Provocative Submission: The Lure of Islam

Posted: December 31, 2008 in Provocative Bible Verses, Theology thoughts
Tags: , , , , , ,

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Hebrews 12:9

Any discussion about a life of submission in the 21st century has to take into account the growing popularity of Islam. The reason is simply this, the word Islam is derived from the Arabic word “salema”. The common meaning of the word is “submission”. Ultimately it is about submission to Allah who is the supreme deity in Islam. An oft-quoted phrase among Muslims is “insh’Allah”, which translates to “if God wills”. It is indicative of a mindset of submission to God in all things. If tragedy strikes, “insh’Allah”. If something wonderful happens, “insh’Allah”. If your plans are changed due to circumstances out of your control, “insh’Allah”. All of life is seen as being subject to the will of Allah.  

But, like any oft-repeated phrase, especially religious ones, insh’Allah can become a meaningless mantra. For Christians The Lord’s Prayer or even saying “God bless you” after a sneeze come to mind as common examples of phrases with powerful meaning that has been lost in the repetition. One only needs to hear a football team rush through the Lord’s Prayer after a victory, or a congregation say it in a mind-numbing monotone to know what I mean.

Yet in spite of the fact that there are times when such phrases are meaningless because of our human tendency to be shallow and glib, there is still power in such phrases. When they come from the heart, when they express our deepest longing or highest dreams, they become powerful symbols of reality. In some way they even serve to turn those dreams into reality. To pray with all your heart to the Lord that He “forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us” is to in some way bring reality to the prayer. You can’t pray that prayer from your heart and not be in some way changed by it into a more forgiving person. When the mouth speaks from the heart, the heart is in turn made more like the thing spoken.

So when a Muslim says, “If God wills” and does so from the heart, he is saying that he is completely and totally dependent on Allah for all things. It means that his own will as a human being is of no real consequence and the only path to peace in life is to submit to the will of Allah. It is an amazing statement when viewed alongside a western, post-enlightenment mindset, that holds individual freedom and self-determination to be among the most important of all human rights.

That Enlightenment mindset, that has so powerfully influenced Western Christianity, rejects any notion that we should submit ourselves to anyone or anything, even God. It is in part why I think so many are comfortable with a nebulous belief in some unknown supreme being who is out there somewhere. By holding to such a belief it is possible to still claim to believe in God but yet have no need to respond to or certainly not submit to Him. The Deists of the Enlightenment saw God as something of a great watch maker who made the world, wound it up, and then let it run on it’s own. That kind of philosophy has man at the pinnacle and the real power in the world, with no need to submit to God.

A Biblical worldview, certainly as it relates to submission to God, is far closer to the Muslim idea of insh’ Allah than it is to the philosophy of the Enlightenment. The previously mentioned Lord’s Prayer is probably the clearest example of this truth. Jesus said that we are to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Jesus echoed this in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was faced with his impending death on the cross and asked if possible that there be some other way, some other cup to drink from. But in true submission to the Father be prayed, “Never the less, not my will, but Thy will be done”.

For some this sounds like a defeatist’s path. It is the path of one who has given up and has no hope. It sounds like the choice of the weak and faint of heart and a choice in which one has resigned oneself to pain and suffering for no reason. If however, we truly understand that our God loves us enough to send Jesus to the Cross and we understand that our God is in fact all wise and the sovereign King of all Creation, then whatever He decrees is in fact the best for us. Instead of us resigning ourselves to His will in an attitude of defeat or depression, we need to embrace His will and the freedom it gives us.

That freedom may just be lure of Islam that Christians must understand. It is something we can have in reality and not in the false way of Islam. There is an amazing comfort that comes when we embrace the fact that our God is sovereign and that our path is to submit to Him. It means that when things are going well we can rejoice and delight in knowing that our God is blessing us by His grace. When things are going badly from our perspective, then it means that we can rest in the comfort of knowing that even though we cannot see or fully understand, we have a God who loves us beyond measure. He is a God who does not abandon us but orders our steps for His purposes and glory. That is true freedom.

Comments
  1. Adele Wolfaardt says:

    I think if we understand something about ‘Lordship’ and devotion, the world will look totally different. I would like to quote a man who worked most of his life under the persecuted church: He worked himself into a group of radical Islamists, and on one of those meetings the group discussed the term ‘revolutionist’. Their conclusion was:’A revolutionist is somebody who realizes the world has fallen away from God, and will do anything to get it back.” He said he almost uttered an amen, but that would have blown his cover!
    Another man who was part of the first group of Hesbullah said to us:’If only you realize what Jesus has done for you, you will not be silent’
    We must pray that the Living Word will be so part of us, that devotion and obedience to the Word will be the way to live. Not like a house built on sand……here the one minute, gone the next…

  2. Sue Bohlin says:

    Dan, you have nailed the core issue that determines one’s view of submission: if it is based on the awareness of being loved, then it brings joy and freedom; if it is based on fear, then it is constrictive and seeded with the desire to revolt, eventually.

    I think of submission like boarding a cruise ship. For me, a self-avowed “cruise queen,” it is the first step to a week of joy and delight as I rest in the captain’s steering over deep waters to ports where adventures and memories await. I submit to another’s direction when I board a cruise ship.

    But for others, such as those rendered homeless by Katrina and invited to find shelter on cruise ships docked in New Orleans, their fear of water and thus of ships made their blood run cold.

    With submission, as with everything else, perspective is everything.

  3. poetreearborist says:

    You had me until, “It is something we can have in reality and not in the false way of Islam.”

    There is only one God. How is that false?

  4. Dan Lacich says:

    Rachael,
    You are correct that there is only one God. As a Christian, my understanding of God must include Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh. A Muslim does not see Jesus as being divine in any way. He is a prophet to them and not God incarnate. That means at the very least that they have a false understanding of who God is. Submission to the god if Islam is not about finding freedom in the submission. It is more about being resigned to the inevitable. Submission to Jesus Christ as God is a freedom to be all that He has designed us to be. It is about being in a relationship of loving trust that what he calls us to and what he wants us to submit to is out of love for us.
    Many people think that Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all worship the same God. But it is Jesus who makes all the difference in that. If Jesus is the God he so clearly claimed to be, and Muslims say he is not. Then we can not be worshiping the same God.
    I look forward to hearing from you again and continuing the discussion
    Dan

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