Why The Fences
I have a statue of Buddha in my front yard. It is there because I live in a complex that installed it. And although it is Buddha, whenever I look at it, I smile. Of all of the images I’ve seen throughout my life, it is one of the happiest. The use of lines, form and movement to design the statue depict bliss. Being an art major in college, I’ve had the privilege of studying cultures around the world and their associated beliefs. At first, I was intimidated that studying other religions would cause me to doubt my Christian faith.
As I studied other cultures, I fell more in love with people and the diversity that God created. The deeper I researched, a surprising thing took place. The more I learned about other world religions, the stronger my faith in Jesus Christ became and I began to notice several commonalities with the most interesting one being the expectation of a Savior who would come into the world.
I realized that like in the telephone game, God had been trying to get the message of His Son to man since the beginning. This is the reason that wise men came from a faraway pagan land in the East in search of the promised child. And much like in the game, that message had been muddied and altered as it was passed along. Each culture interprets it differently due to its diversity, geographic location, survival tactics, etc. It was only till Jesus Christ came that God “funneled” the message through an individual.
Jesus was not crucified because he was another prophet. He was killed because of His claim that He is the Son of God and One with the Creator. It was a bold and fatal claim, yet it was true. Jesus lived so that he could put all other claims to rest, and backed it up with power; He died to save mankind; and He was resurrected to prove that He truly was what He claimed to be.
What I found in college was that true Christianity is not a religion. It is having a relationship with God through Jesus. John Maxwell, a leadership teacher, once said, “Before you tear down a fence, find out why it was put up in the first place.” As we go about preaching the Gospel, before we attempt to tear down someone else’s beliefs, we should find out why it was established in the first place. Doing so takes time, lots of questions and good listening skills. It is only when we get to their root that our offer of healing and wholeness through Jesus can find its way into their hearts and minds. The most effective way to preach the Gospel is to be the Gospel (good news) in someone else’s life. For it is only then people will know that we are Christians, by our love. And these three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
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