This post first appeared on September 6, 2013, and has risen to the 4th most viewed post in the past 5 years. I'm repeating it here because it speaks to the need for eliminating the Sacred-Secular Divide:
|[This map of Indonesia is public domain.]|
Indonesia is a fascinating country. It has some 17,000 islands (I say "some" because a few disappear at high tide─an Indonesian joke), with 250,000,000 inhabitants. It is the fourth most populous nation on the planet.
Many non-Indonesians are surprised to learn that 88% of the Indonesian population is Muslim. In fact, Indonesia has more self-proclaimed Muslims than any other nation on earth. The number of Muslims in Indonesia exceeds the number in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan combined!
How did it happen that this part of the world, so far from the Middle East, came to have such a large body of Muslims? Michael Baer, in Business As Mission, writes:
"I once asked an Indonesian Christian why the country had become so predominantly Muslim...She said that when the Western Christians came, primarily from Holland, they built missionary compounds and missionary churches and expected the Indonesian people to come to them. The Muslims, on the other hand, came as traders, farmers, merchants, and businesspeople and simply lived among the natives."
The significance of this answer cannot be overstated.
Dr. Darrell Furgason, a friend of mine who holds a Ph. D. from the University of Sydney in Religious Studies, and is an expert on Islam, has this to say:
"In places like Africa and Indonesia, the church has been intellectually crippled, with one hand tied behind its back. Western missionaries generally brought the Gospel in the way they learned it, as a purely soul-saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else--religion was a mostly personal matter, nothing to do with things like politics, science, law, economics...African people were given the Gospel, but not how to build a righteous nation, how to apply Christianity to everything...Muslims see their faith as all-encompassing..."
Many Christians use the word "Gospel" to mean the "Gospel of Personal Salvation." But the Gospel is much more. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is a much larger Gospel than our personal salvation, and bigger than the human soul. It is all-encompassing. That's good news!
The Sacred-Secular Divide is not part of the Muslim mindset. Yet, regrettably for all nations, it is the mindset of many Christians. Take a moment to hear what Dr. Aila Tasse told me about the problem of SSD in Africa, where his organization, Lifeway Mission, plants churches in Muslim communities:
If this video does not play, click http://youtu.be/o5qHFe6O1uU
|Here is the experience of my friend David Oliver, author of Work: Prison of Place of Destiny: "I visited Kuala Lumpur capital of Malaysia and was doing some work for the Focus On The Family folks. On one day off I was doing the tourist thing walking round the 360 observation platform on the Menara Tower. There were 12 observation stations, each one with an audio sound track, and when I got to the final station (12) I pressed the number on the MP3 player. Whilst looking out over row after row of golden domed Muslim mosques, I heard the following narration which is etched into my memory as clearly as if it had been yesterday: ‘In the 18th century Indian traders came to our land, and showed us by their faith and lifestyle that we could be freed from the shackles of Buddhism. So we embraced their faith their language and their life style and have done till this day.' [Jamek Mosque, in Kuala Lumpur, photo by Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams (Earth), reprinted with permission.]|