Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
~1 Corinthians 11:1~
I’m not sure anyone really gets it. The reason I feel that way is this; no matter who I ask about their idea of salvation and what it means to be a devoted follower of Christ, everyone has a different answer. Some believe that we must absolutely follow the word of God to the letter and some believe that the Bible is not such a reliable source of information because it has been manipulated by man to suit the needs and capabilities of the general population. Some believe in the Bible, but not necessarily that Christ was the Messiah. Some don’t believe that any of it matters. What do I believe? Well, that’s a tough question. I guess I believe that the Bible was Divinely inspired by God, but I also believe that what we see of the Bible isn’t necessarily all there is to know about God’s word. I have gotten so much from the Scriptures that I can hardly imagine that these writings were not the word of my God and I would, in fact, be afraid to say that the Bible isn’t His Word or that it isn’t intended to instruct us in how we are to treat others. I imagine this is also how Muslims feel about the Quran, how Jews feel about the Torah, and how other religions feel about their texts.
I am no one to say that one way is right and another is wrong, however; as a Christian, I must uphold the values of my faith and assert that the Word of God is, in fact, Holy and to be revered as a guide for Christian living. This is what my faith dictates. If you don’t believe the way I believe, I’m not going to hate you or say that you are stupid or foolish. I’m going to hope that the way I live my life serves as a good enough example to others that they would want to experience the same joy I experience through my love of Christ and that they would choose to follow Him based on the light I am able to shine on who He is and what He stands for.
There are so many people who would prefer to hate their neighbor rather than try to be a good example to them. I understand having strong feelings about the things that tear our society down. There are things which no one can deny have an adverse impact on our ability to prosper and thrive as human beings, but we all have our levels of tolerance and unfortunately it takes a great deal more to upset some people or move them to action than it does others. Understand that I am not throwing stones, I am simply becoming more and more aware that the more self-involved a person is, the less they care about what others in society are doing. And so, crimes against women and children and even against the poor, elderly and disabled are often ignored or thought to be unimportant in the grand scheme of things. If everyone was focused only on how a societal problem impacts their own life and not the lives of those around them, then no one would ever speak out with any success against the horrible things that are happening every day. Their cries of injustice would sound more like the whining of a child who hasn’t gotten his way than of a person concerned for the well-being or society as a whole (oh wait, I guess that means it would sound just like what it actually is). In truth, I’m more worried about those who have no belief than about those whose beliefs differ from my own. And by the way, belief in oneself doesn’t count as a faith unless you consider yourself to be some sort of deity. This of course, brings with it a whole host of issues that I’m not prepared to address here today.
When I’ve been vocal about things, I have been called judgmental. I have been called arrogant, narrow-minded, and even ignorant simply because I have taken a stand on a few choice issues which I believe to be detrimental in terms of what my God’s word states as truth. Oddly, all of these comments came from people who claim to be open-minded and non-judgmental. I dare say that the fact that they would take the time to insult me because of my beliefs says more about their “open-mindedness” than I could ever hope to expose in and of my own power. I guess the basic fact that I am trying to get across here is that tolerance doesn’t mean that we accept the other person’s beliefs as our own and that tolerance also doesn’t imply that there is no standard of behavior that doesn’t apply across the board to all human beings. In most religions, there is a bottom line standard of acceptable behavior that should be recognized by all who practice that particular faith. For example, nearly all religions find pornography to be unacceptable. There is, however; a difference in what each views to be pornographic in nature. The answer lies in the action’s impact on the soul of the individual and thus, that individual’s impact on the rest of society.
I started this blog to take a closer look at the religions that exist in our society and how these affect our ability to live peacefully with one another. My aim here was to show common threads and to, hopefully, begin a dialogue with others who seek to find common ground and in some way, to achieve harmony. Somewhere along the way, I got caught up in my own pursuit of faith and as I have journeyed down this road, I’ve begun to see some things about myself that were sometimes very frightening, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes just downright confusing. I’m just a person who wants to find the best in everyone around me. I believe that we all have a Divine purpose and that everyone deserves a chance to bring themselves up out of unfortunate circumstances and wrong mindsets; whatever those mindsets may be and however that person determines what constitutes right and wrong. It would be so much easier if we all believed the same thing; however, it would also be very boring and it wouldn’t leave much room for appreciating what makes sense to us in our own understanding. I’m sure that not everyone who reads this will follow what I’m saying. Some will think that I’ve somehow lost my direction or that my bent toward tolerance indicates a lack of devotion to my God in some way. I’ll be the first to assure them that this isn’t the case. My love for my God has never been stronger and it is because of His love that I have the desire to see those around me in the most positive light possible. While I love and respect my friends for who they are, I can only blame myself if everyone in my circle of friends hasn’t decided to convert to Christianity. Perhaps, I’m not being a good enough role model. It’s possible that my light just isn’t shining brightly enough to persuade them that this is what they want. Maybe, I’m the problem.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
~Philippians 3:15 (NIV)~