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Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

As-Salaamu ‘Alaykoum (السلام عليكم) – Peace be upon you.

Muslims say this every time they meet each other and usually when they leave. I love it because it isn’t a mere “Hello”; it is a blessing. Of course, as with anything you say often, it is possible to forget what exactly you are saying, but when I say it to my Muslim friends I try to be conscious to really mean it. I want peace for them.

I also love it because it so biblical.

  • It is part of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:26, “The Lord . . . give you peace.”
  • It was used among the ancient Israelites (Judges 19:20, “And the old man said, ‘Peace be to you.'”)
  • King David used it (2 Samuel 25:6, “And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.'”).
  • An angel spoke it to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 10:19, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.”).
  • The Apostle Paul used it as a greeting in almost all his letters (Colossians 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”).
  • The Apostle Peter used it (1 Peter 5:14, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”).
  • The Apostle John used it (3 John 15, “Peace be to you.”).
  • Jesus Christ used it (Gospel of Luke 24:36, “Peace be to you.”).
  • Jesus Christ commanded his followers to say it (Gospel of Luke 10:5, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’”).
  • God used it  (Judges 6:23, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.'”).

Isn’t it remarkable to see so many biblical examples of this and yet as Christians we don’t regularly speak peace to one another? This is definitely something we can learn from our Muslim friends.

I’m hopeful that as this blog continues we can begin to understand a biblical theology of peace. If I can better understand peace then I can better speak one of my favorite greetings, “As-salaamu ‘Alakoum”.

**I recognize that I hardly blog anymore. I don’t know if I will start up again or not, but this post for some reason was getting hit with hundreds of spam comments so I decided to delete the original, but liked the post too much to just let it go. Blessings, Dustin

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Is Islam a religion of war or peace? I get asked this question a lot. I know that people are asking this question again after all of the attacks on US embassies throughout the Middle East. I’ll give you my answer to this question and then I’ll tell you why I am posting about it.

I don’t know. There you have it, that’s my answer. I don’t claim to be an expert in Islam. Even if I was I am not sure how well I could answer this question. Honestly, I see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of war. There are Muslim scholars who confirm this (though they might not state it this way). There are some really hard verses in the Qur’an. There are plenty of violent acts throughout the history of Islam. And of course, we see the violence perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.

However, I can also see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of peace. There are Muslims scholars who confirm this. There are good pointers in the Qur’an towards peace. Within the history of Islam there have been times of peace and prosperity. And of course, we see acts of kindness and love perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.

So which is it? Again, I honestly don’t know. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care. That probably doesn’t sound good. Honestly, I am not that concerned about what true Islam is. I am more concerned about what my Muslim friend believes. This is not because I don’t care about the truth or don’t think that objective truth is real. I do. I care very much. It is because I have personally settled the issue of truth. Jesus the Messiah says in the Injil, “I am the truth” (see the Gospel according to John 14:6). He is enough for me. I am not saying Christianity is the truth. I am saying that Jesus is the truth. The truth of God has been embodied in a person.

When I am with my Muslim friend I don’t need to know what true Islam is. I need to know my friend. I want to know what he believes. Does he believe that such acts of violence in the name of Islam are justified? Or does he repudiate them? That’s what matters to me.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I care deeply for Muslims as a group and for my Muslim friends in particular. I am really grateful to God for the relationships he has given me and the friends I have been blessed by. You also know that I have not been afraid to call anti-Islamic statements evil. I am more than willing to call out the evil from Christians regarding Muslims. I believe this film is offensive and the opposite of love.

However, one thing I really haven’t done is also call out the evil that Muslims have done. I feel angry about the response to this movie. I understand why it is offensive. But I cannot and will not understand the need to destroy property and ultimately kill others because of it, especially those who had absolutely nothing to do with the making of the film. I do not hold the American government responsible for the evil of individual citizens anymore than I hold other governments responsible for the evil of their individual citizens.

I am angry because the destructive and deadly responses are evil. I am angry because these responses make non-Muslims living in the Middle East fearful. I have American friends who live all over the Middle East who are fearful that they may need to flee. I am angry because the radical murderous Muslims are giving all of my Muslim friends a bad name. I am angry because the work that I do in trying to promote understanding and peace between Muslims and Christians can so easily be derailed by the site of angry mobs. I am angry because all people are made in God’s image and we are not treating each other with the respect that this simple truth demands. God made us. And therefore he loves us. How is it that this truth doesn’t change everything about how we live with people different than us?!

I feel for Muslims who are appalled at what is taking place. Surely they bear a greater burden of responsibility over their community than I do, but what can they do? I don’t know. And even if my responsibility is not as great, I still am responsible for my reaction and for the circle of influence I have.

