FAITH AND DOUBT – PART 3

Abdu Murray was Muslim – a very serious Muslim.  His story really impacted me last year. It impressed me that people were willing to go years looking for Truth. Why wouldn’t I do the same? It took Abdu nine years – nine years – to investigate the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views. Abdu became Christian.

I was a Christian! Yet, here I was doubting. I have heard testimonies of people becoming Christians because the evidence for Christianity compelled them. What was that about? I just had to know. I was about to jump ship on Jesus. Being honest, I never had the conviction in my heart of Mohammad being a prophet. And all due respect to Islam, I don’t think there is anything new or anything kinder or gentler or more compassionate in Islam’s teachings than what I had already learned from Jesus.

If I almost left Christianity, it wasn’t because I thought Islam was true. I almost left Christianity because I didn’t know how to handle my doubts. Not knowing what the TRUTH was consumed me day and night.

In all equality, I also heard many testimonies of Christians becoming Muslims. You know what, tough? It was never the evidence for Islam what made these people accept Islam. They always left Christianity – at least the people I watched – because no one was able to answer their questions. They never understood The Trinity, or they were sick of the hypocrisy in the Christian world.

There are thousands of people who leave Islam and join Christianity and vice versa. I know the videos I watched are not representative of the whole picture. But for me, DOUBT was definitely important to deal with. I think it should be addressed when talking about Christian Faith.

If you are not a believer in anything, you deal with doubt all the time. But even Christians, we have doubts, too.  We doubt because of our circumstances, and I think that is a very human thing we do. God has answered my prayers many times. I have logs full of answered prayers. And last year in India, when I looked at them, I was almost cynical about it.

After eight years, I looked at those journals, and I doubted that those answers had actually come from God. Or maybe it had been God – but not Jesus. You have to understand where I am coming from. I was confronted with Islam on a regular basis, so almost all my doubts had to do with Jesus not answering my prayers. Or Jesus not being God. Or Jesus not claiming divinity. Or the New Testament being corrupted. Or Jesus not dying on the cross. I am talking Muslim-Christian apologetics.

So as I was listening to Rich Nathan’s series on Faith – Heroic Faith – I felt somehow able to breath. It was okay to have doubts. And I also heard Abdu’s podcast. Both were saying the same thing. They were talking about Richard Dawkins, and how blind faith is something Christians SHOULD NOT practice. They were also saying that Faith in something in the face of contradictory evidence, or even in the face of NO evidence at all, is absolutely UNBIBLICAL.

But the Faith encouraged in the Bible is the active action of TRUST based on evidence. We exercise this on a regular basis, we just don’t think about it anymore. We get on a car and we trust the brakes will work – because they have always worked. We trusted our lives on that car – because of previous evidence.

Cars don’t just explode on ignition and brakes don’t fail out of the blue. They might fail. Sure. Did I have CERTAINTY? No. I had Faith on that car because I have taken a ride for thousands of times, and it has never exploded. I trusted the evidence I had available.

WHAT IS DOUBT?

Doubt is NOT a dirty word. According to Murray, there are a lot of solid followers of Jesus who have doubts. Doubt is not a bad thing if it drives you to sincere search. In the Bible, Jesus never says not to question Him. Actually, Hebrews 11:6 teaches that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Jesus helped those who sincerely confessed their unbelief to Him. He never drew them away.

Murray encourages asking questions, and he sees that this is a challenge that the Church is facing. Some people have doubts, but they never ask questions mainly because doubt is often seen as a bad thing. When a teenager asks a question, Murray says, sometimes he doesn’t ask his parents. And it is not because the question doesn’t have an answer, but because of the parents’ unwillingness to be questioned about it. Or sometimes, the parents themselves do not know the answer.

Inquisitive minds sometimes cannot settle for “The Bible says it. I believe it, and that settles it for me”. So it was refreshing for me to know that asking the tough questions was perfectly fine.

