If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Relate: “Teacher BJ, are you a Muslim”
I was sitting at a lunch table with two of my second-grade students sitting across from me. I have to be very careful with what I can or cannot say in these settings but this question was innocent enough. “No, I am a Christian,” I answered.
Both of their eyes grew huge. I am probably the only Christian they have ever met at this point in their young lives. They both grew very serious as they started whispering together. Finally, they turned back toward me. “Teacher BJ, we love you anyways.”
And that was that. When I am not in a school setting with my students, I am at greater liberty to allow this to turn into a deeper conversation. Without a doubt, the most common response when someone finds out that I am a Christian is something along the lines of, “We Muslims love Jesus too. Christians and Muslims are brothers”
I understand the sentiment and appreciate their attempt at universal brotherhood, but it is misguided. Respect for someone else’s religion is not about glossing over the differences but openly acknowledging them and then building reasoned dialogue around them. If I am unwilling to truly discover what someone else believes or acknowledge that we are truly not the same and that is OK, then I am being the very opposite of respectful. Often in discussion with Muslim friends, I put it this way…
Let us say that your wife named Defne is 1.5 meters tall (4’11”) with dark hair and she is very shy. If I were to say to you, “I really like your wife Derya. She is so friendly and outgoing and I think tall blondes are the most beautiful people on the planet.” You would either think that I am confused or that I am mocking you. In the same way, there three things about Jesus that are the very core of Christianity. They cannot be compromised. Jesus died, Jesus rose, and Jesus alone saves. If you cannot accept these things then we can be friends, but we are not brothers.
React: A Muslim will openly declare Jesus, but they do not believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead. On the flip side, all too many people who call themselves Christians believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, but in their daily lives when the opportunities are there for them to declare in word and deed that Jesus is Lord…
Paul doesn’t tell the Romans to openly declare Jesus is Savior. We all would have no problem with that. We are to declare Jesus is Lord. Too often today, we think of that word as some chivalric title. You know: Earl, Duke, Baron, Lord. No. A better translation for us to understand this word today would be “Master”. We hear “Lord and Savior” so often that we don’t even think of the implications of those words anymore. Each time you see it, substitute instead, “Master and Deliverer”. Is Jesus my Master? Can I possibly openly declare that if I am not living it out? Can you?
I ask you to guide my actions just as much as You lead me into truth. My practice (orthopraxy) is just as important as my beliefs (orthodoxy). Help me to truly understand the reality of the cross. You are my Deliverer. Help me also to openly declare You as Lord with every word and action. You are my Master.