Wednesday, April 26, 2006

a thought that could change the world

Allison and I received the newsletter from an overseas ministry we support that stated that the leader of the ministry was in jail. He’s been charged with creating “communal disharmony”. His activities? Caring for children in orphanages. Allison and I were talking about this and how culture, and religion render things that seem unthinkable to us, perfectly appropriate in the eyes of others. I mentioned that it is nearly impossible for us to understand the depth of conviction held by people who in the name of those convictions do things that we know are heinous. Our religious and moral convictions are appalled by the same activities that others’ do because of their moral and religious convictions. We tend always to feel that people behave differently than we do because they are uneducated or intentionally evil. Educating them to our beliefs will certainly make them see the error of their ways. It rarely occurs to us that they are behaving thus precisely because they are battling what they believe to be evil. It seems that Christians, even missionaries, remain less successful sometimes because we haven’t the ability to realize that we aren’t the only ones being intentional. My cultural and religious context can’t understand how a people would think it appropriate to blow up and burn buildings as retaliation for being accused of terrorism.
Likewise, we find it unthinkable that a man would be jailed for attempting to care for motherless and fatherless children who haven’t a thing in this world. I mentioned that perhaps it has to do with Karma and the caste system. If I believed that suffering in this life guarantees a higher level or higher reward in the next life, I would probably refuse, or even flee from anything that would jeopardize my next life standing, such as better standing in my current life. With this mentality, I might actually feel I’m caring for the next life well-being of these orphans by assuring that they are not cared for and raised up in the current life.
As I was voicing my concerns that Christians don’t seem to be able to approach such an understanding, I thought of Bono, who seems to be open to understanding how people think in order to better understand how to minister to them. I was thinking of his description of why he is a Christian. He points out that every religion on earth seem to be based in Karma, and that Christianity is the only one based in grace. Why would someone like me not be drawn to a religion based in grace rather than karma? This seems to be the thing that makes Christianity the antithesis of other religions.
Only a few minutes after our discussion had waned, on a Christian blog, I read a comment that was criticizing the premise that if you are not experiencing God now, then you are missing out. The commenter said he’d rather experience GOD in eternity than some other god for a short time on this earth. Of course “eternity” is referencing something that doesn’t begin until later. I imagined that a good proof text for an apologetic for this thinking would be not to store treasures on earth where things are destroyed. Rejecting experiencing God now so that you can experience him later sounds an awfully lot like karma to me. Deny yourself now so that you’re guaranteed better standing in the next life. But this as a Christian doctrine?
Where have we come when we believe that not being conformed to this world is practiced by embracing the concept of karma, and fingering as false teachers those who preach grace obtained through Christ’s suffering in our place.
I have voiced concern before that it seems that we more and more often question direct activity that we’re instructed biblically, but at the same time, receive teaching that directly contradicts the scripture.
Beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news. It grieves me that the only good news there is is being mistaken with the same old hopelessness that it was given to replace.

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