“What’s the most important thing in your faith?” I asked Matt.
He thought for a moment, frowning deeply.
“Love,” he said at last. “Actually, that’s the most important thing in the world, isn’t it?”
“We’re taught that knowledge of Allah is most important,” I said.
“Same thing,” said Matt, “because Allah – God – is love. John of Patmos told us that. And Jesus proved it.”
“Proved it? How did he prove it?”
Matt jumped up and snatched a book off one of his shelves. He flicked over a few pages, then thrust it under my nose.
“Read that, Sami!” he said, pointing at a couple of paragraphs. “This something that Jesus said.”
I read the following:
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
“What does it mean?” I asked in bewilderment.
“It means,” Matt said, “that Jesus loved us so much that he died for us.”
“Why?” I asked. “Why should he do that?”
“So that we can be forgiven. We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all done things that are wrong and we need to be forgiven. So that we can be forgiven, Jesus – who never did anything wrong – died in our place.”
I shook my head.
“That doesn’t sound fair,” I said.
“It’s not fair!” said Matt. “It’s a demonstration of God’s love! Allah’s love! If we’re not forgiven, how else can we come to him?”
“I don’t know, Matt. I shall have to give it some careful thought.”