A lesson from Haji

Haji, a practising Muslim from Zanzibar, came to stay at my place for a month a few years ago.  We had a super time sightseeing, eating, laughing, biting shopping malls (yes , I know its seems unbelievable!)  and enjoying Cape Town. Yet, often times we had to cut our trip short in order for Haji to get back to the house in time to ceremonially wash and recite the prayers.  Haji is a moral, honest, upright man who is seeking to live the best life possible to please Allah.  Haji’s worldview says, “I perform, in order to be accepted”.

 The gospel according to Jesus found in the Bible is totally opposite.  The gospel says, “I’m accepted, therefore I perform”.  We see this truth clearly in Mark 2:14 when Jesus calls a “sinner” to become a disciple.  The account reads:

As he (Jesus) walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

 Levi was a Jew who worked for the revenue service of the Romans.  We as ostracized hated and excluded.  He was not good, nor religious, nor upright.  Yet Jesus calls him to follow.  Levi followed.  He became known as Matthew and had a profound influence on generations of Christians through the book he authored (The Gospel of Matthew). He was accepted by Jesus, therefore he performed and obeyed and changed. 

 Haji’s religion (and all religion) says “You need to perform to be accepted”.  The Bible tells us to admit we can never perform enough to be accepted by God, but rather to confess our wrongs and sins, and to accept what Jesus has done for us.

 Do you constantly feel guilty that you are never performing quite enough?  Not praying enough? Not witnessing enough? Not working enough? Not preaching enough?  Perhaps you need to remind yourself of the gospel of Jesus.