As I write this there has been a recent series of terror attacks in France. There has been talk about cultural sensitivity, freedom of expression and xenophobia since it was someone using their freedom of expression in a way that conflicted with someone’s religious point of view that precipitated the violence.
Such a conflict has prompted some people like comedian and social commentator Bill Maher to call religion the cause of evil and to be abandoned for the good of all. After all, aren’t all religions alike? Don’t they all involve hypocrisy when they say it is about perfection?
I will address the first question by saying that all religions have certain similarities in that, with one exception, they either collapse on themselves or contradict themselves in their most fundamental characteristics. The reason why the do that is in that they do not have a balanced foundation of putting ones self last in light of both a Higher Power and their fellow human beings. Within the religion of secular humanism there is the cry of justice from within its trinity of class, race and gender for revenge that calls itself justice. Within pantheistic religions there is a disposable view of ones fellow man since reincarnation means being recycled.
The place to find such a balance is in what theologians call salvation history which can be defined as the successive line of unfolded truth and divine relationship initiative from Abraham until today as the Judeo-Christian body of faiths. People that study the Old and New Testaments may wrongly come of the conclusion that it is alright to cherry pick from the wording in the Old Testament but not all or one could be extreme like the terrorists of the radical expression of militant Islam. If those critics are right then this Judeo-Christian salvation history is like a door that falls off and gives one no proper entry way to this spiritual house.
However, I would posit that this door does not fall off because the hinge that it turns on is solid and keeps it on track and His name is Jesus Christ. Remember, that the collapses of religions around the world happen because of a deficit in regard to the Higher Power and ones fellow human being. Jesus Christ stands as both God and man, the main ingredients or subjects of discussion important and offers disciples past and present the opportunity to be connected to Him
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).
Please notice how this passage answers the first question. That is because we know that Jesus said when asked about the greatest commandment that it was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength with the second to love your neighbor as yourself. As for the terms “abolis” versus “fulfill” it is about this love being brought out for the world to know in His coming in baptism and perfected in suffering on the cross. This is His ultimate commitment to us and surrender to the Father’s love for the world.
Now since this is born out, so a Christian believes, through the Christian people then one would think that hypocrisy should not be an issue. I can say for sure that it is a problem but I am not seeing Jesus as an ineffective leader. The reason is that when Christian hypocrites rise up, and I would call myself both at times, there is a point of reference in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to come back to. And there are always standard bearers that will lead such a believer, and an honest inquiring unbeliever straight home. Such a home is referred to in other scripture as follows.
“… may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
So if you are reading this and wonder what good can be found in being a Christ follower and do so fully then I would say it is fine to be skeptical. Be open minded in thinking about where your paradigms come from. Just do not be a cynic and thus a disciple of Bill Maher. For if you consider what you may be missing, the joke could really be on you.