This past weekend I was a part of a really fun interaction between Christians and Muslims. All Souls Church of Boulder dedicated a weekend service to getting to know, learn from and engage with their Muslim neighbors. Embedded within their Lent services the church decided to look at the people and groups that the Christian church has historically mistreated or marginalized in some way. The purpose for these services are for public confession of past and present sins and to learn how to love our neighbors that are different than us from this point forward.
The interaction included a brief presentation on Islam from my friend Ismail Demirkan from the Mosaic Foundation. Then, Pastor Will Forsythe, Ismail and myself sat down for a conversation. Here are some of my takeaways from this engagement.
- There are many, many, many Muslim people that are willing to build bridges of relationship and peace with Christians.
- It is more likely for people to mess up religion than it is for religion to mess up people. We blame religion for a lot of things, but humanity (sinful humanity in all religions and in all of society) is what’s really to blame.
- Patriarchy creeps in to all religions. Again we blame religion for oppression, but really it’s man’s opportunity (and license) to grab power that messes things up.
- It is easy for us to use labels and words to make enemies of people. When we do not get to know an actual person and simply assign them a label, we do a huge disservice to humanity.
- Loving Your Neighbor is a humanizing movement. It does not allow you to make judgment without a face to face interaction.
- Approaching people that are different than you should be a no-fear zone. We must not fear engagement. We must not fear interaction. However, because we are different, proceed with the utmost respect, knowing that there are cultural norms we must learn about each other. Don’t assume. Ask first.
- Christians, as the majority in our country, must make the first steps in the relationship. I was so proud of All Souls for their courageous step to invite the Muslim community to their church. And, I loved that they invited them there not to preach to them but to listen to them.
- Just like the teacher of the law in Luke 10, we focus so too much on the “neighbor” part of “love your neighbor.” The focus should be on the front end of that passage….Love. The differences occur everywhere. The denominational splits in the Christian tribe are a good example of our own differences. We continue to focus on the differences that we forget to love.
- Muslims have a spectrum of belief and interpretation, much like Christianity. Again, you cannot assume every Muslim is the same like you cannot assume every Christian is the same. Also, you can’t assume a Christian is a Christian simply because they claim the faith and they go to church. This also seems to be true of Islam.
- Christians must read the Quran. We must have some Muslim guides to walk and talk through it. (Ismail recommended the translation that is pictured to the right as an easier to read/understand version)
- Ismail told us that his interactions with Christians were 99% good. That was so refreshing to hear. My interactions with Christians are only about 52% good. 🙂