My Dear Muslim Friends: I Love You Too Much. . .To Be Silent

Dear Muslim & Christian friends,

My Arab Muslim barber often says to me, “Mr. Mark, I love you too much!” I know he is using the word “too” with the meaning of “so” and it always warms my heart. Believe me, I feel the same way about him! He is a very special person to me and I love him.

A few years ago, I heard about a Christian woman in the Middle East who was meeting for coffee with several Muslim women. Suddenly, a Muslim man – a relative of one of the women – came into the room and began to preach Islam to the Christian woman. Among other things, he told her that her doom in hell was sure unless she repented and took Islam for her religion. I found her response very interesting.

After a few moments of careful thought, she simply replied to him to him with real honesty and sincerity, “Hamza, thank you for telling me these things. Your message to me must be because you love me and don’t want me to go to hell.” She was saying in essence,

You love me too much to be silent and I greatly appreciate it.”

In my own life, I remember an experience with a Muslim man from the Middle East who was attending a university in the United States. We became friends and had many wonderful times of discussion about faith issues – sometimes until 2, 3, or 4 in the morning. On one occasion, Omar related that he had walked by an American restaurant with another Muslim friend. As they looked in the window at those who were eating, Omar said with real concern in his voice, “Abdullah, all these people, going to the hell-fire.”

I asked Omar for an explanation of his comment. He explained that in his mind – in his way of thinking – these people were not Muslims and were in danger of hell. I could see that it clearly pained him and I deeply respected him for that. He cared about the eternal destiny of those people and because of that care, it was hard for him to be silent.

Now some – if not many – of my Muslim readers may not agree with Omar or Hamza’s theology regarding who goes to hell but here is the point I want to make in this blog post today: we should not be silent about what we believe.

No, silence about finding a source of water is not a loving way to live when people you know are dying of thirst.

In light of this, please consider 3 thoughts:

#1) Whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, if you love someone, you don’t want them to go to hell. Isn’t that right? It disturbs you to think about it. It actually hurts deeply to think of someone – especially someone you care about – suffering that horribly, and for that long, in fire!

#2) To my Muslim readers: if you believe that submitting to Allah, obeying the Qur’an, and following the life and teachings of Muhammad is the only way to Paradise and that for a friend to knowingly reject these teachings will send him or her to the hell-fire, what do you do? Do you remain silent? No! As I understand it, it is your duty – your religious obligation – to “invite” your friend to follow the ways of Muhammad and embrace Islam (this is “dawa”).

#3) The same goes for my Christian readers: if you believe that following the ways of Jesus as taught in the Bible is the only way to Heaven and that for a friend to knowingly reject his teachings and sacrifice for sins will send him or her to hell, what do you do? Do you remain silent? No! Your love for God and your friend compels you to share the “Good News” of Jesus death and resurrection and his offer of forgiveness of all sins with your friend (this is “evangelism”).

So. . .as I close, I want to say to any Muslim who has spoken or will speak to me about your faith, thank you for caring for my eternal soul by speaking of the Qur’an and the teachings and ways of Muhammad to me. As in the story of the woman above, your message to me must be because you love me and don’t want me to go to hell.

In addition, I want to say to you, my dear Muslim friends whom I love:

Please allow me to share with you what I believe about Jesus. He is the man I believe to be the one and only Savior from sins and hell-fire that you and I – that all people – so desperately need. I say with heartfelt love and incredible concern: your eternity depends on how you view Jesus and what you do with him as a result of that view.

Please have the courage and commitment to truth to pray something like this:

“O God, please show me who Jesus really is. Please show me if he was just a prophet or. . .if he is something more. Show me if he really did die for my sins so I can be forgiven and be in Paradise forever with You.”

Jesus once said these words to a woman at a well in Palestine (Injeel, Gospel of John 4:13-14):

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

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I have found living water in the desert of my thirsty soul. It comes from Jesus.

It would indeed be a crime for me to be silent and not tell you about it.

I love you so much, my Muslim friends.

I love you too much. . .to be silent.

Dear Muslim Friends: Do You Fear Hell? You Don’t Have To. . .

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Dear Muslim friends,

“Do you fear hell?”

I usually don’t start out my blog posts with such a serious kind of question. But this is a subject that is really on my mind today and is incredibly important. I wanted to get right to the heart of the matter.

Please allow me to share a few brief experiences I have had with some Muslim friends regarding fear of hell.

A few years ago, I was with a dear Muslim friend from Bangladesh, enjoying a meal together. We were having great conversation about life and faith and at some point I asked him, “Do you fear hell?” His answer really impacted me (and hurt me on the inside). He looked down and said with real seriousness and a sadness in his voice and facial expression, “Every day.”

Another time, I was driving with a Muslim friend from Yemen and I asked him the same question. He replied with surprise, “Who wouldn’t fear hell? Can you imagine burning your hand in a fire? Then try to imagine your whole body burning. Can you imagine that? Of course I fear hell.”

