Jesus asked a lot of questions...in fact he asked more questions than he did give answers(1). As leaders, there is often this perceived pressure to have all the answers. It’s like watching an AFL player sensing they are under pressure from an opponent, fumble the ball and rush a disposal when there is actually no one around!
The community that I grew up in had, at that time, the fastest growing Islamic community in WA(2). The rise of terrorism over the past decade and the fear instilled in our wider community through media and different publications has caused a great divide. I have seen and experienced first hand racial and religious vilification as well as been ostracized as a general member of the public due to my physical appearance(3).
“Do we willingly engage with people different to us as we explore what it means to live more like Jesus? ”
This past fortnight I was able to spend some time with Mohammed Saqib, one of the Imam’s in Perth’s Islamic community. And we spent 3 hours together working what was meant to be a 45-minute conversation focused on Matthew 7:1-5 ended up being closer to 2.5 hours and engaging in issues from culture to politics. In our time together he asked me a question regarding a scenario he concocted that was framed around the eternal destiny of someone else...what do I say, heaven or hell for this person?(4)
My response was essentially this: I can’t judge the heart of someone else. I can only see what is happening on the surface. God sees the heart and all I can see is the surface. Regarding heaven or hell, not my call. I need to look for ways to love God and love/serve others around me.
He sat back in his seat and smiled, looked me in the eye and said his response would be the same! “At the end of the day, judgment is up to God Almighty alone”. The result was him wanting to continue the conversation and explore further what it was we were discussing.
How is it that you enter into spaces with people different to yourself? Closed fisted or open handed? To take one step back, do you engage with people different to yourself? As leaders, we need to continually be challenged, grow, develop and put into practice the things we say we are about. How is it that you are doing this?
To continue the conversation, feel free to contact Amit via firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Martin B Copenhaver, Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered. Abingdon Press, Nashville, Sept 2014.
2 Primarily due to the establishment of one of the first Australian Islamic Colleges in the community.
3 To this end, in 2013 I conducted a social experiment using my ability to grow facial hair at a rapid rate and grew my beard out for a whole year, wearing more traditional clothing, keeping the head shaved and taking public transport where possible while wearing tight back pack...so many stories to share about that experience!
4 This is a very crude summary given lack of space to explore what happened in this article. Contact me if you would like to find out more!