Listen, Yusuf Abdallah, I've read your book. So what?

The Christians claim that God had a son who died and rose from the dead and that he forgives sin. The Muslims claim that God has revealed His will for mankind and that those who honor his will and seek to do it will find enlightenment through a holy book sent down from Heaven. And both religions claim they are ultimate truth for all people and their God sees, knows, judges, sustains, punishes and elevates or humbles whom he wills.

Yeah? Well, who cares? Most of the people I know live as though there really isn't any God at all. They spend most of their time in trivial pursuits - earning money, building a reputation, providing for their own and learning how to handle problems and adversity. They socialize and party, and in general, live what appears to be totally meaningless lives.

I know life must have some purpose. It can't all be an accident. Is life only a matter of living in such a way that your family and culture respect you? Is an educated man really any nearer to the truth than a fool? Isn't there something missing in all of this?

I've read these chapters about Jesus in the Qur'an and the Bible. I've considered the comparisons, the differences and the arguments. And I ask myself, "Does it matter?" Who cares whether the Muslims or the Christians can present the best defense of their faith? Will following Jesus or the Qur'an make any difference in my real life? Oh, I know both sides will insist that blessings are on their side and curses on the other.

But, I say, "Phooey!" I believe God is going to consider me as I am. I don't believe my allegiance or my religious practices are going to mean much to the Almighty.

All of this Jesus stuff bothers me though. Both Muslims and Christians claim Jesus is alive with God. (It doesn't matter to me that Christians say he died and rose again, while Muslims say he never died.) But this one fact startles me. If Jesus was so special that God took him alive up into Heaven, there must be more for me to learn about Jesus.

And another thing bothers me. Jesus had no human father. He was conceived and born of a virgin. Muslims say God created him like He made Adam. Christians claim God gave a human body to the eternal word of God. I really don't care about such arguments. But why did God bring Jesus into the world in this unique - once - in - mankind's - history - kind of way? There must be something special about Jesus.

I've known some very pious people. I've seen some Muslims who followed all the religious rules and duties and from any human point of view, were totally obedient. I've also known a few Christians whose sacrificial lives poured out in love for others was surely an admirable thing. Still, I've never known a Muslim who considered himself perfect or a Christian who felt he was devoid of sin.

How come neither the Qur'an nor the Bible mentions sin in Jesus? Surely the best way to disprove that Jesus was God's son would be to mention sin in his life. And the Qur'an doesn't do that. And in the Bible, Jesus actually invites his accusers to point out his sins if they can find any - they can't. Is it true that Jesus was sinless? A man who has no sin commands my attention!

It has always bothered me that the Qur'an is a book. That means that a person must be literate to read it. And how many millions try to read the Qur'an but have no idea what the words mean because they don't speak or understand the Arabic language?

Christians, on the other hand, don't honor their Bible in the same way the Muslims honor the Qur'an. Instead, they honor a person, Jesus. A book or a person? Which is most likely to convey God's message? Anyone can relate to a person. Only the literates who are skilled in the Arabic language can read the Qur'an. If I were God and wanted people to know my will, would I send a book or would I send a person? But I guess that really isn't a fair comparison. The Muslims have a book that is sacred. The Christians have a sacred book that points toward a sacred person.

Is there someone who can explain why God gave Jesus such a special place in history? Is it possible that Christians, as deluded and divided as they seem to be, have grasped the truth in a way that has eluded me? Do I dare talk to the stillness - and address the One who may be listening? Do I dare call him Jesus?

Jesus, if you are truly alive, if you are truly sinless, if you are God's message, Jesus, please somehow communicate with me. The Qur'an says God's peace was upon you the day you were born, the day you died and the day you rose again. The Bible says you promise to give your peace to us. Jesus, if you are truly alive as both the Qur'an and the Bible assert, then you are able to fulfill that promise. Please, Jesus, give me your peace. O, Almighty God, unknown, and beyond all we think or imagine, is it possible that you have really revealed your nature and person in Jesus? Who are you Jesus? How can you give me your peace? All my logic fails me. All my religious teaching is of no avail. I reach out in the faint beginnings of trust to you, oh, ever-present One. Answer me, for I speak in Jesus' name. Because Jesus is with you, he can present my words to you. Jesus, I humbly and unworthily ask this, depending on your mercy, to please intercede to God for me. Jesus, I want the peace you can give.

Here is the reply the reader may expect from Jesus, not in audible words, but in a quiet assurance in the heart:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

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