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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Why should anyone be a Christian?
I Googled, "How many religions are in the world?" According to World Christian Encyclopedia there are 34,000 separate Christian Groups. Then there are all kinds of other religions that contain many different Gods. In India for example, the Hindu faith claims to have 330 million faces of God. In our own country, native Indians have a God for almost everything that lives. There are wind gods and sun gods and plant gods and animal gods.
It's confusing. Especially if you haven't had what is called a Theophany. A theophany is where you have actually experienced a "manifestation of God or a Deity." So...if you haven't come face to face with God - how do you know that what I'm telling you is true? And furthermore....why would you want to live by my faith?
First let me assure you that if you don't believe in God - I won't attack you in any way. Just because we have different opinions doesn't mean I dislike you. And...just because I don't see any "logical" basis for other religions doesn't mean I think bad of those people either.
So...let's look at this problem from a purely logical standpoint.
I have a hard time finding a reason to even consider other religions. For example, I just don't understand why the Muslim faith is still around. Half of their participants are in slavery. As a Muslim wife you are demanded to have as many children as possible and....forget having the freedom to be who you want to be. The Muslim faith is awful to wives, children and anyone that goes against the wishes of the father or the "honor" of the family. And the biggest plus to the religion is that if you kill others in Allah's name, you get to experience virgins to your hearts content. While that may be enticing to some people - I want more of heaven than that. After a while anything loses it's pleasure. Being stuck in the sex mode for all of eternity isn't as appealing as having the freedom to enjoy everything God has been preparing for literally millions of years. If he created everything here on earth and has been waiting and creating for centuries - don't you think he could come up with something better than 70 virgins?? Sounds like of pathetic to me.
Buddhism is even harder for me. Their take on this religion thing is that life is sort of a punishment. You are supposed to learn something from every life but you have to keep reincarnating until you finally reach Nirvana - which is a state of nothingness. Talk about a hard life!
Since I was in college I've issued a challenge. Bring me any faith that offers more freedom, more creativity, more of a good life and more rewards in the after life - and I'll change. Yep! You heard it here. Show me that your religion is better than mine and I'll change. The problem is in the details. Some religions may sound good on the surface but in the end it disappoints.
I remember going to a youth group at a large church in Atlanta when I was in my early twenties. The speaker was a wealthy business man who lived most of his life as an atheist. His life was a mess! His business was failing and his family was falling apart. When his wife served him with divorce papers, he sought advice from a Christian friend. The friend said, "Look John, I know you can't bring yourself to be a Christian...but that doesn't negate the great advice in the Bible. Even if you never become a Christian, I promise that if you study the Bible and follow it's teachings your life will get better."
The businessman took his advice and spent the next few years studying and implementing Bible values. At the end of six months his business was growing. At the end of a year he was dating his wife and at the end of two years they were re-married. Now remember....he was not a Christian - he was only living like one. His only goal was to put the values of a Christian into practice in his own life.
Amazingly, at the end of four years he decided that God was real and that he wanted to give not only his heart - but his entire life to God. (Is that why atheist are so afraid of even the word "God"? Any connection to this Christianity thing is dangerous to their position.)
If the Bible is just a good way to live....what makes it so good? Why don't most people see the value?
There's been a lot of propaganda. Ask anyone if they think the Bible is made up of a lot of restrictions and they will probably agree with you. Even Christians are likely to say more about the "no no's" of the Bible than the actual purpose of why we follow this book.
The Bible is simply "God's word". But what does that mean? The Bible starts out with creation and then moves forward. With each book, Christianity begins to evolve. Until Jesus comes and begins to set the record straight about what he really meant us to be.
Let's pretend for a moment that we are like cars. We are assembled at the factory and then sent out into the world to do "our" thing. Some of us are made to race and some of us are made to carry groceries and kids. But....if something goes wrong in our engine - we aren't rolled up to the bakery for repairs. We go back to the people that made us.
That's what Christianity is! God made us and the Bible is His instruction book on how we work best.
But here's the creepy part that some people don't want to look at. They don't want to accept that there's some big dude in the sky that has even a small interest in what they are doing. They want complete and total control over their own lives. So....because they can't accept the big guy....they discredit and make fun of the Bible.
