In my post, Breaking The Cage of Religion, I spoke about how Christianity had been the only lens in which I came to know and understand the world. My new journey has involved questioning and letting go of certain beliefs that I once firmly held on to. One of these beliefs is the idea that Christianity is the only, true way to God and all others are just leading the masses astray. I used to be thoroughly convinced that the only way to get to God and ultimately Heaven, is to believe in the personhood of Jesus Christ and follow his teachings because after all, “…nobody can get to the Father except through me [Jesus]”. But today, I cringe at the fact that I used to subscribe to such a narrow-minded perspective on a complex mattter like spirituality.
But also, I understand where I was coming from…
Many of us have been brought up in the context of one particular religion or theistic ideology and as such, we become convinced that our particular way of understanding God is the only legitimate way and we consequently throw stones at any other doctrine or philosophy that contradicts the way we have been taught or brought up with. However, equally so, I find it arrogant for one to believe that their particular religion is the only valid form of approach to someone as vast as God. It no longer makes sense to me how someone as big as God, in an equally vastly diverse world, would use only one religion as the only ‘right’ means to approach and understand Him.
“God transcends every tradition, every man made institution and doctrine and how dare we think we can limit him to them.”
We cannot and should not invalidate another person’s experience of God just because it happens through a different medium and context to yours. I believe God can reveal himself through Jesus just as much as he can also do that through your Buddha, Prophet Mohammed and the likes. Nobody has sole ownership on God. Religions need to stop trying to play a monopoly on God, insisting that they are the only legitimate ‘sellers’ of God- “evangelising” on street corners, claiming that their version of God is the real deal. How bizarre is it that we have ‘commodified’ God and put hell and eternal damnation as the ‘terms & conditions’ should people not buy our particular brand of God?
God is not a private entity that he should be owned. We cannot be so arrogant to tell God where and how he should reveal himself to different individuals. We cannot be so convinced with our own superiority that we believe that someone as immense as God can be forced to let His expression be contained and restrained to only one religious perspective. God transcends every tradition, every man made institution and doctrine and how dare we think we can limit him to them.
Growing up Christian, I had always been admonished to be wary of reading and listening to anything that is outside of the Christian context or anything that may seem to contradict my Christian doctrine. Questioning God or taught doctrine was always a no-go zone. I had to just use my “faith” and believe that God ‘just is’ (as understood in the Bible). But now I tend to be quite cautious of the word ‘faith’ because often times this is often a harbinger of an individual being encouraged to throw out their brains and not use logic when accepting a particular taught doctrine. But you see, I am naturally a very inquisitive individual who highly values critical thinking and I am grateful for being in the space to be able to use my natural inclinations and refuse to believe things just because “its just the way it is” or “its just the way things have been done”. I refuse to insult my God-given intelligence all in the name of faith and tradition, although I do believe logic and intelligence have their own limitations (story for another day).
“…it is not about which religion ‘owns’ and possesses the right God; but it is about each one of us being fully consumed by the reality of God in our own lives, no matter which spiritual path we may choose to follow.”
My hibernation from my Christian religion has forced me to courageously do which I was reprimanded to never do: studying some of the teachings of other religions. And my God… I have been mesmerized, I have found an endless and overflowing stream of wisdom and understanding that I had never gained from reading the Bible in the context in which I was used to. I think now more than ever, I have come to have a different perspective and understanding of the Bible that I never had before. It is in learning about other religions that I have realised that we have more things in commonality than we have in contrast. Many spiritual teachings from various religions are parallel, just simply interpreted and explained differently.
And it is only now that I really began to understand that God is infinite- literally everything in the world reveals his glory and magnificence. I am also realizing that it has never been about religion or doctrine, but it has always been about us coming to realize that the glory we see in the world is also inside of us; we are made in the exact image of the God of the heavens… And it does not matter how we wake up to that reality, as long as each one of us leave this earth having come face to face with God- with our truest selves. But I believe we will never see the full beauty of God if we are constantly insistent on proving which religion is right or wrong because at the end of it all, it is not about which religion ‘owns’ and possesses the right God; but it is about each one of us being fully consumed by the reality of God in our own lives, no matter which spiritual path we may choose to follow.