Tonight I had an experience that was both unique and uncomfortable. On Sunday evenings, I regularly preach for the service at BlueStone Church, our sister church in West Conshohocken. Because the weather was so beautiful tonight, we left the windows and the front doors open during the worship service to let the evening breeze into the building.
The front of the church is very close to the edge of the road, and while I spoke this evening about the sacrificial love of Jesus and how Jesus calls us to love one another with that same kind of sacrificial love, I noticed that a man pulled his car up to the entrance of the church and he sat there during the course of the message for over 35 minutes. At first, I assumed he was waiting to pick someone up from one of the nearby homes. Then I wondered if he was planning to attend the service, but wasn't sure where to park. But soon it became clear that he wanted to hear the message from his car, so he parked in the fire lane outside the church and listened. It seemed a little curious to me, but didn't immediately strike me as alarming.
As I was wrapping up the message, he began yelling into the building. I wasn't sure what he was saying at first, so I stopped speaking and walked toward him so I could engage in conversation with him. It quickly became clear that he took great offense to what I was preaching about, and in the midst of yelling at me he stated, "You press on my nerves. You press on Muslims' nerves. You're going straight to Hell on the day of judgment." Apparently, he was Muslim and he wanted to make sure that I knew he had a problem with the Christian message I was preaching.
Needless to say, this experience made all of us uncomfortable. When he left, there was some nervous laughter in the room as we tried to process what had just happened, but as we talked about it a little further, the experience made us all rather uneasy. We notified the police and gave them his description and a description of the vehicle. We also took time to pray for this man that the Lord would open his eyes and his heart to see the truth.
I don't know what motivated him to behave this way, but I will tell you this. I have zero hatred in my heart for him or for any Muslims. While we clearly disagree in our theological understanding, I can honestly say that I regularly pray for the Muslim people. Just as I needed Christ to open my eyes to see the truth of the gospel, so do they. We all do.
With all the tension that has existed in our country in recent decades, I don't believe it was wise for this man to scream into our building, point out that he was Muslim, and then tell us we were going to hell on the day of judgment. I also think it was rather creepy of him to sit in his car at our entrance while staring into our building for over a half hour. But that's his issue, not ours. I certainly don't consider him to be representative of all Muslims either.
In the end, I hope the message he heard tonight about the genuine, others-centered, love of Christ, will permeate his heart. Please join me in prayer for this man that he would come to appreciate and receive the gift of salvation and forgiveness that Jesus offers anyone who trusts in Him.
If you're interested, you can hear a recording of some of tonight's message, as well as our interaction with this man. My daughter decided to start recording tonight's message part-way through and she ended up recording our interaction with this man as well. His yelling into the building begins right around minute 26:00.