Over the past couple of weeks my family have had the privilege of getting to know a Muslim Iranian family who have only been in Australia for about 9 months. We have shared a meal in each others homes and have taken the time to gain an understanding of each others culture and faith perspectives.
What has struck me about this family is their perception of Christianity.
They have come from an oppressive environment where freedom to choose their own religion and to live their lives according to their own worldview doesn’t exist! Culturally they may be aligned with Islam, but spiritually and socially they are searching for the freedom to choose a different way of life. In direct contrast to how they view their own cultural faith, their perception of Christianity is that it is a religion of “peace and freedom.”
Jesus told his followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27) While beauty queens may want “world peace” and political leaders may advocate for world peace, real peace is actually found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is God with us and He gives us a peace that transcends conflict through the inward presence of God amidst conflict. The Apostle Paul describes it as “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, [that] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Far from binding Christians under a legalistic code of conduct, faith in Jesus Christ liberates people from endless striving to be good enough. Jesus affirmed his mission of liberation when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18) God’s Spirit sets us free from the power of sin and death by fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law (Romans 8:2-4).
It seems this Iranian family’s perception of Christian faith is closely aligned with the mission of Jesus to bring “peace and freedom” to those who seek after Him.