Just Passing Through

Just Passing Through

On my way to band practice at church last Thursday, I saw a vehicle with its flashers on.
Instinctively, I pulled over and asked if the motorist needed help. Apparently the clutch went out on his car, and to top it off, his cellphone didn’t work! So I let him use mine. He wasn’t able to get a hold of someone to help, and since he was on his way to work, he asked if it wasn’t too much trouble if I could drop him off.
 
“Absolutely,” I said. 
 
During our brief drive I got acquainted with him a little more. He was effusively thankful that I took him to work, even though I was supposed to be at band practice. He apologized that he caused me to miss my appointment.
 
“You are more important than that,” I shared. “God has been good to me. And so I just want to show that love to other people.”
 
As I chatted with this man, I discovered he was a Muslim. I briefly shared with him how I came to know Jesus (Isa is what Muslims call Him) and why I know I’m going to heaven not based on anything good I have done, but because of what He did for me. 
 
We did not argue theologically at all. He just listened to me share, and then he shared a bit about his beliefs, and about his job. And by that time, I dropped him off at his workplace and he thanked me again. 
 
“I want to let you know I love you, and may God bless you.” I added, as I shook his hand. “Call me if you need any more help.”
 
“Allah bless you, my new friend said, “and may he repay your kindness to me.”
 
This man did not have three heads. He did not cry “Allahu Akbar” and try to chop off my head. And yes, as a Christian, I do not agree with the teachings of Islam, since they do not acknowledge the deity and salvation of Jesus Christ. True, there may be a day–following the current trend–when America could become a Muslim nation. I’m not clueless about that. And of course we as American citizens should be able to protect ourselves at the moment where our loved ones lives may be in danger.
 
But how will I see these people today?
Middle Eastern man walking, public domain photo

Middle Eastern man walking, public domain photo

 
Will I see people different from me as a group first to fear and then to hate, or will I see them as people just like me…people who need the Lord?
Many Muslims are born into their religion, not knowing anything different. They want to have some assurance of heaven or paradise, like most people do, and they are taught that the only way they can possibly get that is through a lifetime of good works, or instantly through a martyr’s death. By contrast, Christians depend on the certainty of righteousness, given as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ, by His completed work on the cross.
The truth is, Muslims, like the rest of the lost world, are in the dark and need the light shined on them.
 
Recently, a guy I was chatting with mentioned how he was listening to a talk show that was talking about Muslims taking over our country, and he is prepared to get a gun and start taking them down.
 
Really?
 
You have to be careful what you listen to. 
 
American Flag, public domain photo

American Flag, public domain photo

 
As a Christian, I am not in the business of trying to save America. I’m trying to save–or rather let Christ in me–save people who live in America.
If America as we know it goes down, it is not the end of the world.
In the Bible, you don’t read Paul admonishing the Christians in Rome to rebel against the tyranny of Caesar, to look up to Rome as a shining city on a hill, or to keep the Empire from being overrun by pagan barbarians. No, he said pay your taxes, fear God, honor the king. Christians can lose their purpose and weary themselves out in trying to prop up a decaying system and culture. The culture will always be threatened by outside forces, often beyond our control. But regardless of the culture, people can always be reached.
 
All I know is I loved this man. Moments before, I was listening to a sermon on the radio, where the preacher said you don’t have to necessarily feel love. You can just intentionally choose to love. I asked God to help me with that. A moment later, He gave me an opportunity. And I believe, by faith, Jesus loved him through me.
 
He is not one of “them.”
 
He is a human being, created in the image of God, and should have every opportunity to be saved, just as I am, by God’s grace. He should be the recipient of mercy and love, just as all of us are.
 
And who can say that God hasn’t allowed Muslims to live in this country, even the large influx of recent refugees, so that the Christians in this land would reach out to them and share who Jesus is?
 
Please pray for this man to come to know Jesus. From what I understood in our brief conversation, there are others reaching out to him as well. 
 
"Passing Through," 15" x 30", Acrylic on Hardboard, by Matt Philleo

“Passing Through,” 15″ x 30″, Acrylic on Hardboard, by Matt Philleo

 
In the end, America is not my home. I’m on my way to a better country.
That’s what this painting, “Passing Through,” illustrates. I created this back in 2004, depicting a man who is obviously out of place, riding on a camel through a Midwestern town. If you are a Christian, you are just passing through this world as a traveler, on your way to your permanent residence in heaven!
 
I thank God for all the blessings I have in this country, but if every one were stripped away, I would still have my relationship with Christ, and that would be more than enough. And I want to others to enjoy that relationship with him too, whether they be called Catholic, Protestant, Jew, atheist, Buddhist or Muslim.

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