Project or person?
March 21, 2022
These past few weeks, the Lord seems to be pointing out my personal shortcomings and asking me to write about them. It's humbling, and appropriately so as we approach our remembrance of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection focusing on how He, "being in very nature God...humbled Himself and became obedient to death" (Philippians 2:6, 8), even though He was sinless and perfect in God's eyes.
I received a blog post from Call of Love Ministries with the arresting title, "Don't try to save your Muslim friend". The authors describe a common mistake Christians make in approaching Muslims for evangelism: making converts, rather than loving our neighbors, our goal. They remind us that our job is to love our Muslim neighbors; His job is to save and transform them. As I read, God reminded me of a learning opportunity (i.e. an upgrade) He gave me about fifteen years ago. A friend who works at the University asked if I would be willing to provide a room for an international Muslim PhD student as she finished her thesis. I jumped at the opportunity, believing in my heart that she would leave here as a Christian, and it would be because of my ministry to her.
Shortly after she moved in, I learned from an experienced worker who knew her well that she was "the Muslim most resistant to the Gospel" the worker had ever met. I was advised to keep my office and phone lists locked up because she was suspected of giving information to her Islamic government about their international students who were hanging out with Christians. Further, she knew how to use the kindness of naive Christians to her advantage. It was a tough ten months. My ministry to her became comforting her when a dear friend and mentor back home died, cleaning up after her when she was sick with stress, and sharing my kitchen with her. I remember one conversation about religion in which she was adamant that Muhammad had never used a sword to spread Islam, and one incident when I killed a spider she was afraid of—to her horror that I would kill a creature of God.
When she left, she asked my forgiveness for anything and everything she'd done to offend me. I was informed by the worker who knew her that this is standard procedure to clear one's slate before Allah. She had seen me as I had seen her—a means to an end.
I heard about her last year: she was terribly needy, yet remained unable to surrender to true Mercy.
"[Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
Father, thank You for looking at us and loving each one, even with all the ways in which we fall short of your standard revealed in Jesus. We adore You, Merciful One.
Jesus, thank You for humbling Yourself out of compassion, demonstrating how to walk in Your way, and for making us holy not by our deeds but by Your blood. We adore You, Lamb of God.
Holy Spirit, help us to see others as You see them and to walk as Jesus walked, humbly and with compassion, so that You can do Your work in the hearts of those You send our way. We adore You, Counsellor.