Interfaith Family

I’m part of a Christian family which now includes people raised Hindu and Sikh. We were already a family with daughters raised Muslim. It’s quite beautiful.

There are two things I’ve noticed about this particular way of being a family:

  • Other Christians make comments which assume HH and I didn’t do something right for our kids to choose partners of other faiths. “Are they seeking Jesus? Why not?
  • Being raised a certain faith doesn’t equal being committed to that faith – except perhaps culturally. Think of all the people you know who celebrate Christmas without it ever being about Jesus.

It occurs to me that there are millions of people who identify as a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or Zororastrian who do not practice that faith except during the holidays and even then it might not be about the spiritual reasons for those holidays. I was in Jordan for Ramadan a few years ago and while there were lights hanging on the lamp posts, there were also lots of local people eating in cafes during the day. Being devout is a way of life. Being a participant in the culture can be merely a holiday thing.

We all need to work on our interfaith awareness. In Istabul, I was once with a group touring the Hagia Sophia Holy Grand Mosque. Our group was 100% Christian. The former Church of Hagia Sophia became a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1935. There were quite a few folks in our group who refused to enter in 2009 because they considered it a Muslim house of worship and being inside would make Jesus unhappy. Note: entering a house of worship of another faith or having loved ones who practice a faith other than Christianity isn’t an act of faithlessness. Keep in mind that Jesus had several encounters with people of faith. The Syro-Phonician woman. The Samaritan woman. He treated them with love and respect, even when their own culture didn’t.

So here’s my question:

Would a person of no faith or a faith other than Christianity want to follow Jesus based on how you treat them?

Following Jesus means loving everyone – even aliens, even enemies, even people of other faiths or no faith – as Jesus loves. So far, I am not great at doing this but I’m working on it. Within my own family, I am called to respect and treasure those who don’t know Jesus and I deeply hope that they see Jesus in me.

I pray that my faith will not be a hammer that beats them into saying they believe what I believe just to quiet me. I pray that my faith will not be used in a way that makes people feel less than. Eboo Patel says he is a better Muslim because of his connections to people of other faiths. Yes, we Christians might even learn something about Jesus by loving people of other faiths.

Last weekend we became family with people from two different polytheistic faiths – and it was glorious. I just hope I can be the person Jesus calls me to be in this adventure. Salvation is and always has been about love.

Image of SBC and AJC at last weekend’s Roka.

6 responses to “Interfaith Family

  1. Our family is becoming multinational and I find it makes us question things we always assumed were true.

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  2. >>There were quite a few folks in our group who refused to enter in 2009 because they considered it a Muslim house of worship and being inside would make Jesus unhappy. <<
    I was eating breakfast as I read that and almost spit out my cinnamon roll. Such foolishness.

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  3. nancyswiatekpardo

    Warmest congratulations! Beautiful photo!!

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  4. Julie Johnson

    What a grand celebration it must have been. I love your question. With my daughter in Montessori, we have had a very rich inter-religious experience. The biggest surprise? People think because I’m a Christian pastor I”m going to judge them. The truth is absolutely the opposite– I want to know them and learn more about their faith and send cards and FB messages on their special days. It makes me sad to hear their stories of people judging and hurting them and their children. That’s one reason I think God has called me there. Plus God has given M and our family an incredible rich experience. Enjoy your inter-faith family…you and Fred are incredibly faithful Christians.

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  5. Last July Andy and I celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of our Christian/Hindu marriage! This year, Andy is in hospice care with deteriorating health, and I’m hoping to be able to plan a meaningful memorial service for him at some point. His two youngest siblings came for a visit last weekend, along with Hari, Heather and Charlotte, and they are open for any kind of loving service. The operative word here, is LOVE!

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