A MAZE ING religions

A MAZE 'ing religions -God ,divine being,Sovereign-all religions make exclusive claims and do not believe the same things

It doesn’t take long to be in Canada before you realize that most Canadians honestly believe that if religion is a valid option in this tolerant society than all religions are equally valid. It is true that some Canadians believe religion is dangerous and not something for any sane person to pursue, but for many there is still some sense of spiritual sensitivity to something. It only takes a national tragedy to realize this.

The Chaplain of the Humboldt, Saskatchewan junior ice hockey team devastated in the crash that killed 15 of the 29 members on board the bus that was T-boned by a semi-trailer truck remarked that two questions haunt us in tragedies like this. Why? And Where? We ask Why did this happen? And we ask Where was God? He said that although he couldn’t answer why he knew that God was both on the throne in control of this and he was in the middle of the valley of the darkness with the broken-hearted and wounded.  He said the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus showed God’s commitment to help us fear now evil because he was with us.

Few other religions have this sense of Immanence and Transcendence so intimately tied together. Many of the existing faiths consider that we are all travellers finding our own trails up the mountain of belief to get to the top where we will all meet God as he is. They don’t think he is really knowable.

What if the world of multi-cultural faith options are really a maze created by men to try and answer the four questions of who am I? where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? Since we all have the same questions it makes sense that we’re all trying to find the same solution. We just find different ways to get there. Like finding our own path to the local Starbucks or McDonalds.

The vision of a maze makes sense if you realize that there is only one true path even if it appears that there are many ways to enter and find your way to the center. In reality, all are dead ends except for the path of Jesus.

In reality all religions make exclusive claims and do not believe the same things, regardless of what we would like to imagine. Most religions, apart from Buddhism, believes in the existence of some divine being – already we have a major difference. While Judaism, Christianity and Islam claim that there is one God while Hinduism presents the divine essence as made up of millions of gods and goddesses who inhabit the physical images created to represent them. Islam and Judaism rejects that Jesus is God in the flesh and therefore shows more differentiation in what we believe.

Ravi Zacharias, in his book Jesus Among Other Gods (p. 7), states that “All religions are not the same… At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose. Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of religions but also a caricatured view of even the best known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.”

Most of us are committed to what we follow because we have come to believe it for one reason or another. Why have you staked your eternity on what you understand to be true? How do you share your truth with people who believe differently than you? What is the best picture you can think of as to how we present the various attempts of man to find his way to God?

What’s it All About?

The messages I get often start with Why or Where. Why is God letting this happen to me? Where is God right now and why isn’t he answering my prayers? Why am I here?

Rick Warren, in his book Better Together (p. 12), says “the purpose of your time on earth is not primarily about acquiring possessions, attaining status, achieving success, or even experiencing happiness. Those are secondary issues. Life is all about love and developing relationships – with God, and with other people. You may succeed in many areas, but if you fail to learn how to love God and love others, you’ll have missed the reason God created you and placed you on this planet. Learning to love is life’s most important lesson. Jesus called it the “great commandment” (Matthew 22:38). Nothing else comes close in importance.”

If you’re like me, it’s easy to nod my head in agreement but then I meet real people in real life.

For example, K. is the mom whose son is an aggressive autistic wreaking havoc in the community. K. has a husband dying from a brain tumour and acting out against her. K. has a daughter who gave her a three-week-old child to look after since the daughter didn’t want to leave her life of drugs and prostitution. Now K. has kidney cancer and lives in serious pain. Her messages to me express how overwhelming life is. Her trust and faith in God were ejected long ago. How do I love in this situation?

  1. came by for prayer again today. One son is an alcoholic and one a drug addict. She converted to Christianity from another religion and is seeing huge transformation in her own life and choices. She battles and fights for her boys but is drained of energy. She can’t keep a job because she is always chasing to intervene in her son’s latest escapade. The things she loves disappear again and she knows who took them. Yet today, she declares that God knows who needs those things most and she releases them without animosity toward her son. Still, she is in desperate need. How do I love in this situation?
  2. is a young professional who was lonely. She prided herself on her purity until she met an older man who overwhelmed her with compassion and care. She quickly fell prey to his sexual advances and found herself involved in things she never imagined doing. When that relationship ended, within a week, she was into another relationship with a younger man who repeated the same activities with her. She feels trapped because of her loneliness, guilt because of her faith, helplessness to make meaningful choices. How do I love in this situation?
  3. is an older refugee who longs for connections. He had significant status in his home country before he had to run for his life and come to Canada a year ago. He is learning English and loves to talk but no one seems to have time for him. He is constantly sending out invitations to come and share food at his home. He would love to still make a difference in his home country through a politician here but needs help accessing his representative so he can share his story. How do I love in this situation?

Every person we meet has a different story and love needs to be applied uniquely to their situation. We need wisdom and compassion and grace greater than we can imagine.

Who are the significant people in your community who need practical demonstrations of love? What can you do for even one of them?

Disappearing disciples?

When you think of disappearing disciples your mind might fixate on what happened in the garden of Gethsemane when the close followers of Jesus hustled away as Jesus was arrested and taken to trial. In our country of Canada, with new progressive liberalism steamrolling traditional Christian values through legislation and funding directives it almost appears that our leaders assume that current disciples are ready to fade into the night as well.

Perhaps it is time to re-emphasize why Jesus called us to make disciples of Christ from all nations. I met with a denominational leader today who told me that most churches don’t have a strong focus or plan for discipleship. Jesus’ directive to go make disciples has fallen on deaf ears.

One of the reasons I hear as to why we don’t make disciples is that we don’t have enough disciple makers. A disciple maker is one who invests their life into another who is younger in faith and experience.  Those who are disciple often grow into leaders who can disciple others. John Maxwell claims that “Leaders develop daily, not in a day.”

Liz Selzer, in her book 3G Mentoring, explains what it takes to develop an effective mentoring relationship. She says “an effective mentor is a good listener, authentic, trustworthy, wise ( has something to offer), understands the power of a good question over a good piece of information, is skilled in giving feedback, committed, insightful, inspiring, has a tolerance for mistakes, shows flexibility and patience, is discerning, is able to set boundaries, has a learning attitude, and has learned from his or her own successes and failures.”

Okay, before you write yourself off as no longer available, a disciple is a learner who is willing to grow and who is willing to help others grow.

This is not the time to disappear along with the others who have written themselves off. Our culture is not the environment in which followers of Jesus are going to naturally birth and thrive. It takes intentionality from those who have already understood who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he has called us to do.

We are promised the Holy Spirit to be with us in the middle of our significant conversations and we have the Word of God to inform our hearts and minds. Now is the time to prepare and share.

Peter pushes us to try discipling those who haven’t even accepted Jesus yet. He says (I Peter 3:15-16) “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks ou to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Set apart Christ as Lord in your own heart and you’ll have one less disciple disappearing into the landscape around us. Who have you got in your social circle who you might start a significant conversation with as you try to make disciples for Jesus?