While working on Bible lessons at the local Barnes & Noble today, a local American Muslim of Pakistani descent sat down next to me and we began talking about religion and politics for about an hour. He is a very pleasant fellow and we had an enjoyable conversation. Turns out we had graduated from local high schools and attended the local college about two years apart.
One of the first things he said in the discussion has stayed with me all day. He brought out while discussing his dislike for jihadism that he also noticed and disapproved of how his fellow Muslims in both Western and Middle Eastern culture could make sure they did something commanded in the Quran which didn’t require much from them like abstaining from pork…while completely ignoring its commands to abstain from fornication, alcohol, materialism, and the like. We then discussed how both of us have seen the same failings and even the embracing of the same sins of fornication, drinking alcohol, and being materialistic among many who wear the name of Christian. He seemed very interested to learn about Christ’s parable of the sower, particularly the lessons illustrated by those symbolized by the rocky and thorny soil: people who initially respond well to the teachings of Christianity only to abandon them due to inconvenience or the distractions of materialism and pleasure.
The conversation turned to politics when we both wondered how so many who say they follow religions which condemn adultery, lying, obeying the laws of the land, and the like could happily vote for either a corrupt woman who is under investigation for perjury and committing multiple illegalities or a vulgar man who brags about his multiple adulteries while encouraging his supporters to assault those who protest him. However, before ending the religious part of our discussion and moving on to politics we both had already agreed that too many who profess to be religious and faithfully obedient to the tenets of their particular religion in reality unrepentantly embrace and condone much of what their faith condemns and thus are, as my Muslim acquaintance put it, nothing more than hypocrites.
The main thing I took away from this conversation is the importance of the following passages:
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
1 Peter 1:14-19
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
1 Peter 2:12
The world is watching, Christians. Are we by our actions and words showing them that we truly believe in Jesus, he is truly Lord of our lives, and his way is the best way? Or do they see hypocrisy?
My Muslim friend said that no one is perfect, but one must still try to truly live by his faith if that faith is truly his.
He’s not the only one who thinks so…
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”