Religion is a funny thing. Ask almost anyone in any part of the world, and I’m sure they’ll have an opinion about it. So it wasn’t any surprise to me when this weekend I had the pleasure of encountering two townies eager to spread the word of the Bible and inform my Jewish friend and I all that we are missing out on.
I didn’t expect to run into this type of conversation, but when their tagline was to offer us what at first appeared to be a million dollars, who was I to say no? While I question the practice of using fake money like fishing bait to talk about Christianity, I will admit it worked.
Furthermore, they were earnest but polite with their message even when we had certain theological disagreements. That’s something that I truly appreciated as a practicing Christian, especially when stereotypically people are unable to discuss religion without resorting to yelling and using their fists. Unfortunately, the discussion prompted me to think about what it means to practice Christianity nowadays.
Religion doesn’t compromise or change. It is what it is, and that can be hard for some people to accept, especially as the Ten Commandments don’t waver with time. Adding to this is the theological problem that we can’t all know what God wants or thinks. This can cause certain disagreements because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want God on their side?
This can generate a lot of media. It seems that recently religion has only been used as a buzzword, to generate factions or cause a scandal.
Most people end up with a skewed view on religion because religious leaders who practice patience, kindness and love for some reason don’t generate media attention. But whenever the Westboro Baptist Church decides to show up, all the eyes of the media are upon them.
There are no headlines that read “Dalai Lama Preaches Peace,” “Pastor Gives Speech on Love” or “Rabbi Delivers Speech for Understanding.” It’s tough to have a set of beliefs on the one hand and hear the proliferation of so many negatives in the media on the other. To be fair to the media, though, the same sensationalism is applied to nearly anything that’s prominent. Good news doesn’t sell.
An even tougher thing to hear is when religion is used for the purpose of elections. It’s not that I’m opposed to hearing about a candidate’s faith or how many hours they volunteered at the church. I’m referring to political parties bending the purposes of religion to fit their own ends.
Telling people how they should live their life and what is right or wrong goes beyond the true meaning of Christianity. It violates some of the basic tenants of Christianity: free will, tolerance and humility. Jesus didn’t force his disciples to follow him. The disciples made their own choice.
For that reason, anyone who is a practicing Christian should consider the difference between spreading the word of God and trying to force your own religious choices upon others. Force should never be the ideology that any follower of Christ should embrace, but rather persuasion and patience.
Still, what it all hinges on is faith, and hell, I could be wrong, but I just like to believe I’m right. As Christopher Moore said, “Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was that one guy, but we killed him…”