March-View of World
What do you think of when you hear the word, "Muslim?" What about the word, "Iran?" What comes to mind when you think about Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Mohammed? What do you think most American think about when they ponder these terms? Take a minute and really think about it. Do you think that Christians think the same things about these words as non-Christians?
I have a friend who will soon be heading to Afghanistan for several years as a missionary. He told me recently that any time he shares with people at his church about his plans to go to Afghanistan that almost without exception, the first response he gets is, "Is that safe?" Why do you think these Christians are asking that question? Simple, they watch the news, right? They've heard recently about someone being killed in some city, in some region of some country that is majority Muslim…it might have even been Afghanistan. The American media has done a fantastic job of telling us civilians about all the bad things that have occurred in Central Asia and throughout the Muslim World. They have a running count on the number of car bombs, deaths, injuries, and anti-American/Western rallies.
You may be asking yourself, "Is there anything wrong with keeping up with the state of violence in these places?" Not necessarily. That information can be very helpful to the Church. Christ has commanded that we go into all the world, and it's good to have a heads-up on what is happening in the world so that we can be wiser in how we go…but we also have to remember that Christ says, "I send you out as sheep among wolves." In other words, "I send you out as weak people among violent people." The good news is that the sheep have a shepherd; the bad news is that the Shepherd has already forewarned us that we will suffer.
Here's what I'm getting at. If we aren't careful, then we, as Christians, will begin to view the world, the same way that non-Christians view the world. That view is usually through the lens of western media. But, we are called to view the world through the lens of Jesus…through His eyes. When He looks at the world, He feels "compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). Other versions say that He sees sheep that are "harassed and helpless." Yes, he sees the violence that takes place, but His concern is for the lost sheep.
If you've been remotely conscious of current events, you know that tension is high in the Muslim world. Some, definitely not all, of these lost sheep are upset at cartoons making fun of Mohammed and Islam. Some of these lost sheep have been so angered that they have bombed, killed, and declared a crusade against these cartoonists. If you aren't careful, the western media will convince you that all Muslims are that way, and that what is important in the world isn't rescuing lost sheep, but protecting ourselves from their threats and attacks. I don't have a martyr's complex and I don't think it's Biblical to try to get oneself killed, but I think that viewing life from the standpoint of our own safety is just as much anti-Biblical and just as much a wasted life. One of the greatest weaknesses of the western church is that it has a world view that matches the secular western worldview. We have the same view on comfort, safety, wealth, and foreign policy as our non-Christian neighbors.
Greg Livingstone shares a story about speaking at a church. He asks the congregation to raise their hands if they have been praying for American troops overseas. He comments that about 90% of the congregation raised their hands. He then asked the congregation to raise their hands if they have been praying for "the millions of Muslims who are perishing without the Gospel of Jesus" in the places where our troops are. Three people raised their hands. He responded to the congregation by saying, "Three people, that's all? What are we? Are we Americans before we are Christians?"
We need a radical worldview shift where we begin to see the world the way that God does. We need to see sheep without a Shepherd before we see terrorists. We need to view our lives' ambitions from a Christ-centered worldview, so that we will make it our goal to advance the Kingdom in violent places instead of thinking about how to protect ourselves from another 9/11 as our media would have us do. Our mission is Gospel focused, not Western focused. It must be!