Ramadan 17: Engage Muslims Through Daily Habits & Conversations

What do my daily habits have to do with sharing the Gospel?

Whether you realize it or not, each of us lives each day by certain routines. These routines are often created around our task lists, comfort, or personal ambitions. Our flesh pursues routines that benefit ourselves. But there is hope! When Jesus enters the heart of man, He refuses to leave us as we are. The Holy Spirit chisels away at the old man and conforms us into a new man or woman that is daily more conformed to the image of Christ.

Trusting Jesus as our Lord goes much deeper than simply claiming the label of “Christian” and attending church on Sundays. When we repent and submit our lives to Christ, we are surrendering every corner over to the King of Kings. The very definition of repentance means that we recognize our hearts are bent toward selfishness and pride. We need Christ to transform our minds, hearts, words, and actions back into our God-oriented original design.

The heart behind our habits

“If believers are disconnected from the lost around them and do not share their lives and the gospel message with their neighbors, they will likely remain desensitized to their neighbors’ spiritual condition. We tend to nonchalantly pass by countless faces in the crowd: dozens of waiters/waitresses who serve us food, Uber drivers that carry us from one destination to another, and neighbors who are only visible when they pull in and out of their garages.” – D. A. Horton

Our actions follow the condition of our heart, and so does the intentionality of friendships. Before looking at daily routines and habits, it is foundational that we orient our hearts toward Jesus in prayer. If we really believe Jesus’ claim that He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” then we will not pass strangers on the sidewalk without considering the condition of their souls.

Why should I alter my daily habits?

The Christian life is not a life of routine and discipline for the sake of earning favor with God. This is the way of Islam. But, our daily routine should be driven by our desire to worship Jesus and introduce others to Him. Everything we do, and every decision we make, has the potential to serve as sacrificial worship and praise to God.

If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, most of don’t know any Muslims by name. Even fewer of us are fostering friendships that enable them to trust us with personal conversation. Why is this? Sometimes, we are fearful because of the unknown. We focus too much on our lack of knowledge rather than trusting the Holy Spirit to speak through us. We allow our fear of awkwardness to overcome our desire for them to know Jesus. In all reality, we’re not even putting ourselves in contact with Muslims. If we only interact with people who look and think like us, then our comfort and faith will not be confronted by awkwardness or confusion. There is safety, we think, inside of the bubble we’ve created around ourselves.

Jesus commands us

No part of our life is off-limits to King Jesus. While Islam drives submission through fear and tradition, Christ guides us by His love and equips us with His power. However, we have no excuse for disobedience. Christians have earned the reputation (sometimes rightly) as people who say they follow God but live careless lives with no respect for God or others. God leaves us no room to carelessly disregard the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) or the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40).

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Jesus Christ died so Muslims could see His glory, reject the lies of Islam, repent of their sin, follow Him, know Him, and join Him in the Kingdom of God. What better motivation could we have to love our Muslim neighbors than the love, sacrifice, example, and provision of Christ for them? Afshin Ziafat writes in Islam and North America that the “unconditional love of God is what Muslims most need to see and hear from us.”

“Christians have a bad reputation of loving people so long as we can convert them to Christianity…We have to see our Muslim friends as people, not projects. We desperately want them to believe in Jesus, but we’re going to love them whether they do or don’t.” – Micah Fries

We must decide to love each person because of the value given to them by their Creator. Muslims were created and placed in their mother’s womb by Jesus Christ, God of the universe. Our language, clothing, family, intelligence, financial security, and religion have no bearing on our value to God. We must learn to love the lost from the love Christ has placed in us — not for anything they offer us.

Paul’s example

We’ve already looked at Jesus’ example in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Today, read over Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9. At other points in his letters to churches, Paul wrote of the numerous sufferings he endured for the sake of delivering the Gospel to new regions of the Roman world (2 Corinthians 4-5).

It is laughable to compare our daily decisions with Paul’s endurance of persecution. But, it is vital that we realize the weakness of our excuses to not slow down our lives and establish friendships with people not like us.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22)

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

How can I alter my daily habits?

Things you do every week.

It’s been said that making disciples just means doing everyday things with Gospel intentionality. Engaging Muslims begins with simple life changes that result in tremendous progress. Most of us just need to take some basic steps in our life routine, and continually pray for the Lord to open up opportunities for conversation. As we pray, Jesus will grow our burden for the lost and He will open our eyes to see Muslims around with new eyes.

Think of things you do every week, and find ways to focus on people rather than the task you’re trying to accomplish. You’re already going to eat food, why not eat somewhere you can meet someone who’s never heard the Gospel? Here are a few examples:

1 – Fill up your car at a gas station.

  • Find a convenience store owned by Muslims, and always use the same gas station when you’re in town.
  • Go inside and pay at the cash register, instead of swiping outside and hurrying on to the next thing.
  • Start having conversations that show you actually care about them. Learn about their homeland, family, culture, and language. Ask what religion they follow, and how they are able to be accepted by God.

2 – Eat at restaurants owned by immigrants.

  • Eat at restaurants owned by immigrants, and pick one or two to intentionally frequent.
  • Spend time talking to your waiter or waitress, and offer to pray for them.
  • Show thankfulness to the managers and owners, and pause long enough to have a short conversation each time.

3 –  Make new friends at school or community events.

  • If you’re a college student, make it a point to get to know international students at your university. They will need help settling in, so offer it in advance.
  • Are you a parent with kids that love to play sports? Spend time building friendships with parents of the other kids. Sports, music, and any other similar activity is prime ground to meet Muslims in a community context.
  • Do you have a hobby that excites your energy or helps you unwind from a busy work week? Find out where and how others meet up to participate in the same hobby—there are likely eastern immigrants passionate about the same things.

Prayer:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Pray this morning, and ask the Lord to open your eyes to opportunities to meet Muslims that you’ve been overlooking all along. Ask Him to help you look past the immediate comfort or task-oriented nature of our western culture to see the souls Christ is working to rescue.

Go & Do:

Start your day with the eyes of Christ and, guided by the Holy Spirit, be on the lookout for how the Lord wants you to engage Muslim people in your community. If they are there, then you’re called to reach them with the Gospel. Don’t hesitate. Don’t hold your comfort or ambition as of higher value than the souls of people created in the image of God. Choose one of the habits mentioned above, and take immediate action. Choose a restaurant based on the people who work there rather than your culinary preference. Take a chance on choosing your local sports league according to the likelihood of Gospel opportunities.

Pray and expect Jesus to open doors on a regular basis. Strike up genuine conversations in your daily activities, and be ready to give a reason for the hope that you have.

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Resources:

Micah Fries: Islam and the Future from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

Islam and North America: Loving our Muslim Neighbors – Edited by Micah Fries & Keith Whitfield

7 Practical Tips for Engaging Muslims with the Gospel – R. E. Cline (IMB)

Three Keys for Reaching Muslims with the Gospel – Art Gordon (IMB)

Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus (book) – Mack Stiles