For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. ~ Matthew 18:20
I’m often amazed at how critical some followers of God can be towards one another. My thought has always been that we should try to love one another to the best of our ability even when another person’s beliefs don’t exactly match ours. What good does it do to run someone down for the way they reach God? Someone once said to me, it does no good to extinguish someone else’s flame. It in no way makes your own burn brighter. I thought about it and this is absolutely true. In many ways, it can also serve to extinguish your own. If Jesus’s teaching had anything to do with exclusivity and high-minded exclusionary tactics to show how much we love God, then I have completely missed the point. I don’t believe that’s what He had in mind when He sent Jesus for us.
I was talking about this with my step-mother yesterday and it dawned on me that I really hadn’t attempted to understand why people seem to have so much hatred for other religions. I had just taken it as “the unfortunate way people are” and gone on about my business. In reality, when I take the time to dissect it, I’m really surprised at just how petty people can be when it comes to protecting their religious preferences. Everyone thinks they are right and the other person is going to Hell. Truthfully, we will not know who is right or wrong until our day of judgement comes. So, for one group to be hateful to or jealous of another group for the way they worship simply devalues all of their efforts to show their love to God. We cannot say in one breath that we love and trust God to protect us and provide for us and then spew hatred toward any other person. The two things should not coexist in the heart of someone who truly loves God.
We all have our moments when we pick on someone for the way they do things. Or we might say something negative about the behavior of another person when it goes against our personal beliefs. Those things are to be expected. Sometimes we, as humans, take other people’s actions as a personal affront to our own delicate natures when we really aren’t the ones who should be offended. If anything, we are taking God’s judgement into our own hands and forgetting that we really have nothing to do with what that person has going on in their life. If your spouse wrongs you, well, they have moreso wronged God. A lack of respect for another human being translates into a lack of respect for Him as well. We are made from Him and He wants us to do right by one another. By the same token, when someone has something good happening in their lives and we have given them advice or assistance, we are not to take credit for their blessings. Only God can truly make things happen and so, the glory is His alone. We cannot save anyone from themselves, only God can.
Although all of the credit goes to God, He gives us talent, skill, ability, and experience so that we can do the things He has put us here to do. He gives us all something different and He wants us to acknowledge the gifts we are given by presenting a loving presence to the world. When we fail to grow and evolve, we not only grow bitter and angry and spiteful, we begin to feel that this life is a giant waste of time. Don’t make the mistake of not accepting His blessings. Don’t fail to make use of what God has given us. No matter what is happening in your life, things can change for the better and you won’t have to put out anyone else’s fire to make that happen. With God, ALL things are possible!
Those with initiative, mindful, clean in action, acting with due consideration, heedful, restrained, living the Dharma: their glory grows. Through initiative, heedfulness, restraint, & self-control, the wise would make an island no flood can submerge.~Dhammapada, 2, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu