Monday, December 28, 2015

On This Fourth Day Of Christmas--Pray For Goodwill Among People Of All Faiths (or no faith)

"All who are wicked will be punished with trouble and suffering. It doesn’t matter if they are Jews or Gentiles. But all who do right will be rewarded with glory, honor, and peace, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. God doesn’t have any favorites."

Romans 2:9-11 (Contemporary English Version

At a time when ISIS forces are making headlines with horrific acts of violence toward Christians and members of faiths with whom they disagree, and when western-led forces representing so-called "Christian" nations are making drone and other attacks that result in untold carnage, relationships between members of major world religions are strained as never before. We forget that God loves all people, and that Muslims, Jews and Christians alike claim to serve the God of Abraham and Sarah as revealed in our sacred texts, even though their understandings of God may differ. And we Christians likewise forget that Jesus' only teaching regarding enemies who persecute and hate us is to respond by returning good for evil rather than exacting revenge.

I've never been one to promote the idea that all religions are the same, that we should just forget about our differences and blend everything religious together into one generic faith. On the contrary, I feel that whatever I or others truly believe as our "way, truth and life" we should respectfully promote and affirm without apology.

But we can't get others to even consider our own faith if we are inconsiderate of theirs, and certainly not if we are hostile toward them. Jesus never lashed out against Samaritans or called them heretics. Nor did he ridicule or insult the religion of Romans or of other Gentiles of his time. In fact, the only religious teachers or teachings he lashed out against were unloving dogmatics within his own strongly held Jewish faith.

And certainly if we are to love and pray for even our enemies we should love and respect all of our many friends around the world who follow the faith of their choice--just as we would have them respect ours. That's not heresy, it's the Golden Rule.
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