Doug specialises in relational outreach to Muslims, in an urban area of the west of England. He often finds common ground with the men he talks to, but sometimes he discovers their understanding of God is a little different from his own …
The evening conversation at the mosque was nearing its end. The discussion had ranged over many topics – God’s forgiveness, our responsibility to please him, life beyond death – several important topics. I now asked the question that was ringing in my mind: “Can we know that we have done enough to get to heaven?”
The Imam smiled and looked at me as he told his story: “Imagine that you have £20,000 in your bank and you want to buy a house. You see the ideal house; it’s big and spacious with a garden and a view. It’s right in the centre of a desirable road. You contact the owner. ‘What are you willing to sell your house for?’ you ask. ‘It’s valued at one million pounds and I’m not willing to accept anything less’ he replies. You explain that you only have £20,000 and ask if he will accept it. What does the owner do? He laughs at you. You suggest that you may be able to find another £10,000. Would he accept £30,000? Again the owner laughs. ‘I know it’s worth a million’, he says, ‘and I won’t consider less. And anyway, you’re not even offering anywhere near the asking price. Stop bothering me!’”
“Who can get to heaven? Can anyone pay the full price?”
The Imam explained to me that even if the person who wanted the house could find £500,000, it would not be accepted. There is a value and to get the house, you have to pay the full price – the owner would not consider less. So it is with God: he has told us what we need to do to get to heaven and, unless we do it, we can’t expect to get there. We need to do everything God has revealed: we need to pay the full value of the house in order to buy it.
Looking at him with sadness in my eyes, I said: “Then who can get to heaven? Can anyone pay the full price for the house?”
“We don’t know,” he said. “We can only try.”
“I like your story,” I said, as I thought through a reply, “It describes our situation very well. But,” I asked, “what if the owner loves us and give us the house as a free gift? Although we don’t deserve it, nor can we afford it, the house of our dreams becomes ours.”
The Imam responded quickly. “No,” he said. “God’s not like that.”
Sharing the good news with people of other faiths can be frustrating but also incredibly rewarding. This is exactly what our Neighbours Worldwide ministry is all about. Email us if you’d like to find out more about reaching out to people of other faiths in your community.