As followers of Jesus, we are often passionate about the truth (as we should be) and we are passionate about telling others the truth, which is something that we have been called to do! One thing we have not been called to do? Argue.
Think about this verse: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Notice, Jesus did not say, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you argue really well about what is right and what is wrong.”
Still, it is important to remember to speak the truth in love like Ephesians 4:15 tells us to. There are times when you need to gently point out to your Muslim friend that a specific Islamic teaching is not true. But Muslims, and people in general, often like to argue and try to catch any little mistake you might make in an argument. How can you avoid this?
When do you redirect conversations
With some people, there are clear signs that no matter how or what you tell them, they will not listen to you. They are so set in their ways and opinions and they are only poking you with a stick to try to upset you or change your mind. How can you recognize this and know when to change the conversation?
First, recognize if they’re talking in circles. No matter how you try to move the conversation forward or present a new point of view, your Muslim friend will continue to bring up one point or one argument. This is a good time to be direct. You can say, “It is clear we aren’t going to agree, and I think we’ll just keep talking in circles. Maybe it’s time to agree to disagree and move on.”
Second, it is wise to be aware if your conversation starts getting too emotional or heated. There is a point every person reaches where they are so emotionally wound up that no matter what you say, nothing is going to help them see the truth. In these cases, address the obvious emotions at play by saying something like, “I think we should pause this conversation for now. It’s not my intention to upset you, and I know it is not your intention to upset me too. Maybe we can take a break or continue at another time.”
Both of these options have one thing in common– being straightforward. This might be uncomfortable for you, but it is much more beneficial to you and your Muslim friend if you are not caught up in unproductive conversations.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
Remember the point of it all: Jesus
At the end of the day, the name Christianity can have a sour taste in people’s mouths because of how people have misused it to do un-Christlike things. At the end of the day, your focus should be talking about Jesus. Your Muslim friend is not used to the idea of an interpersonal relationship with God; they’ve only ever viewed their relationship with Allah as a master-servant relationship.
If they start telling you about “Christians” who have done bad things under the name of Christianity, be honest with them. Tell them that you are aware of this , and point out that their acts do not align with Jesus’ teachings. Make sure your Muslim friend knows that you believe just because someone says they are a Christian, this does not mean they have truly repented and begun to follow Christ. Share how Jesus came to heal the broken relationship between us humans and God.
Pray for wisdom
None of these things we’ve talked about are easy. It requires wisdom and discernment to figure out when to speak up for your faith and when to shift the conversation to something else.
At the end of the day, remember that the foundation of our faith is JESUS. That is what is most important to share with your Muslim friend. Arguing about topics like the Trinity or the validity of the Quran or the Bible are not salvation issues, but if you recognize that such issues are what blocking your Muslim friend from seeing the truth, offer simple and sincere answers.
Pray and ask the Lord to give you insight for when to engage in an apologetics conversation and when you need to let the topic rest. It is not your job to have all the answers or to save your Muslim friend!
Prayer for discernment
Dear Lord, please help me speak the truth in love. Give me wisdom to know when to redirect a conversation versus when to lean into it. Please open up my Muslim friend’s heart to hearing the truth about your son Jesus Christ. Amen.