by John Haines
Quality, Christ-centered, life-changing worship is a must, says this missionary, who has found that it opens doors.
In both the Muslim Creed – "There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the prophet of God"-and the Quran the names of God and Muhammed are placed side by side in a way that is true of no other prophet. This makes it very difficult for an objective observer to give credibility to the claim of equality for all prophets under God. There is a more serious issue here, however: it is the issue of worship. God intended from the beginning of history that man should worship him and his Son, Jesus Christ.
The great apostle of the deity of Christ, John, shows us this most clearly in the climax of his writings, the Revelation. In chapter four we are directed toward the eternal God, seated on his throne. Worship is offered to him. In chapter five the scene changes and now the Lamb, Jesus, is on center stage. He also receives worship (vv. 12-14). All of the capacities and achievements of mankind are to be poured out like the ointment of Mary at the feet of Jesus.
In the flow of the sentence structure in Greek, suddenly one word stands out: axion ("worthy,"). Jesus is worthy. Why? "For thou wast slain" (v. 9). No other prophet, real or imaginery, can claim this. This is why he merits the seven-fold offering described in v. 12. He receives "power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." As we grow in our worship of Christ, and bring this kind of offering daily to his feet, we put on the spiritual armor for confronting the monolith of Islam. Christ is not at the center of our Muslim neighbors vision. He will become so as he does to us and as the incense of our prayers rises to the throne of God for him.
We should never neglect or distort worship. I had a striking illustration of this on one of my mission’s summer teams. We gathered together each morning to put on our armor for the spiritual battle. We called it a time of Bible study and prayer. Yet slowly the realization dawned on me that we fell into a very predictable rut. Our Bible study time would always fill its allotted period. If anything, it would spill over into the prayer period that followed. Worship and intercession were, as a matter of fact, increasingly squeezed out. Yet was not "all prayer" the last weapon on Paul’s list? Was not the very giving of the Great Commission itself, in Matthew, preceded by a time of spontaneous, Spirit-guided worship (28:17)? How could we have missed the point? Yet we did, and we do.
So, in seeking methods of approach to Muslims, we must restore the broken walls of worship in our lives. We must make prayer a priority and literally ""take time to be holy"’ for the very reason that ""the world rushes on."" Richard Foster very perceptively states that ""In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds" (Celebration of Discipline, p. 13). May God the Holy Spirit liberate us from the shopping center complex, and enable us to take up, as it were, the robes of our spiritual priesthood daily. It is in the heavenly places that any conflict will first be won, including that with Islam.
We must also learn from the culture of eastern people. In the Quranic view oil God, one sometimes can almost feel the vastness of the desert that Muhammed and his contemporaries knew so well. Allahu Akbar! God is the greatest! This is true. We need to be careful listeners to our Arab brothers as they express their faith in the Son of God. Rather than imposing our instant, pragmatic, compartmentalized Christianity, we should follow their lead. For example, at times I have been surprised by the formality expressed by my eastern friends in daily life as well as in prayer. The eastern Christian’s views of Christ can help us have a more truly biblical perspective. Worshiping groups is a term some missionaries in North Africa like to use for the groups of believers there. Each group we either found or have a part in should strive to be a worshiping group, a group that is growing together in its worship.
During the last four years I have had the unforgettable experience of working as the only non-Frenchman with the elders of our church. There have been times when we have come to our Monday evening prayer time burdened with some daily concern. Or we have been aware of some difference of opinion. Yet there has never been any breach of unity. The basic reason is that the Holy Spirit has drawn us to Christ and to one another in our worship of him. Our opening seasons of adoration of Christ so often have melted us together. As we allow adequate time for worship, and guard the centrality of Christ in it, we can shake the very foundations of "Alumma alislaamiya": the Muslim Nation. There is great spiritual potential in even the tiniest worshiping group.
Flowing out of our worship relationship with Father and Son, we must make room for real, practical change in each area of our life. Even some Christians have that gnawing inner feeling that whatever worship involves, it is ethereal, mystical, and not much related to the rough and tumble world. The very opposite is true. One could almost say that nothing is more practical and dynamic than our walk and growth in worship.
Going back to John’s vision, after he tells us the Lamb is worthy, he spells out in seven-fold detail exactly what this means: ""Worthy (he again sings forth) is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12). As we are in the way of worship, often we are led to action. We may be made aware, for example, that our riches are not being used in the right way. Perhaps our attitude toward another person has not been honoring to the Lord. God may give us new wisdom for our ministry in some way.
When I lived in Marseille, France, I was very burdened for the large Science Faculty near my home, where there was no open Christian witness. I used to walk several days a week on the back road, up to the gate of the campus, and ask God somehow to open the spiritual doors. Then, in a very unexpected way, God began to do that through Syrian students whom I met in a French class. It turned out they were good friends of an Arab Christian I knew. Worship opens spiritual doors. Let’s learn anew to worship Jesus the Son of God. That worship will inevitably reach out to the Muslims whom God, in his providence, has placed at our doorstep.
No missionary work can progress, and certainly not against the great stronghold of Islam, without the heavenly view that worship and prayer bring. This is especially true because of the spiritual conflict going on in the life of our Muslim neighbor. If Christ is not given his proper place, a vacuum is formed deep within a person. Something must rush in to fill it.
It has been remarked that the Islam that must be best understood is not that of the theologians, but that held dear by the average Muslim. This has been termed practical Islam. The Muslim Creed, the first words spoken over a babys birth, and those recited at death, brings the Muslim dangerously close to the very sin he professes to abhor. The Quran does the same. Muhammed’s closeness to the religious Muslim’s heart parallels that of wealth, selfishness, position or lust in the heart of the nonMuslim. He needs to be wrenched free to join the Apostle John in his worship of God and the Lamb.
Copyright © 1983 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.