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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Love, then obedience

I am attending a Christian-Muslim roundtable discussion on "A Common Word," a document published a few years ago by 130 plus Islamic scholars on how Christians and Muslims can learn to live and work together. I always consider these types of conversations important, as I am not a big fan of people killing each other...and killing out of ignorance or lack of conversation is the worst!

I believe Christians and Muslims can live and work together in the same places and the same neighborhoods. This is important, because I know quite a few people who do not believe this is true. For example, a friend of mine was relating how he was at a leadership event for executives of the company for which he works. In debating whether a woman in a hajib (head-scarf) should have her religious holidays off from work, most of the people demurred. I asked how could that be? My friend replied, "Most doubted she was the most qualified for her job." Notice what this says about those executives: how will they deal with religious pluralism in the workforce? By only hiring from one religion, probably theirs. It is not that Islamic women cannot celebrate religious holidays, but they will not have a job at this company, so the issue is moot. Let them celebrate! Somewhere else...
(I understand there are laws against this type of thing, but if you believe non-discrimination laws stop discrimination...you do not live in my world.)

The question is then--in my world--why should we live and work together? And, how can you make us? That is, even if I could convince people to hire the Islamic woman, how could I "make" them live and work with her? This is why "love" is more important than "obedience."

Unless these executives see some type of relationship, some type of mutual giving and taking with people of Islam, there will be nothing more than begruding obedience to laws they are going to work around to get what they prefer anyhow. Unless love, rather than obedience to laws, becomes the basis for their living and working together they will not do it.

As a kid I learned long-ago--you can't force busing!

As a Christian (and the reason I am one) my relationship to God comes from God's love for me, not my obedience to God's will. In fact, I am comfortable saying that my obedience plays absolutely no part in my relationship with God (and I am willing to accept any consequences of this belief should I be wrong.) If I wasn't convinced that God loved me there is no way I would obey God, or even care. Like those executives, I would demur.

I understand that a lot of people worry that we are not "obeying" God's will these days...but I am not buying it because it is not important to me. I worry about the fact that we are not loving God's world enough...I see trees starving for water, I see children starving for affection, I see men starving for respect, and women starving for freedom...all the "obedience" in the cosmos won't feed those humgers. Those kinds of hungers are only fed by love...God's in, with, and under us.

May your table be full, and your conversations be true.

1 comment:

D. Mark Davis said...

I love how you take the great doctrines of the Lutheran tradition and make them alive in regard to meaningful issues today.
It would jar some people's religious world to say that 'what we do' is not the point. One would think - listening to tv preachers and reading most blogs - that 'what we do' is all that matters. Thank you for bringing the musty old doctrine of grace out of the cellar.