A chosen instrument
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are Allah's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you, as sojourners and exiles, to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among unbelievers honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify Allah on the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:9-12
It was time to go to sleep, but I wanted to finish writing my letter. Therefore, I grabbed a clipboard and placed a pillow on my lap, so that I could use it as a platform. Holding the pen against the paper, I wondered how I should organize my thoughts. I must admit that I was a little bit distracted by the stitches on my lip. I licked them with my tongue, wondering how many weeks they would take to dissolve. But, that was the least of my concerns. Tawfiq's soul was much more important than my personal comfort. It turns out that he had slipped his business card into my jacket before I walked out of the cabin. He was obviously touched by the message of the gospel, which is why we had begun corresponding about these matters. It seemed like the Lord was drawing him to Jesus, and he needed help to move in the right direction. On the other hand, his wife, Fatima, was very skeptical about Christianity. For this reason, I needed to gently encourage Tawfiq as he wrestled with these issues.
I wanted to be sensitive to the difficulties that he would have to face. But, at the same time, I needed to make it clear that he had to make a commitment to live for the glory of the Lord. At some point, he would have to take a stand, no matter how difficult it would be or what he would have to sacrifice. So, I decided to focus on our purpose as followers of Jesus. If he could understand what it means to live as servants of the Messiah in a world that is alienated from Allah, he would be better equipped to face the various trials of the faith. Thus, I finished the letter in this manner:
"What is the purpose of our lives, anyways? If our ultimate goal is to glorify Allah and if we are looking forward to the afterlife where we will be with Him forever, what are we supposed to accomplish in this world? Surely, we are not simply marking time. No, far from it! Rather, we are preparing ourselves for glory: We are cultivating our love for Allah through the knowledge of His Son, so that we may enjoy Him even more; we are learning to rely on Him so as to magnify His grace; we are inviting others to the banquet of the Lord, participating in the building project of the kingdom, and advancing the gospel; we are adding testimony upon testimony of His marvelous works, so that we may recount His praises throughout eternity. Besides, what is the highest end of life, if not to live for Him who died for us? What is the point of having an intercessor at Allah's right hand if we do not need help on a daily basis?"
"I don't know about you, but I could never be satisfied to walk in darkness for the rest of my life. It doesn't matter how much success I could have in this world, or how much pleasure I could get for myself; all of this would be meaningless and would perish on the Last Day. Let it not be so! Allah has better plans for us: He wants to use us for His glory; He wants us to become instruments for noble purposes; He wants us to be the vessels of His divine grace. And, if we follow His agenda, He says that He will also demonstrate His power in our lives. Those who have given their entire lives to Him have also been blessed with glimpses of glory. Don't you want to live in the place where the supernatural meets the natural realm? Don't you want to live at the intersection between time and eternity?"
"Of course, this doesn't mean that everything will be easy. Allah's servants have also been beheaded in prison; they have also been flogged; they have also been oppressed; they have also been burned at the stake. But, they endured these things because they were looking forward to a better home, a heavenly one. They knew that their Lord would richly reward them above. It was not as though Allah had failed them, and you can count on the same. He sees every tear that you cry. In fact, His Word says that He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Moreover, He also assures us that the death of His people is precious in His sight. He knows everything that we have to suffer for His Name's sake, and He counts every good deed in His book."
"Therefore, I invite you to join a heavenly workforce. These are the workers for the Lord on the earth. The Bible describes us as the light of the world, the salt of the earth, witnesses of the Lord Jesus, strangers on the earth, residents of the kingdom of heaven, and Allah's chosen people. We are nothing less than a nation of priests, having been made holy by the blood of the eternal covenant. In the end, when our lives are taken away, we will wake up in a better place; the seed which is sown perishable will be raised imperishable. Plus, we take comfort in the fact that the outcome of the cosmic war has already been determined, since our King has already defeated our enemies on our behalf. All in all, there is nothing that we really lose when we leave it in Allah's hands. He is the Giver of life and the great Redeemer. He gives liberally and has proven His love for His elect."
"In closing, I would like to quote a benediction from the New Testament. The blessing pronounced therein may also be yours, through faith in Jesus, the Messiah: 'Now may Allah, who is of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus, the Messiah, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.' (Hebrews 13:20-21)"
After reading it aloud, I laid back and pondered these matters. I couldn't help but wonder how the world might be changed if Christians took their calling seriously. How many restless youths could finally find something worth living for? How many guilt-ridden men and women could, like Sampson, end their lives with a sweeping blow for the kingdom? How many senior citizens could make good use of their last breath instead of being robbed of their integrity as their bodies deteriorate? How many Churches would be revived? Not everyone would enjoy the same success, and not everyone's name would be remembered in the chronicles of men. However, didn't we need thousands of soldiers on the battlefield? Don't they all contribute to the same war effort, even if they die in battle? It is true that not everyone is a general or a mighty man of valor, but every soldier is essential. Maybe the time had come to unite our efforts to end this war, once for all. Hadn't we been chosen by Allah for that very purpose? Yes, we were chosen to be His instruments in a world that is perishing. We were chosen for a higher calling… a higher purpose.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" (Revelation 14:13)
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