Monday, February 21, 2011

What Other Religions Can Teach Us About Being Better Christians

“Live in harmony with one another…. So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:16 & 18)

During the six weeks of our series "Christianity and World Religions," we’ve learned about the origins and beliefs of four other major world faiths, and we’ve discussed numerous differences between these other faiths and our own. As we wrap up the series, however, I want to once more highlight a few of the things we share in common – things these other faiths do well that might perhaps remind/teach us how we can be better Christians. For example…

From Hinduism, we can learn to have a more open mind and heart regarding the faith of others without the need to pass judgment, even when we disagree. We’re also reminded of the importance of respecting and honoring the presence of God in all people. Doing so transforms the way we interact with others, challenging us not to treat them as objects to be exploited or taken for granted, but as children of God to be valued and cherished.

From Buddhism, we’re reminded of the dangers of attachment -- of having inappropriate desire/craving for things that are not of lasting importance… things like success, pleasure, wealth, and even good health. When you and I give inordinate attention to such things, we’re essentially making them into God and worshiping them. Needless to say, that always causes problems.

From Islam, we are reminded of the value of being passionately “sold out” (e.g., submitted) to God, and the great value of using various spiritual disciplines/tools (like prayer, fasting, and generosity) to help us grow in and practice that “submission.”

From Judaism, we are reminded that you and I are loved dearly by the one God of Creation, and that He desires a relationship with us (covenant) so that the actions of our lives (moral living) would point others towards the reality of His power and grace in the world.
[To read my sermons about the relationship of each of these faiths to Christianity, click here]

Obviously, each of these concepts from other faiths actually have counterparts within our own, and the focus on them in other faiths can actually help encourage us to highlight their importance in our own practice of Christianity, as well. So, my hope and prayer is that you’ll use these ideas to encourage you in your own walk with God -- to lovingly challenge you to be the very best follower of Jesus that you can be, so that God will get the glory, and others will be drawn to Him through your example. Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

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