Father Oleg, greetings!
I have a practical question.
To what extent is it appropriate to fellowship with non-Christians (Muslims)?
I’ll try explaining it by a specific example: my Mom has a friend who
confesses Islam (he is an “ex-Soviet”, observes no rituals, indifferent
to all faiths).
My Mom is a “Russian Orthodox” in the same way (she calls us “fanatics”).
Any fellowship with other faiths’ representatives is displeasing to us,
but we don’t want to hurt that man’s and my Mom’s feelings.
Can we receive such people at home, accept gifts, share fellowship, etc.? What
should we do?
Greetings to you, Vladimir!
Your question is very important for everyday life.
It was already there at the time of the holy Apostles, immediately after the
birth of the Church of Christ on the earth which took place on the day of the
Holy Pentecost. The Church and the first Christians had to live and carry out
their ministries in a hostile environment.
Paul the Apostle addressed this issue for his spiritual children, too:
1 Corinthians 5:
9 In my letter I said to you that you were not to keep company with those who
go after the desires of the flesh;
10 but I had not in mind the sinners who are outside the church, or those who
have a desire for and take the property of others, or those who give worship
to images; for it is not possible to keep away from such people without going
out of the world completely.
And so we, after Paul, can say, that we cannot associate ourselves with unbelievers,
the heathen, Muslims and other non-Christians in the areas of faith, friendship,
marriages, but not in everyday communication, or else we would have to go out
of this world.
Thus, the point is not to prohibit any fellowship with unbelievers, but to
wisely and reasonably put it into a certain framework. It should be remembered
that, according to their genesis, they, too, are the image of God, though defective,
but not to forget that that demons have a much stronger and freer access to
them than to the members of the Church of Christ who are protected by grace.
That’s why they can subconsciously become vehicles of demonic influences.
But it’s even worse when hypocritical Christians become such vehicles,
when they only cover up their misdeeds by a form of godliness and right faith.
Oftentimes human communication with people of other faiths is a lot easier,
more comfortable and sure than with many modern “orthodox”. Suffice
it to mention the case from the recent history of Russia, when orthodox officers,
soldiers, priesthood and the rest of the people betrayed the holy father Tsar
Nikolay Alexandrovich, but the Tartar regiment of His Majesty which wholly consisted
of Muslims, kept their loyalty to the Tsar until the end.