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Christian Enlightenment

April 12, 2009
Over the past couple of years, I have developed an interest in learning more about world religions. Most of my life has been wrapped up in a very legalistic view of one religion, Christianity. I grew up in a fairly conservative church with conservative teachers, ministers, and church leaders. I even acquired my bachelor’s degree from a university affiliated with that church organization. Exposure to other religions was less than encouraged unless it was to learn about how they erred from the true pathway to heaven. While some may see those experiences as very restrictive, oppressive, and negative, it has actually a blessing. The things I learned while immersed in that belief system have given me much insight and knowledge from which to make some life impacting evaluations and comparisons.
 
However recent exposures, both incidental and intentional, to some of the beliefs of other world religions has done much to open my eyes about my own traditional belief system. It is exciting and at the same time a bit unnerving. I absolutely love discovering the similiarities between world religions. I find it amazing to see how God has revealed his purpose and  his nature to the entire universe meeting people where they are. (See http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx234.htm for an “enlightened” example of many similarities.)  I recognize that some of the beliefs contained in world religions are contrary to my own. Much study is still needed for me to become completely comfortable with those boundaries. Discernment is a necessary and useful skill that I am still developing, but I’m gaining ground on that one.
 
And yet, I find it disturbing how violently and dramatically some Christians choose to react to the mere mention of anything to do with other world religions. It is as if in their minds the mere utterance of the name of a non-Christian religion will condemn a person to some sort of curse or fiery eternal sentence. Some Christians find it difficult to reconcile practices like Yoga and meditation with their beleifs. I find this very sad. God uses so many ways to reveal himself to us. Yet we often walk away from these revelations because we fear what we do not understand. He has given us some incredibly powerful gifts to use at our disposal, and still we choose to leave those gifts at the feet of the Cross of Jesus because they too closely resemble some practice in use by another religion. At least that is an excuse we use. Could it possibly be that we simply choose not to accept the fullness of what Jesus gave to the world?
 
On this Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the greatest miracle in Christianity with love and gratitude, may we also take time to examine the teachings of Jesus that preceded and followed his celebratory death and resurrection. Let’s make a conscious choice to look at the divine messages God delivered to humanity through Jesus Christ. Some of them are eerily similar to practices and teachings delivered through Buddhism, Hinduism, and others, and may be easier to recognize and apply to our lives when viewed through those teachings. Don’t be satisfied with being saved and headed for heaven. Let’s take ahold of everything Jesus laid out in front of us, demonstrated for us, and encouraged us to put into practice in our lives. Seek to further understand how to pray believing we’ve already received. Pursue the concept of energy and how you can help another person heal with your energy just as Jesus did. Study Jesus’ message that he is the Light of the World and how you can become enlightened with him and in him. It will truly make a difference in the future of our entire world.
 
Blessings,
Angie
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