Ramadan Day 20:
Today, we pray for Muslims who have never heard of the freedom found in serving Jesus.
One convert from Islam, rejoicing to have found Christ, said that he had always been puzzled by Allah’s treatment of human failing, because in Islam, the answer to human sin is human effort. Allah gave Adam and Eve one command, and they failed to keep it. So in response, Allah gave them a thousand rules and commands? What?!! But they couldn’t keep ONE, so how could he expect them to keep a thousand?
The truth that mankind is enslaved to sin is not a truth that mankind likes to hear. The fact that we all “fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) chops us down at the roots. The truth that we are guilty of wickedness and wrongdoing (1 John 5:17), in bondage to “do what we do not want to do” (Romans 7:15)…well, it is offensive.
I realize that this Ramadan prayer series, featuring the theme of “bondage” is probably offending people who believe that Christian love always feels like a warm hug. That Jesus never pointed out the ugliness of sin or asked anyone to change. It is also probably offending people who believe that Islam is just another path to God, or that the Muslims they know are doing pretty well spiritually,are happy and kind, and don’t really seem to be “slaves” to anyone or anything.
My reply would be: Christian love tells the truth. Christian love means sharing God’s Word. He says we are all slaves before Jesus sets us free. Muslim and non-Muslim, rich and poor, male and female. Without God’s Word transforming us, we are all “children of wrath,” doing whatever our cravings and desires told us to do (Ephesians 2:3). We all need to be set free.
In talking with the religious leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees, whose outward lives were very “holy” and who followed all the traditions of the Patriarchs, Jesus said:
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill Me, because you have no room for My Word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father” (John 8).
Jesus called the most rigorously observant Jews of Israel “children of Satan,” because they had no room in their hearts for His Word. He told them that even though they “felt” free, even though they “felt” holy, that they were in reality captive to evil and at war with the True God.
After this conversation, those sames Jews tried to kill Jesus (they picked up rocks to stone Him). A simple conversation with an unarmed Nazarene made them angry enough to commit murder. When the Word of God confronts people about the true state of their hearts and the true nature of sin, they either repent or rebel.
Islam is only one of the many, many expressions of man’s rebellion against God’s Word. But it is a powerful one. Islam openly rejects the biblical Jesus and proudly legitimizes sin (example: a man can have unlimited wives as long as he only has four at a time; a husband can beat his wife to “correct” her behavior).
The freedom Islam offers is so clearly slavery when viewed through the lens of God’s Word. That is why 1) we call Islam a “religious system that enslaves” and 2) pray for the power and Spirit of Jesus Christ to lead every man, woman, and child out of its darkness and into His light.
Today, we pray for Muslims who do not know there is an alternative to being slaves to Allah to hear the news that One came to make it possible for mankind to be friends with their Creator.
“No longer do I call you slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).