When God Spoke through an Imam

I’m learning more and more how God speaks through the unlikeliest of people.

For Moses, God spoke out of a burning bush.  For King Saul, it was a shepherd boy named David.  For devout followers of YHWH, it was a wild man in the wilderness named John who was baptizing people in the Jordan River.  For Jesus’ disciples, it was children, a bleeding woman, a man lowered through a roof, a samaritan, and a weeping woman with an alabaster jar.  And the list goes on.

God speaks through the strangest of people, those most “outside” from where we’d expect God to speak.  Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.  Indeed.

For me, God spoke through a Muslim chaplain named Abdullah Antepli.  One of my favorite parts of attending Duke was the ability to regularly interact with a wide diversity of people.  Sometimes these interactions occurred on buses, other times they occurred in more structured settings.  When God spoke to me through Abdullah it was in the form of the latter during an interfaith panel set up in the Divinity School.  Abdullah and a professor of evangelism talked about their respective religions before answering questions from students and one another.  It was an incredibly gracious and jovial room to be in as the two bantered back and forth before a room packed full of 200+ persons from throughout the university.

At one point, the Muslim Imam thoughtfully began…~“We Muslims have daily prayers, dietary restrictions, read our scriptures faithfully, but when we look around at the Christians on campus we wonder, ‘What do Christians take on?'”

You could hear a pin drop after that one.

I don’t remember what our professor said, but I do remember seeing Abdullah’s face as he respectfully and genuinely asked his question.  He really wanted to know.  And…the response he was waiting to hear actually seemed to be important to him.

His question is one, I think, many people in this world are asking.  What do Christians take on?  How we answer actually matters.

This is the grand opportunity Christians have today, to live in such ways that tell the world our faith can actually make tangible differences in this world.  What we take on and what we lay aside provide our faith with some integrity.  People want to see if what we claim to believe actually matters, and what’s so ‘good’ about it.

The possibilities are boundless for anyone with at least a reasonably thoughtful Christian imagination.  What we eat or don’t, from where we eat, how we live without debt, how we vet our portfolio investments, our willingness to live within our means, our generosity, our desire to listen – all of these are just a few ways in which a Christian life might be thoughtfully lived, and are ways that differ drastically from the world.

What an incredible opportunity we have, to live lives that offer the world an alternative.  Perhaps our lives might even make our faith interesting again.  Perhaps…we might even show people the Good News of Jesus…


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