this i believe

One of my coworkers recently submitted an essay to NPR’s “This I Believe.”  I found it very insightful and asked to reprint it here.

If there is a Christian pastor encouraging this type of thought, perhaps there is hope for the Christian church after all.

Ten years ago a news magazine that I subscribed to at the time, had an article on religious tolerance. In a subsequent edition a reader wrote in with a comment questioning how religious tolerance is possible. His premise was that if you truly believed everything that your particular religion taught, than you must therefore believe that those who do not believe as you do are wrong. He asked if anyone could tell him how it is possible to believe in your religion with all your soul and still feel that other people’s religions have validity.

While I didn’t reply at the time, it did cause me to spend some thoughtful moments reflecting on the question. My pastor once shared this analogy with me: Think of God as a prism (non changing and awesome with many facets). We, (all humanity) stand or sit around the prism in a big circle. My God might look very dissimilar to me then the view of someone on the other side of the circle. My place in the circle is determined by my culture, my time in history, teachings I have received and my environment. I may see God very differently than the man born in China 2000 years ago, or even my neighbor across the street. God does not change, our vision of him is imperfect and distorted. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians in the Christian Bible that “…now we see through a glass, dimly; but later face to face.”

And therefore, I can believe in my God with all my heart and soul and mind and I am not disturbed or find that my view diminishes the religion of anyone else. Someday, I will see clearly-we will all see clearly. Until then, my charge is to “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly” and “judge not”.

This I believe.

– Jane, Fort Collins
(original post)

One thought on “this i believe

  1. Thanks for posting this. Jane is a wise lady. I was caught by the words she wrote of the person questioning religious tolerance. Two thoughts. First, tolerance doesn’t mean that we must live with homogenized beliefs or that we must accept everyone else’s beliefs as being “true (for us).” Tolerance forces me to see beyond a particular belief and see the person who holds that belief. I don’t think that it is the role of tolerance to dictate what a person believes, yet I do think that it is the role of tolerance to remind us that people, just like ourselves, hold to different beliefs.

    The other thought I had was in regards to the prism. I really like that analogy. I think what I like most about it is the image of people looking at the prism, not each other. I think that Christian (that’s really all I know) so often lose sight of GOD while trying to “disprove” other people. Jesus was always pointing people toward GOD not at other people around him. I think that in attempting to point out what we see as flaws in other people, we often forget to look back to GOD. This results in a religion with the only goal of being right, rather than (for Christians) to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with GOD.”

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