Last week I wrote about turning “bodies into neighbors.” It was a phrase from our Sunday morning conversation about focus on mission, and the call to love our neighbors. Like some of you, I started praying. Then this happened.
I spent the better part of three days this week at a small gathering of evangelical pastors and Muslim imams. The purpose was to begin to change the environment locally, and globally between these two dominant faiths. And along the way, God began to change bodies into neighbors.
Not only did I meet some courageous, like-minded pastors in the DC area (including one who has spoken powerfully about the racial tensions currently bubbling over in our country), but I met several imams, a brilliant young Muslim scholar, and a sheikh who is one of the top Muslim jurists in this country. And under the visionary leadership of Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Dallas, we all began to build friendships, untangle perceptions, and ask the questions nobody ever asks. While all this was going on, something else was happening.
God was turning bodies into neighbors. I realized that despite living in such a diverse community, I had no relationship with any Muslims. Nor any conversations. And it’s hard to love those you don’t know. But God is changing that.
Which raises questions for all of us about loving our neighbors:
- Can you love someone who has a different faith system?
- Can you stand up for their rights to believe and practice their faith?
- Can you partner with them on making a difference in our communities?
- Can you be friends even if the other person never changes their religious beliefs to match yours?
- Would Jesus hang out with those who didn’t agree with him?
The retreat was just the beginning. But it was a powerful example of how God answers our prayers. Specifically, our prayers to turn bodies into neighbors.
How are you praying?