Dear Muslim Friends,
I hope it's okay with you if I share a bit from my heart.
The State of My Heart
I am troubled. And discouraged.
The world seems to be falling apart before our very eyes. All around the globe, nations rage against nations, races battle with one another, adherents of different religions are pitted against one another. The rhetoric of hate and fear is so loud that we begin to buy in, not because the arguments are convincing but simply because its obnoxious drumbeat reverberates in our heads non-stop.
I am troubled. And discouraged. But you give me hope.
Sharing Life with You Is Good for My Soul
When I am with you, my Muslim friends, I am reminded that we can respect one another and even love one another and share real friendship. And we must. Jesus taught that the way to overcome evil is with good, and I am convinced that getting together with you regularly is one of the best things I can do for my own soul and for the cause of peace in the world.
It seems that all the misguided talking heads on TV, all the fear-mongering keyboardists with internet access, and all the hate-filled ideologues and terrorists do not want us to come together, because peace and love seem not to suit their agenda. Their agenda must not prevail, however, and therefore we must stay resolute in our commitment to real friendship with one another.
So, what I am saying is this: I need you. I need each of you sharing this journey of life with me, and I need us to stay persistent in spending time together. Sometimes, like the present, I start to get worn down by the voices screaming at me and telling me you're my enemies. You are NOT my enemies, and I refuse to give in to hate. Instead, I choose love. And I choose you--as my friends and my sisters and my brothers. And I choose to follow Jesus, whose life and teachings compel me to treat everyone with love and respect and kindness.
Merry Christmas and An Invitation
As you know, Christmas is the time when we Christians celebrate the coming of the Messiah and His miraculous, virgin birth. I know that many Christians and Muslims have real differences in their thoughts about Jesus (and in the right moments we can talk about those differences in the context of real friendship), but there is significant common ground as well.
One of my own convictions about Jesus is that, when we embrace his ways and words, then he leads us into real friendships with very diverse people from very diverse backgrounds. Thus, I am hopeful that you will not be offended by my invitation to a Christmas party, but rather that you will see it as I do--an opportunity to stand together on common ground and thus walk in the way of Jesus, who himself was severely ridiculed for being friendly with all the wrong people. : )
Thus, in this spirit, I wish you Christmas blessings, and I want you to know that this Christmas I will be giving thanks to God for each of you and for the gift of your friendship.
And if ANY of you (Muslim, Christian, etc.) are in the Raleigh area this Saturday (December 12), I would love for you to join some of my Muslim and Christian friends and perhaps others for a special Christmas gathering to celebrate our friendship. If you are available and interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can send you more details. We’d be delighted to welcome you!
Trying to follow Jesus and wage peace,