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On values, worldviews, and relating to our unbelieving neighbors

“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” should be required reading for Christians

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"Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity" by Nabeel Qureshi Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada

“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi
Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada


I first discovered Nabeel Qureshi through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, especially RZIM’s YouTube channel. Hearing several talks and Q&A’s with Dr. Qureshi, I couldn’t help but be moved by his testimony, not to mention his rather contagious passion for the defense of the Christian message. Given that I found myself listening to some of his talks more than once, I figured I should get more acquainted with his story through his spiritual memoir, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

I found this book insightful, gripping, and inspiring, and I believe it should be required reading for Christians for a number of reasons… Western Christians and Muslims don’t understand one another very well. Qureshi begins to bridge the gap by drawing western Christians’ attention to our reputation in the Muslim community and translates the latter’s culture, behaviors, and assumptions to help believers better understand and relate to our Muslim neighbors.

Secondly, his story highlights the embarrassing consequences of encounters between unbelievers who are surprisingly well-informed and Christians who are depressingly uneducated about our own faith and, therefore, unable to answer questions and critiques. The author’s experience should be a lesson to us about the far-reaching impact of our decision whether or not to educate ourselves about our beliefs.

Thirdly, Qureshi’s journey is an example to Christians of what it means to love God with all our mind. I’ve heard people say that working through foundational questions of faith is a waste of time…”no point in reinventing the wheel.” But then I think about Qureshi and other authors like him, and it makes sense. If faith is supposed to be personal, then it has to make sense on a personal level… “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There’s more to love about this book as well… I’ve shared a similar emotional struggle while examining my Christian beliefs, so I was on the edge of my seat with each question the author set out to answer. I was also moved by the tender memories he shared about his childhood and relationships with his parents. I laughed along with him and his college friend through their hilarious exchanges. And (*spoiler alert*) I was admittedly rather jealous, but ultimately delighted that he had incredible opportunity to dialogue face-to-face with Gary Habermas!

These are just a few reasons I recommend Qureshi’s book. Read more reviews or pick up your own copy of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

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The Truth About Love

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If truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the
possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.
— Ravi Zacharias

As an Eric Metaxas fan, I enjoyed his recent speech at Liberty University (see below). As I listened, though, one problem became clear:

We know the importance of speaking the truth “in love,” as Eric reminds us, but we rarely know how this is meant to look.

Not unlike the first lesson in writing 101, namely ‘show, don’t tell,’ I realized how badly we in the Christian community need this shown to us.

In my years as a missionary kid and pastor’s kid, I’ve seen so many kinds of unloving Christians over the years that I realized we’ve turned loveless, hollow, self-righteous, ‘whitewashed tomb’ Christianity into a sophisticated art.

We’re all familiar with the ‘speak the truth in love’ phrase from Ephesians 4:15, but when so many of us define angry protests, scathing commentaries, heated arguments, and condescending speech as ‘loving,’ the meaning of the word is clearly lost.

What we need aren’t Christians who are more bold to speak the truth, because too many of us already out in the world are causing overwhelming damage by our method.

What we need is an intensive lesson on how to speak the truth IN LOVE. We need humble mentors, clear teaching, practical examples, and inspiring stories, and we need them made an overt and ever-present part of our sermons, speeches, conversations, and community life.

Meanwhile, Eric is troubled by the rest of us, those who’ve remained quiet about our faith, suggesting it’s secular pressure or the need to apologize for our faith that keeps us silent.

I’d like to suggest another possibility: Perhaps, to borrow from Ravi Zacharias, we’re discouraged by the countless obnoxious Christians making the truth repulsive.

Maybe we know that the prevailing antagonism doesn’t square with the loving God we know from Scripture and from our personal relationship with Him.

Maybe we want to speak up more, but we’re uncertain because don’t have the skills and tools we need. Maybe we need leaders and mentors speaking the truth in a way that resonates with what we know to be loving–in the truest sense of the word.

Maybe we’ll have the confidence to speak the truth in love when we understand the truth about love.

What does ‘speaking the truth in love’ mean to you?

How have you seen this in action?

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Who’s outside your pastor’s comfort zone?

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A big challenge in my spiritual journey lately has been responding to fellow believers, leaders especially, who seem to have sold out to a gospel of comfort.

When a relative, formerly a pastor and missionary, came down with a degenerative disease, he noticed himself losing friends. Fellow church members, leaders, choir members, and others, stepped out of his life one by one.

When his family asked the church for help, a pastor told them that people quite simply weren’t comfortable around this man anymore.

Apparently the pastor didn’t consider this a contradiction of the gospel he preached from the pulpit.

The sick man’s family then asked if they could present the situation to the congregation, as they’d seen someone do at another church. This way, they hoped, one or two church members might step forward as ‘volunteer friends.’ But the leadership told them this was impossible.

“You’ve got to understand our culture,” one staffer told them. “You just can’t do that here.”

In short, the retired pastor/missionary had outlived his usefulness and his welcome in the church. Even the pastors didn’t want to see him, ignoring the family’s request for the occasional drop-in visit.

His family was expected to accept his loneliness, that their church family wouldn’t be involved in his life any longer. Except at the funeral, perhaps.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me… (Matthew 25:34-36)

When it comes to reaching outside our comfort zone to love a neighbour, we’ve cultivated a subtle disconnect between theology and everyday life.

Many Christians would agree in principle with Jesus’ parables like the good Samaritan, or the passage about the goats and the sheep. We know these stories from Sunday school, and pastors also preach them from time to time.

Knowing them is good. But living them is another thing entirely.

Too many of us are like that pastor defending ‘personal comfort’ as a reasonable excuse not to visit someone in need of a friend. Except, we wouldn’t be quite as blunt about it. Not out loud, anyway.

I know what some of you reading this might say, that people aren’t perfect and that we can depend on God’s comfort when others let us down. And you’d be right.

But this doesn’t mean we need to let sin, especially a ‘respectable sin‘ like the idol of personal comfort, go unchallenged in our lives or our churches–especially in church leadership.

We need to examine our hearts, and we need to invite our pastors to do the same. We need to see how far we’ve let our culture’s gods–happiness, leisure, comfort–become our own gods. We need to release our white-knuckled grip on those idols and, instead, find our comfort in Jesus Christ.

And then, if the Spirit is alive in us at all, we need to see growth.

We also need pastors who don’t make excuses for sin. Ones who don’t limit their teaching to “platitudes, subtle hints, or over-principlized ‘sermonettes,'” as Byron Forrest Yawn writes in his book, What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him:

[Pastors] must put their proverbial finger in men’s faces and tell them exactly … how they’ve wasted years of spiritual opportunity. Not with belittling harshness, but with frustrated optimism. (p. 164)

In other words, we need real leaders, ones who’ll teach us how to put our faith into action when it’s UNcomfortable. We need our leaders to model this in their own lives, and we need them to expect us to follow suit.

And in doing so, we’ll discover a secret: Serving others brings surprisingly more fulfillment than anything we’ll find inside our comfort zone.

What’s your take on this? And how have your leaders handled the ‘gospel of comfort’ in your church?

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