While taking Christians on a tour of another mosque in Michigan, a very kind and well spoken imam said, “Your good deeds can outweigh your bad deeds and you can still go to hell.” When I asked him why, he said, “Because God is King. He can do whatever He wants.” (Wow, I have to admit, that answer shocked me.)

Dear Muslim friends, may I share with you why I don’t fear hell?

First of all, let me say that it’s not because I am such a good person. It’s not because my good deeds will outweigh my bad deeds on a scale on the day of judgment. It is certainly not because I never sin, because I sin every day – against the Lord and against people. I sin every day – either in my actions or in my thoughts. I sin every day – in what I do or in what I should have done. And I am not alone. The Injil says that we all have sinned and that we all have fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23).

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No, the reason that I don’t fear hell has nothing to do with my goodness. It has everything to do with God’s goodness. And just as importantly, with God’s promise. You see, God has promised that anyone who puts their faith in Jesus and his sacrifice will be completely, totally, and forever forgiven. Imagine it. All sins forgiven. Washed away. Every single one. All shame removed.

I have followed God’s way, His path. I have chosen to follow Jesus as my Savior. Because of this – and only this – I have God’s incredible, amazing, stunning promise of forgiveness in my heart:

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And because of this – and only this – I do not fear hell.

God. . .is a promise maker.

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And God. . .is a promise keeper.

He can change His mind.
But He won’t.

Why?
He promised.

This is my hope and prayer for every man and every woman: that they not be plagued by a constant anxiety about hell but that they might know an incredible peace in the deepest part of their soul. That they might know that heaven can be their eternal home and that their sins can be completely and eternally forgiven.

This is God’s amazing promise to all who put their faith in Jesus and His sacrifice of love.

Dear Muslim friends: “Do you fear hell?”

If you do, please hear these words: “You don’t have to. . .”

There Are Only 2 Religions In The World – Which One Is Yours?

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(The post below was first done in June of 2013. Because of a great conversation with two kind sheikhs and other Muslim men at a mosque, I thought it would be good to repost it. I hope it is thought provoking as you seek truth in this life and what we all want in the future – Paradise.)

Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

I believe there are really only 2 religions – 2 religious belief systems – in the world. Sounds crazy, right? No, I truly believe there are just 2 religions in the world.

In the first religious belief system, we can use the illustration of a ladder extending from earth to Heaven.

In this illustration, most of humanity attempts to “climb the ladder” to Heaven by right beliefs, good intentions, obedience to all kinds of rules, and the faithful practice of all kinds of rituals. The adherents of this religious belief system believe if they can just do enough, they can tip the divine scales and God will let them into a place of bliss, perfection, and rewards.

This religious system is called “good works.”

Those who depend upon good works might call themselves “Buddhists” (using the 8-fold path of enlightenment) or “Hindus” (reincarnation – coming back over an over again in some new form), or something else. They might call themselves “Muslims” (practicing the 5 pillars, attendance at the mosque, memorizing the Qur’an, following the Sunnah, etc.) or “Christians” (going faithfully to “church,” practicing the “Golden Rule,” singing in the choir, reading the Bible, etc.).

A legitimate question about all of these people is,

“What – or who – are they counting on to gain Paradise when they die?”

Essentially, if they are trying to “climb the ladder” to Paradise by their good deeds, they are counting upon – and this is incredibly important – themselves. They are counting on their own performance, their own hard work, and their own spiritual achievements – in essence, their own goodness.

In the second religious belief system, we can also use the illustration of a ladder between earth and Heaven. But in this faith system, God in Heaven looks down upon humanity and lovingly sees that people simply cannot “climb the ladder” and get to Him. None of them can. All are helpless, all are hopelessly lost, and all are in need of rescue. All are in deep shame and in need of their honor to be restored.

So God sends His mercy and compassion down the ladder through His prophets. He does this especially and uniquely through Jesus – Isa Al Masih. The prophet Isa – spotless and sinless (Qur’an 19:19) – takes upon himself the sins and shame of the whole world through the voluntary sacrifice of his life. He provides restored relationship with God in Heaven, forgiveness of sins, and the honor that all people need and crave.

This is indeed Good News but. . .there is a big IF: mankind must believe in Isa (Jesus the Messiah) – who he is and what he has done – and follow him to the end.

This religious belief system is called “grace.”

Grace is simply receiving (accepting) by faith a gift that cannot be earned. In this case, the gift is the gift of forgiveness of sins and righteousness (right standing) before God and then the resulting gift of eternal life in Paradise.

2 religious belief systems: good works. . .and grace.

So yes, I believe there are only 2 religions in the world.

Which one is yours?

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(Postscript: All I want – all I passionately want – is for all people to see Isa Al Masih – Jesus – for who he is. I desperately want all people to put their complete trust in him and his sacrificial death so they can live forever in Heaven with God who certainly is full of genuine, undeserved mercy and compassion. If I can help anyone to find and follow that straight path, it is my complete joy, privilege, and honor.)

