"Jesus is full of grace and truth, but Christians weren't very full of grace and truth in their relationship with Muslims."
That was the observation by Rick Love, author of a new book on Christian-Muslim relationships, as he reflected a number of years ago with other evangelical leaders on the state of relations between these faith adherents.
Love, president of Colorado-based Peace Catalyst International, talks about his new book, "Grace and Truth: Toward Christlike Relationships with Muslims," in a new Skype interview with EthicsDaily.com.
Skype Interview: Rick Love from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.
Love, also associate director of the World Evangelical Alliance Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, says the book reflects input from about 70 world leaders who work with Muslims.
Love himself spent nearly a decade in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, where Christians are a minority.
Love says that minority religions often tend to be fearful and operate with a "siege mentality."
"As a Westerner," says Love, "I found that we are able to be catalytic in helping followers of Jesus overcome their fears and begin to reach out in love, build relations with Muslims."
"Living in a country where Christians were the minority was a real eye-opener for me, coming from the U.S., where Christians are the majority religion," he says. "I think I learned there the importance of protecting the minorities."
He says in Christian-Muslim gatherings in Indonesia, he challenged Muslims to protect Christians. When he travels to the Philippines, where the majority is Christian, he challenges Christians to protect Muslims.
"Nothing beats being a minority," says Love, who holds numerous degrees, including a doctorate in intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.
A current problem for Christians, he says, is the tendency to see a monolithic Islam and not appreciate the diversity that exists among the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.
That diversity, says Love, includes 2,000 ethnic groups, two major sects, roughly eight different theological schools of thought and, for example, radically different approaches to the role of women.
In the end, however, Love says fear is our problem.
"Fear has become a huge issue and keeps Christians from loving and reaching out to Muslims," he says.
"The reality is, the majority of Muslims are just like you and me," says Love. "They want a good life for their children. They want to be faithful to God."
Watch the interview with Love at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-ricklove
Learn more about Rick Love at ricklove.net
Learn more about Peace Catalyst International at peace-catalyst.net
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily
Editor's note: Jennifer Bryson's two-part reflection on interfaith engagement and review of Rick Love's book, "Grace and Truth," can be read here and here.