Brian McLaren has offered us another intriguing book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? I doubt he’d claim the following quote as his thesis, but the thought reveals a fundamental struggle and hope among many. McLaren says, “…try to imagine the scene: four of history’s greatest religious leaders…not fighting, not arguing, not damning and condemning one another, not launching crusades or jihads, but walking together, moving together, leading together” (p. 2). My fear is that too few people are willing to even imagine such a thing, for their distorted view of other expressions of faith keeps them from dreaming anything but a hateful and judgmental nightmare. I appreciate any person who has a passion for his or her faith, but some Christians find any other free expression of faith to undermine their faith. I don’t know for sure, but it appears that a faith so easily threatened is a faith that has unhealthy and troubling issues that make for a rather shaky foundation.
Simply from a Christian standpoint, how would Jesus treat these other religious leaders? Would it be the next pay-per-view Wrestling Super Smackdown? Or by chance, would Jesus treat these individuals the same way he treated others throughout his life? McLaren is right when he asks, would Jesus “intimidate them, threaten them, call down fire upon them, patronize the, or humiliate them. Maybe his follower would pull out a sword and slash off their ears, or herd them into ghettoes, concentration camps, or reservations where their influence could be limited. But never Jesus. Never” (p. 4).
McLaren talks about Christians befriending people of other faiths with the intention of getting them to switch sides. Is that really friendship, or a self-serving act to make me feel more secure in my own faith? As followers of Jesus, isn’t our task one of love, understanding, hospitality and acceptance…especially when people of other religions are clearly living out the Great Commandment, to love God and love neighbor, in their own way? Could it be that we are faced with a choice, “not between kindness and hostility, but between Kindness and nonexistence” (p.12).
I’m looking forward to reading more of Brian’s book. If you would like to read along or offer comments, I would covet your partnership.