Breaking the Islam Code
16 March 2010
I just finished reading Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim by J.D. Greear.
WOW! What an incredible book! I'm putting this one at the TOP of my recommended reading list! At first I thought it might be some wishy-washy book about understanding Muslims at the expense of compromising the Gospel. But it's not like that at all.
The author lived in a Muslim country for a number of years, interacting extensively with Muslims, discussing the Bible and Christianity with many, and leading some to know Isa (Yeshua, Jesus). He did his doctoral thesis on contextualizing the Gospel message for Muslims. He currently pastors a church in North Carolina.
Greear has a deep love for Muslims and a powerful passion to see them come to know Isa. In this book, he explains the misconceptions and obstacles for both Muslims and Christians regarding sharing the Gospel, and how to overcome these obstacles.
In reading this book, I gained a greater understanding of Islam, and the heart-felt needs of Muslim. But I also gained a greater clarity and understanding of Christianity — something I was not expecting.
My feeble attempt to extol the qualities of this book definitely do NOT do it justice. This is an EXCELLENT book! Plus, it's fairly short, and pretty easy to read. If there is only one book you could read on Islam, this is the one I recommend.
Now let me finish with some quotes from the concluding chapter of the book:
It is faith that unlocks the power for the mission of God. But there is one other indispensable element Jesus said was necessary for salvation to come to the world. OUR DEATH.
In John 12, Jesus was approached by a group of Greeks who wanted to learn about him. They told Philip, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus" (verse 21). This was a significant moment in Jesus' life. It had been clear from the beginning that Jesus' purpose was to come not just for Jews, but for the whole world — for "the Greeks" (who here represent the entire non-Jewish world) now standing before him. In light of that Jesus' response is startling.
Instead of turning to the Greeks, he says something TO HIS DISCIPLES. He tells them that a harvest of salvation will only come to these Greeks if they will plant themselves, like seeds in the ground, and die. The life of "the Greeks" would only come through the death of the disciples.
The "life" of Muslims will only come through the "death" of the church.
Paul said that we must "fill up in our bodies what is lacking in the wounds of Christ." What could be "lacking" in the wounds of Christ? Didn't Jesus FINISH the work of salvation? In one sense, yes. However, in another, the work of the cross in not finished. The news of the cross has to be shared with others to be of any real value to them.
That's where we come in. The gospel will go forward in Muslims only through our wounds. Wounds are not simply an unfortunate byproduct of our witness to Muslims, but the means by which they will hear and believe. For the gospel to really live in Muslims, we will have to pour out our lives for them as Jesus poured his out for us.
We will have to choose to befriend Muslims on our campus or in our community even when it would be more comfortable to spend time with people like ourselves. We will have to choose to devote time to praying for them. We will have to endure, gracefully, their misunderstanding and reproach. We will have to give our money with radical generosity to support ministry to Muslims around the world. Many of us will have to leave a comfortable life and go to live in a foreign culture very far from our families. Many of us will have to be willing to let our children grow up and do the same.
When the gospel begins to flourish among Muslims, persecution will come. Some believers will suffer and die. It's always been that way. God brings the harvest through the sacrifices of the church.
Perhaps you don't live in a place where you'll face this type of danger. But if you've made it this far in this book, I suspect God is calling you, in some way, to be a part of bringing Muslims to Christ. Sacrifices happen on all levels, large and small. Why not begin by committing to pray daily for the salvation of Muslims? Or, reach across the cultural divide in your own city or on your own campus and befriend a Muslim. Perhaps you could begin to give generously to support the work among Muslims in the world. Talk to your pastor about your church engaging an unreached Muslim community in the world. Or maybe you should consider going yourself to live in a Muslim country. Or ask God to send your children.
The point I am trying to make is that if we are really serious about seeing Muslims come to Christ, we must be willing to pay the price. Reaching Muslims cost Jesus his life. If we are to reach Muslims, it will cost us ours as well.
Will we ever see a mass movement of Muslims erupting in praise to God our Savior? The task seems impossible! For many it is not that they have not heard, but that they do not want to hear! But God has said that his fame will one day cover the earth "as the waters cover the sea." One day, his salvation will be known and cherished by a vast number of Muslims that no one can number. Nothing is too hard for God!
I am certain of two things regarding Muslims turning to Christ: 1) IT WILL HAPPEN; and 2) IT WILL HAPPEN THROUGH OUR FAITH AND OUR BLOOD. Perhaps mine. Perhaps my children's.
I want to believe God on behalf of his promise about Muslims, and I want to follow Jesus in reaching them, wherever he leads. Will you join me?