District Office, Beckminster Methodist Church, Wolverhampton, WV3 7BQ

Courageous Lent: Interfaith Friendships

This week was a proud one for the District with two of our Circuits; Walsall and Brownhills & Willenhall; receiving a Silver Award from the Christian-Muslim Forum for the twinning relationship they have built with sisters and brothers of the Minhaj-Ul-Quran Mosque in Walsall. Liam Dacre-Davis and Liz Dunning represented the Circuits at a reception at Lambeth Palace. Women’s Interfaith work in Wolverhampton was also recognised.

Meeting with people from other backgrounds and traditions nearly always requires a greater level of courage than meeting people just like ourselves. I fear the embarrassment of getting names wrong or making cultural faux-pas. I think that’s something we just have to get over… good humour and shared food help!

But there’s another reason I feel I need courage as well. There is a view that it’s the duty of a Christian to always actively seek the conversion of people of other as well as no faith. There are certainly passages of scripture (such as the Great Commission, Matthew 28 v.16-20) which can be cited in support of this.

I am a committed follower of Jesus. But when I meet with people of other faiths I do not have their conversion as my goal. I seek to listen, to understand, to befriend and to love them in a way I have learned from Jesus. To have my own agenda for them seems to me to compromise the integrity of that love.

I’m very happy to take every opportunity to own my own faith in interfaith spaces; to talk about the God I know in Jesus. If God wants that to become part of a story of someone else’s conversion then let it be according to God’s will. But I feel I should leave this to God.

I realise that this is another area where Christians hold contradictory convictions. It’s taking some courage for me to own my own convictions here….. it’s an area where I can easily feel defensive. But a part of being courageous is to be willing to give an account of your own beliefs in areas of disagreement.