Meeting With a Muslim: Grace and Obedience

So I had the privilege of meeting with a Muslim man yesterday. I purposely say it was a privilege because it was. In addition to being a leader in his local Mosque, this man, named Mohammed, is a pediatrician by vocation.

We mostly sat around his dinning room table discussing our beliefs, including the differences between Christianity and Islam. I purposely tried to do more listening, as I wanted to make sure I understood him first (à la, Miroslav Volf’s idea of double vision) before I spoke myself. Regardless, I felt it was a great conversation and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Not surprisingly, there is a fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam on the question of how we understand who God is. While these difference cannot be ignored or set aside, there is no reason why Christians and Muslims cannot have a respectful dialogue about these differences. I believe our conversation was evident that such dialogue can take place, as I know it has between other Christians and Muslims.

One issue that came up has to do with American Christianity. The question was asked as to why American Christians believe that they can claim God’s grace while continue to live pretty much however they want to as though they will not be held accountable to God for their actions.

Before we dismiss the accusatory generalization of the question, think about it for a moment. What is going on in American Christianity that would even give someone the impression that we Christians believe we can live without accountability to God for our actions?

While perception and reality are never the same, there is always a certain amount of truth to the perception and it is that certain amount of truth that we Christians should wonder about. For my Muslim neighbor, this issue is about obedience to God and obedience to God ought to be a concern for all Christians to since the idea of obedience to God is a very biblical idea. In fact, it is a gross misappropriation of the gospel scripture to live as though God’s grace negates obedience unto God. Such error is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer meant by “cheap grace.” Do we Christians believe the grace of God is cheap? Our answer will be evident in how we live.

There is a question I have about the way Islamic faith understands grace and the forgiveness of sin but I need to do more reading first. Besides, before Christians, like myself, become too critical of the Islamic way of life, we need to get our own back yard cleaned up first. In other words, we must tend to our own issues rather than someone else’s.

6 responses to “Meeting With a Muslim: Grace and Obedience

  1. Kerry
    I REALLY appreciate this post (as I do all of your posts). This is one area I have studied a lot…I have friend who was a preacher and then converted to Islam. I have studied Islam for a season in my life. The fundamental differences cannot be ignored, but love does not allow Christians to be jerks and condescending, which all of us are guilty of. From my understanding, and I am no expert in Islamic Jurisprudence, that grace is obtained when one has good deeds that outweigh bad deeds, or, if one is killed in military service to Allah, grace is given fully and instantly. From my very small understanding it seems as if the Islamic beliefs do not allow the idea of “I write this to you that you may know you ate saved…” that the Apostle John speaks of in his epistles. Also, it seems that it is a completey works based system of thought.

    • Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting. I’m curious as to what led your preacher friend to stop believing in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Son of God and then convert to Islam.

  2. like Scripture commands women to wear a covering when praying or prophesying; like Scripture speaks of modesty; like Scripture says pray without ceasing….Lord have mercy. But Islam is also under the privilege of lying to advance their faith…..

  3. I can only speculate on the why’s of it all. A very difficult time in life, the loss of his mother, many struggles, and then church “friends” he had turned on him like rabid wolves…he lost everything…his faith most of all. Grace was absent where it should have been abundant…and it cost this man everything he had…

    • Sadly, that sounds like a story I’ve heard too many times. I cannot stress enough to churches that our greatest apologetic for the gospel of Jesus is the way we act: whether we are loving to our neighbors and one another, offering hospitality, extending grace where there has been wrong, ministering with compassion and mercy where there is hurting, etc… Those all are massive difference makers, as the truth we proclaim must be the truth embodied in our lives.

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