My heart was set on really finding God so I had peace about it. Sincerity is proven by our willingness to be proven wrong.  I was well aware that The Gospel could be false, but it could also be true. Sincerity is determined by our willingness to go where the evidence points. I had to be willing to accept that to say that all religious traditions believe basically the same thing, or that to say that our differences don’t matter was insulting for those faiths and for me.

If I agreed to say that all paths lead ultimately to God, what I was really saying was that my choices don’t really matter. But real choice emerges only when the options have consequences. Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a choice.


I wish I had your faith. You seem to have a peace about you, a confidence regarding the future. You don’t worry the way I do about everything. I wish I had your faith. But I really struggle with faith. I have lots of doubts. I still have lots of questions about God or about Christianity…

What does Faith feel like?


I was so sure about many things, and then I wasn’t sure about anything. Rich Nathan, tough, continued in the series saying that most folks believe that Faith is something you either have or your don’t have.

But in Hebrews 11:23-28, we find that Faith is a choice. It is a decision regarding how we’re going to look at life based on the clues that God has given us. Again, Faith is based on the evidence. Moses chose to be mistreated. People saw things at a distance. Faith feels like a choice to see and not look away. Faith and Truth are more than a feeling.

So it is okay to doubt… I was happy about this. I seriously was. Doubting did not mean I did not have Faith. My Faith was based on the exercise of my will. My choice.

And I was in good company. Jesus’ followers where doubters all the way until the Resurrection. They didn’t even know who He really was. And that is something that skeptics seem to dislike about Jesus’ disciples. They render as shameful the fact that Jesus’ closest friends did not really understand Jesus’ purpose. For a historian, however, that is called Principle of Embarrassment. It is very likely that an event who might embarrass the author is true. So the eyewitnesses writing these gospels were very likely telling the truth.

John The Baptist was a doubter himself. When he was in jail, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah. John was thinking maybe he had the wrong guy. And this is John the Baptist. The one who was prophesied by Isaiah about making straight paths for the Lord. This is John, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth found out that Mary was pregnant. This John is doubting whether or not Jesus is the Expected One.

And what did Jesus do? He NEVER calls John out on his doubts. Jesus actually heals more people right there in front of John’s disciples. He gives them more evidence so that they can go and tell John!


John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ In that hour He [Jesus] healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And He [Jesus] answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Luke 7:21-23


That was Jesus’ gentle answer. He eased John’s doubts.

Every one of us has different doubts. When we ask God with a sincere heart, He will always guide us. So as followers of Jesus, we deal with doubt by asking sincere questions. But the attitude in our hearts when we ask those questions is also very important.

Why are we asking? Do we really want answers or are we asking just for kicks? Last year, there came a time when I was just so used to question Islam and Christianity that I kind of became a cynic. I began questioning just for the sake of questioning. I was praying, and my prayers were being answered during my season of doubting.

But as soon as my prayers were answered, I kept on questioning whether or not it had only been a coincidence. I was almost demanding God to perform for me. I knew I had to stop. I repented from my cynical approach, and I made a choice based on the evidence I had recollected for and against Christianity during my year in India.

My Faith is stronger. My Faith is very well placed. I am so thankful that my God never let go of me during those difficult times. I am thankful for my Savior who died for me. I am thankful that the information was available to me because it helped me recommit my life to Christ. I want to make the information available to people who might need it 🙂


Who is the King of the Jungle? Who is the King of the Sea? Who is the King of the Planets? J-E-S-U-S!

– My sweet daughter


Sources:

FAITH AND DOUBT – PART 1

A mom has a son who is asking if Christianity is true. This is a real mom I interact with, by the way. How can he trust the Bible? How do we know it is true? What if our faith is in vain? What if somebody made it all up?

All these questions are flooding her son’s mind because he has lots of friends challenging him at school. I do not have anything AGAINST these teenagers. I think it’s awesome they ask though questions. I recently discovered that when you look for answers, you find them. I am honestly all pumped when I write and when I read books, because I know that my children will ask me those questions. I want to be ready to give them answers for the reason why I believe what I believe.


