Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim?

I’ve traveled enough to know that there are many good places to live on the face of the earth. I’m glad I’m an American and I love my country but I don’t automatically nod my head when someone says America is the best country on the face of the earth. While I’d personally rather live here than anywhere else, I’ve seen enough to know that other people also have plenty of reasons to prefer their country over others. To a great extent it all comes down to the fact that I was born here. This is “my country” and for me, it’s the best place to live on the planet.

Today, I found myself thinking about the fact that I was born into a Christian family. Some of my earliest memories are associated with church services. Even more specific than that, I’ve been a part of the Church of the Nazarene all my life. Once someone asked me why I was a Nazarene. My answer was a mixture of humor and truth: I’m a Nazarene because I don’t know any better.

Still, as I combine my thoughts about my country and my religion I can’t help but wonder what my religious views would be had I been born in India or Thailand or Pakistan . Would I just as confidently be a Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim?

Frankly, I don’t have a good answer to that question because I’ve never been any of the above. I’m left with this: my religion, which is actually more of a “relationship” than it is a religion, satisfies my life. I’ve never been tempted to try out the others because what I have satisfies my life completely.

Sometimes, after a meal, I might say, “I don’t know what I want, but I’m not satisfied, there’s something missing.” When I apply that “feeling of want” spiritually I can say that the only thing I want is more of what I have. Nothing else appeals to me.

If you’re reading this today because you’re seeking here’s what I have for you: I’ve given my life to Jesus Christ, making him my Lord and Savior. That relationship is the most satisfying thing in my life. Nothing else calls to me. Can you say that about your spiritual life?

Book review: Faith Intersections, edited by Matt Zimmer

“Faith Intersections” is a book about listening to people who have different belief systems than our own. In each chapter a Christian interviewer listens as an individual talks about what they believe and why. We hear from them what they consider to be the purpose of life and their view of the afterlife. In some cases, we listen as they talk about us.

Some chapters are almost painful to read. Right off I find myself listening as a former Christian dismantles modern Christianity. This man knows us well and many of his observations are, I fear, painfully accurate. The conversation with the Mormon leaves me feeling frustrated as I hear the “party line” stated with such conviction. The chapter on Scientology leaves me deeply saddened. It’s the only chapter without an interview. The reason? The knowledgeable writer has years of experience trying to dialogue with adherents and knows it can’t be done in the spirit of this book.

Let me add that there’s some positive material in this book, some encouraging and some instructive. The whole idea is to model for the reader how to listen, valuing the speaker’s point of view without having to debate them. In fact, in some instances, the genuine friendships have had wonderful results. It’s encouraging to hear people who aren’t Christians speak positively of Jesus even if some are rather critical of his followers. Sometimes I’m critical of our crowd myself. The “atheist” chapter has a great story in it that will bless your heart.

I appreciate the opportunity to do an early read of this thought provoking book.

Here’s a link to the book at NPH