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How do you love someone of a different religion?

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How do you love someone of a different religion?—Techie Girl, 16, NE


Shayna Answers:

Dear Techie Girl,

God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and His very essence is love (1 John 4:8). So the desire to love is an innate characteristic that God created in us.

For many people the problem isn’t figuring out how to love someone of another religion. The problem is being disciplined enough not to start a relationship with a person who may compromise our relationship with God.

Loving someone of another faith doesn’t necessarily refer to romantic love, though, and I’m not sure that this is how you intended for me to interpret your question. So let’s talk about the basic concept of nonromantic love.

You can extend philos love (brotherly love) to someone of another faith in exactly the same way that you end up loving people who don’t look like you, live in the same neighborhood, or like the same kinds of food. Most of our friends have different interests and pursuits than we do, and in some cases this is what makes each friendship so interesting.

When we befriend a person, we don’t expect them to be a carbon copy of ourselves. Instead, we gravitate to the one or two things that we really enjoy about them and focus on those. “She’s seriously so funny!” “He’s lived in the same place where I studied abroad!” Then we learn more about them, and in the process expand our own interests and knowledge.

The process of love starts with friendship, so befriend the person you’re trying to love based on the one or two qualities that you find attractive about them. When we focus too much on our differences, we tend to distance ourselves or become unnecessarily harsh and judgmental.

Remember that John 10:16 says that Jesus has sheep that are “not of this sheep pen” (not Seventh-day Adventist), and only He can judge people’s hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). So, it’s important to be considerate of another person’s religious views, even if you’re diametrically opposed to them. Assuming that they’re at the same level of spiritual understanding that you are is the same as judging them. Matthew 7:1 and Romans 14:13 explicitly tell us not to do this.

Hebrews 5:2 also says to deal gently with the failings of those who are ignorant of the truth. This may mean tolerating behaviors that we don’t necessarily approve of, or that we know are wrong. Changes in behavior stem from personal convictions, so it’s important to remember that another person’s religion might not dictate the same thing as yours.

Even though it’s important to accept those of other faiths, it can be very difficult to love someone who justifies killing, hurting, or genocide as part of their religion. Actually, these are the people who need our love the most. Luke 6:28 tells us to love our enemies and do good to them. Doing this allows the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.

Loving someone of another faith doesn’t compromise anything we believe in, so don’t be afraid to do it! It only reinforces the security we have in our beliefs and in our God.

 



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