“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

1 Peter 3:15


I have failed at being gentle and respectful. I know I have. I have asked God to forgive me, and also the people I wronged. That being said, disagreeing with people over faith issues is inevitable. I want to challenge my children to look for TRUTH. I myself don’t want to be lukewarm saying, “Well… this is my truth, then you have your truth, and all of us are right – somehow”

I don’t believe in Relativism.


Truth is true – even if no one knows it
Truth is true – even if no one admits it
Truth is true – even if no one agrees what it is
Truth is true – even if no one follows it
Truth is true – even if no one but God grasps it fully


I want to encourage my children to ask God to guide them when looking for Truth, because when your heart is set on finding Him, then He will show you who He is – guaranteed.

So I am writing this post for this teenager struggling, for myself, for my children, and for all the people who struggle or have struggled, or who will struggle with the concept of Christian Faith. All the credit goes to Rich Nathan, and Abdu Murray. I am just here to share what I have learned from them, and interpolate my own experiences.

I hope somebody finds this useful in their own spiritual journey. I encourage you to listen to the resources I provide at the end of this post.

WHAT IS FAITH?

You might be interested to know that there a lot of writers and thinkers who call themselves the “New Atheists”. One of the core New Atheist assertion that is repeated endlessly is Richard Dawkins’ statement that Faith is blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.

For Dawkins, Faith is a kind of mental illness. Dawkins and others rail against Faith because whereas the New Atheists prove their convictions with reason, religious people live in a fantasy world totally disconnected from reality. As Richard Dawkins puts it, Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.

And so the New Atheists love to talk about blind faith or something taken on faith or a leap of faith. What they mean is that people who have Faith are acting and believing without sufficient justification. People’s beliefs that are not supported by facts or logic. People embracing ideas despite an absence of evidence or proof.

I was definitely in this category.

For the most part of my experience as a Christian, I relied on reading my Bible and I never questioned its authenticity. So it wasn’t until my friends challenged me on the reliability of the Bible that I actually began asking the same kind of questions my friend’s teenager is asking.


What if the Bible is actually corrupted? What if I have blind faith? What if Jesus never died? Is that possible at all? Was I misguided into Christianity? What if I chose Christianity because I was never exposed to other religions? What is Faith?


So when I began having all these reasonable questions – that undoubtedly come when your faith is challenged – I felt awful. I felt guilty, and I felt like I was not supposed to doubt. I had no idea what to do. I wish I had had the “guts” to say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me”.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to know more.  In the next post I will address what Biblical Faith really is 🙂

Sources:

Muslim-Christian Dialogue

Ever since I began learning about Islam, Judaism, and more about Christianity, I have really enjoyed watching debates. There’s something thrilling – for me, anyway- about cheering for your faith, while at the same time, being ready to take everything that is being said against your faith.

I think that has been a challenge for me. I had never heard such things against the reliability of the New Testament or whether Jesus never really died. It never crossed my mind that the apostle Paul might have invented Christianity or that Jesus was only a man – but not God Himself. Did I even understand The Trinity?

The easiest thing for me to do would have been to shut my eyes, cover my ears, and pretend to live in la-la-land where Christianity is perfect. I could have ignored all those debates, but I figured that if Christianity was true, then it would have to stand on its own. That’s why I decided to study other claims, and give those claims a chance to stand on their own.

The information you learn from watching a single debate is unbelievable. You come to appreciate the people debating, and you also grow to respect them. The more debates you watch, the more you know the arguments for and against your faith. In Muslim-Christian apologetics it almost seems that the arguments don’t change with time. But generations do change. I did not know about these things, and I find them amazing. My mind works like that anyway. I need to read, and research and go deep – very deep – into many things at a time. That’s why I am passionate about learning.

I never did that with Christianity. I never thought it through. I just took it in faith, and I think that was awesome!

But now, to think that the more I learn, and the more I read, and the more debates I watch, the more confident I become that I have placed my faith in the right place… it just doesn’t get better than that. The object of my faith is not the evidence. But the evidence confirms my choice over and over and over again.

