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Pointers along the way #155

Respect for other faiths?
- Jacob Ninan

Truth is getting compromised more and more, as time goes on. Many compromise it by mixing it with error so that while the final message has a semblance of truth it actually leads people astray. One example is in the use of the word 'God' and 'faith' in Him. In the world that worships a variety of gods, including inanimate objects, animals, people, demons, mythological beings and abstract concepts such as 'force', 'influence', and 'power', the Christian concept of God as a Person who is present everywhere, all knowing, all powerful, holy, loving, and the only One is offensive to many. One reason why people don't like Him is because He is holy and they are held accountable to Him (Ro.14:12). The second is that Jesus claimed to the only way to God the Father, thereby negating every other claim to godhood (Jn.14:6;Acts.4:12). But is this a point on which Christians can afford to compromise, by agreeing with the 'opposition' or keeping quiet?

It isn't enough just to have faith. It's also important to ensure that what we believe is true. If we believe in, worship and follow a "God" and we finally discover at the end that we were mistaken, wouldn't that be the biggest mistake that we could have made? That is, if God is as Christians believe He is, and He has revealed Himself and His love to us through His Son Jesus and requires each of us to give an account of ourselves to Him on the final judgment day, can we afford to make a mistake about our faith in God?

Of course every man has the right to choose for himself what he wants to believe. We respect that right. We cannot force anyone to agree with us or follow us. But at the same time, we can't be expected to agree with everyone else about their concept of God, or respect them. For example, we respect the right of people to believe that the moon is made of cheese. But we would not respect that belief.

At the same time, just the fact that we believe in the true God does not make us superior to others who believe differently. We know that it was God's mercy to us that caused us to believe, and that we are no different in ourselves from others. What makes us different is Christ in us, working in us to make us more and more godly in our character and behaviour. (It goes without saying that if there is no difference in these, we need to examine the reality of our faith). One of the things that people need to see in us is humility, that accepts others for what they are, and shows them love and kindness as much as we are able.

We can't get to know God by our own thinking, because He is the One who created us and is thus far beyond our understanding. But God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible. Once we humbly surrender ourselves to Him, He also gives us understanding and experience that strenghten our faith in Him. Then we are convinced that what the Bible says is true and that God has inspired the words of the Bible.