, when freedom is anathema to Islam? If so is it because she lives in America? Would her feelings be the same if she lived in Saudi Arabia?
The Most Violently Victimized People of the East are in Fact Muslim
As she stated history has seen greater destruction of Muslims at the hands of other Muslims. There are differences of interpretation of the Quran making one Muslim condemn another as an infidel. Why such differences? – which continue today. There is chaos in the Muslim world, wherever they reside. Even in the free world in the areas to which Muslims have emigrated. Why do they prefer to remain isolated, to not assimilate? When they leave areas where they feel unsafe, even among their fellow believers, they find a new location and tend to not associate with those of their new country? Resistance arising in the UK towards Muslims is more because they are like a gang, a collection of single-minded people unwilling to become members of the citizenry and constitution of the UK, preferring Islamic Law. They are resisting a way of life already established and embraced by the British. They want the British to change. In America they want Americans to change. The constitution of Islam is Sharia Law, without borders. Now we hear their words of ‘persecution’ at the hands of the people of the United Kingdom. Really? I ask.
Why do they not allow others to proselytize in their communities? Is it a part of their culture to not accept the opinions of others? Sura 7:45 reads, “Who hinder (men) from Allah’s way and seek to make it crooked, and they are the disbelievers in the Hereafter.” And make no friends of infidels, whether or not they are Muslims who do not see Allah and Islam the same way or Christian, Jew or secularist. Sura 60:9 – Those who make friends (of infidels) are the wrongdoers.
Pray for Maya
As for all citizens of the world we pray for Peace. May God in his infinite wisdom take the stick from the eyes of those who do not see Christ as the divine person who lived among us and accepted the punishment we all know we deserve for our transgressions. He opened the door to the Kingdom; now we have the opportunity to walk through it with our heads high, our lives changed and God’s Glory our goal. That moment, when it comes, makes the world meaningful, our toil worthy (find satisfaction in your work – Ecc 2:24), our suffering understood, the inequities in life bearable, and the journey full of hope and joy. Take food and drink and celebrate the day Maya returns. Embrace her and tell her you love her and always have, even when she unexpectedly left. In life there is always hope in the Lord. “With much wisdom comes much sorrow.” (Ecc 1:18). In death there is nothing left unless you already discovered His welcoming embrace before that day arrived. “No man knows when his hour will come.” (Ecc 9:12)
Consider what God has done. “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.” (Ecc 9:7).
May the Prodigal daughter return.
Grace and Peace
[ii]Who is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus, by John Orthberg, Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI., 2012 pg 117
[iii] Ibid, pg. 122
[iv] The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999