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‚ÄĒneither hot nor cold‚ÄĒI 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? 

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The awkward moment when you realize you had it all wrong

I grew up in a Christian family, in a Christian household being taught how to be a good Christian. ¬†The thing is the majority of my life was spent looking through this pin hole thinking I was seeing everything, but in reality I only saw this tiny distorted section of the whole picture. ¬†I saw my family and their devotion to God. ¬†I saw my church friends give everything and dedicating their lives to God. ¬†I was baptized with people I’ve known my entire life. ¬†And when I accepted God for the first time my closest friends and family were with me the entire time.

I outreached on campus because I was told to do it. ¬†I spoke about God when someone asked me about God. ¬†I was too busy living my life looking through this tiny hole where everyone I loved would be fine. ¬†And those who didn’t accept God were put to the back of my mind. ¬†I stuffed them there not wanting to imagine eternity without them.

Today I visited a Hindu temple for an anthropology project, I wanted to learn about an aspect of my culture I never experienced. ¬†Growing up as ¬†christian as well as Indian the majority of people I met in passing assumed I was Hindu, unaware that I knew little to nothing about Hinduism. ¬†What happened instead was this tiny hole through which I saw everything was broken open and my heart literally ached. ¬†I left the temple and I sobbed. ¬†Because if everything I was ever taught and believed was true then I would not meet everyone from that temple again one day in heaven. ¬†I just wouldn’t.

I wasn’t used to thinking like that.

My entire life my purpose was to be a good student, to be a supportive friend, to be a decent person.  But as I continued to live my life looking through this tiny hole I was blinded to everything outside of my view.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to learn about an organization called, “The Price of Life” through”One cry”, it was there that I learned the first way I was blind. ¬†Today I learned the second way. ¬†First I was blind to the suffering of people who were sold into prostitution. ¬†I was blind to the suffering of people around me in my life imaging pain was entity of my own. ¬†That only I went through hardships. ¬†I was blinded by my selfishness. ¬†Conceding to myself that everyone else had it figured out and that everyone looked at all times as they appeared on the surface.

No one has it figured it.  But everyone is so keen and so used to hiding that a mirage of perfection is easy to portray.

I realized today that I had it all wrong because yesterday I prayed that God would break my heart for those who didn’t know him. ¬†But as he did this very thing I wanted to beg him to stop. ¬†My idea of Christianity was asking things from God hoping he would not hear me. ¬†That was how things worked looking through this tiny hole. ¬†The hole was narrow and binding and… even inaccurate but this hole was comfortable. ¬†Everything I saw through it fit into what I wanted Christianity to really be, not what it actually is.

I’m writing this post right now because I feel like there most be other people out there like me. ¬†People who have been living their entire lives looking through this tiny hole thinking they have it all figured it. ¬†The thing is we don’t have it figured out, not even a little bit. ¬†God doesn’t call us to live our lives blindly. ¬†He is the light that shines in our darkness, he calls us to be free from all bondage.

We are called to love, to serve and to be uncomfortable.  Today was the day I realized what this actually meant for the very first time.