That being said, there were several LIVE debates last week, and the world came to an end in my household. I just wanted to share them with you. I seriously think that if you see them all, you might feel your brain exploding, but you will learn A LOT of information. That’s one key to apologetics I believe: Keep learning 🙂


My dad used to tell me, ‘Son, if you are gonna walk on thin ice, you might as well dance’. With this Wood family wisdom in mind, I say to my friend Shabir, ‘Let’s dance’.

David Wood


David Wood vs Shabir Ally

  1. Is Jesus the Son of God?
  2. Was  Jesus a prophet of Islam?
  3. Does Paul give us the truth about Jesus?
  4. Does Mohammad give us the truth about Jesus?
  5. Is the Quran a book of peace?
  6. Is the Bible a book of peace?

The Leftovers – Part 1

In Mark 6:30, you have the disciples gathering around Jesus and reporting Him all that they had done and taught as He had commanded them to do. They had been busy preaching to people that they should repent. They had been driving out demons and healing the sick (Mark 6:6-13). They were so busy they couldn’t eat so Jesus tells them to go to a solitary place with Him to rest. But many people saw them, recognized them, and began following them by foot. In ancient times only the men were counted, so theologians and historians argue that including women and children, the multitude must have been around 15,000 people.

Matthew actually mentions that there were five thousand men, besides women and children. The Greek in Matthew’s word for children is παιδίον which denotes a little one, a young infant or at least a child younger than seven years old. Oh, boy… I can only picture myself 3 years ago, tagging along my 17 month-old daughter while I carried my newborn son in my arms, because we needed to go grocery shopping.

Can you picture that? Thousands of people running after Jesus because they want to hear Him talk. When Jesus saw the big crowd, He felt moved. He felt compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and so He began to teach them many things.


INTERESTING FACT: Sheep have a natural tendency to wander off and get lost. When sheep go astray, they are in danger of getting lost, being attacked, even killing themselves by drowning or falling off cliffs following one another. Sheep are very slow animals who cannot escape predators, are easily frightened and become easily confused. Shepherds in Bible times faced incredible dangers in caring for their sheep, putting their own lives at risk by battling wild animals such as wolves and lions who threatened the flock. David [Dawood] was just such a shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34–35).


But it was already late. Who knows how long Jesus had been preaching already, and the disciples were hungry. We know they were hungry because the text said they did not have a chance to eat (Mark 6:31). I can relate to this. Sometimes my Muslims and I talk so long about the Quran or any of these things, that I have to look at the clock to see if it’s time for my husband to come pick me up at their place. Other times, when I start talking about Jesus, my mouth never stops. My Muslimah even makes fun of me when I say, “Long story short…“, because it is never short once I start talking.

I am not Jesus, and I can talk for hours. Could you imagine Jesus’ teaching moments? I’m sure they lasted for a long time. So the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to release the people since it is already very late.

“You know, Jesus, you’ve been preaching for hours, and we are hungry. So just stop talking, tell the people to go toἀγοράζω [literally the market place] to buy something to eat” 

To which Jesus responds, “You give them something to eat”. The disciples actually think Jesus is telling them to go to the market place to buy food. But Jesus didn’t mean that. And probably this is where Muslims all around the world might have different opinions, but Christine Caine‘s interpretation of the passage really spoke to me.

Christine says that the fact that Jesus gave them that instruction is very interesting. Sometimes when we pray, Jesus tells us we are the answer to our prayer. We don’t really realize that sometimes – not always –  we are the ones supposed to do something about our circumstances. God, I am confused. You do something about it. But God, there are so many people and they are hungry. You do something about it. But God, what about Islam? You do something about it. Sometimes we turn to God, and all we say is I can’t. 

In verse 37, they told Jesus they couldn’t feed the crowd, that it would take two hundred denarii to feed them all. But Jesus never asked them how much money it would take to feed them. Jesus’ instruction could not have been clearer: You feed them. It was a directive, not a discussion on their ability to do it.

Sometimes God gives me a directive and I question my ability to make it happen. But God, I’m busy with my children. But God, I am not very eloquent. But God, it’s not convenient… But when I do that what I am actually saying is that my limitations are greater than God’s supernatural ability to do something awesome through my life. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus ignored the disciples’ excuses. In verse 38, He asked them, “How many loaves do YOU have?”

