So let’s not talk about “religion”, which is all about following rules, looking good in public and casting sanctimonious judgement on people who might not have it all together. Oh, and forcing people to follow your religion or you’ll kill them and burn down their homes and places of worship.
Let’s talk about faith instead. The briefest and most casual examination might suggest they’re all the same. But I’m going to assume you’re reading this blog because you want to go deeper and get closer to the truth.
No matter what anyone claims, the truth is the world’s faiths are so NOT the same. In fact, after a few commonalities between Judaism, Islam and Christianity, there is very little in common between the world’s faiths.
Wait a second, you say. Don’t all the major faiths believe in what most of us know as the Golden Rule? Yes. But even here there’s a difference. Consider what I found on Wikipedia:
- Islam – Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself
- Buddhism – One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self
- Hinduism – Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
- Sikhism – If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart
None of these advance a positive action. The closest is Islam, but it’s not about action, just wishing. In Christianity, Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son) tells everyone who will listen to “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. That’s from a section of the Bible called “Luke” and it’s all about action. Not wishing. Not avoiding anything bad. Actually DOING GOOD.
What else is different? According to the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website, “Islam teaches that Jesus is not God in flesh–where Christianity does. Some religions teach that we reincarnate, while others do not. Some teach there is a Hell, and others do not.”
Here’s another significant difference: many faiths advance the notion of us reaching up to God, especially by doing good things and avoiding bad things.
Indeed, the reincarnation belief of Buddhism (which includes the scary notion of Karma) and Hinduism suggest your behaviour dictates the form of your reincarnation. Given how horribly imperfect we ALL are, reincarnation strikes me as very, very unpleasant.
Christianity is exactly opposite because it claims that God reaches down to us and offers to pull us up to Him. How? Certainly not by doing good and avoiding bad, because we can never do enough and avoid enough to pass God’s inspection.
Instead, God reaches down through Jesus – His life and teachings, His sacrificial death and His resurrection. Like Jesus Himself, that death and resurrection are gifts to anyone willing to accept them. And when we accept them, God sees us like he sees Jesus: perfect in every way.
That strikes me as a pretty good deal because accepting that gift doesn’t just mean I go to Heaven when I die. It means Jesus comes into my life and starts to change me NOW.
Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.