I really enjoyed the message at church yesterday. Actually, I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. We've been working through a series based on Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, so I knew what was coming.
I don't have the "average" background of a pastor. My family stopped going to church for various reasons when I was about 4, I would go with a friend of mine through my childhood and teen years, but Christianity was definately not the main influence on my world view. Through my life I've been exposed to many different views, religious, political and scientific. Because of my cuirious nature, I would take in all these views, discect them, and take what I could from them.
For a time when I was a teen I studied religions, from Celtic druidism (paganism) to Islam, to cults (mormonism and the watchtower society mostly), a bit of hinduism etc. I was interested in why people followed these religions, just as much as i was curious why people would have no belief in God at all.
Through all these experiences and studying, I couldn't deny that there was truth in these other belief systems, that there was truth in scientific theories, and there was truth in the lives of people who had no concept of diety at all.
Of course, I mostly kept all this to myself - I had noticed that many christians feel that we have a monopoly on truth. I mean, after all, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life - so truth can't possibly exist outside of Christianity.....
However, the Bible disagrees. It says the whole earth is full of the glory of God, that creation proclaims the glory of God, that He is everywhere and there is no where we can go and notbe in His presence. Paul quoted secular (pagan) prophets and writers of his time when trying to bring people to the true God.
Think of it this way...ancient cultures would worship the sun, bcause they knew that the sun was what made their crops grow and would make them prosperous. That is true (trust me, I did a science project on photosynthasis when I was a kid...no light = no plants). Their was truth in their religion, the only problem was that they didn't go far enough.
I think this happens a lot. I genuinly believe that if people seek out truth, seek out all of God, that they will find Him, that's what Jesus said, right? So people set out in a search for truth in whatever form they choose (religous, scientific, philosophical) and find some. There is truth in any religon out there. In fact, I can remember agreeing with some of the articles of satanism at one point (not sure what ones and not gonna look it up right now). What happens is that smewhere along the path serching for truth people find religion (be it islam, hinduism or christianity) and then stop looking. Just like those who used to worship the sun, they don't look far enough.
I had a friend who was JW. My heart ached for her (still does, she broke off contact, I think I may have gotten her in trouble), she wanted to know truth. Every conversation I had with her I worked to find common ground in what we believed. I didn't cut down her beliefs, I didn't tell her she was wrong, but helped her to understand where she was right. truth has an amazing ability to reveal lies in its own way, we don't need to do that.
And it's not like Christianity is all truth either. The early church had to learn that it was not true that followers of Christ had to first become Jews. It is not true that God loves a stright, sexually pure individual more than a promicuous homosexual one. It is not true that smoking/drinking/whatever makes you useless as a folower of Christ, and yet this is what (at times) people have been either pressured to feel or outright told.
God is so much bigger than us. So much bigger than any concept of Him that we might come up with. he can not be contained in a building, in a denomination, even in all the doctrines and beliefs that make up christianity. We need to continually be seeking Him, be seeking truth, to continually draw closer to Him as he reveals himself to us.
And we need to be open to the truth that we see around us instead of being scared of it and writing it off as wrong or evil. We need to encourage people with whatever ammount of truth they have, and pray that their hunger and thirst for truth will continue to lead them to God. We need to find common ground between beliefs, discussing what we share and then finding reasons for where we differ, instead of debating over things that we're not really sure of anyway.
That's my rant for today. No baby yet. I'll keep you posted.