Introduction and Guidelines for Sharing the Booklet
"Converging Destinies: Jerusalem, Peace and Al Masih"
Telling the Gospel Essentially Means Proclaiming Peace
Isaiah describes those announcing the good news of the Messiahs coming as proclaiming peace. The Messiah is "Prince of Peace" so to announce his coming is to proclaim peace. Isaiah went on to say, "the punishment that brought us peace was upon him ... and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 52:7; 9:6; 53:7)
These Old Testament portraits of the Messiah as peacemaker find fulfilment in the New Testament. According to Romans 5:1 "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". Also we read that God reconciled all things "making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col. 1:20). Ephesians 1:14-18 is another crucial passage - highlighting the peace Christ brings between alienated Jews and Gentiles as well as peace with God.
It is interesting to notice that when Jesus commanded his disciples to go to certain villages preaching the gospel, they were instructed to seek for a man of peace. In a very real way we should do the same - seek people who are characterized by shalom - a term with rich meaning. One application of this is to look for people who want peace in the holy land. Naturally there is widespread concern among Muslims and Jews to halt the deplorable killing and find a just and peaceful settlement. The prevailing trouble is stirring a longing in many hearts for peace, indeed millions of Muslims, Jews and Christians are praying for peace.
Sowing Seeds in Fertile Soil
Considering the ongoing conflict and deadlocked negotiations it is not hard to engage Muslims & Jews in talking about peace or show them a newspaper article promoting praying for peace in Jerusalem - like the one in the introduction of the booklet "Converging Destinies" (published in the Daily News under the title "Praying for Peace in Jerusalem") There is, of course, potential for peace discussions to become polarized, therefore, we advise you to avoid becoming embroiled in land disputes. (Notice how Jesus preempted this kind of argument in John 4:19-21.) If we are wise we wont get sidetracked onto secondary issues but focus on the crucial question of peace and how Messiah brings it. Focusing on key issues keeps our message Christ centered and also enables us to connect with peace-loving people.
As we share these insights on peace through Messiah we may encounter some people who are narrow minded and not sincerely seeking peace. In such cases we need to exercise extra gentleness and forbearance as well as discerning when to avoid casting pearls before swine. Our purpose here isnt to suggest ways of handling difficult situations but simply to show the value of focusing the spot light on Jesus as Prince of Peace.
The book "Converging Destinies" offers hope for a just, peaceful settlement as prophecied in Jewish scripture (our Old Testament) and also supported by some statements in the Quran and hadith. Consider, for example, the Muslim belief that the Messiah (Al Masih) will usher in an era of peace which will fill the earth. They believe Jesus will be the only one able to destroy the powerful antichrist. Furthermore, Christs reign will have awesome repercussions reminiscent of Isaiahs prophecy that "the wolf will live with the lamb" and children will play near snakes. Tragically, however, Messiahs preeminent peacemaking role in the last days is not understood by Muslims how we see it - a continuation of the victory begun at calvary where Christ overpowered Satan.
It is good for us to acknowledge beliefs we share in common with Muslims. This shows respect, helps establish trust and wins their attention but eventually we must face up to the differences separating us. We believe Jesus is the unique Son of God but Muslims regard this as anathema. This controversial issue is graciously dealt with in this booklet. Similarly, the way we share tracts with Muslims should be gracious and seasoned with salt.
Friendly Conversation Starter
The first section of the booklet appeared as a newspaper article so it can be introduced quite naturally while talking with an acquaintance or friend. As a general rule it is not recommended that you offer gospel literature to a Muslim or Jew whom you dont know. Instead, we should radiate the friendliness of Jesus to people we meet in the normal course of our daily lives. Jesus instructed us to not just greet our brothers but to show this courtesy and respect to those outside our comfort zone (Matthew 5:47). As we show love in these small ways a genuine rapport begins to grow and God opens doors to graciously share a witness with our lips &/or literature (Luke 15:1,2). Prove yourself faithful in the small things then God will entrust you with bigger things. Certainly we ought to follow the example of the apostle Paul, who prayerfully sought "that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim Christ." (Col. 4:5)
It should hardly need to be said that gaining a better understanding of Islam and the Muslim way of life will help you relate more effectively to your neighbor. We are available to encourage you or answer any questions not covered in this introduction. Would you please tell us any positive responses you may receive after sharing this tract?
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God."