There’s a line of thinking that’s being passed on that says what you believe doesn’t really matter as long as you’re sincere about it and you don’t try to impose your beliefs on someone else. There will be more to say about the tolerance side of things later, but I want to look first at this lie that all religions are the same, so it doesn’t matter which one you follow. The thinking seems to be that all religious systems are aimed at making their followers into good people. By following the religiously accepted practices, I can become a better man. Whether I get better as a Buddhist or a Christian or a Hindu or a Mormon doesn’t matter, according to this line of thinking, what matters is that I improve.
The problem with that is, it just doesn’t work. At the pinnacle of accomplishment in every religion stands a man or woman who is still woefully short of even their own ideals, hopeless to reconcile what is with what they know should be.
The truth is that there is no religious system that will make me good enough. I have broken and scarred what is most integral to my own identity and there is no rule or order I can follow to fix that. Who I am has gotten buried in the rubble of what I’ve done, and religion offers no hope of uncovering me. There is, however, a person I can follow who has set out and done everything He can do to restore what should be and to reconcile me with my Maker, His Father. He never lost sight of who He really was. He never failed to live up to the image that was stamped within Him. And when they put Him in a hole in the ground, unlike millions of other dead bodies before and since He didn’t stay there!
The fact of Jesus’ resurrection changes everything about any kind of self-improvement scenario. No matter how great I am at following the religious rules, I could never pull off what He did. There’s no point trying. I can never get good enough to defeat death. So, when I find someone who ripped the teeth out of death’s ugly face… I’m His.
To keep this lie from gaining more ground in the next generation than it already has, I think we can:
- Help young people see that various religions don’t just disagree with Jesus, they disagree with each other, too. Study other religions with your students to gain an understanding of the mutually exclusive claims they each make.
- Take off the masks of Christian perfection and transparently follow Jesus. Our kids know we’re not perfect and we’re not helping them by pretending. This whole thing isn’t about perfection, it’s about following the Son back to the Father.
- Seek to grow in our own understanding of Jesus. Who is He, really? Where can our kids and students see Him in our lives?
- Stop following the established religious order and follow Jesus instead. Don’t just be a Catholic because you’re family was Catholic… (substitute Lutheran/Presbyterian/whatever-brand-your-family-chose here if you need to).
There is one Way that is different from any other. Many will reject it anyway, but let’s make sure the next generation can see that way as clearly as possible.
Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links: