Misunderstandings from My Youth

I grew up believing that if we disagreed with someone, we subsequently didn’t like them.  In fact, we might even wish them more harm than the usual schadenfreude.

Apparently many children grow up with this misunderstanding.  When President Reagan was shot, I remember one of my seminary friend’s young daughters said – knowing that her mother was no fan of Reagan – “We’re happy he got shot, right Mom?”  Her mother was horrified.

I was taught as a young Christian that it was our duty to seek the conversion of others to Christianity, even if they were already devout Jews, Muslims, or Hindu.  Maybe we should even hate them.

My church did not teach this.  I think it was a cultural expectation.

I see this all the time, which is increasingly problematic as our culture is increasing less Christian and more multi-faith or secular.  How do we live as faithful Christians while working alongside, befriending, loving those of other faiths or no faith? I’m looking forward to Brian McLaren’s new book due out September 11, 2012 which will address these issues.

Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Youth Corps strives to teach youth and young adults how to live out their faith while respecting the faiths of others – without vilifying them or trying to convert them.

This is one of the teachings we in the church need to learn and perfect as well.

Even within our own faith, respecting the faith of Christians who disagree with us   requires finesse and unconditional love.  My sister in faith who was quoted here (the “shame on us” sister) is the first on my list this week.

Source of image.


One response to “Misunderstandings from My Youth

  1. One of my most uncomfortable church moments was when I attended a non-denominational service at a friend’s church. During the service, a congregational member was sharing a slide show about a recent missions trip to China. She started weeping, barely able to speak, as she described the how horrible it was to think that these beautiful kids will be burning in Hell because they couldn’t convert them to Christianity. That moment made me reflect for quite a while on the true purpose of mission trips, what they *should* be, what they are to some, and what sort of harm might follow from mission trips carried out as recruitment trips rather than a transformational journey for both parties.

    How do we get along with those whom we disagree? Finesse, unconditional love, and working to change our culture that seems to thrive upon conflict, disharmony, and bitterness (see any popular reality TV show). If we continue to hold such behaviors as an example of normal interaction and, even worse, entertaining, it will most likely remain an uphill battle.

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