Two Visitors

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? –Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount

I had a interesting experience. Some time ago we had two Muslim university students pay me a visit.  One who had visited our church a few weeks before contacted me by phone to ask if he could stop in. He arrived with a friend bearing gifts, and information about the Anatolia Cultural Center in Broward County that they are part of. I felt the visit merited sharing. Why? We’ve been so prejudiced by stereotypes and fears have been so cultivated that we’ve missed people created in the image of God. Are there violent acts being perpetrated? Yes, there are. Does every Muslim support these acts? Not at all. Actually, Islam is quite diverse. I was delighted to hear that the two men I met come from a sect of Muslims called Sufis. We’ve heard all about Sunnis and Shiites, but little about this peaceful group of poets and mystics. They oppose violence against any people, and they believe that Allah has commanded them to live in love. They were the first Muslims to repudiate the September 11th attacks, and they are outspoken in their objection to suicide bombings or any other acts of violence against others. I was first exposed to Sufis while a student at Princeton Seminary. You may have heard of them because of the well known whirling dervishes who were actually teachers of their faith. Today large numbers of Sufis live in places like Turkey and India. (There are as many as 100 million Sufis in the world today.) Some Sufis also reside in South Florida and are our neighbors.

Now why am I telling you this? If they are our neighbors we have the opportunity to serve them, and be children of our Father in heaven. Actually, they came to me asking how they might serve us. Christians have for years lived in peace with Sufis. Actually, many historians believe that Sufism, though distinctly of Islamic origin, developed out of a collision between Persian Muslims and Greek Christians that took place in Turkey a thousand years ago. Whether this is true or not I do not know, but I do know how Jesus has called us to treat our neighbors. Its good to learn more about various religious sects in our community. But even more, we need to know more about Jesus to understand our mission. Jesus came because the problem with sin was far worse than people would ever admit. All people have tried to apply the Band-Aid of religion to cover the huge wound of sin. All efforts at healing having failed. Then Jesus came showing us that only through His death could peace and life come. The deep truth is that we all need Jesus to give us a new heart, to bridge the gap between us and God made by our sin, and to heal our deep spiritual wound. No religion or movement on earth can do this, only Jesus. Every man and woman on earth needs his cure, American or Turk. I would ask you to pray for these guests living here in the United States and also pray that we will bring the grace and love of the only savior Jesus to share with them.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on January 2, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Praying that I will share His love more…..

    Reply

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