Get smart

This morning I had the opportunity of hearing Dave Robinson speak at a Women of Vision Orange County Partnership Breakfast. Dave is the Senior Advisor for Operations for World Vision International. He has also lived most of his life as a Christian amongst Muslim people, and this is what I have to say about that: Why don’t we let this man inform our thinking and our activity towards Muslim people in this country and around the world instead of listening to a man who has lived in suburban America all his life and whose only claim to understanding Muslims is the fact that he is a popular radio talk show host? Why were 75 people listening to what the qualified man said and hundreds of thousands listening to the other? Why is fear more popular than reason?

Among a number of stories Mr. Anderson imparted was this one. In the wake of initial U.S. successes in Iraq, a moderate Muslim man said to Dave, “America is great.” To which he responded, “No. God is great,” which is actually a very common Muslim phrase of worship not unlike our Christian, “Praise the Lord.”

“Are you Muslim?” asked the man excitedly when he heard that.

After some thought, Dave replied, “I am a student of Jesus Christ.”

Notice he didn’t say, “I am a Christian,” which would have put him at odds with the Muslim man. Actually, Muslims are students of Jesus Christ too.

“Initiate open ended conversations that will eventually lead to Jesus,” Anderson said over and over. “Seek common ground even though the core of the message is missing.”

How often do we do that?

Last September, we had as global crisis on our hands because a pastor in Florida wanted to burn a copy of the Koran in retaliation for the memory of 9/11/2001.  Anderson said that had he succeeded, it would have ended World Vision’s presence in any and all Muslim countries of the world.

Seek common ground. Initiate open-ended conversations that will eventually lead to Jesus. Not a bad way to operate with everyone. Cast aside fear and get smart.

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16 Responses to Get smart

  1. Ralph Birch says:

    Why is love such a difficult thing for some Christians?

    One doesn’t have to give up ones beliefs or be weak to be kind and loving. Being kind and loving reflects our core beliefs into the world. A society which from a position of strength makes itself vulnerable in loving kindness is to be respected and will ultimately be stronger.

  2. Dick says:

    Ralph’s comments remind me of my cat who lies on her back, belly wide open to be either petted or hurt. Love is something you can’t fake very long in the presence of hurting people; because they will test to see if it is real. That’s the kind of openness I want to be able to show seekers until either God or their actions show otherwise. If that means being hurt so be it. Our job is to love them, His to change them. As John said last week, “Empathize, not criticize.”.

  3. Linden frank says:

    John once again I couldn’t have said it any better. Praise God for peacemakers like you in the world. I tell all my friends to read the catch, read your books and support you, marti and your ministry. God Blrss you. Thank God years ago a buddy let rehear a copy of Still Life andintroduced me to a brother named John Fischer.

  4. mark seguin says:

    I’ll add an Amen to today’s Catch and again thank brother John for reminding me of the many people skill principles I learned from reading Dale Carnegie’s very good book: “How to Win Friends & Influence People” it as helped me be a better witness for my Lord & Savoir and to just be a better man.

  5. I agree that we should speak within the context of our audience’s experience – just as Jesus used parables about fishing with fishermen – but it pangs me that the gentleman said he was a “student” of Jesus Christ rather than a follower. A student has nothing at stake in what he is studying; a follower does.

    When I look at how the followers of Jesus in the book of Acts approached witnessing, they never sugar-coated, never pulled punches, never did the politically correct thing. They were always bold, often accusatory, and always did what they did “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The common ground they sought was the other person’s sin, just as a doctor talks with us about what is causing us to hurt physically. And then the cure: Jesus Christ.

    I think we need to remember that we are to be witnesses, not diplomats. A witness doesn’t think, “What do they want to hear, how can I compromise on this in order to create the least amount of conflict?” No, they speak the truth, no matter how foolish it may sound, and no matter how culturally unacceptable it may be. Witnesses tell, as Peter put it on the Day of Pentecost, “what we have seen and heard.”

