Across The Faiths

26 May

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Christians come across to people of other faiths and beliefs. Generally in the media we only read about Christian extremists who, to be honest, give us all a bad name. I think to achieve peace within our cities, countries and the world, end poverty etc we need to put aside our differences and really work with other religions. This might not lead to mass conversions, but it will build relationships which are really lacking. The longer the war on terrorism goes on, the wider the gap is going to get between Christian and Muslim. The longer the situation in Palestine continues the wider the gap becomes between Muslim and Jew and so on. At the same time though, we have to figure out how we can work with people from different denominations within our own faith effectively, without getting petty over doctrine etc. Some would say that if we can’t even do that, then how do we expect to have effective relationships with those from totally different religions and belief systems?

Why is it that within our towns and cities we are wary of working with people of other faiths on projects that would benefit everyone?

Do you, or do you know someone who, is regularly involved with building relationships with those from other faiths and beliefs?

Would you like to be more involved, but feel ill equipped?

Do you think that Christian leaders should regularly meet with Imams, Rabbis, Buddhist Monks, Pagan Leaders etc to build relationships and get a deeper understanding of a) their beliefs and b) their experience of Christianity?

Are you someone who is not a Christian? What has your experience of working with other Christians been?

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11 Responses to “Across The Faiths”

  1. Pete Grassow May 26, 2007 at 12:41 #

    I grieve when people of faith need to spend their energy denigrating each other. Surely God has given us life so that we can love one another? And the best celebration of life is when we find ways of serving our communities alongside other people – irrespective of their faith (or perceived lack of it). Red Cross/the Fire Services/Community food kitchens/shelters for the homeless do not need a personal credal affirmation from me before I can serve the people who are especially loved by God.
    More work and less talk.
    Pete

  2. sonja May 26, 2007 at 13:18 #

    I regularly seek out others with other faith to learn more about them. I particularly seek out Muslims. I’ve been fascinated by Islam and the Middle East since I was in college.

  3. Makeesha May 26, 2007 at 15:28 #

    our faith community is intentionally seeking “cross faith” relationships in the form of spiritual conversations in public spaces. We’re hoping that the relationships generated in these places will lead us to cooperation in other venues (like service) as well.

  4. RCM- Steve May 26, 2007 at 18:24 #

    One of the most incredible unities I’ve ever seen is at 12-step recovery meetings. People of all social, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds gather in a place and participate with the program because their lives depend on it. Interesting that when it’s life and death, all the stupid things we utilize to differentiate ourselves become irrelevant. Would that the Church could find this practical, common, working unity. I believe it’s what the Lord pretty plainly teaches us through the Apostle Paul’s writings.

    In my mind, coming together for community assistance & service projects is a great way to get started. It keeps our focus on the benefit of what we are doing for others, helps us see how each of our contributions is important, and provides a setting where we can personally begin to get to know each other. Okay, it’s not alway ideal. But it is a good way to start.

  5. John Smulo May 27, 2007 at 05:36 #

    My life has definitely been enriched by my friendships with people from other faiths. I think Christians should interact with people of other faiths, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working on some things together.

  6. lynhallewell May 27, 2007 at 19:59 #

    Pete – I agree, thanks for your comments

    Sonja – It’s great to hear that you seek out others. I think quite often it’s the reverse and Christians shy away?

    Makeesha – It’s fabulous to hear about your faith community, I must drop you an email.

    RCM-Steve – Ah, 12 steps, whole other post! Great stuff. Community assistance and service projects are an excellent way to get started – sure, it’s not always ideal, but then nothing ever is.

    John – I agree, one great advertisement to cross cultural interaction I’ve seen lately is the Interfaith Environment Forum based in London. People from all faiths join together to host London sustainability weeks, which run about 4 times a year across London.

  7. Makeesha May 27, 2007 at 23:57 #

    lynn, we just got our website up for our pub philosophy stuff – undercroft.com 🙂 check it out

  8. Makeesha May 28, 2007 at 00:02 #

    sorry, theundercroft.com

  9. lynhallewell May 28, 2007 at 11:37 #

    Thanks Makeesha!

  10. chris July 3, 2007 at 01:52 #

    I definitely believe that Christians should work with people of all faiths (and no faith) to find out what values we have in common, instead of focusing on our differences. Things like helping disaster victims, and the poor and needy should be common ground. It is important to note that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian, is indeed a Christian. Jesus said, “Not all who say Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of Heaven”. I find it hard to believe that someone who kills a physician who performs abortions (as aweful as that is!) in the name of Christianity has any clue what Christianity is all about. I was a little taken back by the comment about “ending poverty”. Jesus said that we always have the poor with us. I think that we should help the poor whenever we can, but there is no way to end poverty, because people have to help themselves at some point. The best way for people to end poverty in their family is to work.
    -Chris

  11. lynhallewell July 3, 2007 at 07:16 #

    Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. I see what you are saying, however we must remember that a lot of the worlds poor can’t simply get a job, as they live in countries where jobs aren’t available etc. I also think that under the bracket “ending poverty” we have to include human basic rights such as clean water, proper sanitation – things we take for granted. We have the means for everyone in the world to receive these basic life requirements. I also think that when Jesus said we would always have the poor with us, he meant the poor in spirit, not necessarily people in poverty. I don’t think this is something God wants in the world. Not everyone is going to be as rich as we are in the west, but they deserve to be a lot richer than they are now.

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