Perfect Fear Casts Out Love
The hidden reality of inter-faith relationships is that listening to others who actually believe in their own faith does not offend the majority of people of other faiths. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and Christians all want to be free to express their faith as fully functioning members of society, so why should we not want each other to do the same?
We need to build a public square that is respectful of people of all faiths. Faith represents the character, spirituality, and conscience of a society. It builds conviction. We should work together to improve the global and local communities in which we live. We can even form a common cause with those of different faiths to promote real religious freedom here in the West where it is gradually being eroded, and also in many countries in the East where it is still a distant dream.
Many of us approach sharing our faith by effectively communicating, "everything you believe is wrong and let me tell you why." Beginning where we agree can help with building understanding and friendship. One helpful topic for conversation between people of various faiths is what they think about Jesus. For a Jew, Jesus was a rabbi. To a Muslim he was one of their prophets, to a Christian he is the Son of God who died and rose again for us, and whom we worship today. There is a lot of potential to discuss him, starting from where we agree. For example his golden rule, "treat other people as you want to be treated" is attractive to most people and then we can respectfully move on to where we do disagree.
The peace of the world is going to depend on leaders who can help to diffuse the dangerous potential of masses of people who are full of fear and anger. Relationships build trust. With trust you can solve anything. Peace is not just the absence of conflict; it is the presence of harmony. We can all play our part to break down barriers one person at a time.
We can work to build good relationships with people different from ourselves without compromising our beliefs, and without pretending we agree. This simple idea has the potential to transform the world politically. Politicians respond to public opinion. The attitudes and actions of thousands of ordinary people can help to shape public opinion.
People everywhere want the same things: they want to be able to worship freely, they want access to opportunity, and they want access to good education and healthcare.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." The world needs people who make themselves available to demonstrate unconditional love, which changes people's hearts.
Adrian Warnock blogs at http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock and is the author of book, Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everything. Adrian is based in London, where he serves on the leadership team of Jubilee Church. You can connect with him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/adrianwarnock) or Facebook. (http://facebook.com/adrianwarnock). Video recordings of the Global Faith Forum are available free of charge at http://globalfaithforum.com.