Today, we live in an incredible time where we have an opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life. You and your children may have friends who believe in God, who practice a different faith, or those who do not practice any faith at all. This can be challenging to share with your children. However, here are three ways to make it easier to celebrate your faith while remaining inclusive to those around you.
Have an open mind. We have to keep an open mind that extends beyond our comfort zone. When we read, travel, and engage in authentic and genuine friendships, we open our hearts to be grateful for God’s presence. “Gratitude expands our hearts, creating space for God and others,” says Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. It is through gratitude that we make room for the full humanity of others.
Lead by example. As Christians, we can turn to the powerful example of Jesus Christ during his life and public ministry. In the New Testament, we find Jesus healing the sick, sitting with marginalized groups, and talking with people from different faiths and backgrounds. It was from Jesus that we received the commandant to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the fundamental call of every Christian, but it doesn’t begin on a mission trip to a foreign land. It begins at home, in our daily lives and in our community.
The foundation of this call for me is having good mentors. I am so grateful for the work of Pastor Chris Dawson Butler of Mt. Cyrene Baptist Church. Working with her has helped broaden my mind and learn more about how to live out our faith. Yvonne Williams, minister of women at Elm Grove Baptist Church, works tirelessly to serve others. Their dedication has shown me that the old adage is still true: actions speak louder than words.
Practice hospitality. We show our love for God and for our neighbor by practicing the spiritual discipline of hospitality. When we open our hearts, share our space and resources, and include others in our community, we open ourselves to the gift of God’s grace in our lives, as seen in Matthew 25:34-36. When we offer grace, we receive grace. When we offer hospitality, we receive hospitality in the same way that we love because God first loved us.
This is the best gift we can give our children in such a diverse world: to show our children what it means to love God by being open and inclusive to those around us. ■