If you consider all the different people in the world, you can't help but notice different religions. Not only that, you also will notice differing philosophies of life not necessarily attached to organized religious practice. If there is one God, then why are there different religions? Do all roads lead to God? Do we just pick what we want, kind of like a buffet? From a human viewpoint standing here on this globe, it could appear that way. But from a heavenly perspective it looks totally different. Just because we think we have the right vantage point, doesn't necessarily make it so. Image by Jordan McQueen from Unsplash.
We long to understand and connect with Who or What is beyond us.
We are made in God's image, a spiritual being with a soul that lives eternally (Genesis 1:26). Because of this fact, there is religious expression worldwide. Yet there are people who believe they are free of religion, but because they put human ingenuity as god and live by evolutionary doctrine, they are not free of religion.They are humanist. There is no such thing for us as being free of religion. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).
Often, we view God on our own terms. Until we are able to open the eyes of our hearts, we will seek the God beyond ourselves in a manner that suits us, not necessarily what is right. That is why in Hawaii, for example, they have a mythology based around nature. It is similar to Native American mythology, an animistic religion. In the Apostle Paul's day, Roman mythology was the state religion. When he went to the Aeropagus, he noticed how religious the people were there. In order to not offend any god by leaving it out, they had a tribute to the unknown god. Paul recognized their search for the one True God and began to show them the way to God (Acts 17:16-33), There is one true God, but not all paths lead to God.
We long for some form of Truth.
We long to understand the purpose of life, death, and personal value, by seeking answers to our greatest "Why?" questions. That is why Zen Buddhists sit contemplating the great Tao and life in general through koans, seemingly nonsensical riddles. That is why Jesus came to earth, to answer those questions. He said, "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through Me" (John 14:6). Pontius Pilate, before freeing Barabas then sending Jesus to the cross, asked Jesus, "What is Truth?" (John 18:28-40). There is only one truth. Image from http://infinitecharacters.com/.
We have a lot of questions we want answered.
We long to understand why evil exists, why loved ones die, and why bad things happen to good people. When I was scanning the web for what others have written on this topic, I found different religious "experts" tackling the notion of so many religions and which one was right. One swami tried wrapping Judeo-Christian thought around a hodge podge of religious thought that sounded somewhat like the gospel, but was not. Each one came to the same question, answering it in the context of their own religious thought. All of them cannot be right because they conflict with each other. The truth of the matter is this: We cannot answer these questions from our own human perspective. I am certainly no expert, but share what I understand from my little corner of the world. We need God's viewpoint, His revelation of Himself to us, which brings us to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. These three claim that God revealed Himself to man. So,now, which one is right?
We are far from perfect, which is why we need a Savior.
We are stubborn, wanting our own way, and so do billions of other people on our globe. Because we wish to be gods of our own personal universes, we have to admit our shortcomings. Not every religion can be the right one. God does not cater to us and our whims. He draws us to Himself by coming down to us in the flesh as Jesus.
We are a sinful bunch, honestly. We should be glad we aren't angels because they also had freewill, but no redemption offered. I almost tackled why evil exists if God is good. It would have been an easier topic to approach. Evil exists to allow us free will. The angels who chose to go their own way and follow Lucifer rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:11-13). They also have no way to be redeemed from their sin like we are. That is why Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden. That is why we struggle with the questions of life, death, and all those "Why?"s. Our sinful state separates us from God, the source of all Truth. Jesus came to earth,sinless, to redeem us from our sin so we could be brought back into relationship with God. We are not able to come to God on our own terms because He is the one who set the terms (Romans 3:23) Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). Jesus shed His blood on the cross in our place. He did it so we didn't have to die in the Lake of Fire, the second Death. But it is our choice: eternal death or eternal life.
So which way is the right way, or do we get to choose?
There can only be one right way. To piece together what we want from different religious thought is like making a patchwork quilt from scrap fabrics without regard to the qualities of each fabric. I had a quilt like that once. When it was worn and washed several times, many of the pieces shrunk, pulled apart from the others, and became very ragged. Jesus also used the illustration of new wine in old wine skins, referring to the law of works versus salvation by grace (Matthew 9:16-18). The wine skins would burst over time. When we piece together what we want without regard to the inconguent qualities one with another, the wear and tear of life will eventually unravel our piecemeal mess of a religion. Which one stands the test of time and life challenges?
We really desire a relationship with God, not religion. Religion is a list of dos, don'ts, and rituals to perform regularly never knowing if it is enough. Relationship with God is built on love. A loving God reaches out to us, waiting for us to accept His expensive, yet free gift. It is our choice to spend eternity with a God who loves us or to spend eternity in a place totally void of His presence, then experience the Lake of Fire, the second death with Lucifer and the fallen angels. The real choice isn't about which religion we want, but whether or not we will choose the Way, the Truth, and the Life that is offered to us.
May God bless you.