From the Editor

Actions speak loudly indeed

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

Sadly, the bus driver had already given up on Christianity.

The Metro Transit bus driver noticed the title of the book I was reading. (For a review of Islam, Christianity and the West, a Troubled History, please go to the front page menu and click on “Reviews.”.) Since we were at a red light, and I was seated near him, the driver began to talk. He said, “I hate to say it, but I think the Muslims set a better example than the Christians do.”

I was on my way to mid-week Lenten worship and the church building I was headed for was visible through the bus windshield, just a block away. His comment was unsettling. So were those which followed. He said, “I went to Golden Valley Lutheran College and then became a Christian pastor. I served for five years, until I was so disillusioned — because nobody wanted to do what they said they believed — that I quit. Now I’m not religious. But if I had to pick a religion based on performance, I’d choose Islam. They demonstrate disciplined living.”

We’d reached my corner and I needed to get off. As I stepped down, the driver said, “When you ride my bus again, we’ll talk some more.” He said it with a smile.

I thought about his words. They brought to mind a conversation I had with a young Lutheran pastor in Dodoma, Tanzania, a dozen years before. This new Christian said, “I grew up Muslim. All my brothers thought that men living in Islam had the freedom to have sex with all the women they wanted. I converted because I saw that Christians believed something better, and they weren’t getting sexually-transmitted diseases like Muslim men, including my brothers.”

These are rather different slants on the same issue. If behavior speaks loudest, both Christians and Muslims have some work to do. The two negative examples described above illustrate misunderstandings of what these two faith traditions really teach.

I read the book mentioned at the top of this article because I wanted better to understand why these two traditions are in collision with one another. I recommend it to you. I also recommend that we who are Christian work more diligently to become truly what we say we are in Christ.