Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life as a Christian

My son said to me one day, "if you were born into a Jewish family, you would be Jewish. Or into a Muslim family you would be Muslim. And if you were born into a Buddhist family, you would be Buddhist. So being Christian is only a result of the family you were born into and the beliefs they hold."

I get his point and the beauty of living in America is that everyone has the freedom to either adopt the faith they were born into or not.

I know the Christian faith, specifically, the Catholic tradition is the faith for me. I have looked into Judaism and read the teachings of Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, to supplement the Christian teachings. The Buddhist slogan, cause no harm, is very much in line with the 10 commandments and Jesus teachings about loving God, self and neighbor.

I think it is best to look at the similarities of all the religious traditions instead of getting stuck on how many there are or which one is followed. After all there is one God who created all and that includes all of the religious variations human beings believe.

I attended a friend's 50th wedding anniversary yesterday. The ceremony was beautiful and the scripture below stuck with me.

It is from the Book of Romans. Paul is its scribe. I think all the religions of our human experience hold some essence of his words.

How about we all start trying to live by them instead of being in constant debate about who is right or better.

Our main focus in this life is whether we are living our lives in a way that will get us back to the God who created us. I think this is God's will.

Our God is Holy, meaning pure. We must become pure to be able to mix well with God.

If God is oil then we must become oil. And if God is water then we must become water. Otherwise we won't mix.

If your home is filled with love and peace and someone who is angry, bitter and a trouble maker wants to live with you, would you let them? I think you would prefer to have someone who is also loving and peaceful.

This is our God. Love and peace. We must become that too.

I find that Jesus is the closest if not the only human being to reflect this image of God. Therefore I follow His teaching with the hope that I too may become like Him. He lived a life that is so radically in contradiction to the teachings and way of life that it changed our world as we knew it. He set the example of how to live in a way that will get us back to God.

If I found this God like image in any other religious tradition, I would be following Him or Her.
And this is how it works. It is not about the faith we are born into. It is about what we do with the faith that we are taught. Do we use it to become like God, love and peace?

I know if all of us lived by these words we would see love and peace in our lives.

Want to give it a try?

Romans 12:1-2, 9-18
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
     to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
     holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
     but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
     that you may discern what is the will of God,
     what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Let love be sincere;
     hate what is evil,
     hold on to what is good;
     love one another with mutual affection;
     anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
     be fervent in spirit,
     serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
     endure in affliction,
     persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
     exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
     bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
     weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
     do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
     do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil;
     be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.