What About Those Other Religions?

Posted by Brent.Barry on February 2, 2015

Religious Symbols

Sometimes I think it's okay to brag on our children if it's not related to sports prowess or SAT scores, so here goes.

My daughter Hannah will turn 17 next week.  She is a liberal Christian who attends a conservative Christian high school.

Hannah's understanding of her faith is often in sharp disagreement with her school's understanding of faith. I have noticed three ways that Hannah responds to this.  

First, she does not shy away from what she believes about God. She states her beliefs and understanding about God and what that means for her life in the classroom and the hallway and the stage. She is not afraid to lift her views on what it means to love God and neighbor. She is well aware that her opinion is usually the minority opinion but she shares the hope that is within her anyway.

Second, and ironically, she actually speaks up for those who have much more conservative beliefs than her. Hannah has come to love her classmates and teachers who often see the world very differently. They have become her closest friends and confidants. When others outside of her school stereotype conservative Christians, I have watched as she helps those people understand the conservative Christian viewpoint. She has developed respect for the heartfelt loyalty of their faith even though she doesn't agree intellectually.

Third, she acknowledges that she has discovered so much more of what she believes by being around people who believe differently. I have watched her dig deeper into her faith and beliefs because her faith is constantly being challenged by virtue of the environment she is in. If she was always surrounded by people who think the same way she does, I don't think she would be as grounded in what she believes as she is now.

The way Hannah approaches those who disagree with her stands in stark contrast to a group of Christians who shouted down a peaceful gathering of Muslims at the state capital last week. It also stands in stark contrast to an event that was supposed to take place today.

A Muslim Imam was to deliver a blessing at the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo Monday morning, after delivering a similar blessing last week that by all accounts was peaceful and loving. But there has been so much online anger directed at the Rodeo for inviting a Muslim to deliver the blessing that the Imam himself backed out.

There is just so much more we can learn from one another – if we will stop being scared of one another. It's true all the way from the State Capital to a rodeo in Fort Worth to a high school in Dallas.

In January, a newly elected lay leader of our church gave her faith statement or "testimony." She shared that one of the most powerful influences on her faith was none other than a Muslim co-worker who devoutly prayed throughout the day, each and every day. She said that in watching him practice his faith, it made her want to be a better Christian and take her own faith more seriously on a daily basis.

Imagine that. A Muslim witness making for a better Christian servant.  Maybe that is the way it's supposed to work. 

Brent will continue this discussion during Open Door Sunday School on February 15th.

Please also make plans to attend Open Door this Sunday, February 8th as we welcome the president of Austin College, Dr. Marjorie Hass, for her presentation, "Jewish Faith & Practice through the Seasons."  A Q&A session will follow.

Join us at 9:30 a.m. in Fellowship Hall.


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