The Bible isn't all that weird. And...it is not a negative - "You can't do this" book. Go back to the car illustration. Suppose you bought a new $40,000 SUV. You decide that you can't pay for the car and the gas all at the same time. So...you brew up a concoction of rubbing alcohol and sugar. A little dash of this and that....a little corn liquor and voila! Gas! You decide you better call the dealership that sold you the car and tell them what you've done. "Great news! I've just invented a new gas. You'll probably want it for all your customers." The salesman screams into the phone..."No, please....don't do it. It will ruin the engine." You get mad. "You can't talk to me like that. I know what I'm doing. How dare you!"
The salesman quietly explains, "If you do this there's no way we will cover the cost to fix the engine."
You yell back. "You won't have to you jerk. I'm going to save the world money! You just wait and see, I'll be the one rolling in the dough. You don't know anything about me."
The thing is, you are convinced that you are right.....but you are gambling with a $40,000 car. You put your invention in the gas tank and start the engine. The car sputters and takes off. You are grinning from ear to ear. You did it. You showed those guys. You are rolling along on free gas. As the gas that was in the tank begins to mix with your untested solution, the car sputters. It slows and drags. It can hardly go. Finally smoke rolls out of the engine. It's clacking and clanging and the entire car trembles with the pain of it all. It dies a horrible death.
What happened? It was your car and you had the right to put anything in the tank you wanted. Why didn't it work. All of us know the answer to that question. It doesn't matter how much you believed in your invention, if the car wasn't "designed" to work with your solution - it's not going to happen.
Guess what? It doesn't really matter what you believe. If you don't do the stuff that's needed to make your life wonderful - it won't work! When your life falls apart because you are lying or cheating....it really doesn't matter what you believe. The results will be what they are. It's sad to me that most people wouldn't dare take the chance on ruining a $40,000 car but they have no problem gambling with their lives and all of eternity. As the old saying goes - "I'm a Christian. If you're right about the "no God" thing and I die and go into nothingness - I've still had a good life. If your wrong about the God thing and you die, you go to Hell." Hum.....
Let's go back to the Bible. I've studied it my entire life. I became a Christian when I was six years old. I participated in Bible drills, memorization and as a preacher's kid I've listened to thousands of sermons.
I realized early on that the Bible isn't about what you can't do.....the Bible is about living the "Good" life. It's an instruction manual on how to stay out of trouble.
Some people look at my life and say, "Man you sure have been blessed. You haven't had the troubles a lot of us have had." While I do thank God for making me who I am....it's the Bible that I credit with the reason I have a good life.
I came from a heritage of Christians. My parents were ministers, my grandmother was a minister, All grandparents and most of my extended family were Christians. My husbands family was the same way.
We have had good lives not just because they were Christians - but because their lives kept us away from the things that would "hurt" or cause problems in our lives. They passed on wise instructions that kept all of us from getting into stuff that would hurt our ability to have a great life.
For example - let's take the Ten commandments. The first four are about God. Since we are "logically" discussing this, let's leave him out of it.
#5 "Honor thy father and mother". What possible problem could that avoid? If I had a nickle for every time I heard someone say, "I hate to admit it but my parents were right" - I would be a rich person. If more children, teens and adults honored their parents they could learn from the wisdom they have. And even if you don't think your parents are wise (provided they also live by Biblical values) perhaps you can learn from their mistakes.
#6 Don't murder. Well hello! Who wants to spend the rest of their lives in jail? And even if we lived in a society where murder was okay - who wants to be the one murdered? Or who wants to be so dysfunctional that killing is the only way to solve a problem. Ick! Instead of living a life of yelling, screaming and getting so angry that you flip out and kill your spouse....you have a different mindset. Look at all the problems and issues that you've avoided just by one commandment.
#7 Don't commit adultery. It would take a 15 page post to list all the pain this one will save. Just the guilt and therapy you can avoid will be worth thousands of dollars.
#8 Don't lie. Again...what's not to like about this little gem? Do you know how much trouble could be avoided in this life if people couldn't lie. Remember the movie Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey? Remember all the trouble he was in because he told lies?
The point is....The Bible isn't about taking away from your life. The Bible is about giving you a plan so you can have the best life possible. While others around you are struggling to figure out how to get down the street with their cars of life - you will be racing around the neighborhood and learning how to use all the tools to help your car sprout wings and fly!
Being a Christian is all about God. It's about loving him and appreciating all he's done for us. But it's also much more than that. It's about using his teachings to have the greatest life you can. My hope for you is that when your life is over that you will stand before a smiling God and say, "Wow! What a fantastic ride!"
God loves you,