Ok, so why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed cross the road?
Now I must admit this is not a joke that I came up with while sitting here in my office. It is actually a book by Brian McLaren in which the title of the book poses this question.
There is no punch line but it does pose a pretty interesting question. Imagine that group of people all together, just strolling across the street. How would that conversation go? What would they talk about?
Here we have figureheads from four of the major religions in the world. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. How do you think they would treat each other?
Compare that to how do we treat each other in today’s society?
If we take a look at the teachings of each of these religions, I wonder what we can learn from how each of us should treat each other.
Let’s start with Moses.
Now the teachings of Moses are sometimes difficult to track down but he did teach that if you would obey God, "He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will multiply the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land -- the corn, wine, oil, and your flocks. You shall be prospered above all people, and the Lord your God will take away from you all sickness and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt upon you." He even said: "Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth." "You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. You shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you."
What are the laws that he says to obey? Well, those are well documented in the Bible as the Ten Commandments. When these commandments were given to Moses, the people celebrated because it was an outline of how the people could show to love God.
So here we have the basic premise of these Divine Laws being love.
Moving on…the Buddha.
Once the Dali Lama claimed that his religion was kindness. Looking back at the teachings of the Buddha, love was essential to a life of spiritual liberation. Loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and a particular form of equanimity are the four kinds of love taught and encouraged in classic Buddhist teachings.
Again, we have love as a basic premise to the teachings of the Buddha.
Next, lets look at Mohammed.
Did you know that when Mohammed first founded Islam that it was designed with the intention of taking aspects of the major religions of the world and combining them into a religion that could be widely accepted by all.
When thinking of tolerance and love, Mohammed had this to say,”Once the Prophet was seated at some place in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, "Was he not a human being?" (Sahîh Bukhârî, Sahîh Muslim, Sunan An-Nasâ'î)
So, the basic premise of Islam was unity and caring for all people, regardless of faith. Again, another religion where love for all people is at the root of the religion.
Which finally brings me to Jesus.
Whenever I think of what the teachings of Jesus were I always think of Matthew 22:37-39.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
Last year, I worked at a retreat where we focused on this verse with the theme of the week being “Walk in Love”.
So if these are the greatest to commandments given to us by Jesus, again we love at the center of it all.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to return to my Alma Mater, the University of Tennessee, to watch Auburn run all over my beloved Vols.
While the game itself was not what I was hoping for, the experience I had will not soon forget.
I was able to reunite with many of friends from school and catch up. In my lifetime I have seen many friendships struggle when the topic of religion is introduced. It can tear people apart.
Luckily for me, this has not been the case. While I have many friends that all fall in the category of the “Episco-posse”, I also have many that do not fall under that category.
My friend group from school included me, a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim, and a Catholic. Religion never got in the way of our friendship. We all knew where each other stood, discussed it and all got along anyway.
This weekend reminded me of this book by Brian McLaren. So imagine that Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed were crossing the street…
Four people whose foundation of their teachings were love and compassion.
Imagine if we lived in a world where we were all so accepting and tolerant of everyone else, regardless of religion or any differences we may have.
How are we doing in our lives at living out the teachings of love that is at the very premise of the religion that we claim to follow?
So, Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed were crossing the street…
How different would the world be if we all lived that way? Imagine how different it would be if just one person showed love to someone who may be a little different that you.
Do you think it would catch on?
Isn’t that worth a try?