Imam and the Pastor at SFU Surrey Campus

Apr 18, 2007

On Monday, April 23rd, we will present the film The Imam and the Pastor at the SFU Surrey campus. This event is a partnership with Initiatives of Change and the BC Muslim Association.

That last part has raised a few eyebrows and questions.

Why would you partner with a Muslim group? Aren’t they the competition? What value is there in doing this together if you’re not trying to get them into your church?

Well, a couple of things . . .

Peace is a fragile thing. We should never assume that because we are not killing each other that we have peace now and forever. As the film shows, a facade of peace can exist in a framework of tolerance for generations and then an economic, political or other external change can set loose all the ugliness of fear, anger and resentment that festers beneath.

Peace takes work, risk and blood, sweat and tears. If you doubt this, just look at Jesus.

Tolerance is cheap imitation of peace. Tolerance says, ‘you stay in your corner and I’ll stay in mine and we will put up with each other’s differences in order to keep the peace’. God does not love us from a distance. In Jesus, he comes to our corner. And he comes to make peace.

Peace is not the eradication of our differences. I don’t believe that it comes from stripping our belief or cultural systems down to the lowest common denominator until no distinction can be found between us. There are some distinctions that are irreversible, but they don’t need to be a barrier to peace.

I also don’t think that peace is achieved through the creation of some superordinate identity in which the similarities of different groups are emphasised to the subversion, or denying, of any differences.

Instead, peace may come as we develop a genuine interest in the other. It starts with honest curiosity that leads to affection and engagement and possibly even to enthusiasm for the other.

In presenting this film, we hope that the door of honest curiosity will be opened by those who see it.

If my neighbour drives me crazy by playing the drums, I have several choices to deal with the problem. I could lodge a complaint with the authorities. I could confront him directly and demand that he change his habit. Or I could take my guitar over and ask if I can join him. It may not be quieter, but we will be at peace with one another.

I know that is a simple illustration, but the point is that there are other ways to work together toward peace besides demanding our rights and defending our privacy.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbour. Not simply the ones who will love us back. We can’t fulfill this calling unless we are in contact with our neighbours. Our partnerships for this film will cause us to touch our neighbours so that we may learn to love them.

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