Friendship with Muslims

A reader writes:

I read your post this morning about Friendship with Muslims, and thought I’d share with you an event that happened in our community that I was privileged to take part in. Here’s a link to Sundays front page newspaper article.–Christians-join-in-Fairbanks-to-foster-acceptance-of-diversity?
I met Susan, the pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, through the Emerging Church Conference a year ago in Albuquerque. We didn’t actually meet at the conference, but I ran across an individual, who when he found out I was from Alaska, said he had met a pastor from Alaska the day before. With the help from the people at the CAC, I was able to track her down, which you wouldn’t think would be too hard in such a small town, but was. We met shortly thereafter to compare notes about the conference, and since then have started our own “Emergent Cohort” with folks from our respective churches. It was through this chain of events that I was able to attend the dinner at her church. My hope is to reconnect with some of the people I met and continue the beginning friendship.
Thanks for your writings that encourage and challenge us to participate in, and foster, events such as this.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful development. Here’s another response to the same post …

It was great to see you in Phoenix, albeit briefly, back in February at the Big Tent Christianity conference. I just read one of your posts on facebook (the question on friendship with Muslims) which reminded me that I have been wanting to email, and also gave me an additional topic.
Regarding the friendship with Muslims, have you had the opportunity to come into contact with the ‘insider movement?’ I’m guessing you have, but if not, I’d definitely recommend it, especially in light of your comment that you plan on writing about relating with Muslims. In a nutshell (and again, maybe you already know this so apologies for assuming you might not) the insider movement is about Muslims learning to follow Jesus but staying Muslim culturally and often even staying in the mosque. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of these folks, and the ‘missionaries’ who are working amongst them and it is fascinating, life-giving, and really cool. As you might expect, there is also much ‘backlash’ as there are those (both Christian and Muslim) in many of these places who consider this merging to be heresy and even worthy, in some cases, of death threats. Anyway, just wanted to put that in the mix if it wasn’t already.

Thanks. Yes, I wrote about insider movements in my book A Generous Orthodoxy. As you know, this is my mission in life: to help people, including myself, become true, heartfelt, lifelong followers of Jesus – whatever religion they are part of, including the Christian religion! I chose the title of my newest book, Naked Spirituality, in an attempt to focus on the difference between being a follower of Jesus and a follower of a religion … Christians who do not earnestly seek to love their Muslim (or Jewish or atheist or whatever) neighbors as themselves may be ardent believers in Christianity, but they do not appear to be followers of Jesus, at least, not yet.
We might say that in today’s world, a good sign that you have found a true follower of Jesus would be that he or she crosses the street (goes out of his/her way) to meet and make neighborly contact with people of other faiths.