So I will pray. I will pray to the God of peace. I will pray for those who have sinned in making the movie and those who have sinned in their response to the movie. I will continue to show the way of love that Jesus Christ teaches us. His way is the way of the cross. He didn’t kill his enemies. He died for them. He didn’t end their lives. He laid down his own.

The way of the cross is the only way forward because it teaches us to humble ourselves and extend the forgiveness we have received to others. It teaches us to love our enemies and to seek their good. It teaches us to love mercy and not merely insist on justice.

I will pray and I will seek to daily die to myself and my selfish desires so that I can love others, even others who don’t love me.

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I’m Back (I Think)

It has been a very long time since I posted. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I would post again. Getting out of the blogging habit has made it really hard to start up again. I’m not even sure if there are still any readers left!

Many of you know that we live in Syria. I had stopped blogging because there was a period of about 2 months when I had almost no internet connection (it was sporadic and very weak). After the connection got better I was just so busy with things here and trying to figure what we should do that the less important parts of my life (i.e blogging) got overlooked. After about 4 months or so, I had apparently loss my desire to blog. I didn’t even really think about it anymore (which is a serious handicap for generating new posts). Time just kept going and I stayed logged out (so to speak).

A few have commented or wrote to me wondering why I stopped and encouraged me to write again. That got me thinking again about the worth of a blog like mine. I still think it can have a valuable role in the whole issue of peace between Muslims and Christians and that it can bring honor to God by pointing towards his path of peace, namely, the Prince of Peace. I still want to help Christians and Muslims better understand one another and grow in being good neighbors to each other.

So, I’ve begun again. Things are still pretty unsettled here so I can’t make any promises about how frequently I’ll post, but perhaps this initial re-entry will spur me on for future posts.

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Lack Peace of Mind? Pray!

From The Works of God:

D.A. Carson, on God and prayer in the midst of suffering:

The degree of our peace of mind is tied to our prayer life (Phil. 4:6-7). This is not because prayer is psychologically soothing, but because we address a prayer-answering God, a personal God, a responding God, a sovereign God whom we can trust with the outcomes of life’s confusions. And we learn, with time, that if God in this or that instance does not choose to take away the suffering, or utterly remove the evil, he does send grace and power. The result is praise; and that, of course, is itself enjoyable, in exactly the same way that lovers enjoy giving each other compliments.

I cannot tell you how many times I have visited some senior saint who is going through serious suffering, perhaps terminal illness, only to come away feeling that it was I who benefited from exposure to a believer who was already living in the felt presence of God.

D.A. Carson, How Long, Oh Lord? p. 217-218.

 

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Perfect Peace

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

Beautiful truth.
Comforting promise.
Challenging charge.
Steadfast hope.

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There are many similarities between Muslims and Christians. In fact, as a follower of Jesus the Messiah, when I am with Muslims I often feel more comfortable than when I am with Americans or other Westerners. My values are much closer to an average Muslim than to a secular Westerner. We especially noticed this several years ago while studying Arabic in Syria. There was a big difference between us and some of our European classmates (I only remember one other American, though, interestingly, we did meet a Somali who lived about a mile away from us in America).

As similar as many of our values are, there are differences in our theology, especially regarding our beliefs about Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? What did he do? It is the answers to these questions that separate us (the separation is theological – it doesn’t have to be relational).

This morning as I read my Bible I came across a passage that defines the differences between us. When I read this text my heart fills with praise to God and gratefulness for his mercy and compassion. I am really happy that I am reconciled to God, that I have peace with the Lord of the worlds. Here are the verses:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. – Colossians 1:19-20

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From Unity:

Bismillah. Received today from rom Imtiaz Wajih:

I am a 49 year old Muslim living in London. I thought it might be a good idea to set up a Meetup group to focus on the shared ground between Christians and Muslims.

We would be delighted if you could join us (even if you are too busy to attend our meetings). Please see the link below:http://www.meetup.com/christianmuslims/

Also, please see our website: http://www.christianmuslims.co.uk

Your comments and feedback would be most welcome. It’s all about peace …

Warm regards,
Imtiaz

This looks interesting and I am glad for Christians and Muslims to gather together in order to better know one another. However, this particular group seems to be of the kind that glosses over all differences between the religions. That is one of the mistakes of modern day dialogues between religions. (The other side of the mistake is to see ourselves in a battle that must be won against those we view as enemies). I still think we can be genuine peacemakers while at the same time standing for truth. We don’t have to pretend we all agree in order to be at peace with one another.

 

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