Incredibly interesting interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef, a former Hamas terrorist who converted to Christianity, over at the Wall Street Journal .
Obviously, going from Islamic terrorism to Christianity was not a process that earned Yousef celebratory salvos from his family or former friends. His father disowned him, none of his family or former friends will speak to him, and now Hamas has threatened assassination.
Among many other explanations Yousef offered for his conversion, there was this statement:
“There is a logical explanation…Simply my enemies of yesterday became my friends. And the friends of yesterday became really my enemies.”
It’s hard to read a statement like that and not think of Jesus’ words regarding the cost of following him:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ ~Matthew 10:34-36
The primary reasons Yousef allowed the divisive “sword of Jesus” to split his family was Christ’s teachings on love, grace, and forgiveness in contrast to the cruelty of Hamas. Cruelty, he believes, that was fueled by a “fanatic god” that could not compare to the Love of the Christian God. Thus, he identifies the root cause of Islamic terrorist acts to their theology and worship of Allah (hence his statement that Muslims need to be “liberated from their god.”)
As the journalist interviewing Yousef says, “These are dangerous words.” Dangerous, for sure, but also pointing to an idea that should be common sense–namely, that our ideas about God and our subsequent worship of God have real-world consequences. Our beliefs in God (or gods, as it were) inform our daily decisions and serve as a framework from which we order our lives. In Yousef’s case, he goes from an Allah-worshiping terrorist to a Jesus-worshiping evangelist. A remarkable transformation, and one grounded on the distinct qualities of the Christian God–love, grace, and forgiveness.
We wish Yousef the best as he wrestles through some very difficult issues. May Jesus’ other words about family offer some comfort:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” ~ Mark 10:29-30