I MUST Warn You: “Every Bridge To Paradise Is Out. . .Except One!”

Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

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Imagine yourself driving alone on an extremely cold, rainy night – the rain is pouring down, the visibility is low, the road conditions are slippery and dangerous.

Imagine that you near a large bridge ahead but somehow, some way, you are able to see that the bridge is not there! It has collapsed.

Miraculously, you are able to slide to a stop just at the edge of the collapsed bridge or you and your car would have plunged into the icy waters below. You would have surely been killed by the impact, drowned, or frozen to death. But somehow by the mercy of God you saw that the bridge was out.

What would you do then? Surely you would breathe a huge sigh of relief and thank God for saving you from dying. Right? But. . .what then?

There are people who are traveling behind you. Many people. Some of them you know. Some of them you don’t. But they are coming and if you don’t find a way to warn them, they will certainly plunge to the horrible doom you were rescued from.

In your mind you picture the horrible images of carnage and destruction that await them!

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Your mind races.

How can you warn them that the bridge is out?

1) Call 911 and leave it all up to someone else – the professional rescuers – to save people?
2) Quickly make a sign and hold it up for oncoming drivers to see: “Danger – Bridge Out Ahead!”
3) Stand on the side of the road and wave kindly – but timidly – to oncoming cars?
4) Stand on the side of the road and wave frantically – yelling and screaming at oncoming cars of the danger ahead?
5) Stand in the middle of the road – refusing to move – risking your life to stop traffic to save people from dying?

Or. . .would you do nothing because of what people might SAY to you if you tried to warn them about the bridge being out:

“Who do you think you are?”
“You shouldn’t be here!”
“You’re intolerant!”
“I know where I’m going and how to get there!”
“Mind your own business!”
“Get out of my way!”

Would you do nothing because of what people might DO to you if you tried to warn them about the bridge being out:

laugh at you. . .
mock you. . .
curse you. . .
throw things at you. . .or even. . .
beat or kill you.

What would determine how you would act on that cold, rainy night?

Fear of what people would think of you?

OR. . .

Concern for what would happen to them if they kept going?

The prophet Solomon (Sulaiman) said we must do something! God Himself is watching:

Rescue the perishing;
don’t hesitate to step in and help
.
If you say, ‘Hey, that’s none of my business,’
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know —
Someone not impressed with weak excuses.”
(Proverbs 24:11-12, The Message)

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Rescue. . .
don’t stand back and let them die.

Don’t try to disclaim responsibility
by saying you didn’t know about it.

For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and he knows you knew!
And he will reward everyone according to his deeds.”
(Proverbs 24:11-12, The Living Bible)

My dear readers – whether you call yourself a “Muslim” or a “Christian” or something else – I love you. I care about you. That is why it is my absolute duty before God to warn you that every spiritual “bridge” you are trusting in on the Day of Judgment is out except for one.

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The only “bridge” you can trust to cross over into Paradise is the person and work of Jesus.

God looked down upon you and me and knew that we could not do enough good things in this life to cross over safely into Paradise. He sent the Prophets to warn us. They were mocked, laughed at, rejected, even killed. Then He sent Jesus. He sent him to die. To be sacrificed. In your place – and mine. For the shame and punishment of your sins – and mine. How do we respond? By accepting the free gift of that sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. By giving our life to Jesus in humble, loving gratitude and then becoming his lifelong followers.

This is the bridge that God Himself has built to save us.

There is no other bridge. There is no other way:

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (the Injil, the Good News according to John, chapter 14, verse 6).

Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one” (the Book of the Acts of Jesus’ Apostles, chapter 4, verse 12).

My dear friends, I WARN you because I LOVE you.

I warn you because I CARE.

Every bridge is out.

Every bridge except one. . .

That bridge. . .is JESUS.

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Postscript:

To my “Muslim” readers, what I am trying to do – boldly and unapologetically – is to plead with you to examine the claims of Jesus in the Injil. To read about his life and yes, his death and resurrection. To see that no one loves you like he does. To see that no one else has given their life for you like he has.

You can trust your good works to get you to Paradise but I MUST warn you. . . that bridge is out. Jesus is the bridge to Paradise and he is calling your name. He is calling you to repent (turn away) from your sins and follow him as your Savior. Will you answer that call?

To my “Christian” readers, I fear for so many of you. Why? Because you are trusting in your good works to get you to Heaven. Maybe you said a “sinner’s prayer” but let me ask you, “Are you living for Jesus?” “Are you following him?” “Have you given him your life?” Or did you just pray at one time long ago for “fire insurance” but without real repentance from sin and real commitment to Jesus? It won’t work. I warn you. . .that bridge is out.

It’s time to quit playing games with God, with yourself, with your eternity. Jesus is the bridge to Paradise and he is calling your name. He is calling you to follow him.

Will you answer that call?