Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Childlike Humility: key to entering heaven

Roland Clarke

Last month it was my privilege to preach on the longing for eternity that God has implanted in the human heart. I showed how relevant this theme is, especially when talking to Muslims. Then last Saturday things got really practical! I went to a park with a team of 15 university students from the same church for prayer, on-the-job training and outreach. It turned out to be an amazing experience! We met various kinds of people including several Muslims and their families and we were very well received by almost everyone we approached.

My partner and I (a young lady) saw three different sets of parents with young children. I offered to make paper airplanes for the kids and my offer was gladly accepted. Paper airplanes! Who would have thought such a simple thing could spark friendly conversation and establish rapport?

Two Muslim families who were having a barbecue together insisted on sharing their delicious food with us. After eating and chatting, they were willing to give me their phone number. The team also got contact details of some other people they met who we will follow up.

Relationship building is the first step in witnessing to Muslims. Can you see yourself setting aside some time to seek out Muslims in an appropriate way? Can you ask the Lord for the courage, creativity and wisdom to approach Muslims you don't know with the goal of establishing an ongoing relationship and introducing them to your best friend, Jesus?

Example of a possible conversation between a Christian and a Muslim

Roland: Great to see you having a fun time in the park with your kids.

New Friend (NF): We love this park.

Roland: Do your kids like paper airplanes? … I'd like to make one for them.

[Alternatively Roland might ask: What do your kids like best about this park? … NF replies and Roland responds appropriately ...]

Roland: I love what the psalmist David said about children in Psalm 131,

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord— now and always.

Isn't it interesting how the psalmist describes children! … What do you think are the childlike qualities he says we ought to have?

NF may (or may not) respond by noting that children typically have a more trusting nature, whereas adults tend to be sceptical and distrusting.

Roland listens carefully and responds appropriately.... Then he adds: I'm sure if more adults were childlike we wouldn't have so much trouble in our world would we?

NF: True

Roland: Like his ancestor King David, Jesus also valued being humble like a child. Do you know what he said?

NF: No.

Roland: When Christ's disciples asked him, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” he invited a child to join them.

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” (Matthew 18:1-5)


If you really think about it, I'm sure you will agree: “childlike humility” is a beautiful door opener for conversational witness as it resonates with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These Bible verses express values that have an undeniable ring of truth, regardless of a person's culture or religious background.

This dialog starts on a pleasant, if intriguing note. Then it transitions to Jesus. However, it is important to take a closer look at sin, its wages, (Romans 3:23; 6:23) and how Christ paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross in our place. (1 Pet. 2:24) Moreover, the Lord Jesus rose victorious from the grave and is exalted to the highest position. (Philippians 2:3-11)

Obviously, there are many different passages one could use to explain the Gospel more fully. My intention is not to prescribe a set formula that one should rigidly adhere to. How lovely it is to see the way these verses flow out of key terms in Matthew 18, e.g. sin and humility. Notice too, how Matthew 18 instructs us to be humble, whereas Philippians 2 emphasizes how Christ displayed exceptional humility and then was exalted to the highest position in the universe.

At the end of the day, your unsaved friend needs to voice his heartfelt belief by confessing with his mouth, Christ as Lord and Savior. (Romans 10:9-12) After he takes this step be sure to explain why “Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross” ... “so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” (1 Pet. 2:24, bold font added)

You may like to also read the following relevant articles. The first one, titled Is God able to humble the proud?, is available online. So also is the article, titled Simply Share the Gospel.

All Bible quotes are taken from the New Living Translation.

If you have any questions or want to contact me directly please email me.

Appendix: How the topic of childlike humility enabled me to engage a Muslim friend in “seasoned-with-salt conversation”

A week after composing the above hypothetical dialog, I broached this topic with a Muslim friend who we'll call Mo. Here's how it happened. I was visiting my Christian brother, Ashour, who is a refugee from the Middle East. I asked him if he had seen Mo recently because a few weeks had passed since I introduced them to each other. I was delightfully surprised when Ashour promptly drove to Mo's place and brought him over!

This was Mo's first time coming to Ashour's home! I looked forward to the three of us spending the evening getting to know each other better. However, the visit ended up being so much more meaningful than I expected.

After some initial small talk, I suggested that we read a short Psalm of David (prophet Daood). Having read the above dialog, you know how meaningful Psalm 131 is. Not only so, you can imagine my excitement as I realised that here was an opportunity to broach a topic that would warm Mo's heart! Since this passage honors childlike traits, it seemed appropriate to invite Ashour's children (ages 9 & 10) to join us. After a few brief comments, I said, “It's interesting to see how Jesus also honored this virtue of childlike humility.” This pivotal remark led us to explore a similar statement by Jesus in Matthew 18:1-5.

From this point on, our conversation took a different direction than was suggested in the guidelines. I noted, for example, how in Mark 10:45 Christ showed humility as a servant. He didn't demand to be served but served others, even to the point of giving his life as a ransom for others.

As the conversation progressed, we were happy that Mo felt free to ask questions. This led to a lively discussion. We concluded by reading Isaiah 49:6, a prophecy describing the Messiah (called Al Masihu-Isa in the Qur'an) as God's servant. Interestingly, Isaiah foretold that this special servant would bring God's salvation to the world.

When we finally said goodbye at 9:45 pm, it was clear that our Muslim friend was keen to continue our conversation, indeed, he reassured me that his wife hadn't forgotten their earlier promise to invite us over for a meal. I expect to discuss the implications of Isaiah 49:6 on our next visit by looking at the story of Jesus birth, giving special consideration to the meaning of his name.