What Kind of People Are We?

A guest post from my friend Robert Sievers. Robert’s blog is Unraveling Islam

The more I investigate Islam, the more spiritual reversals come leaping to the forefront. Sometimes these theological inversions are incredibly profound, and teaching me something new about Christ I had not seen before. Sometimes they teach me something about myself.

As a person reads the Bible, it becomes quite evident that as people, we have fallen way short of what God wants from us. Passages such as Jeremiah 17:9, Psalm 143:2, and Romans 3:12 leave no doubt as to our status before God. Of course, God’s sanctifying work allows us to receive a new heart, and to become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Yet when we examine ourselves, we have to be honest. Consider what Paul had to say about himself as he wrote to other believers. In one of the earliest epistles, the letter to the church at Corinth, Paul admits that he has some flaws. As an apostle, he garners a certain status, but he seems to feel unworthy of it and places himself at the bottom of the apostle’s ranking (1 Corinthians 15:9). Later, in the letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:8), Paul doesn’t even mention his apostleship, but rather puts himself as the least of all those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ. Yet Paul doesn’t stop here. In one of the latest books, Paul keeps lowering his self-appraisal, this time acknowledging that he considers himself the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

As time goes by, Paul’s view of himself continues to lessen. While such statements could be misused by taking them out of context, let’s stay focused and figure out where this self-deprecating attitude might come from. Jesus tells a parable that sheds some light on Paul’s statements. In Luke 14, Jesus tells a parable about how to position yourself relative to others.

8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10 But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.

In case there is any doubt about what this parable means, Jesus interprets it for us as well.

11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The command is clear. Don’t think too much of yourself. Don’t assume a position of honor, but rather, consider yourself the least of those present. For myself, I can testify that I should not try to make myself out to be somebody or something that I am not. While I enjoy writing these articles, I know full well that however God is using me, He is using a flawed and broken human. I rejoice that God can do so in whatever way He sees fit, just as Paul acknowledges in 1 Timothy 1:16.

So what is the Muslim view? As you might expect, it’s the exact opposite. Muslims are to regard themselves as the people most to be honored.

[3.110] You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.

Should anyone think I am taking this verse out of context, consider what ibn Kathir says about this verse in his tafsir, “The meaning of the Ayah [verse] is that the Ummah [body of believers] of Muhammad is the most righteous and beneficial nation for mankind.” [i] As for Muhammad himself, “The Ummah of Muhammad achieved this virtue because of its Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him, the most regarded of Allah’s creation and the most honored Messenger with Allah.”

What we have again is a completely reversed way of thinking. Paul was humbled at the thought of being any kind of spokesman for God; Muhammad considered himself honored. As Christians, we are to take the place of least honor, recognizing that we are not to exalt ourselves, whereas the Muslims are to consider themselves the “best of the nations.” The attitude is the total antithesis of what Jesus commands.

http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsir%20Ibn%20Kathir/PDF/003%20Imran.pdf, p 179

  • Islamic Infidel
    Posted at 01:03h, 18 November

    While I agree with you on the Biblical potion above, I think you’re digging pretty deep on the Islamic passage. The passage sound very similar to Matthew 5:14-16 in my opinion, since it is not a exhoration to the individual Musilm, but to the Ummah [body of believers]. While I might agree that you’re premise is correct, I don’t think this passage is a very strong argument for it.

  • Njamaal
    Posted at 03:18h, 18 November

    I wonder Islamic Infidel if you have a rational objection? You don’t bring anything to the table, other than just asserting a mere opinion. What is a rational reason behind it?

  • Pingback:Joel's Trumpet | JohnsRevelation.org Prophecy Blog
    Posted at 06:34h, 18 November

    […] What Kind of People Are We? […]

  • Jeremiah
    Posted at 20:22h, 18 November

    Separating the Ummah from the “individual muslim” doesn’t seem rational to me in the same way I would not separate God’s people from The Church. And I highly doubt the islamic passage was meant corporately and not individually as well. The fact of the matter is that in action and deed muslims consider this teaching personally as well as corporately so the hair splitting over this really isn’t very convincing. All you have to do is watch their behavior. So as said above, I see no rational objection here. And great article by the way! Excellent!

  • Robert Sievers
    Posted at 22:06h, 18 November

    Islamic infidel,

    Your concerns are valid. Any time we take a passage from somewhere, we are in danger of pulling it from context or inappropriately applying an analogy to it. However, in this case, I am unaware of any passage in the Qur’an or Hadith similar to Jesus’ teachings on this issue. In no Islamic teaching do I see that we are instructed to recognize our lower status because of our broken relationship with God that only He is able to heal. As with all my posts, I am happy to hear evidence to the contrary.

  • Dave Lee
    Posted at 22:32h, 18 November

    profound and sometimes plain odd such as the practice of going naked round the kaba!
    a practice some would like to forget or hide by saying “o they weren’t real muslim who ddid that now were they I cite http://www.ediscoverislam.com/About-Islam/The-religion-of-Islam/a-history-of-the-hajj

  • Andy Sheufelt
    Posted at 22:54h, 18 November

    I have often felt that this point should be emphasized more often. This why I believe that Allah is Satan. Lets look at other contrasts. Surah 4 about beating women or “tilling” them as a field for sex. I am not sure which this Surah talks about. Anyway, Ephesians 5 could not be any further from the islamic world view. Colossians 3 talks about parents not exasperating their children. Girls can be killed for “dishonoring” their parents. Their are others, but it is clear that Satan has made Islam very appealing through rigorous prayer, fasting, and defending the faith. However, it is the anti thesis of Christianity. The God of the Bible cannot be the God of the Koran.

  • David W. Lincoln
    Posted at 18:39h, 20 November

    As long as more is accomplished by those who walk in the light of the best of Isaac and Jacob, in the same amount of time, when compared to what is accomplished by those who walk in the worst of Ishmael and Esau – the observation of “actions speaking louder than words” is most germane.

  • Steve O'Brien
    Posted at 21:44h, 20 November

    The ‘pick and choose’ method of what Muslims believe is ‘pure’ and what is ‘tainted by Jews and Christians’ in the bible is quite beyond me, however, I wonder if they’d object to being told the parable of the Good Samaritan in a modern-day way. Instead of the Jew and the Samaritan, tell them the parable using an ayatollah, an imam, and a Jew and see what they think of ‘the prophet Jesus’ then. This modern version loses none of the impact Jesus was trying to get across! We will never get anywhere with Muslims until we love them like that! (Even though they slay us…)

  • fon hollohan
    Posted at 03:36h, 04 December

    I do believe that we as Christians need to love as it is commanded of us, but we are also told to find out was is acceptable to the lord. And have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them. Therefore we can still get somewhere with Muslims with exposing darkness. Because any darkness is not acceptable to God. No matter what way it maybe displayed or manifested. Therefore It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifested by the light, for what ever makes manifest is light.
    ” Awake, you who sleep
    Arise from the dead,
    And Christ will give you light”

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