Daily Devotional for Thursday December 7, 2006
The Pope Preaches in a Mosque
(Matthew 10:7; Mark 16:15; Acts 7:54; Acts 19:28)
Actually, during last week's visit to Istanbul, Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI didn't actually preach in a mosque, he only visited a mosque in an attempt to reconcile Christians and Muslims. If you remember, in September Pope Benedict angered Muslims worldwide when he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith." So his visit to Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque was merely a symbolic gesture, an apology if you will, to those who follow the false religion of Islam upset over his September comments.
(I am not going to take the time today to deal with why Islam is a false religion or with the Roman Catholic Church. You can go to my Devotional Archive at: http://www.liveprayer.com/ddarchive.cfm and type in the keyword "Islam" for all the Devotionals I have written that deal with this false religion. Also, last Friday night on the TV program, I dealt with the false religion of Islam. You can watch that program at: http://www.liveprayer.com/archvid.cfm?d=120106. For the Devotional I did on the Roman Catholic Church, go to the Devotional Archive and type in keyword "Pope" and read the Devotional titled, "Is Pope Paul 2 in Heaven?")
I sent several emails to the Pope at the Vatican, no response of course, regarding his apology after Muslims around the world reacted so harshly, and in many cases violently. I also sent the Pontiff and email prior to his trip the mosque, encouraging him to use the opportunity to preach the Gospel. The outrage by Muslims all over the world and the scattered acts of violence in response to Pope Benedict simply quoting a Byzantine emperor last September, only supported the fact that Islam is a religion of hate and death. It is the stated goal of Muslims to kill all "infidels," meaning anyone who is not a Muslim. Why Pope Benedict apologized for simply telling the truth is beyond me. YOU NEVER HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR TELLING THE TRUTH!
This visit to the mosque on his trip to Turkey was simply another attempt on the Pope's part to appease and try to make peace with Muslims. I have no doubt his heart is right, but the reality is you can't make peace with people who have no desire for peace. I can guarantee you that no Muslim changed their opinion of Pope Benedict simply because he went to a mosque and prayed for a few minutes. Those who live with such hatred in their hearts aren't moved by symbolic gestures. Their only hope is to receive a new heart through finding faith in Jesus Christ.
That is the only reason Pope Benedict should have set foot inside that mosque. TO PREACH THE GOSPEL! He should have demanded the opportunity to have Muslims from Istanbul come to the mosque so that he could tell them about a man named Jesus. A prophet? Yes he was. But much more than a prophet. He was God who came to this world in the form of a man. He lived and breathed like you and I, yet never ceased being God. He lived this life without sin and willingly died a horrific death on the cross as the perfect one-time sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. On the third day God raised Him from the grave as a Divine stamp of approval on everything that Jesus said and taught.
At that moment, Pope Benedict should have told these men in that mosque that there is only ONE NAME by which men are saved, the name of Jesus! There is only one way to be saved, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who deny Christ will die in their sins and be cast into everlasting darkness. That would have been the time for the Pontiff to give the invitation to those who had gathered to renounce the lies of Islam and surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.
At that moment one of two things would have happened. Like Stephen, the Pope might have been attacked and killed on the spot for declaring the Gospel to these men. We read about many accounts in Paul's journeys where he was beaten, thrown into prison, and had his very life threatened simply for sharing the Gospel. However, it is also possible that the Holy Spirit would have descended in that mosque and men who one moment were praising "allah," would have been on their knees the next moment weeping and confessing Jesus Christ as their Savior.
I love you and care about you so much. Of course we will never know what would have happened in that mosque in Istanbul had the Gospel been preached, since Pope Benedict didn't go there to bring those men the only message that could change their hearts, only an empty gesture meant to appease them. Let me be blunt with you, just because he is the Pope and is the head of one Christian church with a billion members worldwide, he has the same responsibility as you and I do to share his faith in Jesus Christ. Try this on for size. God will hold the Pope just as accountable for not telling those he comes in contact with about Jesus, as God will hold YOU accountable for not telling those you come in contact with about Jesus!
There is only one real answer for the division between Christians and Muslims, and that is to bring the hope of Christ to those who follow the false religion of Islam and pray for them to turn from the lies of Mohammed and to the Truth of God's Word. They need to understand that Jesus was not just a prophet, he is THE PROPHET! He is the Son of God! He is our Savior! His is the only name by which men are saved! Muslims need to be told that their only hope in this life and for all eternity is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and Him alone!!!
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will learn several things from Pope Benedict. First, you don't have to ever apologize for telling the Truth. You have nothing to apologize for! Second, lives are only changed as hearts are changed, and hearts are only changed through people surrendering their lives to Jesus.
THAT IS WHY GOD COMMANDED US TO SHARE OUR FAITH WITH OTHERS, AND THAT IS WHY IT IS CRITICAL THAT EVERYONE WHO KNOWS THE LORD AS THEIR SAVIOR DOES THEIR PART IN TELLING THOSE GOD BRINGS INTO THEIR LIFE THAT JESUS LOVES THEM, CARES ABOUT THEM, AND WANTS TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM!
Sadly, the Pope didn't preach in that mosque, but he should have!!!