Religion As A Spectrum

When I first sat down to write this blog post I had come to the realization that regardless of what you believe, belief often exists on a spectrum that can actually tie people of different faiths closer together than those of the same spiritual background. But as I explored this idea more I came to the realization that as much as I’d like to believe that religion is a spectrum, scripture tells me the unpopular message that I should be totally sold out to God or not believe in him all. 

While talking with a friend who is Muslim, I discussed the idea that in many ways, though I am Christian, I might feel closer to a Muslim who is religious than a Christian who isn’t that religious. At my current stage of life I am growing in my personal walk with God but have encountered countless people who have told me that religion is good, but not if it becomes too important in our lives.

I’m reminded of the guy from a dating app who warned me of his aunt who never got married because she was so religious and spent all her life serving God. Or well-meaning friends who see completely following God as a loss of sorts because of what could be understood to be rigid rules within Christianity.

The idea that I could connect with a Muslim more than a less religious Christian was crazy to me at the time because for a long time I held schemas in my head of what it meant to be a Christian versus believing a different faith. And to me, there was no way that I could really connect with others of different religious backgrounds.

The idea of connecting with someone of a different faith was first planted in my head years ago. I was hosting a GIG or Group Investigating God with a college friend and most weeks our group consisted of the executive team from the Atheist/Agnostic club at our college. During our last meeting I invited a Muslim friend and was surprised by how my Muslim friend and I defended faith and the existence of a God, though to us this God was different. Because to believe at all is to share something beautiful in common, compared to a person who does not believe in the existence of anything.

But before we can really look at the intersection of faiths, let’s look at how I personally define what it means to be a Christian vs. a Muslim.

Defining a ‘Christian’ 

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First, we encounter the argument of how you choose to define what it means to be Christian. For the purposes of this post- I’ve indicated how I categorize someone as almost a “baseline” Christian. I realize that you the reader may have a different definition of what being a Christian means.

And even as I tried to define a “baseline” Christian I wondered if it was fair to say that they tithe because I’ve heard that very few people actually do this. Then there are people who love God but regularly miss church.

Defining a ‘Muslim’ 

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I asked a friend how she defines a Muslim and she indicated the above and clarified that she also considered that recognizing one God, the day of judgement, and believing Mohammed is a prophet is enough.

The Intersection 

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You can see above how the intersection between how “close” you can feel to someone who also holds faith, even if they believe in a different God. That is compared to someone who is a different faith but isn’t as religious.

I was honestly super proud of this realization until I realized that I was missing one important fact.

God Doesn’t Want Christians On a Spectrum 

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To follow and listen to God’s word instructs me of the fact that God doesn’t want Christians on a spectrum. Thus negating the entire that a spectrum could even exist. 

Revelation 3:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

The reality is that Christianity cannot exist on a spectrum because scripture instructs that you must either you are completely sold out for God or you should not believe in him at all.

The danger of our society is a culture in which people decide that they are kinda sorta Christian. This is a topic that was spoken about this past Sunday at my church.

It also begins to become easy to think that giving 10% is a lot if you surround yourself with other people who don’t give at all. But God’s standards for serving him are radically not in relation to those in our lives and instead is revealed in his word.

As I grow as a person and in my walk with God I am also learning to respect the journeys of others and realize that though scripture is clear, we might still be on a spectrum of belief. But while on this spectrum, I think we cannot deny the command from scripture to avoid at all costs, lukewarm Christianity.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Can Christianity exist on a spectrum? Is my definition of following Christ too rigid? 

The Secret to Confidence: Know Your Worth

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Low self-esteem is easier to find than dirt on the subway as insecurity devours our culture, stripping away more than we possibly realize.  Once we forget who we are, we settle for less, we walk hunched over.  Confidence is an afterthought when survival is what we grasp for.  The problem begins because we do not know our worth. 

1.  How much are you worth?

I spoke with someone once about this, I believe it was my brother.  He calculated his worth and pointed out that some people are worth more than others.  How then do you determine yours?

I started a new tradition where I collect all my coins and turn it in at my local bank on my birthday and after Christmas.  It’s my surprise birthday/Christmas gift to myself.  Plus, if I ever find myself really strapped for cash (and assuming I haven’t recently done this) I can cash in my change.

My bank allows me to guess how much money I’ve collected.  I thought I didn’t collect much, it didn’t even really fill the jar.  I guessed $30 thinking I was being too optimistic.  I was wrong, I had collected $60 without realizing it.  I dramatically undervalued how much I saved.

