As we work our way through interfaith gatherings we focus on similarities, knowing that others will be hollering the differences from the rooftops.
That has set my mind to considering how much time, effort, resource and commitment is given to enmity and hate.
When I stop to think about it, it boggles my simple mind.
Long years ago, I invited a celebrity I knew quite well to an interfaith gathering. He said: “That sounds like a lovely evening” and asked who would be there.
I reported to him the various clergy, laity, religious affiliations, etc. The list was lengthy. We had more than 200 committed from some 200 different groups in the community.
He listened, then said: “In good conscience I cannot attend if so-and-so will be there.”
I thought to myself, “If you stay away because of some religious difference, you may not have a working conscience at all.”
God is no respecter of persons. He does not see me better or worse than you. Our attempt to worship Him will show our will and our way, but God sees all of His children in a scope of light and love and wonderfulness!
God is no respecter of persons. He does not see me better or worse than you.
I once stood in a small airport late at night when four deputy sheriffs walked a man through, chained in every direction and covered in a mask that would not allow him to speak. He grunted and groaned and stretched the tight chains the deputy sheriffs held at four corners. He had obviously done bad things—and his actions disqualified him from a circle of decency and honor.
A few days later I told my aged grandfather about the experience. He said, without blinking, “Never forget, my boy, that the worst person you have ever known is better than the best dog you ever had.” And he referenced the love of His (God’s) children.
Most people agree that we are all children of God. We want to please our God and to show our God that we are faithful and true. But as brothers and sisters, we see no real need to get along. And that has always dazzled my mental capacity.
In a Baptist worship service many years ago, I found myself seated as the only Caucasian in a group of about 300. Midway through the service, the minister asked us to stop and greet our neighbors. We all did so. It was sincere and warm and pleasing.
Directly in front of me, in her very Sunday best dress, a 3-year-old African-American girl stood on the bench, turned around and faced me and asked, “Do you want to hug me?”
“I certainly do,” I answered, and her mother nodded that that would be just fine.
I embraced the little one and then said, “You are probably the most beautiful girl in this room!” She was in pink lace and frills.
She just smiled, looked at me, and said, “I know.”
There were no differences between us. We weren’t NOT ALIKE in how we dressed, how we walked, talked, conversed, worshiped etc. We were very much ALIKE... and I adored her! She seemed to like me, as well.
There were no differences between us.
In all spaces and places the Golden Rule seems like a world-old and a worldwide truth. It appears in every major religion.
A writer once penned: “If all the individuals in society acted as they desired, regardless of the rights of others, a condition of gangsterism and lawlessness would prevail.”
So make all people your friend. Go out of your way to know them and to understand them. Some will help you understand to stand back, but most will pull you toward them in goodness and warmth.
Break bread with them. Walk with them.
Do not criticize them until you’ve walked with them for five or ten years.
“Only raise your voice if the house is on fire,” I was told in childhood. That applies in this overview, as well.
Look into the eyes of your associates, then look into their hearts. You will learn to see love, like, friendship, togetherness and you will unlearn hate, enmity, disgust and distrust.
We all do live in the same house. We just came in through different doors. It is the house of God—in all his descriptions and varieties of views and childlike learning and understanding.
And it’s beautiful inside His house, because it’s filled with beautiful people.