- Sam Bacile
- The Muslim militants who stormed into the Benghazi Consulate and killed our diplomatic staff
- You and I
are all people of faith. We don’t believe the same things, but we each believe our faith involves pleasing God – whomever God is for us.
I’m imagining – again for the sake of argument – that Sam Bacile is a devout Jew, that the men who attacked the consulate are devout Muslims, and that you and I are devout practitioners of our own faith.
Let’s say that – out of love for the God of Moses – Sam Bacile (or whatever his name is) wanted to teach “truths” about Islam – a faith he disagrees with. And because some Muslims were outraged at what they considered blasphemy against Muhammed – out of love for the God they call Allah– they defended Muhammed in an act of retributive violence.
Remember Diana Butler Bass’ book Broken We Kneel written after 9-11-01? Diana tells the story about her young daughter who asked why a neighbor was wearing a head scarf and Diana responded by saying, “That’s how she loves God“?
So, how do we love God?
Do we practice spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study? Do we practice acts of mercy like taking food to the sick and hungry? Do we defame other faiths? Do we physically or verbally harm people who criticize or disparage our religion?
One of the tasks of the 21st Century Church – and the 21st Century Mosque and the 21st Century Synagogue – is to develop skills in diversity competence. Most of us are incompetent in connecting with people of other faiths.
You might remember that after 9-11-01 it was discovered that most members of Congress did not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite Muslim (much less the Kharijites, Sufis, etc.) And sadly, I doubt that most members of Congress can explain the differences eleven years later.
I am convinced that the most pressing requirement for living in a pluralistic world involves learning about other faiths and connecting with people personally who practice them.
Jesus himself did this. For those of us who try to follow Jesus, maybe we need to remember that our multilingual Savior connected with Gentiles without threatening them or mocking them or hurting them. We can even express our love for God by loving those who don’t know God the same way we do.
We can love God by connecting with organizations like the Interfaith Youth Corps or starting a Daughters of Abraham book group. Or we can create incendiary media that mocks people of other faiths and strike out at those who understand God differently than we do. But that is a very strange way to love God if you ask me.