Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jesus and Other Faiths

I found this picture on the internet; so that means there are at least two gas station Halal taco joints in Houston.

Not long ago, I took a different route to the church than usual, and I passed a gas station that had a hand-written sign out front, saying, “Halal Tacos.”  I thought, “Only in Houston can you get Mexican food made in accordance with Muslim dietary restrictions, advertised in English at a gas station.”  We live in what is now the most racially diverse major city in America.  Some of you live in Ft Bend County, the most racially diverse county in the US.  As Christians, that means the mission field is here now.  If you grew up in our part of Houston, you’ve probably known Jewish people your whole life.  But many of our older members grew up in a society where the only time we saw Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists was in National Geographic or on the slideshows that missionaries on furlough would show in our churches.  Now, most of us have at least one neighbor who is of one of those faiths, or something even further from our understanding, like Wicca or Scientology.  Our kids, by contrast, think there's nothing remarkable at all about this religious diversity; their school classrooms looks like mini-United Nations assemblies.  And of course, we’ve all been visited at our homes by Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.  

Many Christians feel threatened by this.  Some look at passages in the Old Testament that seem to indicate that other religions are threats that should be actively resisted and wonder if that should be our attitude today.  Based on what I see from Christians on social media, this seems to be the way many feel we should respond: With hostility, challenging an enemy.

Others think that talking about our faith, in such a religiously divided society, is a bad idea.  It’s better, they think, to keep our faith private instead of offending someone.  Some even believe, “We’re all worshiping the same God anyway, so let’s not worry about it.”  

What does Scripture tell us?  This Sunday, we'll look at how Jesus and His apostles, plus the Old Testament prophets, interacted with other religious faiths, and what that teaches us today.  

It's our annual International Day at WBC.  It's our chance to come together with the five ethnic mission churches we sponsor: Iranian, Spanish-speaking, Filipino, Cambodian and Korean.  We'll have fellowship around breakfast at 9:30, and worship at 11:00.  This is a unique experience, and one of my favorite services of the year.  Don't miss it!

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