We Need More Jesus in the World

by Neal Foster 

A couple weeks ago I received an unexpected email. It was an invitation to a local interfaith meeting. Apparently this group wanted to plan their meetings and events for the next twelve months, and somehow they had acquired my email address. The weird thing was that I didn’t recognize the name of this group or the few members whose names I could see.

“Hey honey, are we doing anything this Saturday afternoon?” I hollered to my wife.

“No,” she said.

"Well," I thought, "why not show up to this meeting of people I don’t know and see if a little light of Jesus could be injected into it?"

So I found myself, a few days later, striding into an unknown house with a pot of beans and rice for the vegetarian potluck.

I was the only Christian there, in the midst of Jews, Baha’is, and Muslims. After I explained who I am, my work with Peace Catalyst, and how I got this unexpected email, they welcomed me and encouraged me to help plan their activities.

To be honest, my eyes started glossing over a bit when they discussed reading a book centered on the spiritual friendships of three women of different faiths (it didn’t seem very deep or particularly relevant to my interests). One of them must have noticed and asked me, “What are you interested in, Neal?”

The end result was that I agreed to host two meetings between now and April. One would be a presentation or discussion, probably a kind of compare/contrast the ways our respective scriptures address the same topic (like, I don’t know, Jesus or something). The other event I volunteered to do would center on the holiday of Easter (You want me to explain the significance of the resurrection of Jesus? Why, I don’t mind if I do!).

In a side conversation later, my new Baha’i friend expressed excitement at meeting an evangelical Christian who really wanted to make genuine friendships with members of other faiths. “We need more evangelicals in this world who are serious about following Jesus’s command to love God and neighbor – well, really we need more Jesus in this world, period!” I blinked. Did a serious follower of the Baha’i faith really just tell me that what the world needs is more Jesus?!

What’s the common ground between the members of this interfaith group? Pretty much a belief in one God, and the conviction that each one of us is a person worthy of respect and friendship, regardless of our significant and important religious differences. I’m finding that that’s really all we need to start practically loving our neighbor in the way of Jesus.