When a U.S. seminary invited a Muslim to team teach one of their courses, this guest professor surprised the students by encouraging them to “be more Christian.” The call is similar to the challenge many Encountering Muslims participants feel when they read David Shenk's article that begins with a Muslim asking the question, “Why don’t Christians follow the way of Jesus?” (see Lesson 4 in Encountering the World of Islam, pp. 141-150).
Shenk’s article challenges us to recognize that Muslims are excited about Jesus’ teachings and the gospel (when they have the opportunity to hear it). But because they don't often see it demonstrated by Jesus’ followers, they are confused and discouraged. An article in Christianity Today, “Ministry Lessons from a Muslim” (read it here), quotes Eboo Patel, a Muslim team-teaching at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, encouraging students not to be afraid to “answer the question as a Christian.” He encourages students to define reality using the Christian narrative rather than the competing political, economic, or social narratives.
Patel’s message emphasizes that there is honor in being straightforward and transparent in our answers and assertions, and that Muslims are sensitive to Christians whose values are supposed to be shaped by the Bible but whose behavior doesn’t seem to match up with biblical teaching. They are keenly aware of our inconsistencies. Muslims are looking for Christians to live out their faith on every level (not just the heart level). This is the same challenge Jesus put before us. As his followers, our ministry depends on our ability to follow his teachings in concrete, visible ways on a daily basis. The kind of faith that lives out grace and peace in a powerful way is good news for Muslims, something they are looking for in a hard and unforgiving world.