Archive for the ‘Fundamentals of Faith’ Category

What’s wrong with Religion?

April 28, 2006

 picture courtesy of interfaith.foolmoon.com

Choosing the right religion these days almost feels like walking through a flea market – it’s enough to drive you crazy. It’s like hearing from more than ten vendors simultaneously as they recite their respective lines to persuade you to buy their items. They entice you with different offers, but when the talking stops and the decision-making starts, you soon realize that they are all selling the same thing!

Now, I’m not trying to mock religion here. There’s no point in doing so, anyway. But to be honest, I think the mocking goes the other way around. It’s these so-called spiritual, God-anointed ministers who are making fools out of us. They think we don’t know the difference between a church and a circus. Try to open your televisions and you’ll see what I mean.

Our religion, before we had the chance to choose it, had most likely chosen us already at birth. Perhaps it is true that we have the freedom to change our minds later on when we become more mature to make our own decisions, but it is almost certain that our upbringing as a child, to a great extent, would influence our future choices. Let us also not forget that religion is intertwined with culture, which shapes human thinking and behavior.

Theoretically, if every religion could perfectly satisfy the spiritual needs of their respective members, then there is no way that we can put one religion above the other. But even if that be the case, it is still impossible to have a world where different religions can peacefully coexist. A religion is always presumed to be founded on truth, and having two or more versions of “truth” is not acceptable. Eventually, a debate as to which religion is the true one will take place sooner or later.

So again, we go back to where we started.

Choosing the right religion is very difficult especially since “choosing the right faith,” for most people, would mean “departing from their original faith.” The decision to change one's belief can bring horrible consequences like rejection, persecution, and alienation.

Afterwards, when we already made up our minds on what to believe in, can we say to ourselves that it is worth the trouble? Or are we going to find ourselves "walking through the flea market,” where after going through all that hardship and confusion, we would be given the same object that we wanted to get rid-off with in the first place?

Perhaps you have already found out what I was trying to say all along.

No matter how we look at it, all of this world's religions belong to only one category. While it is true that they have their own doctrines and call their God (or gods) with different names, their paths to heaven or paradise are still one and the same. All religions teach that God can be reached by an accumulation of noble deeds.

There is really nothing wrong about trying to please God, only that salvation is about God's conditions and not ours. We may assert that different actions produce different results, but deeds alone cannot remove our sinful nature. Only a Saviour can do that. Only Jesus Christ can.

A similar situation can be found in 1 Samuel 15:22-23, when Samuel rebuked Saul for attempting to cover up his disobedience to God by offering sacrifices. Samuel said:

"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

So, if you will be given a choice between trusting your own actions and entrusting yourself to someone who can save you, which way will you go?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Reconciliation with God

April 15, 2006

 picture courtesy of agapewebpromotion.com

Whenever I think about my childhood, I usually ponder upon all the happy moments. I believe that there is a kind of bliss that can only be experienced while young, and that can never be relived ever again. But now that I am writing about this topic, I remember another important ingredient that became a part of my growing-up years – "house rules.”

House rules are meant to guide the whole family, especially the young ones, to do what is appropriate. Now imagine what would happen on one Saturday afternoon where the mother, after finishing with the weekly general house cleaning, would see one of her little boys enter the bedroom with mud all over his body. Certainly, she would get to her son as quickly as she can and give him a bath before letting him roam around the house again.

Now this may not be a perfect illustration for this topic, but I’m sure that you will be able to understand why I mentioned about it.

Sooner or later, all of us are going to experience death. Our bodies, as beautiful as it may be, are also fragile and temporary. God knows that, and that is why He promised to someday replace this corruptible body with an incorruptible one, a body that is glorified and is immortal (1 Cor. 15:54). Likewise, since our world will not last, He prepared us a new home, a new heaven where there are many mansions (John 14:2), and a new earth where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying and pain (Rev. 21:1-4).

These promises are our only hope in this very short life that we have. But unfortunately, man left in his original state is not worthy to receive any of these blessings. We have Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12) and our own sinfulness to blame for making us fall short from the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). As a result, we were alienated from Him (Col. 1:21), and became His enemy. Yes, we are God’s enemy. Chapter 5 verse 10 of the Book of Romans clearly spoke about it. We can insist that God loves us (John 3:16), but do we really think that God will allow sin to enter His Kingdom?

Of course not! We need to be reconciled with God first. We have to, if only to spare us from God’s wrath (John 3:36), God’s judgment (Rom. 2:5), and the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). We need to be saved from this very sin that will permanently separate us from God.

We can’t do it on our own; we need Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30, 31). We can’t do it by our own efforts; it’s by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8, 9). We can’t do it after we die; our only chance is now (Heb. 9:27).

And just like the little boy in the story, who must be bathed first before beng allowed inside his parent’s house, so must we also be cleansed first before being counted worthy to enter God’s Kingdom – our eternal home.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10 KJV)