To be, or not to be, disciples
October 9, 2019
Many Muslims who convert to Christianity later leave Christianity. They’re attracted at first to the kindness of Christians (which they have not experienced in Islam), but Westerners often avoid confronting them with the more demanding aspects of the Christian life, such as righteousness and suffering. Then when issues come up because of unrighteousness, or life gets difficult because of their new faith, they don’t accept the discipline and leave (Mt 13:3-8, 18-23).
We get excited when we hear of Muslims switching to Christianity and eagerly share inspiring testimonies. But a 2017 survey in the US has found that the number of American Muslims leaving Islam is roughly equal to those who convert to it. Of those who convert to Islam, 77% are from a Christian background. Meanwhile, the number of Christians leaving the faith is much higher than those converting to it (22% compared with 6%)
Let’s take stock and ask questions about our motivations in Muslim evangelism:
- Are we invested in bringing Muslims to Christianity or to Christ?
- Do we have a score sheet in the back of our minds, and want (even a little bit) to get the most “points,” or are our hearts full of compassion for lost people?
- Do we present the whole Gospel to Muslims, or just what we think will be appealing and not offend?
- Are we interested in making converts or disciples?
I’m asking these questions after watching Sheep Among Wolves Vol ll, a documentary film about the explosive growth of the underground church in Iran, a church with no buildings, denominations, money, programs or other things we might count as signs of success. The commentator says that persecution destroyed the church that wasn’t about disciples but about converts. The underground church is growing through obedience-based discipleship (before conversion) that produces conformation to God’s word with an expectation of transformation. They disciple to convert, rather than convert to disciple – the opposite of what we do. Many new disciples who become leaders have been broken by abuse and addiction. This film asserts that the church in Iran has something very important to teach the Western church about how the church is to grow in the current season when time is short and the harvest ready. (Watch the film on YouTube, FAI Studios, 1 hr 53 min.)
Father, there is no god like You! In the midst of the world’s most fanatic antichrist regime, Jesus You are building Your church, Your way! Spirit, You go places no human can go to reach those who are hungry and thirsty and to satisfy their desire for everything You are! You are worthy of our praise.
Lord, thank You for redeeming the humble and broken and lifting them up to serve You with joy and with compassion for the lost. Lord, help us in the West not to be lulled to sleep by our many comforts and our own church traditions (Mk 7:6-8). Help us in our gratefulness for Your many blessings to discern what You are asking us to do and respond obediently to what You say (Lk 16:9-16).
Worship God from Psalm 139. Spend some time with verses 23-24 listening to the Spirit. Repent for what He shows You. Resolve to be obedient with how He directs your path. Be strengthened with the sure knowledge that He loves you and is always with you.