Be a Christian “muslim”
Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers
Often on our television screens when we see pictures of Muslims bowing in submission to Allah. In fact, whenever a Muslim comes into a mosque, he bows with his forehead to the floor to represent his total submission to his God.
There is good reason for this. The Arabic word islam means “submission,” and the word muslim means “one who submits.” I am aware that President Bush and others said that islam means “peace,” but they were incorrect. Look it up in any reference work, and you will see that the word salam means peace, but islam means “submission,” and muslim means “one who submits.”
Now here is my point. We who are followers of Jesus Christ do not think of ourselves as Muslims at all. We do not worship the same God. We believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and they do not.
But Muslims can remind us of at least one thing in our own faith that too many of us have forgotten. The New Testament book of James calls upon believers to come before God in humility, and he says this in James 4:7-8a: “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Muslims call themselves by that name because they submit to Allah. Unfortunately, many followers of Christ have neglected the command of scripture for us to submit to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a sense, you could say that we need to be “Christian muslims;” that is, believers in Jesus who are willing to do more than just say that they believe in Jesus—they are willing to surrender their lives completely to Jesus.
James explains submission in three basic ways: 1) standing up to the adversary (v. 7 “resist the Devil”), 2) cleaning up our actions (v. 8 “cleanse your hands, and purify your hearts”), and 3) straightening up our attitudes (v. 9 “your laughter must change to mourning”– apparently a reference to laughing at sin).
Pastor Nadarkhani is an inspiring example of a Christian “muslim.” This Christian pastor in Iran was arrested and spent three years in jail for his Christian faith, on trumped-up charges of blasphemy against Islam. Despite threats of execution, he refused to recant his faith in Jesus Christ, and after three years, he was released from prison, thanks to the fervent prayers of millions of Christians and international pressure on Iran.
Few Christians will be asked to submit to Christ in such a dramatic way, but most of us must make hard choices to do what is right, not what is convenient.
It’s hard to be a Christian muslim and totally surrender to God. It’s hard to stand up to the adversary, clean up our actions, and straighten up our attitudes.
Yet God gives us a great promise if we do. Read it in James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
After all, God is not asking us to do anything that He hasn’t already done in His Son Jesus Christ. As Philippians 2:8-10 says, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.”
Timothy Keller says, “If you go to Jesus, he may ask of you far more than you originally planned to give, but he can give to you infinitely more than you dared ask or think.” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, p. 63.)
That is the paradox of submission. The paradox is that if we will bow before God, we can stand up to anything and anybody else. When we submit to God, the Devil can’t beat us and the world can’t defeat us. So how about it, believer? Will you surrender your life totally to God’s will?