Roundtable: Should strong relationships be formed with those who have different religious views than you?


It’s a curious word, that word, “should.” Should I take out the trash?  Should I brush my teeth? Should I exercise? There are some things that we do that are simply good for us to do. If we don’t do them, then there are consequences, but sometimes people are willing to pay the price. Sometimes people are willing to tolerate the smell of the trash instead of taking it out. Sometimes people neglect caring for their bodies, ignoring may be a better word, hoping that what they ignore will simply take care of itself.

So, should I build strong relationships with those of differing religious views?

I suspect if I don’t, then my life will be poorer for it.  Having had the privilege to travel to Europe a few times, Israel/Palestine and South America, I have found that meeting people from different cultures is an enriching experience. Often I am reminded on these trips that my perspective is a limited one via my culture, economic status, gender, and religious tradition.

Similarly, when I had limited friendships outside of my own faith tradition when I was younger, I was particularly naïve about how other people lived, even in my own neighborhood, even if they were other types of Christians. Building friendships with people who come from different backgrounds, believe differently than I do, and who have rich, rewarding lives has made my life fuller and also more rewarding.

So, take the “should” and do what you will with it, but know that when we do not take care of ourselves, mind, body, and soul, we diminish the richness we might otherwise experience.

Rev. Mary Wilson is pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park, which is affiliated with The United Church of Christ, American Baptist Churches - USA and The Alliance of Baptists.