Jesus clearly taught that the ingredients for a miracle are always in our midst. But God cannot multiply what we don’t recognize. We look at what we don’t have, but God already knows that. It’s like I want the harvest without sowing the seed. But within the seed lies the potential for the harvest. I don’t see the potential come to pass because I never sow it to begin with. Right now I feel God is asking me, “How many loaves do YOU have?”

What if this blog is something like that? I am really bad at many things. I suck at organization. My computer is a mess, dirty spots everywhere. My children are sure to get PB&J’s on a regular basis. I wish I were better at homemade. Oh, boy… but I can talk. A LOT. And I can write. Surprisingly, I am being able to organize my scattered, clumsy brain when I write in here.

God is awesome.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The leftovers – Introduction

I think I have been investing so much of my time learning about Islam, that I have tossed Jesus out of the window. The Jesus I know. The One who offered me hope eight years ago. I miss Him. Sometimes I cry mourning for Him, like when someone you deeply love has passed away. Other times, though, I feel so strongly about my relationship with Him, that somehow I think that documenting my faith journey doesn’t really matter in the scope of time.

I have a very clumsy brain. For the most part, I have tried to change that part of me, as it gets me in a lot of trouble with my husband. I haven’t succeeded so far, at least not to his satisfaction. He is a very organized, almost OCD-like person. Sometimes I think he doesn’t share things with me, but he does. It is me who usually forgets about what he said. I guess that’s what got me into writing. So I need to write down some events that have happened in the last two weeks. I do not want to forget.

To start with, I want to talk about how Jesus fed the five thousand in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6:30-52. Before that, though, I need to make sure all of us – Christians and Muslims reading – are on the same page. In case you didn’t know, Muslims do agree with some teachings of Jesus as long as they don’t contradict the Quran. At least the Muslims I’ve watched on YouTube.

There is a lot of chit chat on the subject of how the gospels have evolved from Mark to John. According to Muslim apologist Shabir Ally, the Bible has changed over time. Here are a few examples:

  • In Mark 9:5, Peter addresses Jesus as Rabbi, but in Matthew 17:4, he addresses Him as Lord.
  • In Mark 13:35, Jesus describes the owner of a house, but in Matthew 24:42, the Lord will come.
  • In Mark, you have Jesus praying in the Garden so that God would take away the cup that awaited Him, but in John Jesus is even willing to die.

I love Shabir, by the way. It would be awesome to meet him one day. I guess you get to really like people by spending countless hours watching their YouTube videos. I have some sweet Muslim connections in Canada, but they are not in Toronto where Shabir is. Anyways, if you know Shabir, I would love if you could arrange a meeting. I am not kidding.

So the Gospel of Mark is the first one that was written (between A.D. 55-65) and the Gospel of John is the last one (between A.D. 85-90). One day I will talk about why the gospels are so different. People, however, need to know that Christians have never claimed the Gospels are THE WORDS of God. The Gospels were written by men, and were inspired by God. But I just need to say three things:

1. It is very double-minded of Muslims to refer to the Gospel of John as the most corrupted and the most unreliable one since John has made Jesus into God. Yet at the same time, it is EXACTLY the Gospel of John the one that Muslims LOVE to quote to find a prophecy for Prophet Muhammad from the own lips Jesus. The Counselor, the Helper, the Advocate who Jesus promised to send in John 14:26 is NOT the Holy Spirit. According to Muslims, it is Prophet Muhammad. If you are a Christian, your jaw must have dropped. Mine dropped for sure when I first heard of this.

I’ve got to ask… if Christians corrupted the Gospels so successfully (changing thousands of manuscripts in many different languages), isn’t it really dumb of them to leave Prophet Mohammad right there in the open in ALL the manuscripts? If they really wanted to corrupt the whole thing, you make sure to erase ANY prophecy of ANY other person after Jesus. That is the only way of making Christianity a sure hit. Muslims, though, seem to accuse God of not being able to protect His words as He said He would (Quran 18:27). Many Muslims will say that this verse refers to the Quran. I agree. But Quran 6:115 also says NONE can alter Allah’s WORDS. Sometimes the Quran refers as the Torah and the Gospel as Allah’s Words. So, did Allah or didn’t Allah protect His Words?

