incarnational ministry (with muslims in mind)
4/04/2006 12:04:00 AM
I started to write this post last week, and I am just now getting around to finishing it. Joe and I must have been on the same wavelength. He posted an article on incarnational ministry. I realized that I had been talking about Muslims without giving an alternative to bashing the religion. The more I thought about this stuff, the more I realized that I could really use the same lines of thinking for anyone. Although this post will primarily focus on ministry to Muslims, I think the principles are timeless, and have application beyond just sharing with Muslims.

The incarnation of Christ is the union of God and man in a single being. The being of Christ was not two separate being or some form of hybrid god-man. As Christians, we are incarnations of Christ. If one does a little etymology on the word Christian, you will see that it comes directly from the Greek word, "Christianós." A "Christianós" on of the "Christos", who is the Anointed One. Christos comes from the word, "Chrio" which means anoint. To a Jew, the "Christos" would be the anointed one (king) from God. Being of the "Christos" means that he basically owned them. Their identity was found in Jesus, and no other. In the first century world, followers of a particular teacher would try to me like that teacher in every way they could be. So the followers of Jesus being called "Christians" would mean that they were mimicking him. An incarnation is one who is believed to personify a given abstract quality or idea. So in terms of being an incarnaitonal witness, we are trying to be "Christianós," or of Christ, to the point we imitate what he did.

With this said, incarnational ministry is not as much an approach to sharing Jesus as it is a way of Life, because by living like Christ, we are sharing our lives, which should reflect Jesus. There are plenty of methods for sharing the gospel that have already been written. I don't think I need to make a new one, because I think it would just add more stuff to an already large pile. What I want to do is describe what I think an incarnational witness would look like in a Muslim setting.

But first and foremost, we have to realize that sharing Jesus isn't just the task of trained missionaries. The call to make disciples of all nations is for every believer, so in essence, every person is called to minister. What we do for avocation (our jobs) are extensions of our calls as Christians. We cannot be Christians on the weekends or after work, but we are Christians everywhere you go. This means that our lives have to be in order spiritually. This doesn't mean that we are perfect, but that we are allowing God to shape and mold us to me more like Christ.

Before we can start sharing with Muslims, or anyone for that matter, we should have a constant, consistent walk with the Lord. We'd be surprised how telling people about our relationships with God can change their perspectives about God. Muslim don't see themselves as being in a relationship with God, but that God is a distant judge who you can't relate to. To have a relationship with him foreign, and can even be blasphemous to Muslims. But the reality is that God wants a relationship with us, and he did everything to make that possible. If we are indeed in a relationship with him, then we must build that relationship before telling others that they need that same relationship. Before you can share the first word of doctrine with them, you should have a legitimate, transforming relationship with God. This will speak more to them than any explanations of complicated doctrines. Muslims value and revere it deep devotion to faith.two of the pillars of faith in Islam requires faith.

Working with Muslims takes prayer. Prayer is quintessential to all things we do as Christians, and especially when we start to engage the world in an attempt to transform it with the gospel. Transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit, not believers, so pray that the Holy Spirit would work in the life of your Muslim friends.

When we start to build relationships with Muslims, we should be learners. We can never assume that we know all there is to know about Islam or a particular person's beliefs about Islam. Islam like Christianity is diverse and complicated, and Muslim theology can very Muslim to Muslim, person to person, sect to sect. Be open to what you can learn from your Muslim friends.

The best way I know to summarize is to use the old cliché, "They never care how much you know until they know how much you care." There is a lot of truth in that statement when it comes to working with Muslims. Most Muslims find their identity in their families networks and with their faith, which is contrary to the West, were individualism is how people find identity. For a Muslim to leave this identity and embrace something entirely different usually ostricizes them from their families, friends, and communities. If Muslims are going to embrace Christ, they are going to have convinced that Jesus is better than anything they have ever experienced or have. This is why being incarnational is so important.

Here is a good resource with some practical suggestions for sharing with Muslims.

Any suggestions would be welcome. I know that this isn't the ultimatum on sharing with Muslims, but just some thing I had on my mind.

Comments: 1
Blogger joe kennedy said at 4/04/2006 4:30 AM...
Well, really I just went to see what I posted on April 1, 2005 and saw that I'd posted on that stuff. I was really just looking for a good April fool's joke. But instead I found a post that was right along the lines of what we had already been discussing.

By the way, this Lewis guy. C.S. Lewis. Smart fella.
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