Muslims understand religion as a whole and integrated way of life. Secular, Christian-influenced cultures can confuse and even anger Muslims who see things through their holistic worldview. They often view “Hollywood sexuality” as “Christian,” or a military action as a “Crusade.” To them, the cross is a military symbol.
The Islamic Community
In Islam, brotherhood and consensus is emphasized, and individualism is avoided. The “community of the faithful” is responsible to enforce the moral code. This can explain how a lone Muslim, outside a community support structure, does not feel as guilty when breaking the code. However, bringing shame on his family or community would be a great sin.
Avoiding shame and protecting honor are primary motivations of most Muslims. Shame and honor are community-related, as contrasted to an individual sense of guilt.
Radical Muslims, known as Islamists or Jihadists, use this sense of community honor and shame to recruit and motivate their followers.
What Christians Believe
Followers of Jesus believe that they are to impact culture for Christ by going into all parts of the world to bring the message of Jesus to the people that live there (Matthew 28:19-20). In the West, a division exists between culture and religion. Religion is separated from government, and some people object to any influence of religion on state institutions and symbols.
Community in the West
Followers of Jesus do influence Western culture and institutions, but they seem to be a shrinking influence. Western culture affirms individualism and some people avoid community responsibility. Tolerance of sin and unbiblical practices continue to dilute the true Christians message; evolutionism and atheism also continue to influence the increasingly secular West. Only a minority of those in the West consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ. Most simply consider themselves Christian by name only, and do not follow the teaching of the Bible, of which they are largely ignorant. Generally, Western culture does not have a sense of the “community of the faithful.”
In June, 2003, Time magazine ran a cover article asking the question: “Should Christians Convert Muslims?” The artwork featured a militant-looking clenched fist holding a metal cross, reminiscent of a Crusader’s sword. This imagery correctly symbolizes some typical Muslim misunderstandings, especially when viewed with the cigarette advertisement on the back cover. The advertisement features a sensual goddess-like model with men fawning at her feet. These pictures display some fears of Muslims: to be dominated militarily and corrupted morally by “Christianity.”
Correcting the Misunderstandings
The challenge is to present a correct view of the cross. Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ” has been seen by Muslims all over the world. They have seen the cross as a symbol of suffering, not as a military or political icon. Followers of Jesus, through their words and actions, are called to show Muslims that God loves all people so much that Jesus died on the cross. He also defeated Satan and death by rising from the grave. Jesus made it possible for all of God’s children to live with Him forever. This “good news” should be attractive to Muslims.
The above information is from "Islam & Christianity" by Rose Publishing
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