And If you are going to tell me that the original Gospel, the Injil, that Allah gave Jesus got lost or somehow Christians corrupted it, and that it was that Injil the one that the Quran talks about, then I still have the same question. Why couldn’t Allah protect it? Sure, I do not know what I am talking about because I do not understand Arabic. I am getting tired of listening to that. I want to get closer to God, but I refuse to embrace the idea that God would only be known in Arabic. People worldwide are hungry for God. If Islam is the religion for all mankind, I should be able to understand it in plain English, right? Or Spanish. I am also fluent in Spanish. I also read French. Still, it breaks my heart to ponder over the idea of Allah not loving me in French.


Dis: “Si vous aimez vraiment Allah, suivez-moi, Allah vous aimera alors et vous pardonnera vos péchés. Allah est Pardonneur et Miséricordieux. Dis: «Obéissez à Allah et au Messager. Et si vous tournez le dos… alors Allah n’aime pas les infidèles!

– Le Saint Quran 3:31-32


2. I could never live in limbo like some Muslims live. If I go for Islam, I will go full throttle. I will not put my foot in some parts of the gospels as revelations that Allah was able to protect. I just couldn’t live with the doubt, you know. Because if some parts are corrupted, who is to assure me which parts are not? If they are corrupted, then tell me who corrupted them, and when. My conscience would not let me live in peace having the best of both faiths as far as Jesus is concerned. Even my Muslim and I have had conversations about what Prophet Muhammad said, and most of the time I end up telling him, “Yep, that’s in the Bible” or “Yep, Jesus said that”. But how do I know those teachings have not been corrupted?

Oh! They are not corrupted, because they confirm the Quran!

Of course they do. And that is a very convenient, but not a very consistent way on how Muslims or any person regarding of his religious background should approach the Gospels. I have a brain, a very clumsy brain, but I dare not misuse my intelligence. My Muslimah told me once that Islam was a religion that made sense. Even the Quran promotes logical thinking and reasoning. Some websites even call Islam a religion for grownups. But it is impossible to have such a conspiracy to change or alter the Word of God in all of these Bible manuscripts without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or even attainable. It doesn’t make any sense.  And so my brain and my soul will have to forfeit the Jesus of the Bible, ALL of Him, if I embrace Islam. I just couldn’t live with myself to have it otherwise.

3. Muslims don’t like John, and they pick and choose from Luke and Matthew. Oh, well… I guess Mark will do for now. I will talk about my life and the feeding of the five thousand in the next post 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…

Christians – Part 2

I think the definition of Christian I gave in the last post struck a cord with many of my friends, and I am glad. Here’s the unfortunate truth. As Christians, we need to understand that when people outside the church (people who are non-religious, people who have never called themselves Christians) look at us, sometimes they expect more of us than we expect of ourselves. We can hide behind the word Christian. We say, I am a Christian. But they say, Yes, but you don’t look like Jesus. 

Andy Stanley never defined Christian as such, but somehow it is true, isn’t it? I know not all Christians are like that, and that’s awesome. Unfortunately, outsiders see one Christian acting like this, and the tendency is to ditch the whole thing based on that. The relationship with my sister suffered because of this. And I had to ask her to forgive me. Now we don’t even talk about Jesus on a regular basis. Our relationship has improved. A LOT. It improved once I realized my sister is not accountable to me for what I believe. Her life and how she deals with her life; the decisions she makes and the reasons behind those decisions are NONE of my business. 


A Christian is about what a person believes. A disciple is about what a person actually does.

