I am writing in response to a letter from Ahmed Abdelmageed. (“A Muslim's wish for Christmas,” Dec. 21). It was a well-written note with a worthy call for Christians to act like they are Christians.
My note is to invite him to go further. He calls Jesus, “a figure who is loved and revered in Islam.” This is interesting and, when compared to the Bible, calls the question of why there would be a prophet after Jesus. Jesus himself stated in the book of John, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” To love Jesus is to give him first place above all else and all others. In the book of Luke, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus demands, and deserves, total devotion. That devotion is to him, not to someone he simply represents.
Abdelmageed also stated, “Jesus (peace be upon him) was a rebel.” In ways, yes. In standing against man-made religiosity, yes. In working to change the hearts of the Jewish priesthood who had become bound in their own traditions to the loss of knowing God, yes.
But, in relation to who God is (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and how he has revealed himself (in the law of Moses, through Christ himself and now through the Holy Spirit within believers), an assertive “no.” He completely obeyed and personified the Law of Moses. Because he was God in the flesh, he was able to totally fulfill that law, relieving us of the burden of trying to earn our way to eternal life via our own good works.
Jesus' own claims were of divinity. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” “I and the Father are one.” The Jews recognized his claims to deity, as they sought to stone him on more than one occasion and, eventually, used his claim as the reason (blasphemy) to condemn him to death. Being God incarnate would preclude any need of further revelation of God to humanity.
Neither Mohammed nor Joseph Smith nor Sun Myung Moon or any other self-proclaimed prophet since Jesus' time should ever be considered as a greater authority, nor to be able to add any further truth about God to humankind.
Jesus does, indeed, help us find our way. But, more than that, he is the way and through the Holy Spirit enables us to walk in his way. Sadly, many Christians do miss his commands to love and respect those who will disagree with his Gospel. Christians who truly know Christ should respond to Muslims (and all others outside the faith) without fear or threats or verbal attacks or worse, but rather with an open, continual invitation to “complete” your love for Christ by recognizing him as God in the flesh, to take to heart the very focal point of Christmas – inviting him to move into your heart and receive the full assurance of eternal life totally and exclusively via his sacrifice and love for you.