Your World: Islam 1

  Inspirmedia   Nov 15, 2009     0 Comment

November 15, 2009

Bible Text: Deuteronomy 4:7 |

Series:

NIV Deuteronomy 4:7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

 

 

 

Message

 

J:  Welcome to another edition of Your World – the show that talks about … Your World.  During the past few weeks we’ve taken on various topics of interest, but this Sunday we’re beginning a three week series on one of the major religions of the world: Islam.  We’ve actually been planning this series of episodes for quite some time, but have run into a major roadblock – as you know, our format is to interview representatives of the religion or topic in question, but we have been simply unable to get any Muslim to talk to us on camera.  After approaching various organizations of Muslims and individual friends and so forth, we finally decided to settle for a person who claimed to know Islam very well, even though he is not a Muslim himself.  And guess what - even that has proven quite difficult.  Simply put, people are afraid to talk about Islam on film.

 

So we wound up sending our main correspondent, Phil, to an undisclosed city in another state to interview a man who, well – let’s welcome Phil and he can tell us about it.

 

P:  Hi!  Yeah – it took six months to track this guy down, but we finally did.  As you meet him, it’s possible that he was once a Muslim, but frankly I’m not sure.  Maybe first though, before we meet him, you should tell our audience why it was so important to us to deal with this religious faith.

 

J:  Exactly.  That’s what I was thinking.  In fact, that’s probably why I wrote your line that way.  You know, as people look back at the 20th Century, what do we see?  We see a century where the world stage was dominated by two world wars.  We see a century that will be remembered for the struggle between democracy and tyranny – I think of Nazi Germany, for instance.  And a century that will be remembered for the struggle between democracy and communism – obviously Russia comes to mind.  In fact, this past week we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – I’ve got my own piece of the Wall right here.  And so our question, as we try to stay ahead of the curve, is this:  for what will the 21st Century be remembered?  And if the first 9 years are any indication, it is very possible that this Century may be remembered for the struggle between Islam and the Judeo-Christian west.  I know – that’s not politically correct – but I believe in realism.

 

P:  Speaking of being realistic, many voices were heard immediately after the recent Ft. Hood shooting telling us to not jump to conclusions as Maj. Hasan was accused of the shootings – we were told not to think about the fact that he was Muslim and so forth.  But let’s be real.    Turns out that there are now various news reports about his contacts with the same radical Imam who was a spiritual leader to at least two of the 911 highjackers.  And of course he is reported to have shouted the obligatory “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) before he opened fire.  And various other people report various other incendiary things.  It turns out that, from everything I can figure out, those murders were just one of a long line of terrorist incidents carried out by radicalized Muslims.

 

J:  And yet we know that all Muslims are not radicalized or terrorists … and yet the cultural conflict that’s going on around us may very well be THE struggle of our times.  Many of our viewers are Christian or have been exposed to the Christian faith.  We believe it’s vital for our viewers to understand the true nature of Islam – generally speaking you’re not going to get that in the mainstream press.  And here’s a bonus – in looking at Islam we’ll also be able to take a look at the true nature of the Christian faith.  So let’s dive in and meet our mystery guest:

 

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J:  Oh my - so much for him being in an undisclosed location!

 

P:  You were the one who said it was undisclosed.  He’s actually a professor at the Lutheran seminary in St. Louis … but I did find it interesting that he would not say whether or not he ever was Muslim himself personally.  He only would tell me that he grew up in a Muslim country.  I do know that he has both Muslims and Christians in his family, and that they get along with one another.  But that doesn’t mean that all is well and that he is free to say everything about his background … so frankly I don’t know what exactly that is.

 

J:  Interesting.  Why don’t we start at the beginning in terms of trying understand Islam.

 

P:  OK, well, in our interview I asked John to tell us about the Koran, which is the Muslim Holy Book, to talk about the source of Islamic teaching.  And to help people with a Christian background understand, I asked him to compare the Koran with the Bible. Here’s what he had to say:

 

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J: So this almost sounds like Christianity – just a different religion.  The Bible.  The Koran.  God’s Word.  So far, pretty similar, don’t you think.

 

P:  Yeah, but we’ve just gotten into this – remember, you yourself said that we want to give this three weeks because it’s so important.  And believe me – I taped this whole interview and by the time we’re done, you’re going to find that Islam is dramatically different from Christianity.  Check out what John had to say about Islam’s view of God:

 

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J: This sounds like something I should get in to when I give my final comments – you think?

 

P:  Yeah.  And I think you should study more and delve into this whole thing of Allah being described as merciful but not as loving and what all that is about – from my conversation with John it sounded like that distinction doesn’t seem like all that much on the surface, but that it actually is quite significant.

 

J:  Exactly.  And this view of God, Allah, as distant – that carries over into their view of Jesus, which is crucial for Christians to understand.

 

P:  Let’s hear what John has to say about the Muslim view of Jesus then.

 

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P: As I talked with John, it became clear that this is a huge issue.  Christians describe Jesus as the Son of God, but such language is abhorrent to a Muslim – he cannot even let it go in his ears.  It is blasphemy – an unforgivable sin.  I cannot tell you how horrible it is for a Muslim to hear this.

