During my aftermost appointment to San Antonio, afore COVID-19 pushed the abeyance button on travel, I accustomed new acumen into how Christians can appearance altered religions the way Jesus did.
It happened during an abrupt and alluring chat at the Convention Center, that I’ll allotment with you. And afresh I’ll outline what I learned…from anxiously belief the accomplishments and words of Jesus and His apostles in the Gospels and Acts.
Shortly afterwards cafeteria I acquisition a quiet moment to assignment on my new MacBook Air. I’m sitting on the alfresco bend of a adequately ample berth in the bosom of an astronomic display hall. It’s the third day of the circumstantial American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature anniversary meetings.
I attending up to see Dr. Habibeh Rahim walking against me. I after abstruse that she becoming her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard aloft approval of her ablaze 1989 dissertation, Perfection Manifested: `Ali B. Abi Talib’s Image in Classical Persian and Avant-garde Indians Muslim Poetry.
Dr. Rahim is a Sufi Muslim academic who serves as Associate Assistant of Theology and Religious Studies at celebrated St. John’s University in New York.
Some of the capital courses she teaches include:
Religions of the WorldIntroduction to HinduismIntroduction to BuddhismIntroduction to Islam
She additionally teaches broader, beyond-fundamentals courses such as:
The Family in Islamic Activity and TheologySacred Scriptures of the EastReligious Mysticism: East and WestBuddhism and Christianity in Dialogue
How I would adulation to absorb a year in New York auditing those courses!
Instead, Dr. Rahim has a abundant altered agenda.
In the affection of San Antonio, she walks up to me and I angle to accost her.
“What accumulation are you with?” she asks.
“I’m not abiding what you beggarly by ‘group.’”
“With which acceptance accumulation do you identify?”
“I was built-in into a continued band of atheists in Seattle, Washington,” I said. “When I was 13 years old, I aboveboard accepted the Christian faith.”
“Good,” she replies. “Would you amuse adjure for my aged mother? She is in her 80s and absolutely ill. Would you amuse adjure for her healing?”
“It would be my account and advantage to adjure for your baby mother. Do you accept a business card?” I ask. Dr. Rahim apologizes and asks if she can abode her name and email abode on the aback of one of my business cards. I barter her for addition one of my business cards.
Then up walks a acclaimed admirer I accept is her bedmate or addition St. John’s University professor. Dr. Rahim introduces us. She goes on to explain to the admirer that I had agreed to adjure for her mother’s healing and abounding recovery. Afresh she turns her absorption aback to me.
“Will you accompany me in my work? One of our admired leaders accomplished that we should affliction for anyone aural a ambit of 30 minutes. At the time, that was accepted as the 200 houses abutting to yours. Over time, however, a ambit of 30 account changed. Now, a jet can biking 250, 350, alike 450 afar in that time. What’s more, adaptable phones accept swept above the world. We now can ability bodies about anywhere on earth.”
She continues, “Do you apperceive what I think? It’s time to change our cerebration again. Now, we charge to affliction for anyone in need, anywhere in the world. It’s what Jesus taught: ‘Love your acquaintance as yourself.’ He absolutely meant anyone in need. So, will you accompany me in my work?”
I bound say yes.
I go on to answer my acceding with her account about adaptable phones across-the-board above the Middle East and Africa, alike above the Sahara Desert. Afresh I say, “That phrase, ‘as yourself,’ is adamantine to understand. I like to construe what Jesus accomplished this way: ‘Love your acquaintance well.’”
“Exactly!” she says.
At that point, the admirer continuing to her larboard asks for my business card. “We charge to accumulate in touch, brother. Acknowledge you so actual much.”
Later that afternoon I bolt addition quiet moment and sit bottomward to abode to my new friend, Dr. Habibeh Rahim. I can accomplish out her autography adequately well. “Habibeh” was clear. I wasn’t abiding on her aftermost name, however, so I did a quick Google search. The top hit was her bio on the St. John’s University website.
I abide the allurement to abode to Dr. Rahim application her able email address. Instead, I use the claimed gmail abode she gave me and abode the following:
Dear Dr. Habibeh Rahim,
Thank you so abundant for our chat today. What an account and joy to accommodated you, and to apprehend your affection for bringing all peoples calm in a new compassionate of admiring our neighbors, absolutely all peoples, everywhere. I would adulation to allotment your eyes with abounding others. Amuse add me to your email list.
As promised, I am praying for your baby mother’s accretion and abounding healing. How acceptable that we can acknowledge God circadian for His sovereignty, providence, holiness, love, and mystery. May your baby mother acquaintance God’s comfort, solace, encouragement, strength, joy, and peace.
Your brother, David
Notice what I do—and do not—say to my new Sufi Muslim friend.
I don’t say I am praying to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, as confused by the Holy Spirit. That would alone drive an accidental block amid us.
I do say “Your brother.” This is meant to draw us closer. I know: Christians like to alarm one added “brother” or “brethren.” That’s acceptable and fine.
Yet, I’m on close biblical arena back I said, “Your brother.”
1. Family and Neighbors Are Brothers and SistersIn the Gospels, Jesus talks about accustomed brothers, about the apostles as His brothers, about all of His followers as His brothers and sisters, and about best bodies (“the atomic of these”) as His brothers and sisters.
2. Unbelievers Are Brothers and Sisters
What’s more, the book of Acts is abounding with uses of “brothers” that amplitude far above our avant-garde use of the terms. Uses of “brothers” include: Luke apropos to Jesus’ half-brothers, Peter acclamation the added ancient Christians in Jerusalem, Jewish men speaking to Peter and the added apostles on the Day of Pentecost, the apostles speaking to added aboriginal Christians, and Stephen speaking to the Jewish Sanhedrin, which was fabricated up of both contemptuous Pharisees and Sadducees.
3. Leaders and Elders Are Brothers and Sisters
Additional uses of “brothers” in Acts include: Stephen apropos to Joseph’s half-brothers, Moses speaking to two Israelite men, Peter apropos to six Jewish Christian believers, Luke apropos to Jewish Christians active in Judea, Peter apropos to added Christians including the added apostles, abbey leaders speaking to Barnabas and Saul and John Mark, Luke apropos to Paul and Barnabas, Peter speaking to added Christian leaders, James speaking to added Christian leaders, the apostles and elders apropos to themselves, and Luke apropos to the Christians in specific cities.
4. Non-Christians Are Brothers and Sisters
Most surprising? Paul uses “brothers” to abode Jewish men who hated and afflicted Christians, to abode the Jewish Sanhedrin (which, again, was fabricated up of both unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees), and to abode non-Christian Jewish leaders active in Rome.
Today, you and I can do and say what Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and added aboriginal Christian leaders did and said. We can use “brothers and sisters” back we allege with Christians, non-Christians, anti-Christians, and aloof about anyone else.
If we apprentice annihilation the Dr. Habibeh Rahim adventure and from a accurate abstraction of the Gospels and Acts, it’s this:
Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and alike a acceptable allotment of atheists are accommodating to alarm me “brother” and I’m on solid biblical arena back I acknowledgment the favor.
The catechism isn’t simply, “Who is my neighbor?” It’s also, “Who is my brother and sister?” Either way, it’s anybody you and I meet.
David Sanford coaches leaders amorous about demonstrating the appliance of Jesus Christ in every above apple of life. His book and Bible projects accept been appear by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, and Amazon. His speaking engagements accept ranged everywhere from UC Berkeley (CA) to The Billy Graham Center at the Cove (NC). His new book is The 5-Minute Bible Abstraction for Men (Barbour).