Fantasy Religion

Our Bible study has begun again. This time ’round, we’re studying the Corinthian letters and so far, it’s proving interesting.

I think the big lesson from last night was summed up in one word: RESPECT.

With the election coming up quickly, it’s funny to watch how people often try to tie both politics and religion together when, to me, they’re mutually exclusive (for more on this, ask Todd about his thoughts regarding a country that is a democracy vs. one that is a theocracy).

Gabe brought up an interesting comparison after we briefly discussed the validity of religions worldwide and even the varying sects of Christianity itself. In all of us, we have the desire, nay, compulsion, to believe in something, anything. And when we find that something, we hold it very dear to ourselves and it becomes part of who we are, part of our very fiber. But I wonder if maybe there aren’t some laurels that we hold too tightly to sometimes?

The best example I can think of, for myself, is that of creation. Genesis 1 uses the terms “day and night” to separate out what was created and when. Some people interpret that to mean “7 literal days” while others think it means “7 time periods”.

Then there are those, like myself, who simply don’t care. I believe that God created the universe, but I don’t know how (though science is ready and willing to try to figure it out), I don’t know when and I don’t know how long it took. It’s a big place, the universe. To steal a line from a movie, “Begging your pardon, sir, but that’s a big ass sky.”

It’s true. It’s huge. But I really just don’t care how long it took. I don’t. It’s not something I care to discuss and it’s not a hill I’m going to die on. Because at the end of the day, that one talking point is not something that I call up as part of my spiritual fiber.

I just think that sometimes, all these varying sects of Christianity get so caught up in the insignificant details that we forget what the point is. I think one of my new favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 1:10-12.

10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Paul goes on to say, essentially, “When did Christ divide??” meaning, why all the divisions? Why all the separations?

All that to get you up to speed before I talk about Gabe’s analogy.

After discussion all of the above for a while, Gabe laughed to himself and said “I just had a really bad thought.” to which we all immediately said “What?! Let’s hear it!”

So he said the following:

Okay, so all of us here like football. We all have our favorite teams. The team we root for, pull for, yell for regardless of if they’re winning or losing. Hell, some people even get in fights (or worse) for their teams. But we also have our favorite players who may or may not be on our favorite football team. We follow the players and their stats and are interested in what they are doing. My point is, I wish we could have fantasy religion.

Here’s what I took from that. I love love love the Broncos. I’m a Denver native and have always been a Broncos fan. I was born into that. It’s almost default. But I also really like Peyton and Eli Manning. Sometimes I like Tom Brady (mostly just when he’s on SNL though) and I most assuredly will keep up with John Lynch (sadly, no longer a Bronco). Everything that those four guys do impacts my team in some way, at some point.

I’m a Christian. Always have been. I was born into that. It’s almost default. Don’t get me wrong…I made that very important decision many many years ago, but it was also how I was raised. But in the recent past (maybe the last 6 or 7 years), I’m coming to realize that religions the world over are valuable and important. I wish I could be as peaceful and centered as the Buddhists. I wish that I had the dedication and fervor of the Muslims. I wish that more families held true the family values of the Mormons. I wish that I could commune with God the ways the Hindus can. I love and admire the longevity of the Jewish faith (it is where mine spawned from, after all).

All of these things are valuable. All these things are important.

And so I choose to learn about them. Not so that I can BECOME one of any of the multitudinous religions worldwide, but so that I can learn to respect them more.

There’s a sign on my campus that says “If we all spoke another language, the world would be less divided.”

I say, if we all understood and respected other religions and faiths, the world would be more peaceful, more constructive, more….shalom….

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