I had the blessing of hosting my neighbors who are Muslims. It was Thanksgiving week, and it seemed natural to invite them over at such a special holiday time.
My wife, who is now in heaven, always did the cooking in our house, so the prospect of preparing a full meal was way over my pay grade. But I know Costco roasted chickens are reliable, so I went for two of those. I managed decent mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, plus rolls. Purchased a pumpkin pie and whipped cream. So they came over Saturday night after Thanksgiving.
I had prayed to God that we could have a meaningful conversation as friends. Some of my fellow Christians had reported that as they welcomed visitors of other faiths, they shared the story of the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed – only one of the 10 returned to give thanks, you recall. This provides a timeless lesson on the importance of gratitude.
So I shared: “At Thanksgiving time, we seek to be especially grateful for the many blessings we enjoy in this country. Jesus once healed 10 men of their leprosy, but only one returned to thank Him.” This led to clarification of what leprosy is, and agreement that thankfulness is important in both the Bible and Qur’an.
My friend and his wife lingered at the table, while their children went to the living room to play. Touching on the Bible story prompted other questions from my friend. He asked what Christians do to live out their faith other than church on Sundays – “Is that all you do?” he wondered, citing the five daily prayers of Muslims. I replied that I meet with God every morning, reading from the Bible, and praying not only then but many times throughout the day. I talked of doing works of service to help others, and living with integrity.
Then he asked if it was true that a Christian is forgiven for every sin no matter what he does. He clarified that as a Muslim he prays every night and confesses every sin he committed during the day so that if he dies in the night he will still go to heaven. I shared that Christians place their faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of all our sins – past, present, and future. This is based not on mere wishful-thinking but on the truth declared in the Bible that Jesus took on himself the sin of all humanity and paid the penalty for it all. I shared that God looks on our heart, seeing our belief in Christ, and extending grace continually to forgive our sins. I talked about how we confess our sins and are restored to our intimate relationship with God.
Our conversation flowed very naturally, in mutual respect. I was very thankful that God directed the meal and our talks. Our friendship deepened, I believe.
Then it was time for pie.
photo credit: flickr creative commons
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