Faith Line Protestants is excited to feature a new voice in our discussion on Christians in the interfaith movement. Anne Marie Roderick is a graduate of Earlham College where she was an active member of Earlham Christian Fellowship. She is also an alum of the Interfaith Youth Core’s Fellows Alliance and now serves as an editorial assistant with Sojourners Magazine in Washington, D.C.
Jim Wallis is famous for saying that Christian faith should be personal, but never private. In other words, the personal relationship we have with God—the one we hold in our hearts—should reflect itself in the world as a public testament of our commitment to Christ.
When I began college in 2007, I was in the middle of a process of returning to faith. I had recently begun to read the Bible and pray regularly on my own and for the first time in a long time I felt that I had a personal relationship with God. As the presence of God grew within me I couldn’t help but let that spirit spill out into the world. I committed to attending church each week as I had done with my family when I was younger; I joined the Christian fellowship group at my school; I volunteered to help out at various campus ministry events; and I began to reflect on how to bring the spirit of Christ into my relationships with friends and family, and into my classwork.
I took a course during my second semester called Contemporary Religious Movements and Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith was on the syllabus. As I read this inspiring story of a young Muslim man finding his faith again I felt as though I was reading my own story. I too was trying to figure out how I fit into my religious tradition. Like Eboo Patel, I cared about how the stories of my faith were being told in media around the world. And I wanted to build peace and understanding across difference. I had grown up in New York City in a religiously diverse community and I had close friends who were Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and atheists; yet, as a child and teenager I had done little to stop it when I watched those friends get teased and harassed for their religious heritage. Now, as a Christian, I wanted to do better than that. I wanted to be better than that.
In the Gospels, we read about a Jesus who constantly breaks social barriers in order to model for us a radical life of love, compassion, and forgiveness. How can we, as Christians, reflect that mission in our lives today? I got involved with interfaith work through the Interfaith Youth Core and on my campus and I found that I became a stronger, more faithful Christian because of it. What’s a better place to model the Christian spirit than in a diverse setting with people of other faith backgrounds? Christians involved in interfaith work become representatives of Christian faith—not for doctrine or theology, but for the spirit of love, grace and reconciliation to which Christ calls us. As I listened to the stories of those around me answers to the deep questions I had about my own faith became clearer. As I built and strengthened relationships with people of other religious traditions, my relationship to God became stronger. While my faith initially inspired me to do interfaith work, I continue to be involved in these efforts because interfaith work enhances my faith and my commitment to serving the mission of Jesus.