Thursday, January 15, 2015

Common Fears

This past fall I had the privilege of visiting the great nation of Russia--not once but twice. One of those trips was focused on challenging and equiping national Christians to reach out to the Muslims in their midst.

(BtW, for those who love statistics, Moscow now has the largest population of Muslims of any city in Europe, 5+ million)

Anyway, I found it interesting that our dear Russian brothers and sisters struggle with their feelings about Muslims pretty much the same way American Christians do. They intellectually know they should love Muslims in the name of Christ, but they still feel afraid since they are different.

Perhaps the simple fact that I am referring to "Russian brothers and sisters" can help us. For many Americans, the words "Russian" and "brother" or "sister" do not naturally go together. Because of geopolitics many Americans cannot see past the few differences to the many commonalities we share.

In a very different sort of way, I hope we can learn to see the commonalities we share with Muslims. While they do not (yet) share our faith, they do share with us deep commonality as people created in the image of God. They are monotheists. They have families and fears. Some of them are proud and pompous as a New York Stock broker, others are as gentle and humble as my granny Ann.

Don't get me wrong, the differences are real, but often the first step in mission is seeing the commonalities we have with people instead of the differences. Differences create a sense of fear, and that often stops us from acting in faith.

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