Below is a letter that I wrote to my uncle in March of 2008 after he visited for a few short days and returned to his home in Stockholm Sweden. My uncle was the first family member I told after I became a Christian. He comes from a Muslim background, as I do, and has strong post-modern views rooted in the familiar mantra of relativism and humanist views focused on being “good” while on earth. We had several intense conversations related to absolute truth and Christ being the only path to salvation. He had clear views on all religions being equal yet different paths and Christianity’s exclusive claim to salvation having a tone of arrogance. I thought I would share this letter with all of you and perhaps it may help in your evangelistic dialogues with others…
I write this email just after you have left our house and hopefully successfully made it onto your plane for Ottawa. The reason I write this email now is to express my gratitude and love for you and your cause.
Without question, I understand and value and appreciate the efforts you made this weekend and the intention that was seeded in you across the ocean to come to help my family – your family and your sister. This IS love and it is ALWAYS felt – love is a unique characteristic because it can never be overcome with darkness.. Love never fails. Below is a famous passage from the Bible that describes love (you can check it to ensure it matches your version… I assure you it does ;))
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a)
I only hope and pray that the seeds you have sown this weekend continue to grow in our family and break down some of the barriers that exist. Your wisdom, patience, compassion, focus and passion were tangibly witnessed this weekend and for the cause of family – so thank you from the bottom of my heart and the deepest appreciation of my mind.
On another note, I would like to share only a few thoughts as to the primary content of our discussion this weekend. You may chalk up my focus on Faith to “child-like zeal” or to “unnecessary devotion” but I’d like to explain something that I often miss when I get wrapped up in the discussion (a fault I try to correct) – I am compelled within me to share the Love of Christ. Simply for the fact that I love God and love you and my fellow man. I know you have done your studies. I know you have age. I know you have experience and I know you have thoughts. I do not pass judgment on these as this is God’s dominion. However, I must share. It is out of love that I share and out of Truth that I submit the message and out of hope that I express my zeal.
You stated my description of my conversion may be similar to Muhammad Ali and I would hazard to guess there may be similarities and differences – you of all people would know nuance is important as well as true unbiased understanding. Christianity is not a religion – it is a revelation. “Semantics only” you may say, but I truly see that we must understand Jesus as He is and not look to “Christianity”. Christianity is as fallible as anyone else as it is a composition of fallen humans who define some components that often may be made akin to the faith itself. To do something in the name of someone or some cause is irrelevant and sadly destructive to the message but that is the convenient respite for those who do not wish to seek the Truth in sincerity. I would implore you to begin your studies in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) on the odd occasion you can pick up the Bible. I would unquestionably share this revelation is about a God who personally loves you and who wishes to have a bond as close as He does with His prophets and people (as you have read and may continue to read the Bible). He wishes to have this personal relationship with you because He loves you. The central message of the Gospel and the point I miss often, as I get caught up in addressing the tangent issues, remains that – we are sinners (Romans 3:23) and Christ died for us that we may have life (eternal) (John 3:16) and the union begins now – on this Earth.
As you were compelled to focus time and discussion on my family and more specifically my parents relationship because you care and value the family structure, I am compelled to share in the limited time I have with you and take advantage of the open door to share with my family inclusive of yourself. It is a matter of life and death for all eternity and for this reason I must share – as I do love.
Lastly, it may seem arrogance is at the root of my arguments or it may seem I fail from the typical “20ish year-old syndrome” who thinks he knows things and will learn later things he doesn’t – as I know you have uttered this phrase years ago and even this weekend. I also know many people will see Christianity as a faith that tells people they are wrong. But may I submit that I see us as the most humble faith… why?
We did NOT conquer by the sword. We do NOT believe we are inherently good. We do NOT believe we can earn salvation. We do NOT believe we can be gods. We do NOT believe we are the most important things in this universe (able to transcend it all in substance or form). We do NOT believe we have the solution within a higher self.
Christ was a message of Love not of caravan thievery nor military might (however atrocities were/will be committed in the “name of God”). We submit that we are sinners. We submit we are helpless. We submit we are mere humans without god (or god-like) potential. We submit God is Master but most amazingly also calls us “friend” (John 15:15). We submit we are wicked inside and need a Saviour and that is the ONLY way.
The greatest Love is Christ. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Christ came down in human form (imagine that the God of all) and for what? To be insulted, spat upon, disbelieved, tormented, ridiculed, suffer, die and for what cause? For us to be reconciled to Him in love through His death and resurrection and His message today. He is alive and His Spirit is ever present. I know God loves me. I feel it. I know it. And He has given me sufficient evidence for an intelligent and informed Faith.
That is a humble faith. That is a humble view of humanity. That is a humble God. That is a humble view of our eternity and how to enter it. That is a humble view of ourselves. We are sinners. We cannot earn it. He gives us a gift of Grace.
With love I share this. With love I write this. With love I communicate as you came to share with my family on a mission this weekend I feel I was urged within to share with you now.
I thank you again for coming this weekend. I thank you again for your love and care for my family and my mother and I. I thank you for reading my email and giving me due respect. I only pray that as you dispense advice and wisdom you remain true to the Socratic mantra “a wise man knows that he knows nothing…” and keep that door of interest open. Honestly seek and ye shall find. Honestly ask and ye shall find answer. (Matthew 7:7-11)