– Andy Stanley


When the whole Jesus’ movement began, the apostles began scattering throughout the whole region preaching what they have seen and heard. They did not had any Bible. The New Testament as we know it hadn’t even been put together yet. All they had was the apostles stories of Jesus, the eyewitnesses accounts of all the people who saw Jesus resurrected, and some letters that the apostle Paul had written to different churches – the letters to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, etc.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes to the followers of Jesus living in Corinth. In the apostle Paul’s day, Corinth had several nicknames.  It was known as Carnal Corinth, Sin City, or Vanity Fair.  What happened in Corinth stayed in Corinth. Come sin here.  Come indulge hereThat was my kind of city back in college. There was commercialized gambling, debauchery, drinking, and prostitution. Sex was practically considered a religion in itself. The apostle Paul had to instruct them on how to live their faith in a city like this.

Sexual immorality, however, had found their way into the Jesus’ followers community. A man was sleeping with his father’s wife. Probably not his mother, maybe his ex-wife, but it might have been an ongoing relationship. The Christian community, however, was not addressing this issue. They all knew about it, but nobody was speaking up against it. It was so bad that not even the non-followers of Jesus in Corinth sinned like this.


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife.  And you are proud!

1 Corinthians 5:1-2


The apostle Paul continues to tell them that they are not supposed to dissociate from the people who do this kind of things because in that case, they would have to leave the world – let alone Corinth. But Paul makes sure that they understand that this is a behavior they cannot tolerate in the Jesus community. In other words, there are standards. The man can do whatever the heck he wants, but if he has signed up to be a disciple, there are rules to follow. The Believers in Corinth have to disassociate from this man until he repents and stops that behavior.  Then of course, he can come back to the Jesus community.


As one who is present with you in this way [in spirit], I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this

1 Corinthans 5:3


I thought the Bible said you are not supposed to judge, you might say. Well, according to the Bible, Paul judged this man in the name of Jesus. Sure, Jesus said, “Do not judge or you will be judged”. Every time we judge the heart of people based on their behavior, we are stepping over God’a arena. That kind of judgement belongs ONLY to God. But Paul is talking about accountability within the church. We, Christians, are supposed to hold other Christians accountable for their actions.

Paul continues in verse 12, What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside“.

You see, Andy believes – and I agree – that we have found something amazing. We believe you can have peace with God. We believe broken marriages can be restored. Bad relationships can be healed. Your children can come back. We believe God can land in the area of your money, your profession, your whole life. Addictions can be broken. We believe you can have peace with God. We believe God loves you, and we feel compelled to tell you. But unfortunately, our approach has not always been the best.

We have to understand that in the first century, Jesus’ followers never expected non-Jesus’ followers to behave like them. Our mistake as Christians is that we expect everybody who has never signed up to follow Jesus to behave as if they have signed up to follow him. We were doing great for the first three centuries. The disciples won people to Christ by loving them. People felt drawn to this type of community, they never felt coerced. People may have felt guilty, but they never felt condemned. But when the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion, everything went bad. Once the church had the power, we went from God is love to God will getcha

I want to tell you, my friends – you know who you are- that Jesus does not condemn you. He loves you. He died for you. And whether one day you will sign up to be His disciples or not, my Jesus community wronged you. They sinned against you. I am deeply sorry that they did not show you what it is to be His disciple. I am sorry they were not able to love you like Jesus has loved them.

As an insider, I am holding them accountable for that.

The Muslims who changed my life

It was a hot and humid afternoon at the playground when I finally decided to approach her. It had been at least a month since I had seen her everyday taking care of her son. And she was always alone. I was always alone.

As much as I tried, there was something not clicking with the moms at my daughter’s school. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was that I didn’t speak Tamil. They spoke English, but they were not very chatty with me. They were chatty among themselves, but not with me and of course I felt left out. I wanted to hang out with people. I had recently moved from Houston to Chennai, and I was eager to experience the world of preschool with my daughter. But so far, it wasn’t looking very good.

However, I was not the only unsuccessful mom at the playground. And, please, do not read between the lines. I know success as a mom doesn’t come from having random conversations with other moms at the playground. I only mean that I actually wanted to make friends, but it seemed more difficult than I thought it would be. So I finally took the courage to approach this other woman.

She was always wearing sunglasses. Who is she anyway? A Bollywood star? I don’t really remember what was the very first thing I said. But I do remember she took her sunglasses off, and for the very first time, I saw those darn big black circles under her eyes.

