This topic is something which may make a few of you squirm in your seats.
I know that this is touchy subject—though I still do not fully understand why—as this is a topic which I have brought up a few times in conversation to some Christian friends, and almost every time I do I am met with darting eyes, uncomfortable glances, sarcastic comments, or even—sadly—anger.
But I have always thought: If someone is doing something good, even if they are not doing everything as we see it should be done, can we not learn from the good things they are doing?
The truth is, we live in a world where almost anything goes in terms of Christianity and the lines between the followers of Christ and the followers of themselves/something else /everything/nothing are becoming extremely blurred.
Do not get me wrong, I know there are many people out there who are truly striving to make Christianity their own and make a difference—but there are also too many times where followers of Christ are too happy to blend in and be as much like the world as possible.
There are too many people who are too happy to simply believe the world’s lies.
Let us hold that thought for a minute now. If you are someone who does not believe in God and the Bible, then that is your choice, of course—though I seriously believe the Bible is the truth, God is real and you should follow Him—God made you a creature of free will. If you have chosen to follow your own path, then there is really no moral compass guiding you, so you have reason to do or do not as you see fit. I understand why an unbeliever would not hold to a particular code of ethics.
However I find myself continually perplexed when I see those who profess to be followers of Christ trying to blend in with the world as much as possible and blur the lines of morality.
Perhaps they are doing this unintentionally—but then, we need to realise that that is the problem.
We cannot simply blend in. We cannot live unintentionally.
The Christian life should and must be lived intentionally.
I heard this statement once in a lesson:
“If you really believe that what you believe is really real, then you will turn the world upside down.”
Think about this: Do you really believe in what you are living for?
This is where the lessons from our Muslim friends come in. You see, I live in a country where there is a considerably large Muslim population (about 15% of those aged over 15 are Muslims), and the adjoining country of Malaysia is a Muslim nation. While there are obviously things they do that I do not agree with as a Christian, there are some things I see that should put Christians everywhere to shame—they are clear evidence of the truth of the above statement: they are turning the world upside down with their uncompromising beliefs.
They do not compromise in their standard of dress under any circumstances.
I know too many followers of Christ, despite the Bible exhortation to be modest (1 Timothy 2:9, 10), let their spouses only be satisfied with their naked bodies (Proverbs 5:19; Genesis 2:25) and to not cause the opposite sex to lust after them (Matthew 5:27, 28; Matthew 18:6)—are all too happy to follow along with the world’s definition of modesty. They are often all too happy to take all their clothes off to swim, save a few strips of cloth. Often I hear the complaints that it is too hard to find modest swim wear, it looks strange, or it is inconvenient.
I saw something very refreshing in contrast a few months back. One day when I was passing a pool in which I was so accustomed to seeing filled with naked bodies, I saw a few women splashing about in what at first appeared to be to be dress clothes—they were fully dressed, neck to toe! There was not a thing inappropriate about the way they were dressed. When I looked closer I realised that it was actually swimwear they were wearing.
These Muslim women do not make these excuses. They take their modesty seriously—and because they refuse to take their clothes off to swim, they now have their very own range of modest swim wear (example).
What would happen if the majority of Christians did not compromise? What could we make happen?
They do not compromise on alcohol.
There are many Christians who say that drinking alcohol is a culturally relative idea—that we can drink in the right context or under the right circumstances—despite the commands to remain sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9), and to keep away from drunkenness (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:19, 20; et al.). Here in Singapore, however, we have a rather large selection of nice non-alcoholic wines.
Why? Are the Christians demanding that they have a non-alcoholic wine selection? No, it’s the Muslims—they refuse to drink any alcohol, and concessions are made for them.
I even heard them concerned about sugar-free gum with its sugar alcohol—because they do not even want to drink a drop. What a contrast.
They do not compromise in their viewing choices.
Lately I have noticed there are many followers of Christ posting up on Facebook about a number of TV shows that are increasingly out of line with the standard put in place in God’s word (think Philippians 4:8).
Game of Thrones is one example—if there ever was a perverted show, this is it. It rated 10/10 for sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity—or in other words—it cannot get any worse. Really, the parental guide for the show should be enough to make you sick, let alone actually watching the show!
Yet, while many are willing to simply watch such things for “a good story,” when I cross over the border to Malaysia I can watch TV without having to deal with any of this smut. The Muslims have a strict set of channels and they censor out sex, violence, profanity, nudity and even, at times, immodesty. They are taking what they take in seriously.
What would happen if more Christians were serious about their viewing choices?
They demand to be given time and place to observe worship as they believe it should be done.
