The greeter at the door completely ignored her, as did others. Wandering around in an attempt to find her own way she felt like a leper and a pariah.
Wondering what would happen if a Muslim had a dream about Jesus and wandered into a church, she teamed up with a Muslim female friend for a scary experiment. (The Muslim friend said she would be terrified to try such a thing herself.) They decided to attend a church as first-time visitors.She wore a hijab (head covering), while her American-looking Muslim friend discreetly sat two rows back, and took notes. It didn’t go well. Someone (probably a plain clothes police officer) practically sat in her lap throughout the service! As Islamic radicals continue to carry out unspeakable acts of violence, Muslims will become increasingly feared, hated and shunned in Western society. Knowing how Jesus responded to Samaritans in his day tells us how he would want his followers to reach out to Muslims today.
He would go out of his way to meet them (John 4)
Familiarity with the Good Samaritan story may prevent us from reflecting on how radical it was for Jesus to visit Samaria. When most Jews went out of their way to avoid the place, Scripture says he had to go there. The implication is that when God calls we should be willing to go anywhere in the world to live among Muslims and share the Gospel. But we also need to reach out to the growing number of immigrant Muslims in our midst. This might mean we welcome them into our neighborhoods with a plate of cookies. And if they show up at one of our weekly services, we should make every effort to greet them, but for this, we need to have a different source of information than the evening news. The church must receive the right training from experienced workers on how to meet Muslims culturally.
He would share the Gospel with love and understanding (John 4)
The disciples were more interested in sandwiches than in sharing the good news. They were surprised to see Jesus talking to a woman–especially a Samaritan woman! The winsome way Jesus approaches her is a model for Christian witness among Muslims. He asks for a drink, avoids argument, and respects her traditions. He demonstrates care for her as a person and didn’t let the burden of century-old hostility keep him from discussing what is most important. This means we not stare at a veiled Muslim woman in the mall, nor cross the street when we see a bearded, Middle-Eastern man coming our way. Neither did Jesus skip over the sin topic, which is often a challenge with Muslims, as many don’t see sin as all that serious. In the Qur’an, humans come out smelling like a rose, so we need to get them lost before we get them saved. Although apologetics has its place, our goal is not to beat up on Islam, but to help Muslims see their need of Jesus as the only Savior.
He would speak well of them whenever possible (Luke 9:51-55; 10:25-37; 17:11-19)
An aspect we don’t usually think about is the fact that Jesus tells favorable stories about Samaritans, whenever possible. Hearing how one Samaritan helped a wounded man, while Jewish religious leaders passed him by, must have stunned his audience. Due to the animosity, most couldn’t think of a good thing to say about them. And then Luke tells another story that also makes Samaritans look good. When ten lepers were cleansed, only one came back to say “thank you,” and he was a Samaritan.
These stories are recorded in Scripture because Jesus wanted his disciples–and us–to put aside our prejudice and fear for the sake of the Gospel. It was a struggle for the disciples and it will be a struggle for us. When the “Sons of Thunder” (James and John) were refused hospitality in a Samaritan village, they wanted to burn it down, but John later became known as the “Apostle of Love.” He was changed and God can do the same for us. We know what Islamic extremists are doing, but should also mention that moderate Muslims (and some not so moderate) are speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS. Will we go out of our way to befriend Muslims, share the love of Christ with understanding, and speak positively about them whenever possible?