Christians and Muslims disagree about many things. Throughout history, that disagreement has resulted in suspicion . . . hatred . . . and bloodshed.
Is that what God wants?
God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and
He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you,
that ye may receive admonition. (16:90)
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They
should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander
anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show
true humility to everyone. (Titus 3:1–2)
God does not want us to do shameful deeds . . . slander . . . quarrel. He calls us to do good . . . be gentle . . . show humility.
If all of us as Muslims and Christians had obeyed this direction, how different our history would have been. How different our present relationships would be.
How should Christians treat Muslims? How should Muslims treat Christians? Two questions but one answer: with love. Jesus could not be clearer. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who are different from us.
In God’s view, the tragedy from wars such as the Crusades and more recent conflicts should not control the way we choose to treat one another now. Christians who attacked Muslims did so in direct opposition to the will of God. Christians are guilty of disobedience and hypocrisy by trying to force their faith on others.
God does not force anything on us—and He does not want us to force any set of beliefs on others.
God does not force us to obey Him or follow a certain path in our life. Instead, He loves us and give us the freedom to choose. To choose His way or our own. God is all powerful. He can make anything happen. He is sovereign over all life. He could force His will on us, but He does not want us to follow Him out of fear.
If God Himself gives us free will to choose what we will believe, how can we do less? To force our beliefs on others is the height of presumptuousness.
Muslims can invite Christians to consider their understanding of God and Christians can do the same. If either side attempts to force its way on others, they are not choosing God’s way. God calls us to treat one another the way He treats us. With respect. With gentleness and patience. With love and forgiveness.
Four Spiritual Attributes of God
We are all called to become more like God. To do that, we need to know God, to understand His character. Let’s look at four of His attributes.
1. God’s love is not tied to our performance.
This truth is critically important to grasp. God has chosen to love us despite our behavior—not because of it. Indeed, we could never earn His love. God’s love is a gift that is available to everyone who will receive it.
Love from God’s perspective is never about deserving or not deserving it. We receive it whether we act or don’t act properly. You can rest in the love of God knowing that on your worst day, He loves you the same as on your best day.
That kind of love sets us free and heals us. That kind of parental love provides the proper foundation for children growing up into adulthood. Kids who know they are loved perfectly for who they are—not for what they do—have nothing to prove.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with
unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as
we deserve. Psalm 103:8–10
We would all be in trouble if God dealt with us the way we deserve. If He only loved us when we earn it. But He does not give what we deserve. He loves us unconditionally.
But what do we do? Most often we love people we think deserve our love. But we hold back if they don’t treat us the way we think they should. If they believe differently than we do. If they don’t meet our standards. Isn’t that the attitude that has caused division between Christians and Muslims through the centuries—and still does today?
God wants us to love as He does.
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.
Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. (1 John 4:18)
2. God’s love is a gift.
So if we can’t earn God’s love . . . how can we ever receive it?
Religion teaches that God’s love is conditional. The world certainly applies standards to love. Most of us are only willing to love people who “deserve” our love. But God’s love is a gift. It is perfect. It is complete. Why? Because God is love.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid,
it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced
his perfect love. . . . God is love. (1 John 4:8, 16)
Are we willing to give others our love as a gift? No strings attached? God gives His love to us as a gift. He wants us to follow His example. Whether we agree with each other or not. Whether we feel like it or not.
3. God’s love is tied to His character.
God loves everyone equally because His love depends on who He is—not on what we do. He does not love sometimes and not love other times. God is love. God loves all the time. He never stops loving.
Jesus, recognized in the Qur’an as a prophet of God, taught that God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. He rains on the just and the unjust.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way,
you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his
sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the
unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?
Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends,
how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to
be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48)
God’s perfect love transcends our human imperfections. Your love, if it is like God’s love, will flow from your character, not your circumstances. The behavior of other people will not affect it. It will be a natural part of you . . . and will flow out to everyone.
4. God does not discriminate.
Think of all the conflict around the world that would cease immediately if we were to love every person the same way God loves us. God loves Irish, Polish, English, Italian, Arab, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Indian, Muslim, Asian, American, rich, poor, beautiful, weak, male, female, powerful, healthy, addicted, criminal, religious, black and white all the same—and this is just a short list of subgroups with current conflicts. God loves everyone in the world. He does not hate any group of people. We can know with confidence that God loves Muslims and Christians equally and unconditionally.
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every
nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34–35)
Any religion that teaches God loves its adherents more than those outside their religion is not reflecting God’s love. No person and no group (Christian or Muslim) can make such a claim.
How Are Muslims and Christians alike?
Let’s take a moment to focus on what Muslims and Christians have in common, rather than their differences. Perhaps that will help us start down a path of mutual respect and understanding—without fear of violence.
We are human. The first thing we have in common may sound painfully obvious—both groups are members of the human race. Each of us, Muslim and Christian, has inherent value. None of us can think of ourselves as morally superior. Why? Because we are all created by God.
We have sinned. The next thing we have in common is that we have all sinned. We have all fallen short of perfection . . . and need God’s help.
As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly
wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless.
No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10–12)
If it were not for God’s love, we would die in our sins. One sin produces death because it makes us unholy and unworthy, deserving the punishment demanded by God’s justice. This love of God is unmerited, undeserved, and so unappreciated by a sinful world. Most of us would prefer to go on hating and killing one another—sometimes physically and sometimes just in our hearts. We are by nature unforgiving, unmerciful, and hard of heart. Our natural character is far from God’s supernatural character. Our ways are far less loving than God’s ways. We all fall so far short of the love of God in our pride and self-righteousness. In fact, we are quite unlovable in our natural selves. One may easily wonder why such a holy, righteous, and loving God would want to have anything to do with any of us.
Jesus paid the price. God’s justice demands punishment for our sin. But since God loves all of us so much, Jesus took the punishment for us. All of us.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so
that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
We can all be forgiven.
God is far greater that any human institution. All of us come to Him on equal terms. We are all unworthy of His love. His love and everything He does for us is a gift—not an obligation. We can never be good enough to earn His love or bad enough to lose it. God does not owe us anything and never will no matter how much we try or how much we may think we have accomplished. Once we let that sink in, we can stop trying to earn God’s love and return His love by receiving His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet
God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this
through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God
presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when
they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice
shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those
who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what
he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness,
for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when
they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)
Let Us Commit to God’s Way: Love
God has demonstrated His love in powerful ways. Let us follow Him and commit to a life of love.
If we do not love one another, we will destroy one another. Let us commit today to begin following the golden rule. To treat one another the way that we would like to be treated. If both Muslims and Christians were to commit to trusting God in this way, we would see the kind of change God desires for all people for all religions.
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor
as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out!
Beware of destroying one another. (Galatians 5:14–15)