    We’re too interested in pleasing men. If we were more interested in pleasing God, perhaps more men would be pleased with us as well because we would be doing more to change their lives.

    • Edith Eutsler says:

      I Agree with your comment!

      • Edith Eutsler says:

        I believe if we tell the truth in boldness when we are witnessing of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will do His work, for only God can draw a man to Himself.

    • alison says:

      Actually I think student is very accurate. Of course, this is just a matter of semantics, but we are called to be apprentices of Christ, and isn’t an apprentice a student? A student is so much more than a follower.

  6. David says:

    I fully agree with the overall thrust of today’s catch: We should look for points of commonality to build bridges. However, I must take exception at the inferrence that the comments from a “certain popular talk show host” cannot be legitimately. Since you didn’t identify the actual talk show host we don’t know whether the comments are valid.

    However, one does not have to have ‘lived in the midst’ to be able to comment on the situation no more than a person has to have been a drug addict to comment on the addiction of drugs.

    If the radio talk show host you are referring to is Glenn Beck, I question if you actually listen or watch Glenn Beck. Glenn doesn’t attack Muslims. He does comment on radical Muslims. He also does indepth research to the extent rarely seen by others.

    Then, again, you might be referring to another radio talk show host that has no qualifications on which to speak.

  7. Sharon Buxton says:

    What is the connection between Dave Robinson and Mr. Anderson?

    Confessing Jesus as my Lord and Master is something I am proud of and something to get excited about. I have had many teachers I respect and admire. They do not rank with our Savior. I agree that compromising is a bag of tricks believing we can do God’s job and in our own rather than his way. However, changing the label from Christian to Jesus Follower describes the Christian to those who know Christians yet tells the whole truth to someone who does not and therefore may be prejudiced against the Christian label.

  8. David Reis says:

    Jesus did not call His disciples Christians, that was a label the world put on us in Antioch. Previously we were know as followers of the Way. Our church refers to believers as Christ followers. Disciples are truly students of a rabbi, as the Apostles addressed Him prior to His resurrection.
    Part of the problem with Charlemagne’s proclamation and the common world identification of Americans as Christians is that identifying myself as a Christian may be more confusing than illuminating. In the battle with the powers of darkness, head on strength to strength usually pulls us into playing the game by Satan’s rules. See how Jesus responded to suggestions of His disciples in Luke 9:40-55

    Great set of topics recently. I can tell because they make me uncomfortable. It’s not the way I was raised in my early years as a believer. Midwestern conservative. The time for fire from heaven will come all too soon. We’ve been sent up the towers to participate in rescue before it all comes crashing down.

  9. I think we’ve all bought into the bad press about “Christians.” Christians started almost all the hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, humanitarian organizations, rescue missions, and everything else that helps people on earth. So why are they now all of a sudden the bad guys? I think we need to rethink our disdain of a label that actually means something wonderful. The reason believers were first called Christians at Antioch is because they were talking about Christ being “in” them, so it stuck. If we would remember that it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory,” then maybe we would walk that way and people would see more of Him and less of us.

  10. Dick says:

    Isn’t it great that we all use different methods to reach out to people with the love of Christ. Mine is friendship evangelism and find that treating others with dignity and respect earns me the right to share my faith naturally in our conversation; after they have seen my GENUINE interest in them.

  11. Ralph Birch says:

    Having started this string perhaps I could have a second comment.

    I’ve worked in many Islamic countries and my Moslem friends and colleagues are deeply fascinated by Jesus and the relationship I claim with God. What they cannot reconcile is my personal offer of friendship and kindness based on my faith with the attitude of my government.

    They asked me why the British didn’t invade Dublin and Boston in the 80’s to stop the IRA. To them we seemed happy enough to support military action to stop terrorism only against “Moslem” countries.

    I am very happy to express the “hard” truths which the Lord expressed. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well he told her the hard truth about her life and what she needed to do. But he did it personally. He conversed with her and looked her in the eye. He didn’t stand on a platform and pick her out in front of everyone.

    Yes the hard truths, but please with respect and dignity.

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