Last Thursday, I had the great privilege of sharing my passion for interfaith cooperation with a group of evangelical students at Northwestern University’s Multi-Ethnic InterVarsity.
As I described the need for interfaith relationships to combat religious violence and tension, the barriers that keep evangelicals from engaging in interfaith work, and the ways in which interfaith cooperation allows us as Christians to communicate Christ with others, I was met with an encouraging response.
Afterwards, I chatted with one student who desires to build a sustainable project to serve the homeless in Northwestern’s surrounding community of Evanston, IL. We talked about the great opportunity to grow the impact of one campus fellowship’s efforts by reaching out to student organizations of other faith traditions and creating an interfaith project to serve the homeless.
Another student reminded me of Jesus’ words in the New Testament: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” reflecting the notion in my faith tradition that, because I am a Christian, my life reflects a quality that no other’s does, and that simply living a life motivated by the example of Christ, I am providing a witness to the core values of my faith. How exciting, then, to follow the example of Christ by serving others in an interfaith context?
These conversations are the first steps in changing the broader evangelical perspective on a religiously diverse world. We must tell the stories of positive interaction between faith communities, cast the vision for a world where inter-religious conflict is overcome by enriching relationships, and encourage opportunities to show Christ to the world through our actions.
This gets me thinking. How would the global church be different if our youth groups organized service projects in their communities with groups from the nearby mosque or temple? What if our campus fellowships coordinated social events with religious student organizations from other faith traditions? What if our churches were more hospitable to their neighboring congregations? What if religious leaders, clergy, and secular leaders alike were getting together to talk about how we can better meet the needs of our communities?
Would we, as Christians, be seen differently? Would we spend less time quarreling about church budgets and communion practices and more time living, serving, and loving? Would we be communicating the love of Jesus in a clearer, more effective way?
I think so. What do you think?