“The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions in the USA”. Also the growth of cults especially Mormonism (45%) has seen a phenomenal increase since 2000 the census revealed.
As a social scientist my view is that both Islam and Mormonism have at least one thing in common that is a lost distinctive of the Body of Christ.
What has attracted 1500 Australian Aboriginals to become Muslim (2007)? What is the appeal of both Islam and Mormonism; their strong culture of the communal and family nature of both their belief systems is highly attractive to a broken dysfunctional Australian culture riddled with independence, high privacy expectations, individualism as if it reigned as god, greed, consumerism and materialism.
Communal nature and family delivers a sense of belonging, purpose, direction and meaning to life. No wonder Aboriginals and an ever increasing number of Westerners are finding a place within their belief systems. The travesty is community and family is the foundational turf of the followers of Jesus. Christians give lip service to being family, our doctrines declare we belong to the family of God, that we are God’s gathering (koinonia, community) on the face of this planet. Indeed our creeds clearly state that time and place don’t separate us from one another because we are one Body , His!
However, reality is a different matter. Satan has so rob us we are unconscious of great losts, the distinctive to care for one another, love one another or ‘give’ to one another. I can hear the scream of protests now that I don’t know what I’m talking about, “Wayne there is love in the church”. Look, when someone is hurting, we care, we meet their needs; that is not the love Jesus talked about. Yes acts of love and kindness do happen in the church and yes love is involved. Yet love as Jesus said occurs very little, that sacrificial giving which sets us apart from the world’s pack is missing. I mostly think because we get on with life without His distinctive dynamic because we are too busy going to meetings, running programmes and generally isolated by our activities from each other. I think Satan enjoys with much laughter the deceptions he distracts us with that makes us irrelevant and ineffective isolating ourselves from the field of God’s endeavours.
Through fifty three years I have observed that most will do almost anything but love; we attempt to pray people’s problems away, we will give to our organised Bodies to care for those who need care but few enter into the suffering and pain of the distressed, the outcasts and the depressed; that requires involvement and commitment to stand with those who need His hands and feet in practical ways. Few open their homes inviting others into their orbit of life. Few clergy know how to release the Lord’s giftings in His people.Laying our lives down for each other is not merely a lost art but a lost heart. Then the question needs to be asked, “What do you have a heart for?” We are the less for not doing love His way.
The problem is not the expansion of Islam in Western Societies. The problem is us, those who say they follow Jesus (Isa). As Gandhi said to Indian Christians seventy years ago, “if you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Indian would be Christian tomorrow.” I am profoundly grateful that Jesus has brought into our spheres of influence Islamics. Jesus is still the power of God to salvation.
Unfortunately we have other priorities, which Gandhi challenged with words of truth.
Where is our treasure?
My prayer is for us to find a greater treasure which we whole heartedly give our life for and to, Jesus, the One who loves us.
Most live in a cocooned world of isolated independence cashed up with prosperity that provides instant pleasure and comfortable convenience (cars, homes whose walls provide privacy against invasion from the world, entertainments [TV, computers, movies, ipods, iPads etc.) with whatever we want when we want it. The problem is that is not what life is about in God. We have traded true treasures and an abundant life for baubles that stink and are rotting away. Then we wonder why life doesn’t mean as much as God intends. A moment of Divine Truth crashing our current beliefs and treasures is desperately required.
The first church with all their foibles, failings and fallacies had this one distinctive we so desperately need. They loved; Roman governors and a Roman Emperor noted that they did not operate as other belief systems (i.e. the approved pagan religions). They were mysterified at how second century believers could so passionately give material blessings to one another as if money, food, buildings didn’t matter; and that other religions couldn’t copy.
Although what we are doing seems right because it has been done for over fifteen hundred years; yet what most do doesn’t work ‘anymore’. But still we will keep on doing what we have always done regardless, expecting what we have always done to produce a different result from what is happening. Einstein called that insanity. I wonder what God calls our insanity; rebellion and stubbornness of heart????
One of the few preachers I respect, Billy Graham made this statement, “The Bible declares that we who follow Christ should be just as much in love with each other as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross.” Thought provoking stuff, but as I said we will do almost anything but love as Jesus loved, too hard, too incovenient and too dsitracting.
It is my belief that God is no longer playing our game, therefore what we have done for so long no longer works. The game has been, we plan, we organise, we lead so we can control what happens so we will benefit [profit from our labour] ( all management terms as I have studied management for over forty years and the last twenty two years have lectured and faciltitated workshops for corporations and government departments). Beloved the rules of the Ways of God have not changed but His purposes have. What was before no longer serves His Ways. Therefore His Body needs to re-discover His distinctives and to practise His Way of living in our midst. I think we may then discover something so wonderfully awesome, something our hearts have always longed for, a God who works on behalf of those who wait for Him, therefore wait upon Him and who wait to see Him; then do His will.
O! Bride come close, the Bridegroom longs for His Beloved.