Thursday, August 21, 2014

Together for The Poor

The Jesus Creed blog has an article about Evangelicals in the United Kingdom and the various theological perspectives on Hell. I appreciate the perspective of this Evangelical Alliance because they are a true alliance. It does not seem that one theological group is trying to win out over another group. They truly recognize that there are disagreements among them and give each perspective equal time. I thought about this as I attended a meeting today. I gathered with representatives who were Christian, Jewish, or Muslim to discuss how we might work for the common good of the poor in our city. We concluded that all of our faith traditions mandated that we "love one another" and "care for the poor." We spent a couple of hours asking each other what it means to love one another in this manner while our world is polarized and sometimes violent. We recognized that there is a difference between healthy faith and toxic faith and all of us committed ourselves to upholding our healthy faith while standing against toxic versions of any community of faith. We are working together to be exemplars of what good, healthy, and true religion can be.

Now, I am pretty sure that if I had coffee with Rabbi Howard tomorrow and expressed an interest in converting to Judaism, he would first check my motivations, and then begin the process of teaching me how to become a Jewish convert. If he were to come to me and express a desire to follow Jesus Christ, I too would check his motives; but if I found him to be sincere, I would welcome him into a discipleship program that would ultimately result in him becoming a Christian. Each of us is absolutely committed to our faith and to the value it has for people's lives. We are not lukewarm about our beliefs! Yet, we recognize that if the majority culture is to see either of our faiths as a viable faith structure, we must show our commitment to working together on things we hold in common. We must exemplify the value of loving others and caring for the poor.

This group of which I am a part also set out on a path to write a joint statement condemning the actions of ISIS in Iraq. We were all in absolute agreement that the atrocities of these armed militants are wrong and deserve to be halted; but, can we agree on a joint statement that will say this in a fashion on which we can all agree? That remains to be seen. For now, I thank God for small gains as we work together to serve the poor in the city of Calgary.

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