“How Do I Know that My Muslim Neighbor is Not a Terrorist?”
Obviously, not all people in the world are people of good will. Terrorists are willing to kill and die for their ideology. Tension exists between the need for security and the desire to show compassion. This takes wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus (Syria) breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’ disciples when God revealed himself to him in a powerful way. Then, Jesus instructed Ananias to go and pray for Saul. He was not thrilled with the idea of going to pray for him because of Saul’s reputation of creating trouble for God’s people. However, in obedience, Ananias prayed for Saul to be healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, was baptized and spent the rest of his life proclaiming Jesus, the Messiah (Acts 9: 1-22).
Jim Bennett writes,
“We cannot be naïve and ignore what radical Muslims are doing in our world. I constantly reflect on two Scripture passages: (1) We must “be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, AMP); and (2) “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). We ought to do everything we can to stop the efforts of radical Muslims, while at the same time we must doing everything we can to place the gospel of Jesus Christ before every Muslim.” (“Responding to Radical Islam,” Intercede, November/ December 2005, p. 2)
Bruce McDowell and Anees Zaka, in their book, Muslims and Christians at the Table: Promoting Biblical Understanding among North American Muslim provide an excellent overview of the history of Islam, Muslim culture, theology, beliefs, and practices as well as practical ways to reach out to Muslims, befriend them, and share the gospel:
The North American evangelical church needs to wake up to the mission field around us. With the freedom that we enjoy in North America we have a great privilege to bring the gospel to Muslims with great openness and little need for fear. The freedom we enjoy is one of the very reasons why millions of Muslim immigrants have come to North America. The massive migration has brought the Muslim mission field to the doorstep of the Western church. God is calling the Western church to reach out to our new Muslim neighbors aggressively and lovingly. God has graciously given us an open door for ministry; let us not lose our opportunity. (McDowell and Zaka 1999)
Fear paralyzes us. What if Ananias had not obeyed because of fear? The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who can change a person’s heart. Maybe a better question is, “How do I know that my Muslim neighbor will not be the next ‘Apostle Paul’ when he or she meets Jesus?”
McDowell, B. A. and A. Zaka. 1999. Muslims and Christians at the Table: Promoting Biblical Understanding among North American Muslims. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing.