Sometimes when the world argues against an opinion you hold, it’s because that opinion can be proven wrong by logic and reason (logic and reason that God gave us). Opposition to, or arguments against an opinion are not a challenge for you to hold onto that opinion even more tightly – it’s a challenge for you to find the truth, even if that truth leads you to a new opinion.
I see many peoples’ opinions today are based on an interpretation of the Bible rooted in a presumption that the Bible is literally the word of God. This presumption is simply just wrong. It has to be wrong. Why? According to that same Bible, your father has the right to sell you as a slave. Your family can also publicly execute you for wearing two garments made of different threads or fabric (which you probably are doing right now). You could also own slaves yourself, and even beat them to death if you want – just so long as the slave doesn’t die within one day of being beaten. If someone holds a gun to your head and threatens to kill your family if you make a sound, while he violently rapes you, the Bible doesn’t care that you didn’t cry out in order to save your loved ones – the Bible says you should be put to death as well, along with the rapist.
Do any of these Bible passages – supposedly literally from the mouth of God Himself – make any sense? Of course not.
Believing in God, and following the Bible are two completely different things. I worry the Bible and much of Christianity today is actually leading good people away from God – exactly for the reasons noted above. For example, I hear Christians today say that people will go to Hell if they don’t accept Jesus as their lord and savior. That makes perfect sense in American suburbia, but what about for all the good people born and living somewhere in the world where Christian missionaries will never reach them? Do you truly believe those people are doomed to Hell as well? Why would God create people, who simply will never have any opportunity to join the Christian church, and then punish them?
This one “teaching” which has become so prevalent in Christian churches today clearly shows the same issues all religions have faced for centuries: Some people believe God is greater than them, and that we should strive to be more like Him. Some people, however, seem intent on making God smaller, more like themselves – perhaps because it’s easier to think they have achieved perfection that way.
It’s easy to understand a small god that cheers for a particular political party or football team, or who appreciates being thanked for a touchdown, or who would create the entire universe and everything in it just so he could then punish his creations for doing something wrong.
It’s harder to understand an almighty, all knowing God for whom time and space mean nothing. According to Psalms, God knows every word that will be written in the scroll of your entire life, before you’ve even lived your first day of it.
So then, you tell me, if you had the power to create someone, and you knew their entire life before they were even born, why would you create them or anyone who would ever make any mistake or commit any sin – knowing that the punishment for those mistakes would be eternal damnation and torture in the fires of Hell? The answer is, you wouldn’t – unless you were a petty, cruel, mean little creature. Do you believe God is like that? If not, then you’ve just opened a door to learning more than most Christians do today.
Being a Christian is supposed to mean you should try and be more like Jesus Christ, and follow the examples and lessons of his life. But don’t forget: Jesus was murdered by preachers and politicians – and he was allowed to die by all those who followed them.
When you truly live the life of Christ, you won’t be popular or supported by most people. You’ll be attacked by the popular church and religious leaders and politicians – all who have become too comfortable with their own selfish, earthly concerns. While all your friends are lifting their hands to the heavens in praise of God, singing songs of joy and glory, you’ll be the one who thinks there’s something wrong. You’ll be the one who remembers that just outside the doors of your church are real people suffering in need of food, shelter and charity. You’ll be the one helping those people, without ever saying a prayer or trying to convert them to Christianity – because your charity alone will be noticed. The people you help will follow your example, even if they don’t follow any particular religion. And which thing did Jesus say was more important – attending a particular Church, or giving love to everyone as he did?
There is some truth in the Bible – and all religious texts. These are the stories of our history and culture. This is how we explain some of the universe’s mysteries to our children. This is where we record all the self-evident truths, before they are forgotten. But the Bible, and all other texts, were written by men – and men are not perfect.
Do you wish to follow the imperfection of man, or the perfection of God?
I hope one day you can truly believe God is greater than anything that can be conceived by the mind of man – greater even than the Bible or a particular brand of religion.
Let your life and work be your prayer. Even if you never set foot in another church for the rest of your life, your charity will set you apart from all others.