Jesus said “Love your neighbour”
Jesus said “Love your neighbour”.
He didn’t say “Love your neighbour, except Muslims.”
In Jesus’ day a people group called Samaritans held different beliefs to the Jews and were generally despised and actively avoided by them.
Jesus strongly challenged this attitude:
- He purposely travelled through Samaritan towns instead of crossing the Jordan River to avoid contact with them (John 4:4-5).
- He not only spoke with a Samaritan woman contrary to Jewish custom, but reached out to her at a caring, personal level… a radical move for a Jewish man (John 4:9).
- When asked whom to regard as our neighbor, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Samaritan was the good guy in the story who rescued a Jew who had been robbed and beaten. Jesus was sending a clear message that a person with different beliefs is just as capable of demonstrating practical love and care as a Jew. (In fact the other Jews in the story just walked past their fellow countryman and left him for dead!)
The challenge to me:
What can I do to love my neighbour, especially Muslims?
What can I do to challenge my own attitudes and rid myself of unwarranted fears?
What can I do to help break down fear of Muslims in the Australian community?
How can I best challenge negative attitudes toward everyday Muslims based on fear of extremist Islam when I see this promoted by the media or sometimes by the religious right in Australia? This fear is understandable given the horrific activities of Muslim extremist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, and was reinforced by the recent Lindt Café seige in Sydney, but in my view it is not warranted, as the majority of Australian Muslims are also horrified by these things.
Some personal goals:
I want to actively seek to build relationships with Muslims and establish some genuine friendships.
This will help me gain a first hand understanding of Islam from Muslim believers themselves, in place of a “Google search” understanding, or a media biased understanding.
I want to be a bridge between Muslims and the rest of the Australian community (one of hopefully many bridges) and help counter unfounded fears by being able to:
- share my experience of Muslims as personal friends,
- give others an understanding of Islam from the perspective of regular, moderate Muslims (along with their views on the extremists who pervert it), and,
- encourage others to also reach out to Muslims and build relationships with them.
A challenge for all of us:
What does “love your neighbour” mean for you in relation to Muslims in your community?
Can I respectfully encourage you to examine your thoughts and attitudes towards Muslims and ask how these were formed?