Should We Consider Other Religions As Enemies?
by Jim Gordon
Growing up in the organized church, I was taught that we actually had enemies within the religious world and that certain groups of people were to be avoided. I do not think this was done openly but very subliminally; it was just something you picked up on over the years in the Christian religion.
I can say this because I spent well over fifty years in the organized Christian church and I know how I used to feel. Fortunately, not everyone in the church system feels this way, but it does seem to be a pretty normal way of thought for those of us who grew up in it.
In the church system I often found people felt that if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations did not quite measure up. Fortunately, this does not happen in every church organization, but it does seem to be the norm more often than not.
Another thing we felt was that if you are a Christian then those outside of Christianity are to be avoided. Of course, we were to make sure to act like a friend so we can witness to them and try to convert them to Christianity. I think this is really a sneaky and unkind way to treat others. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.
I also found that inside the Christian religion atheists are considered to be the enemy of our faith. We were told it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.
People of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Confucianism, Gnosticism, Judaism, Islam or a host of other religions were considered confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except our way of Christianity. We were the enlightened ones, everyone else was mistaken.
Fortunately, I and many others no longer think this way. For me, I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone. If you attend a church or if you are walking with God outside the walls of religion, hating or discriminating against anyone is not what God wants and is not at all Christ-like.
We need to remember that Christianity is just a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the Christian religion. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like , a God of love. Jesus loved and respected people no matter who they were or what they believed.
No matter what religion people choose to follow, it does not completely describe who they are. Each of us is a person who basically wants the same things and same goals in life. We all want to be happy, to be loved and accepted and to live a good life. We all go about it in different ways but the basics are the same.
Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people no matter the label or religion. I have come to know many people of all beliefs and ways of life and have found them to be good friends. We all have our different backgrounds and beliefs, but we are all basically the same.
Rather than judge and condemn others who do not see things the way we do, it is time we do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love others. We are not here to judge, condemn and try to force people into accepting things the way we see them. The Holy Spirit will draw, convict and change people if that is what is needed. We are only called to be loving and kind to all we meet.
Loving others does not always mean we agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences. Look past the labels and the different religions to see the human being who is not an enemy, but who was created in the image of God and who is loved by God just as much as anyone else.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org