Igniting a Peace Revolution: Following the One Who Is Full of Grace and Truth
by Rick Love
About fifty people from my church visited the Islamic Center of Phoenix for a Love Your Neighbor Dinner. During a time of Q & A, a member of my church asked the Imam how followers of Jesus could be practical peacemakers between Christians and Muslims. The Imam, Sheikh Mahmoud replied, "Read and obey the Gospel!" I think Sheikh Mahmoud is right.
My good friend Joseph Cumming, the Director of the Yale Reconciliation Program made a similar observation recently. During a panel discussion about Christian-Muslim relations at a global conference in Cape Town, Joseph said, "We may disagree about how to interpret Islam, but we can all agree on what Jesus expects from his followers." And what does Jesus expect?
A new film just came out that describes what Jesus expects. "Of Gods and Men" is about monks in Algeria in the 1990s who were caught in the conflict between a repressive secular state and a group of radical Islamists. I haven't been able to see the movie yet, but reputable sources indicate that the movie touches on how followers of Jesus are called to respond to their neighbors -- even when your neighbor is pointing a gun at you and your other neighbors (I can't wait to see it!).
Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). As his followers, we should walk in the fullness of grace and truth in our relationships with Muslims. Because of this, Peace Catalyst International (PCI) recently wrote up its own version of "Grace and Truth." In honor of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, Peace Catalyst International affirms ten biblical guidelines that will enable Jesus’ followers to serve as his representatives in relationship with Muslims of every persuasion:
1. Be Jesus-Centered in our Interaction
2. Be Truthful and Gracious in our Words and Witness
3. Be Wise in our Words and Witness
4. Be Respectful and Bold in our Witness
5. Be Prudent in our Glocalized World
6. Be Persistent in our Call for Religious Freedom
7. Be Peaceable and Uncompromising in our Dialogue
8. Be Loving toward All
9. Differentiate between the Role of Church and State
10. Support and Challenge the State
- We affirm a Jesus-centered approach to Muslims because it highlights the treasure of the gospel. It does not confuse the good news with Christendom, patriotism or our civilization.
- We strive to speak truthfully about Muslims, to respect Muslims' own interpretation of themselves, and not to compare the best interpretation and practice of our faith with the worst interpretation and practice of theirs.
- In the spirit of the Prince of Peace, respectful witness focuses on giving a positive presentation of the gospel. It does not attack the other or avoid presenting truth. As the apostle Peter says: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
- We aspire to demonstrate the gospel with self-giving, sacrificial love toward our Muslim neighbors and toward the small minority of Muslims who might position themselves as our enemies.
If you are a follow of Jesus and want to learn how to be a peacemaker, live out these ten affirmations. They describe what it means to truly love Muslims and faithfully bear witness to Christ. But beware. Obedience to these truths could dangerous. It could ignite a peace revolution!