Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3 Things Christians Can Learn From Other Religions (March Synchroblog)

             One of the reasons that I love to participate in the monthly synchroblogs, is that they force me out of my comfort zone to blog about topics that I would not normally blog about otherwise. This months topic is no exception, in fact, this is one of those topics that good Christian bloggers avoid altogether. I mean, what have you learned from other religions? Really, everyone knows that the correct answer is nothing, because we cannot learn anything from false religions. Of course I do not really believe that, but talking about learning from other religions is risky, people can begin to accuse us of buying into false religions or worse. But if all truth is God's truth, than we have a responsibility to look for all truth as it reveals God. I am sure given time, I could come up with a pretty extensive list of things that other religions can teach us, but I have come up with three that I think are pretty important.

Truth #1 - The Divine Vacuum

No, this is not what God uses to clean his carpet, this is a fancy way of saying that inside each person is a void or hole that was intended to be filled with something greater than ourselves. This is reflected throughout the world religions. Whether you believe in one God, many gods, or even that god is just some mystical life force that is in every created thing, one thing we can glean from the multitude of world religions is that somewhere inherent inside of every person is a longing, a longing to be connected to some being or spirit or force or whatever that is larger and greater and outside of ourselves. In our practical work, we call this the God-sized hole, and we use the truth that every person has this internal longing as evidence of some greater creator-being.

Truth #2 - The Desire for Redemption

Along with the desire to be connected to some being or force greater than ourselves, another trend that we find in many religions is the desire for redemption. What do I mean. well, nearly all religions teach that some if not all of the world is not as it was intended to be, and has some means of being made right or at least being made better. For example, in Buddhism, one is made better when they are released from selfish desires, in some disciplines, the Buddha is a redeemer guiding and assisting the Buddhist on his journey to enlightenment. In Islam, a person is made right through believing in the tenants or pillars of Islam and performing certain virtuous works. In fact, the very purpose of nearly every religion in the world is to make people better people, meaning that just about all world religions recognize as a basic truth the fact that things are not the was they should be.

Truth #3 - Community is Essential

One last truth that we can glean from a look at other religions is the necessity for community of some kind as part of the religious experience. All religions have some community expression. For the Hindi, the visiting of holy sites and particularly pilgrimages is an essential part of their experience. For others, special religious buildings called cathedrals, or mosques or even churches are part of the religious experience. Even in the most inwardly focused religions still have some expression of being in harmony and connection with others. The importance of gathering or community expressions in religions is a testament to the truth that people need connection to other people.

I know that these are pretty generic truths, but it has been my experience that when talking to people of other religions it is important to start with those things that we have in common. People are much more open to hear the differences in our beliefs, when we start from a common truth or two.Like I said at the beginning of this post, all truth is God's truth. When we understand that all of those truths point to the reality of who God is, we can find that truth nearly anywhere and use it to point to a truer picture of God.

This post was part of the March Synchroblog "What I Appreciate About Other Religions"
Pleas check out these other authors posts on this topic by clicking the links below.

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