I was called a “Muslim Lover” today. It was a private message on Facebook, from a Facebook friend. Since it was done in private and my reply is in public, I will not mention his name but here is my response.
My first thought was “Thank you.” For a few seconds, I honestly thought he was giving me a compliment. Then I remember his Facebook posts that included all kinds of venomous hatred…not just for Muslims, but for Hispanics. And I realized that he meant “Muslim Lover” as a disparaging comment.
Let me be clear right off the top…he’s right. I’m a Muslim lover. Let me be clear about something else. I’m not an “Islam Lover.” There are many teachings in Islam with which I disagree strongly. Which considering I am unabashedly a follower/worshiper of Jesus, that should not come as any surprise.
But there is absolutely a difference between being a Muslim lover and being an Islam lover.
I have had the unbelievable privilege of meeting, getting to know and becoming friends with many Muslims. I have had the amazing experience of traveling in Jordan and Iraq, where the overwhelming majority of the population are Muslim. And I haven’t met a single Muslim that treated me with anything but respect, courtesy and friendship. And honestly, even if they treated me poorly, I would hope that my response would be still be to love them.
Last summer, I enjoyed a 12 hour flight from Amman, Jordan, to Chicago where I sat between two Muslim young men and enjoyed myself immensely as we discussed our views on politics, economics, movies, video games and our faith. We had very different views on many things, but we found much more common ground in our humanity than we found differences in our backgrounds.
The thing that really bothered me about the “Muslim Lover” comment is that it came from someone who claims the title of being a Christian. I’m sorry, but if you follow Jesus, you love Muslims. And you love Hindus. And Buddhists. And atheists and hippies and lesbians and homeless people and drug addicts and Christians that call themselves Christians but just flat out don’t love Jesus at all. Meaning that you have to love people that are different than you. Which is everyone.
You don’t have to love Islam. You don’t have to convert to Islam. You don’t have to love Jesus any less. But you have to love Muslims to follow Jesus. Period. And I would even wager that if you love Muslims, you will come to love Jesus even more. Because it is natural instinct to fear those that are different. But when you choose to love, God’s love flows through you, kicking that fear out and making room for you to love Jesus more.
And I know that when I love my Muslim friends and the Muslims that I have the privilege to meet, in that love they get to a see a little glimpse of Christ. And sometimes that little glimpse is all that they need to see to come to experience Jesus in a real way. And that is bigger and more important than any fear that may creep into my mind.