We began chit chatting, and she told me she was from Pakistan. During the conversation I came to tell her that I was Mexican, and that my husband’s work was what had brought us to India. I found out she had lived in Dubai before. And then, I opened my mouth too much…


Dubai? I’ve been in Dubai. Well, only at the airport. Man, I was impressed with those women… They are so beautiful, and their eyes are so dark, so deep. That’s the only thing I saw. They were all covered with a robe-like dress. They are Muslims. I like your necklace. What does it say?


The necklace said Allah… 

Over the next couple of weeks we continued having random conversations – probably about the weather. Somehow I invited her to my apartment to have tea or something, but she never came. She would always give me an excuse. Her husband went to the office later in the afternoon since he owned his own business, and she mentioned they had breakfast together every morning. So I understood that maybe she just wanted to hang out with her husband.

But one day she actually decided to meet me at Tryst Café and she brought her husband along. No offense to all the Muslims who are reading this (if there are any), but this man looked really Muslim. No topi, no beard like your prophet… just his face. It was like looking at Islam right in the eye.

She introduced us, and for the most part, we were having a really nice breakfast. My son was being such a good boy. No crying, no drama. No interruptions. She mentioned to her husband that I was very interested in different religions. That I had been reading a lot about Hinduism and even Islam. A little. We probably talked about school a little bit more, and the conversation changed little by little to friendship. They were interested in the fact that I was not really hanging out with the expatriates in India. It wasn’t that I didn’t know any, I just felt like I wanted to mingle with the locals. I wanted to experience India and the people. I didn’t want to be isolated in my own world, where everything was like I knew it, and with people who looked like me. He said I was a different kind of Westerner. I took that as a compliment.

We also talked about their diet. It finally made sense what Kosher and Halal meant. They were very easy to talk to. The husband intimidated me a little bit, but I guess it was because I had just met him. Both of them spoiled my son so much that day, that was very sweet. She asked me if all Westerners dated many people before getting married. She had always intrigued by that.

Oh, boy, where to begin?, I said.  She was laughing so hard.

He asked me many questions about America. They have heard so many things in the media. We cleared up many misconceptions they had about them. It is natural to assume that most Americans are awful after you watch the news. I am not American, but I feel like one. Except for the last year, I have lived there for the past eight years – my whole married life. My children were born there, and most of my best friends are Americans.

The conversation was relaxed and he was very calm. To make a point about the media, I asked him if he was carrying a bomb under his shirt.


If you are carrying one, I would really appreciate if you waited until I finish my croissant before blowing the whole place up… He got my point, and he smiled. You see? Not all Americans are awful. I guess not all Muslims are terrorists.


To be very frank, I don’t know if it was him or if it was me, but somehow the conversation turned to religion. They asked me about my faith. I told them I was a Christian, but that I was kind of not wanting telling people I was one. I didn’t want to call myself that anymore. I told them it was a long story, and that eventually I would explain it to them. But yes, technically, I was a Christian. I was a follower of Jesus. He was my Lord and Savior.

Then he said something that would change the course of my life forever. But not only my life. Also their lives. Their whole family life, and my whole family life. As a very good Muslim (I should have known), this man looked at me right in the eye, and told me something I had never, EVER, heard before in my entire life.

You know your Bible has been corrupted, right? 

I had no idea what the heck he was talking about. The Bible – corrupted? What nonsense was this? This man told me something that in the Muslim wold is accepted as a universal truth. My Bible has to be corrupted because if it is not, then Islam and everything is built upon is false. This was a very bold approach on his part, but I’m thankful that he did that. Without knowing, he introduced me to the world of Christian Apologetics.

This conversation was a little bit over six months ago. And since then, my life changed. I spent almost all my free time with them, and they became my best friends in Chennai. Our families have spent so much time together over dinner, over tea, over boat rides and water slides. They are great people.

In this part of the world, nobody dislikes Jesus. They dislike the Christians. I think a lot of people feel that way…  I should start by dissecting Christianity.