Thursday, October 29, 2009

How McLaren Loves His Neighbor

Jesus calls us—no, sorry, Jesus commands us, those who call ourselves his followers, to love our neighbors.
But what if your neighbor is a Muslim?  How would you go about loving your Muslim neighbor, not just in an abstract way but in real-life, demonstrable ways.
Brian McLaren observed Ramadan. 
McLaren is a local boy—he grew up in Rockville; in fact, he and I attended the same schools, lived around the corner from each other, took piano lessons from the same teacher.  We didn’t know all this until we were having coffee with some mutual friends at a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship conference at which Brian was to speak.  Brian graduated from the University of Maryland, taught English there for a few years before quitting to start Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville.  He is now a internationally-known Christian writer and speaker.  He’s done good.
He is also one of those types of people who make friends easily, and in his travels he has made a lot of friends who are also Muslim.  Since Brian takes following Jesus seriously, he also takes Jesus’ command to love our neighbors seriously as well.
Very seriously.  Rather than try to explain for him why he wanted to observe Ramadan, here is what he said on his blog:

Whether or not you agree with him that this is an appropriate way to show love to his Muslim neighbors, you have to admit that he is taking Jesus’ command seriously.  Of course, some Christians think he’s just gone too far.  Brian says that he received hate mail from some Christians.  Wow.  Christian hate mail.  I wish I could say that I find that unbelievable, but I can’t.  But he also received emails from Muslims that basically said, “Thanks for recognizing us as human beings.”
That they would write that means that they have felt denied that very basic acknowledgement from others, presumably and undoubtedly from some Christians.
And that is definitely not taking Jesus’ command very seriously.


  1. Lutherville, MD? Cedar Ridge Community Church is in Spencerville, MD. You may recall that I attended there for several years. I am not a fan of McLaren's as a result.

  2. Whoops! You're right. I meant to say Burtonsville, which is close by but still not correct. I don't know where Lutherville came from. I've corrected it in the post.

    There aren't many who are on the fence about Brian. My experience of him, both personally and from his books, has been very positive. Regardless of whether one agrees with him, in my opinion he deserves a hearing.