It was reported on December 13th that the Nigerian military, traditional hunters and vigilante groups won back the town of Mubi over a week ago. After weeks of rumors that the Nigerian military fled the fighting, for fear of the Boko Haram, this development is welcomed with joy! God is good, and He is moving!
Yet, as noted by the fact that the muslim Emir (ruler) of Mubi, Abubakar Isa Ahmadu, was escorted back into town by the military, there are many in the town of Mubi who still do not know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Many are still acknowledging Allah as the god responsible for their victory; yet, this is the very same Allah that the Boko Haram mercilessly slaughtered men, women and children in the name of.
Many muslims disagree; many will tell us that the Allah they believe in is a god of peace and love. I do not know everything about Islam, and I will not pretend to be well-versed in apologetics. However, I do know that there are many passages in the Qur’an which blatantly deny that Allah and Muhammad are a god and prophet of peace and love, as this website’s Qur’an passages will show you. Even in light of this, many muslims still believe in Allah and his prophet, Muhammad, nonetheless.
How is one supposed to react when they see people around them who worship such a false god as Allah? Are we to hate muslims, “guarding” ourselves against them while casting curses upon them?
The truth of the matter is, “No.” Just as any other nonbeliever, we must love muslims, not judging them for their religious or cultural affiliations but getting to know them on a personal, one-on-one level. Muslims are not just muslims, just as those who claim to be right-wing, conservative, American “Christians” have more to them than their religious and political beliefs. Every single person on this earth has a unique story, and a need to have Jesus’ saving grace be apart of that story. Every single person on this earth has a need for a saving relationship with God, not just mere religion “about” God.
This relationship-encounter with Jesus can be seen in the interaction Jesus had with the woman at the well in John 4.
“…Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’
Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’
‘I have no husband,’ she replied.
Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’
Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.'”
(John 4: 4-26, NIV, “Jesus” mine)
Jesus, God-in-Man, did not refuse to speak to her because her walk of life was different than His own. He did something remarkable, even scandalous; He reached out to her, crossing and shattering the earthly dividing lines of religion, class, gender, reputation and ethnicity to share the good news of Himself with her. In Christ, none of these differences between ways of life lines exist; there is only those who are In Christ, and those who are Without Him (Galatians 3:28, NIV). For every knee and every tongue will confess His name as Lord, no matter their background– even death doesn’t keep them from bowing before the Lord (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV).
This concept of loving the unlovable can also be seen in the book of Jonah. Jonah, a man picked by the Lord to warn the wicked town of Nineveh to repent, ran from God’s call on his life because he didn’t want the city to experience repentance or God’s compassion. When he finally did obey the Lord, he saw all of Nineveh saved when they repented. This only goes to show that there is no one who is outside of God’s ability to love and save when they do repent and come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.
While we are called to befriend the “unlovable” and the non-believer, the only line we are called not to cross is where we compromise our love for Jesus, becoming “unequally yoked” with a nonbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV). Our friendships are supposed to show others the light of Christ (Ephesians 5:8-9, NIV); if we are hiding our lamps under a basket, refusing to shine out to our friends, there will only be more darkness.
This line between loving those that our culture may hate and compromising our beliefs can be hard to not cross. But with constant, prayerful reflection, getting to know and love others who may be called unlovable– those who may not know Christ– can reap a bountiful harvest. This is needed now more than ever in Northern Nigeria, and truly, all over the world.
Because of all this, we pray.
Please pray that Christ would continually show Christians in Mubi (and all over Northern Nigeria) how to better love and serve those non-believers around them.
Pray that our brothers and sisters would find comfort in Christ, the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV). Pray that this comfort would overflow out of our brothers and sisters and into the hearts and lives of non-believers, so that Christ may be known as the God of All Comfort for them, too.
Pray that believers in Nigeria would reach out in friendship to those in the surrounding community, so that they may come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.
Pray that the dividing lines of humanity would be crossed in the name of Christ, not only in Northern Nigeria, but all over the world and in our own lives as well. Pray this so that all people may know just how loved and valued they are by Christ, no matter who they are or where they come from.
In Christ, there reason for true joy– because in Christ, both the Muslim and the Christian are worth dying for.