Many obstacles stand in the way of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus—theological confusion and the cost of conversion being two of the most daunting. And of course the most common reason why Muslims are not coming to Christ is that most have simply never heard the gospel.
That said, there is a set of misconceptions that most Muslims have about Christians that keep them from even considering the gospel. During the two years I spent serving in a conservative Muslim country, here are two I encountered frequently:
1. Christianity is morally corrupt.
MTV was huge in the part of the world I lived. Western music videos frequently featured rap stars or scantily clad women wearing crosses. My Muslim friends assumed, naturally enough, that these were Christians and that their behavior was typical of Christians.
I was once even asked by one of my friends, a Muslim college student, if I would throw her a “Christian” birthday party. When I asked what she meant, she replied that she wanted a party with a lot of booze and racy dancing, just like she had seen on television. Misunderstandings like hers, sadly, are the norm and not the exception.
Many Muslims will not even consider the gospel because they know (correctly) that such behavior is offensive to God. You can leverage this for your advantage, though. When Muslims find out you are not that way, they will want to know what makes you different. This is your opportunity to explain to them what a living faith in Christ is all about.
2. “The West” and “The Church” are synonymous.
“Separation of church and state” is part of the cultural fabric of Westerners. Muslims, however, do not understand such a distinction. Islam is, in its very nature, a political entity, replete with numerous societal codes. There is no parallel Muslim concept of the “separation of mosque and state.” So when Muslims look at Western nations like the USA, Germany, France, or the UK, they see “Christian countries.” Our presidents are assumed to be Christian leaders, and our political policies are assumed to be reflective of church policy. What the US does, the Church does. I was once asked, for instance, why “the Church” bombed Iraq.
To engage Muslims with the gospel, you must delineate these two entities. And you’ll probably have to, in many situations, put your patriotism aside. If you want to be an advocate for American policies, you likely will not gain much of an audience for the gospel. There is a place for discussion of both, but we each have only enough bandwidth to represent a certain number of issues, and to me (as a representative of the church) it is simply not worth it to sacrifice a gospel platform for the sake of defending American political decisions. I was recently told by a Turkish Muslim that “all of the problems in the world are caused by America.” Do I agree with him? No. But is this where I want to stand my ground? No. For the sake of the gospel, our patriotism must die when we serve in Muslim countries.