 

J:  Well then, we’ll have to delve into that more as I have my last word.    We’re about out of time for this segment of the show, and I’ve got lots more questions on my mind – we haven’t even gotten into the whole area of jihad or other things – I can’t believe we’re out of time.

 

P:  That’s OK – we’ll get to that.  But we’ve just got to ask our viewers to tune in for the next two weeks.  As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

 

J:  Great.  Then let’s take a break to pay some bills, and when we come back I’ll give you my last word.  Stay tuned …

 

 

COMMERCIAL VIDEO BY INSPIRMEDIA, SET TO STILL PICS (even in the beginning, of poverty and micro-financed businesses, as a jarring contrast to those words that are being spoken)

 

“Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  It’s time once again to shop for the person who has everything.  And to spoil our kids with gift after gift and with just one more.  To give to our spouse and give to our friends and give to everyone!  Why?  Because it’s Christmas, that’s why!  … … But what if we did something different this year?  What if we really celebrated the birth of the Ultimate Giver by … giving a gift that is truly meaningful to someone who really needs it?  What if every person at Room211 could be matched up with a poor person somewhere else in the world – a poor person who doesn’t need a hand out but wants a hand up?  What if, this Christmas, you could use some of that Christmas gift money to make a personal loan of $25 or $50 to this lady here, and she could use it to start a small business … where she could earn enough money to support her family for, well, maybe for the rest of her life???  And she could pay you back and then you could help someone else with that same money? What if … what if this Christmas could be the start of something big, something really big?  Stay tuned … put your shopping on hold … we promise you’ll hear more about this exciting opportunity come December …

 

 

The Last Word:

 

Welcome back to the show – we went long in that first segment, so we’ve got to go a little shorter in this segment … let’s dig in. I’ve got a few things I want to comment on, all under the umbrella of the nature of God.

 

While both Muslims and Christians affirm that there is one God, the nature of those gods couldn’t be more different.

 

3-PART BUILD BEGINS  God is near.  Allah is the unknowable.  He is distant.  He is far off.  Can you even imagine someone who knows the Christian God using those words to describe God?  Perhaps some have said that our God is distant or far off; certainly it sometimes feels that God is that way.  But clearly the Scriptures portray God as the exact opposite of that.  Check out how God is described in the Bible:

 

NIV Deuteronomy 4:7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

 

NIV Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

 

NIV James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

Your God is one who is not far off, but in fact is near to you.

 

God is merciful because He is loving.  And did you catch what John said about Allah being merciful … but yet never described as loving?  For the Christian who normally ties those two things together, that should strike you as a little bit odd.  What does it mean that Allah is merciful … but not loving?

 

John described it this way – he said that Allah’s mercy is seen in creation – he created the beautiful weather we had this past week.  That is his ‘mercy’.  And what follows from that is this:  Allah’s mercy is capricious.  That means unpredictable. Unreliable.  Able to change on a dime.  One moment Allah may be merciful and things may go well and he may choose to let some sin slide … and the next moment he may be cruel and demanding.  You never quite know where you stand with Allah. Remember that when you interact with a Muslim.  Their God is unpredictable.

 

But the Christian God, the Biblical God, the true God, is not unpredictable at all.  He is loving and He is just.  Because He is just, He must punish sin – not just when He’s in a bad mood or whatever, but all the time, He must punish sin.  And because He is loving … well, what does the Bible say?

 

NIV John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

NIV 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

on screen NIV 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

God is consistent.  He must punish sin.  And because He is loving, He sacrificed His own Son, taking our punishment upon Himself, so that we might receive mercy.  Not just when God feels like it, but all the time, for God is faithful.  He will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  That is good news for the Christian and for the Muslim.

 

God sacrificed His Son.  And this leads us to our final point – the sacrifice of God’s own Son for us.  Recall how John said that even uttering this statement is an unforgiveable sin to a Muslim.  The idea that God could lower Himself to earth, to become one of us!  How horrible!  Wow – how different from the Christian faith – for Christians that is the most beautiful thing about God – that we do not have to go up to Him, for He has come down to us.  I want to close with this point, and actually let John, who is a Christian, tell how he would go about sharing this wonderful truth with his Muslim friends:

 

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NIV Mark 3:11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him Jesus, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

 

It’s to passages like this one that John says we should turn, both for our own faith and for common ground with the Muslim.  For they too accept the New Testament … although typically they do not read it or know what is in it.  Nevertheless their faith tells them that Jesus is a prophet; the New Testament is at least officially one of their holy books … although it has been supplanted by the Koran.  And so it is to passages like this that we can turn to begin to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the nature of Jesus to our Muslim friends.

 

Well, that about does it for this week’s edition of Your World.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you for tuning in – I hope the show’s been a blessing to you.  And truth be told, although as host I’m not supposed to express this but I just can’t help myself, truth be told, I pray that you know the God who is real, who is near, who is loving and merciful, who sacrificed His own Son on the cross for you.  Join us next week for part 2 of our 3 week series: “Your World:  Islam”.  Until then, God bless you.

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