I felt God pleading with me recently reminding me that I am worth so much more than I realize.

2.  Don’t use the wrong formula.  

It’s so easy to forget our worth, isn’t it?  There are all those markers that seem to define us. But, who are you beyond your job, your looks, your Facebook profile or your grades?

So many times I fear that I, as well as many people I love, do the same.  We don’t understand our worth.  We are jars of coins trying to be sold to the highest bidder, never taking the time to count what’s actually inside.

I began a new yearly bible plan, click here for a link.  When reading over Genesis I was reminded of something beautiful.  Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

How remarkable is this?  And really think about this- you are created in the image of the most beautiful God.  How much are you undervaluing yourself?

Thinking back to my conversation with my brother, I may be worth nothing “technically”, but no price can actually be put on your life.  You may try, but no one can ever measure the way you love, no one can ever measure the lengths those who care for you will go.  These barometers forget that because of God, our worth breaks any scale man can make regardless of who you are and what the world thinks of you.

3.  Turn to God

I remember loving myself growing up, maybe a little too much.  I rarely even thought about how I looked like but knew I was special, I knew I had importance.  Then puberty hit and a wave of insecurity came along with it.  I questioned everything I once knew for a fact.  Was I ugly?  Why did others do better than me in school?  Did I really have friends?  I didn’t know it at the time but these were whispers of deceit from the enemy that would tear me down- but not completely.

I wish I could say that at the age of 21 that I am immune to insecurity, that I’ve solved the problem of low self-esteem.  But I too need to stop myself from undervaluing my worth.

The difference now is that I know the truth: that I am worth more than I can possibly comprehend.

Why else would God of the universe send His Son to earth to die for me? Am I worth the life of someone so perfect, so holy….to take the place of my wretchedness, my sin, my deceit, my shame…?

I am worth it. YOU are worth it. You have value much more than you know, so much that He laid his life down for you. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13 NIV

So next time when you’re feeling down about yourself, remember that the Creator made you in His image, His beautiful and perfect image, and that your life is worth the price of His Son.

4. The Challenge 

Today I challenge you to look at yourself and let God speak. Look deeply into your heart and hear what God says.  He crafted you, he is molding you as his perfect creation.  Comment below when you do this about how God is speaking to you.

The secret to confidence is knowing your worth.  

If you see yourself through the eyes of the Father, you can be confident in the knowledge that He created you for a purpose, you are beautiful and loved, and you have worth.

Written by Nina Thomas, Edited by Shannon Mathew

25 Days of Christmas (Day 18)

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(Day 18) Lydia Babu

“I didn’t care if Santa existed, I kinda had a hunch.  Whenever they said they’d leave Christmas cookies out for Santa and that Santa would eat them, I said, ‘No he doesn’t, it’s probably your parents”… And I was right…I figured it out when I was six or seven but I didn’t really believe in Santa.”

3/365- Our fortress, Our GREAT God

The verse I would like to focus on today is Deuteronomy 31:6:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you

Who can you name, it can be a friend or even a family member, who you know will NEVER leave or forsake you?

Can you name even one person?

In all honesty I can’t.  There was a point in my life that I judged a friend of mine and didn’t expect consequences, well there were consequences and people who I thought would always stay by my side left me with the blink of an eye.  [I like that phrase don’t I?]  It was then that I realized how GREAT our God is, he will NEVER leave or forsake us!  Even when we feel most alone.

Something I’ve always struggled with is trusting in our God.  I remember when I was younger a youth pastor told a group of children of his experiences fighting and serving for God.  One story he had told us involved a demon and I was scared from the mention of it until later that night.  At night I tried to sleep but was completely petrified- that was until I remembered how great my God is.

This verse speaks to me because it reminds me that we serve a GREAT God, who does not forsake us.  Sometimes I do not understand his ways, but that is when I need to trust him the most.

So far I have only made 3 posts [including this one], and feel tempted to stop. I feel like no one is reading but does that really matter?  If anyone out there is reading I want you to the know the truth.  God would never put you into a situation, unless he knew he could bring you through it and truly NOTHING is impossible for our God.

I know that sometimes your situation may seem to hard to handle, maybe you feel like it is overwhelming, but I encourage you to not look at this size of your problem, but the size of your GOD!

I’m thinking of posting pictures on this blog, but don’t have a good camera, do you guys [if anyone is there?] have any recommendations?

See you tomorrow [I’ll write more tomorrow!],

Nina

July 27th, 2010

10:34 pm

Check out this song!

You’re not alone! =]