Kind of like a good Seinfeld episode, here are a bunch of random thoughts that hopefully make sense when you put them all together.
Here goes nothing…
Christians can learn a lot from other religions. I am currently reading a book about world religions. And I am coming to see truths in a wide variety of religions. I believe there is only one way to salvation. And His name is Jesus. But we can see some interesting things about man and God based on a variety of major world religions.
For example, Buddhism focuses on the “awakening” of the individual to a world beyond just the physical reality. This certainly fits with what Jesus said about His Kingdom not being of this world. Buddhas was known to follow a pattern of withdrawal where he spent time serving others and would then go away to be alone. Jesus modeled this out to us.
Judaism gave mankind a sense of law and order. Jews see man as a blend of dust and divinity. Also, Judaism presented the idea of one God not a world ruled by many gods. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Islam means both “peace” and “surrender.” The thought is that peace comes when we surrender to God’s will. This thought is definitely presented in Christianity, which existed long before Islam began.
Muslims participate in group prayer five times a day. They go on spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives. And they are called to fast regularly. These religious practices did not begin with Islam although Muslims may be among the most devote in regularly practicing them of all major religions.
I could go on about these various religions. I am not worried about their influence because I firmly know the truth found only in Jesus. I do find it interesting to see godly principles and insight scattered throughout other world views. This only reinforces my beliefs not disturbs them.
Some thoughts about the importance of pilgrimage, I believe all Christians should go on pilgrimages or spiritual quests to seek God in a focused manner. For some this is going to Israel or a national park, others find God by visiting a retreat center or conference. The key is to go. Where we go should be up to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we go, it is not about where we go. The real focus is God and what He wants to do in us as we go. Pilgrimages are not about the sacredness of the place we visit but the spirituality of all things. Every step in the life of a Christian should be sacred ground for we are the temple of God.
I recently heard Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, quote Jesus on TV. He quoted Luke 9:23, which talks about taking up our cross and denying ourselves. I recently heard Hollywood producer James Cameron say that Jesus had a message and lived a life that “resounds down to us now in the present day in a way that no other human being has ever has the same kind of impact.”
Many people seem to be quoting Jesus. And I find that many people respect His life even for those who do not believe He was the Son of God. I find this fascinating in two ways. First, it is awesome to see how Jesus’ radical message lives on today and strikes a cord with all people. It is right and truth. It stirs our hearts.
Secondly, I find it amusing because Jesus could not be just a good teacher as many try to claim. He was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Jesus never said He was a nice guy. Jesus proclaimed His deity and mission.
Jesus did not come to teach nice stories and tell everyone to live by the golden rule. Jesus came so that people could live as He taught. His life made it possible for us to reconciled to God despite our sin. Jesus made statements that no man could make unless He were indeed God.
Many people today respect Jesus for what he said and the good things he did not the deeper reason for why He came.
May you seize truth wherever you find it. For those who are Christians, take heart and know that all things are yours. No matter where you find truth, you can claim it because anything that is true must first come from God.