In Search of Religion

I know many people may be searching for truth or God, or something to believe in.  I think we all have this innate search for the big answers in life.  We love others or feel love from others.  In this love, we feel God–for God is love.  As a Christian, I believe in that.  I think we often put too much stock in people in order to judge whether or not a religion is true.

The Bible does talk about Christians showing the light and being the salt of the Earth.  I believe it’s true that we can be vessels and live out our testimonies.  If we have acquired the Holy Spirit, that light shines into the world.  This shows people that God is working in their lives.  Most of all, love shows people who God is.

This all works.  Then again, I’ve been on both sides.  The key thing I have learned is this:

You should not choose a religion based solely on people’s actions and behavior, but you should only choose a religion because you believe it is true.

At different points in my life, I used to discern whether or not Christianity was the true religion.  I assessed Christians in my life.  I judged the way they treated me.  When I attended churches, I looked around and studied them.  Wasn’t that the driver that cut me off in the parking lot?  Now that he’s in church, he is all the sudden loving me and shaking my hand?  I’ll admit: it’s confusing, because Christians are not always kind and loving as they should be.  That includes myself.

At some point in my life, every group of religious or non-religious person has done something unkind and unloving towards me.  I have done unkind and unloving things towards people.  This is confusing, isn’t it?  I thought that being Christian would make me a better person.  That’s not necessarily the case.  I realized my flaws are that I believe in the way of Christ, but I do not always walk in the way of Christ.  Religion, or in this case, Christianity, should transform me from within.  It should transform me because I am willing to be transformed.  I discipline myself to be more aware, more obedient and loving in all the things that I do.  Eventually, there’s success.

It is great while it lasts.  However…  Give me less than six hours of sleep and put me behind the wheel of a car, then I’ll be inwardly cursing up a storm towards the reckless drivers on the road.  I think we have all been there.  When we break the transformation process, we become discouraged.  Discouragement leads to self-deprecation, because we realize we’re not perfect.  As a result, we keep on making mistakes.  We start judging people and saying awful things, because we feel we are entitled to do that.  Pride sets in.  Selfishness takes over.  At that point, it doesn’t seem like religion is doing much at all for us.  We expect it to do all the work, because we feel it shouldn’t be up to us.  That’s foolishness, because religion expects that we walk with it.  Allowance and idleness are not the same things.  By allowing transformation, we need a change of mind, a willing heart, and actions that proceed.

We look at ourselves for answers.  We look to the world for reassurance.  What is truth?  Who is God?  What will happen when I die?  Where can I find peace?  Where can I find joy?  How can my life feel like it is going in the right direction?  …Am I on the right path?  We question and judge ourselves and all those around us.  Nothing feels certain. That’s why we need to look straight towards religion, towards the very thing that transforms our lives.

Fr. Seraphim Rose is a man who has inspired me.  In his early academic life, he was into Chinese Taoism and Asian philosophies.  He eventually converted to Orthodoxy and became a hieromonk of ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia).  Fr. Rose wrote a book called God’s Revelation to the Human Heart addressing the human condition of suffering in relation to the “core of all Christian life: the conversion of the heart of man, which begins to burn with love for Christ and transforms him into a new man.”

There are two big things I took away from this book:

(1) Coming to religion isn’t about analyzing something or making a decision, but it’s about revelation: God reveals Himself to us. Even though we want to spend our lives lost and try to search out religion on our own, it doesn’t matter. God is always present and He is ready to reveal Himself to us at any moment.

(2) God reveals himself to us by the heart.  I’m sure many of us expect a cloud to open up and see God talking to us from Heaven.  Most often, that doesn’t happen to us.  Instead, in Christianity, God talks to the human heart.  He speaks to us in a real and loving way.  We just need to listen with our hearts.

If we rely primarily on people, we will be disappointed, because people will eventually fail us. As for God, God will never disappoint us.  God never fails.  He is always good, loving, and true.  If we want to search for truth, we need to open our hearts to God and let Him speak into our lives.

 

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