By Robert Johnson
Most of us are probably familiar with the statistics about Islam’s growth rate being higher than that of Christianity. Over the last century, Muslims have increased from 12 percent to 21 percent of the global population. This is not to say, however, that there are not those who leave Islam to convert to “Christianity” (using the term in the general sense, not necessarily New Testament Christianity). Between 1991 and 2007, Muslims who have converted filled out a questionnaire on why they left Islam for Christianity. The respondents came from 30 countries and 50 ethnic groups, and represent every major region of the Muslim world.
Most interesting in this survey was the question as to the most important influence in their decision to change. They ranked “the lifestyle of Christians” as the most important influence. Specific examples included an Egyptian contrasting the love of a “Christian group” with the unloving treatment of Muslims among themselves. Others noted loving “Christian” marriages. Many Muslims who faced violence at the hands of other Muslims did not see it in the “Christians” they knew. Such examples obviously had a positive impact on them.
This just reinforces to me that the most powerful tool we have in evangelizing is the Gospel at work in our personal lives. Those of us who possess the truth of the Gospel must live by the truth of the Gospel if we’re to impact those with whom we live and interact on a regular basis. Jesus emphasized this in the Sermon on the Mount, when He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ). His words to the apostles are clear as well. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Certainly people must hear the truth of the Gospel if they are to know what they are to do to be saved and to live the Christian life. Jesus clearly said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). We must be willing to communicate the Gospel to others that they may know God’s truth. However, the opportunity to do that may be set in advance by how we live by the Gospel, a consistent example of those principles that we preach. We can set the right example both consciously and unconsciously. When we deliberately help our neighbor with a need he may have, that is a good testimony of the Gospel at work in us. Further, so is them seeing us consistently leaving every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening to worship our God and fellowship our brothers and sisters in Christ. Inviting them to services is making use of an opportunity, but so is using only pure and wholesome speech around them as well. If they don’t see any difference between our lifestyles and theirs, why would they be attracted to the Gospel? They haven’t seen the Gospel from us under those circumstances.
We interact with people daily who have yet to learn the truth of the Gospel and respond in obedience to eternal life. What do they learn from us about the Gospel? If we make the profession to be New Testament Christians, we should live as New Testament Christians. People obviously are watching, and our influence has the power to attract or detract. Which is it for you? “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).