Is it possible to be a conflict-free Christian?
I was reading over an article in a magazine that was speaking to the phenomena of Christians in the Islamic world. These were not the types that were oppressed by the Islamic rulers and the ones who have their churches set on fire. No, these were the ones that still attended mosques upon conversion. These were the men who would go into the mosque and pray on Friday afternoons. They are Jesus followers who remained in the mosque, worshiping the Triune God instead of the Islamic Allah.
In case you haven’t heard about this trend, this has been a controversial topic (see Muslim Followers of Jesus? from Christianity Today), and the question that is often raised is that this phenomenon counters the heart of the Gospel. It could possibly mix two separate religions, and this would in turn dilute the uniqueness of Jesus. For Jesus is not a prophet as Islam would teach, instead he is God (which is a blasphemous statement for a Muslim).
The way I see it, the general candor of the New Testament seems to portray the Christian life as being counterintuitive. It is about making a declaration of faith and then stepping into a different life trajectory or citizenship. Whether it was the renouncing of pagan ways in ancient Greece or choosing to authentically follow Jesus in Middle America, becoming a Christ follower can create discomfort from mild to extreme. It confronts you with the necessity to sometimes get your hands dirty and do uncomfortable things, like renouncing your former religion in spite of a death sentence.
We need to remain faithful
It was incredibly difficult to write that last sentence. While I might never know what it is like to come face-to-face with a sword for my religious views, I know that both in America and abroad, followers of Christ are called to be faithful. We are called to live authentic lives for the Kingdom of God and to speak the good news that Jesus is the Risen Lord.
Being faithful is about living well. What does that exactly look like? James would say that the pure religion of Jesus looks like caring for widows and remaining unstained from the world. In other words, it’s about acting justly and graciously towards the marginalized people of society. It is also about living lives that are purified (perhaps, purifying) and transformed by the grace of God.
We need to remain humble
It is not enough to be faithful and stand against a storm. We need to also be humble. The truth for all Christ followers, whether in Islamic lands or in post- Christian nations, is that we are people who have been graciously redeemed. We have been made children of God, by the grace of God, for the glory of God.
Adopted into the family. That is the imagery that Paul uses in Ephesians and it is an imagery I like to use as well. Because it demonstrates that the child has not earned himself into right standing with the parent. Her quick wit was not enough to get her into a home. No, it was the gracious act of the adopter. And for those who are in Christ, you and I have been graciously brought into a warm home. How fortunate is that? Why would or should I ever boast?
We need to trust that God is in control
The Lord will take care of you and I, that is why we need to be people who are both faithful and humble.
Even when things go awry. Even when everything seems to fall apart.
I was reminded of that in reading through Job. Here was a godly man, someone who was faithful towards the Lord. Yet, he experienced a tremendous amount of garbage. In the closing chapters of this book, Job was reminded that God was in control, even in the dark hours.
We need to remain faithful to the Lord, even when things go bad. We need to stay humble, even when things go right. God is in control over our situations, whether we are in Anytown USA or the streets of Cairo, and for that I cling to him.