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Muslim convert to Christianity dies at 34

September 20, 2017 -

Photo courtesy of RZIM

Photo courtesy of RZIM

Photo courtesy of RZIM

Nabeel Qureshi has died of stomach cancer at the age of thirty-four. Whether you know his name or not, I invite you to consider his legacy today.

Qureshi was raised as a Muslim by his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan. As an adult, a Christian friend challenged him to study Islam as critically as he had studied Christianity. After years of investigation and dreams and visions, he became a Christian.

His 2014 book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity became a New York Times best-seller. He wrote two more apologetic books as well. As a student of Islam for many years, I commend his work most highly.

In his final video, made from his hospital bed, Qureshi said, “I think it’s very important that we discuss matters of truth, but at the end of the day, that is supposed to be undergirded by love and by peace. When we talk to people about our beliefs, we should do it through a lens of love.”

Jesus agreed. His great commands are to love our Lord and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). But our culture doesn’t cooperate. We are measured by our popularity, performance, and possessions. We are pulled in multiple directions as we exhaust ourselves seeking to satisfy every demand on our lives.

A prayer I just discovered points the way to the focused simplicity we need.

In Psalm 86, David prays: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (v. 11). “Unite” translates the Hebrew yahad, meaning “to be joined together,” “solitary,” “of one mind.” Greek scholar Fritz Rienecker defines “heart” as “the center of the inner life of the person where all the spiritual forces and functions have their origin.”

To have a “united heart,” then, means to be one person in feelings, thoughts, and actions. It means to be the same person in every circumstance. It means to have one purpose, one direction, one definition of success. It means to agree with Jesus that “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).

Notice that David’s words are a prayer. He knows that he cannot unite his own heart. He understands his fallenness, the fact that he must wrestle with his sinful nature.

Paul admitted, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18–19). He cried, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (v. 24). Then he rejoiced in the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25).

Here’s how Nabeel Qureshi ended his deathbed video: “Whether you’re talking to a Hindu, a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian—whoever you’re talking to, may it be out of love.” If we heed his words, the purity of our hearts will be a surprising and transformative witness to our chaotic culture.

Would you pray right now for Jesus to unite your heart?

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