Murphy’s Law overtook my computer this week. Talk about stress rising. It’s times like this that I’m thankful for one critical difference between Christianity and Islam. Taking the three prescribed deep breaths to slow my heart rate, I clicked through to the words of my Friend:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Sound like some eastern religious leader who’s got the whole world in His hands? A guy who can cure even computer blues?
Leader from the Middle-East
As a matter of fact, He ministered to thousands on the hillsides–not in the Orient but Middle East. Even in the 21st Century, He has the whole world in His hands. While I have no doubt my Friend could take hold of my recalcitrant pile of plastic, metal and hard-drive to knock it into submission, I’ve discovered He prefers instead to work on my response to the inanimate object.
Our lives are full of stresses of all kinds. Learning to respond with peace greatly lessens the strain on the body, mind, and emotions. In the Bible, the Lord often speaks of peace within us, not just between two people or countries. Peace is immensely important to God. He wants us to learn to live with a deep, abiding sense of peace.
Peace and forgiveness
My Muslim friends have no such directive. Mohamed recorded the 114 chapters in the Quran, but not one single verse mentions peace.
While my friend can be assured he’ll be held accountable for his sins, Mohamed has made no provision for relief from that burden. Only when my Muslim friend dies will he know if Allah forgave him.
According to articles in the professional journals, the weight of unforgiveness causes major stress in the human body. The experts present long lists of physical diseases, as well as emotional and mental illnesses that have their origins in unforgiveness. How grateful I am that the Lord made provision to relieve the weight of unforgiveness.
The one critical difference between Christianity and Islam is Jesus, the Son of God. To my Muslim friend, Jesus lived a pious life as a prophet who did many miracles—nothing more. To him, Jesus has neither the power to give him peace, nor the authority to offer him forgiveness, because Jesus was just a man.
Jesus didn’t begin a religion. Instead, Jesus left Heaven to walk with human beings on earth to bridge the gap sin made way back in that game-changing event in the Garden of Eden. Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit had a plan to restore the broken relationship sin created.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth because He loved us so much and wanted the relationship restored. Jesus suffered and died the horrendous death on a cross to be the sinless sacrifice for all of us. His resurrection completed his earthly mission. Now, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to draw us into the truth that will bring each of us to the cross.
Not to our own cross, but to the cross of Jesus. At the foot of that cross, we lay our burden of guilt down, ask Jesus to forgive us, and invite Him to be Lord of our life. At that moment, the peace of Jesus’ forgiveness fills us to overflowing. However, it’s just the beginning.
Take My yoke
When the burdens of the world, or glitches of our computers, press in to rob us of that peace that passes understanding, we need only to remember to lay it all down and walk away with Him, as my Friend reminded us in the quotation above. Perhaps, you’re familiar with the wording recorded in the New International Version of the Bible, more than the one above from The Message version.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
As you look at the yoke joining the two oxen, imagine yourself on one side and Jesus on the other. The picture is one of hope. You’re not carrying the load alone. The Lord knows your burden and is willing to help you carry it. Just the thought makes the burden lighter.
How I long for all of my Muslim friends to know that this one critical difference between Christianity and Islam isn’t a myth. Jesus really is the Son of God. His peace and His forgiveness are available to them if only they’d believe.
I’ve been learning to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace for forty-seven years. Just when I think I’m making progress, my computer shows me there’s still more work to do. No problem. I’m not walking the path alone; I’m hitched to the yoke and just need to take a step back.
How about you? Any suggestions or experiences you’d like to share about your own journey along this path?