September 23, 2020
It’s sobering to think what has to happen for someone raised Muslim to leave the House of Islam and follow Jesus Christ. In the West, it’s common to meet people who don’t believe God exists or, if He does, that He has relevance in their lives; in Muslim communities, it is most unlikely to meet such a fool. The first word an infant hears is the Islamic creed, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”. Muslims learn to submit to Allah by following rules perfectly. When they stray, they risk both Allah’s wrath and that of their community. They never know if Allah considers their lifelong obedience worthy of the rewards of Paradise or the punishments of hell. Muslims who convert fear being expelled from their families or possibly killed. For some, an even greater fear is that they are turning their backs on God, who is the source and sustenance of their existence. Perhaps we could liken it to stepping out of a spaceship without life support.
Fear is the “strong man” of Islam (Lk 11:21). Its henchman is intimidation.
Muslim converts to Christianity carry fear into their new faith. It’s part of their “old self” that everyone who is born again learns to dispose of (Eph 4:20-24). 1 John 4:18 tells us that “fear has to do with punishment”. But in love, our Father in heaven put our punishment [for sin] on Jesus the Lamb of God, so that through Him, we are made perfect in love. Jesus’ birth announcement began with, “Do not fear…” (Lk 2:10)!
Fall 2020, as we face COVID’s second wave in an increasingly unstable world, is an opportune time to explore our own fear. To be intimidated is to be frightened or overawed by someone or something. It is impossible to be overawed by Almighty God. He is worthy of awe! Fear of the Lord is wisdom (a wisdom Muslims already have, but out of ignorance about the true nature of God). Scripture exhorts us continually not to fear people, things or events – even death, but to put our trust in the Awesome God who loves us and gave Himself for us. It’s very natural to want to avoid people and situations that are intimidating; are we failing to trust God in these situations, seeking to self-protect or hide and dressing up our ungodly fear as wisdom?
What witness do we give Muslims regarding godly fear?
Praise the Father for His holiness, His power and His steadfast love (Psalm 103 is great for this).
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sins that are creating a foothold for fear. Repent and receive His forgiveness. Rejoice in freedom from fear.
Have you been feeling intimidated about reaching out to Muslim neighbors? Picture yourself taking your hand out of the “hand” of Intimidation and putting it in Jesus’ hand. Practice walking with Jesus by memorizing and declaring scripture (e.g. Ps 23).
Preach to your soul about how God sees you: you are more than a conqueror, inseparable from His love (Ro 8:35-39, also see Rev 12:11); you do not shrink back but have faith and receive what was promised (Heb 10:36-30), you are hidden in Christ (Col 3:3).
Pray for Muslims according to Jesus’ instructions in Luke 11:22: Call on the One who is stronger than Fear and Intimidation – Jesus, the Commander of the Host of Heaven – to attack and overcome these two and take away their armor, and ask the Holy Spirit to comfort and calm those who have been held prisoner and encourage them to leave behind the kingdom of darkness for the Kingdom of Light. Pray they’ll be perfected in love and set free from fear.