Tag: religion

Like Jesus, it’s good to hang out with ‘sinners’

Religious people do like to grumble, it seems.

“Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2)

There is a difference between religious people and Christ-followers. It seems the Pharisees depicted in Scripture were always grumbling and just being a thorn in Jesus’ side. They were the fundamentalists of that day, and their type is still with us.

Why were they upset? Because Jesus was hanging with some people deemed not up to the Pharisees’ religious standards. Christians today can still be criticized for spending time with people who don’t go to church and don’t act like those who do. If you are such a believer, don’t fret; you’re following Christ’s example.

Should we be different from non-believers? Of course, if those non-believers are doing things God has taught us we shouldn’t do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t spend time with them, enjoy their company, and allow them to become important parts of our lives.

It’s right to teach children and teenagers not to hang around with people who will be a bad influence because they are at a very impressionable age. But those of us who are adults and presumably less impressionable need to be more like Jesus and hang out with “sinners.”

We should, however, remember that Jesus spent much of his time with his disciples. We need the church, our fellow followers of Christ. There is no getting away from that truth.

When we follow Christ, we are more like Jesus, and we fall in love with people, even those who are different from us and possibly difficult to like. But we will also find that God has created some very special people who do not yet follow Christ, and we may find that many of them do not because of those “religious” folks in their midst who have grumbled away God’s love.

Living for truth — of science and religion

I love science. I don’t know a whole lot about science, but I love the desire to know the truth about our physical reality. It’s similar to a desire I have to know the truth about our supernatural reality.

A story in today’s Washington Post titled “Physics rule broken? European scientists claim neutrinos traveled faster than speed of light,” illustrates why I love science. This finding may prove to be in error, but scientists are scrambling to find out. I love this quote:

“We’d be thrilled if it’s right because we love something that shakes the foundation of what we believe,” said famed Columbia University physicist Brian Greene. “That’s what we live for.”

This is the opposite of what you often get in the religious world. Religionists don’t like to have their foundations shaken. I would simply say this, our desire in understanding the supernatural world should be the same as science’s desire to understand the physical world. We should be seeking to know the truth, because, as Jesus said, the truth sets you free.

Pope Benedict XVI said this recently at the University of Regensburg in Germany on Sept. 13:

“The scientific ethos, moreover, is … the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit.”

Some religionists don’t like science, and the main reason is fear. Why? If we are confident in our faith, we have no need to fear what science will discover.

Obviously, science and scientists are not without flaw. Some people are basically science religionists. Science is their religion; it’s their god. Science and religion do not make good gods. Only God is God.

Looking to the Indian Ocean

My view of the world has centered upon the West — Europe joined to North America by the Atlantic Ocean. World War II and the importance of Japan and China brought the Pacific Ocean more into the American consciousness. Make room now for the Indian Ocean.

Robert D. Kaplan, in his book Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, opens our eyes to a part of the world that has long been important in world affairs but rather unfamiliar to many in North America. Kaplan writes the following:

“The map of Europe defined the twentieth century. … “It is my contention that the Greater Indian Ocean … may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one.” (p.xi)

“Recently, messy land wars have obscured for us the importance of seas and coastlines, across which most trade is conducted and along which most of humanity lives, and where, consequently, future military and economic activity is likely to take place as in the past.” (p.xii)

The key word in those quotes is “trade.” The Indian Ocean is the scene of a massive exchange of goods between nations and civilizations. The ocean that stretches from East Africa to the islands of Southeast Asia has a long history of trade, then five hundred years ago the West came in the guise of Portuguese, Dutch, French and English traders and navies.

“[Vasco] Da Gama’s arrival in India initiated the rise of the West in Asia. … [I]t is possible that the five-hundred-year chapter of Western preponderance is slowly beginning to close.” (p.xii)

While trade is what ties the region together, religion plays a big part, as well. But while Islam is the dominant faith, it shares space with Hinduism and Buddhism, and the Islam of Southeast Asia is different from that in the Middle East.

“The Indian Ocean region is more than just a stimulating geography. It is an idea because it provides an insightful visual impression of Islam, and combines the centrality of Islam with global energy politics and the importance of world navies, in order to show us a multi-layered, multi-polar world above and beyond the headlines. …” (p.xiii)

There is a familiar expression associated with the pioneering times in American history–“Go west, young man.” Now, we probably should say, “Look east, young men and women.”