One of my greatest joys as I continue my journey of faith is to recognize and learn from other religious practices. I was raised in a tradition that did not encourage learning about the important components of other cultures and how people outside of my own customs share the power and the love of God. It was not considered appropriate or essential to my own faith. Maintaining a sense of the “other” was the way that I was taught. We were right, they were wrong, pure and simple.
The older I get, the more that I realize that the world is way too small to “other” people or traditions that do not believe the same way that I do. Matter of fact, to demonize and minimalize other religious practices goes against what I know to be the chief component of my own belief system.
Jesus instructed his followers that the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we love each other when we marginalize each other? I can’t seem to hold love and persecution up to the same light and justify it as okay with the God of my understanding. It just doesn’t work. The message is far too inconsistent.
I believe that we are to take the love which Jesus talks about into all of our relationships. I am not saying that we are to surrender our own faith practices, but we are to be kind and respectful of those whom we disagree. God is not to be shanghaied by resentment, human righteousness, or superiority. We are simply called to love one another.
My hope for today is that we can surrender our thoughts of moral superiority and get back to the basics of our faith. We should love as God loves us. Our fierce commitment to the words of Jesus will hopefully remind us that we are called to change the world by demonstrating holy love and not by some need to prove to the world that “we” are the chosen ones and “they” are not. Praise be to God, who loves us unconditionally. It is in this incredible space of divine grace that we are called to make a difference in our world.