While many followers of Christ struggle to even tell others they are Christians, the Muslims are making sure that they have their prayer rooms and the opportunity to take a break so they can pray to Mecca 5 times a day. Because they do not compromise, they are granted their requests.
What is it saying when we are happy to skip Bible classes or church on Sunday in order to earn some more money or look good to the boss? Who then seems the more religious to the world? Does it look like we are really convicted in our beliefs?
Are we acting like we believe what we believe is really real?
Ok, so I know there are Muslims out there who are simply going along with the practices and do things they should not, or are forced to conform–as this is often the argument people bring against learning lessons from this group of people. Be reminded however there are many who seriously believe that what they are doing is right—and it is that group that are “turning the world upside down.” The world caters to them because they do not compromise.
I once read in an article by Cindy Colley that a muslim man was disgusted with Christianity because of the things he saw a so-called Christian nation engaging in. Are we putting the name of our Lord to shame because of our conduct (cf. Romans 2:23, 24)?
Do you really believe that what you believe is really real? Act like it. Turn the world upside down. Do not compromise. Our Muslim friends are proof that when you do not give way on morality, things will move for you. You can find something decent to wear. You can remain sober. You can choose not to give your money to unwholesome entertainment. You can get that day off of work.
With a small group of 120 people (Acts 1:15), it was said of the early Christians in a few short years that they had grown and managed to turn the world upside down (cf. 17:6). There are so many more of us, and if we are convicted and stand firm then we too can make our impact on the world—but we can only make an impact if we do not compromise (cf. 5:29).
Live with conviction.“If you really believe that what you believe is really real, then you will turn the world upside down.” (Linked to Titus 2uesdays, Make a Difference Mondays)
7 thoughts on “Turning the World Upside Down: Lessons from Our Muslim Friends”
Excellent post. People get “angry” or “avert their eyes” because they don’t want to be reminded that their standards are sub-standard. Recently, I was considering a blog post opp for a (secular) swimwear site that claims to be “modest”. When I checked it out, I realized the necklines were too low and the shorts/skirts were too short. Were they more modest than a bikini? Yes. But, certainly NOT modest enough. On the other hand, I *have* seen sites with truly modest swimwear for Christians to wear. It is, as you say, a matter of choosing to do it and refusing to settle for something less (no pun intended). I do find it interesting that, even on the site you linked, there were “tight” styles and “modest” styles. Since modesty is/was obviously the goal, I find it ironic that any of the styles were tight at all. If they had a “modest” version with elbow-length sleeves and knee-length pants, I just might buy one!
Thank you for your comment! Very true point. Actually, I really just used that as an example of what can happen if you continue to make a stand–people will cater for you! Perhaps something more like this is suited? It’s a little expensive, but perhaps you could find it elsewhere for better. I personally just wear some knee-length board shorts and a 3/4 swim top I found, but I really like this outfit below! 🙂
Thank you for the link! That is a lot closer to what I would like (for myself). It’s modest without being a “diving suit”. LOL! Your solution is a good one! I have used board shorts with my swim suit, but I’d like to find a good swim shirt. BTW, if I can’t find “decent” board shorts in the women’s section, I can usually find them in the men’s. They tend to be longer! 🙂
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Of course, you are using the most devout conservative Muslims as “examples” of those who follow their faith. Many Muslims are not so devout and are not as conservative as the ones you describe. They smoke and do other things that are not so complimentary. I lived in a nation where the population was 88% Muslim, and I know. There are devout Christians who also set very good examples and who do not betray their faith. Could we not use them as examples? Better yet, let us follow the example of Jesus. He is the only one who was a perfect example and never a hypocrite. I understand where you are coming from. But, Jesus sets a better example than Muslims. 🙂
I appreciate your comment!
Please note, first of all, that the purpose of this post was not to say that they should be our example, but to point out that because a lot of them are not budging on some moral stands things move for them.
I also am aware that some Muslims are not sincere (if you read my post, you will find I did write that I realise this point), just as a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life are not sincere. The point is that a lot of them are, and they are making things happen for them in this world.
I agree that Jesus is our ultimate example! I will and do use Him as an example often. This is exactly one reason why I believe I am justified in using this example of our Muslim friends, however. In a very similar situation, Jesus used heathen nations as an example to the Israelites, saying that they would condemn them because they were being wiser than God’s own people (cf. Matthew 12:41ff). Sometimes some people from other religions put us to shame, and it does us good sometimes to reflect upon how that reflects upon us–as Jesus made the Jews to reflect in this example.
Again, thank you for your comment! 🙂
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Reblogged this on Leo Woodman and commented:
Some things to consider.
Really appreciate you sharing this blog article. Much obliged.