A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God Talk: Park Encounter

Something interesting happened when I took the 3 year old to the park today: I was accosted briefly by a Jehovah's Witness... but before anything really exciting happened, I was saved by a grumpy child and a poopy pair of pull-ups.

A couple of things occurred to me during this exchange. The first was that Jehovah's Witnesses embrace a kind of religious utopianism. It was fascinating that she mentioned "paradise" at least twice during the ten minutes or so and used a "house" analogy to describe the state of the planet, suggesting that tenants who trash the house will be shown the door. Secondly, according to this friendly if not persistent lady, reading the Bible will help me lead a better life and hence become a better person.

Despite being exposed to evangelical Christianity at a young age, I used to hold to something similar. It seems to me that people in the East think that the nature of religion is to teach people to be good. I used to hear this a lot growing up. "Oh, it doesn't matter which religious system you embrace, as long as it teaches you to do the right thing." Another one I've heard in its different configurations is, "All religions are the same, right? They teach people what is good." The problem with those statements, of course, is that a) we all need to agree on what "the right thing" or "good" is and b) really, even a cursory study of all religions will show that they aren't the same at all.
No doubt, it's the sort of squishy, diplomatic thing people say when they really don't want to rock the boat. I get that. But after a while, the danger is that it becomes a kind of meaningless platitude that everyone throws around as if it's an immutable fact and feels no need to look further into it.

That is why I don't really think of Christianity as "religion" although I understand why people do. It has something to do with "God" or transcendence so it's a religion. The thing is though, I'm not a Christian because I follow a whole bunch of rules and regulations for life... I am a Christian because I've been forgiven by the Creator of the universe through the death and resurrection of his Son. Because His Spirit lives in me, I can now begin to live the impossibly "good" life as I read His Word for instruction and guidance.

People read the Bible for all kinds of reasons. Some want to nitpick, others think it's a good piece of literature and still others think perhaps if they practice the ten commandments or the Sermon on the Mount they'll find peace on earth. More recently, with the rise of motivational literature, the Bible has also been marketed as some kind of self-help instructional manual.

Well, if reading the moral teachings of the Bible were all that it took for people to become good then Jesus didn't need to come and live among us and die for us. Just think about the Pharisees and teachers of the law, for example, who were so religiously zealous for the law and yet Jesus said to them
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which inwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." (Mattehw 23:27, ESV)

It seems though that we've lost the art of reading  the Bible as history...  and not just any history but the unfolding of God's plan of salvation through human history and through the birth of a nation. That there's only Plan A from the time of Adam and Eve to save human race from eternal consequencs of sin. We've also forgotten about the real hero of the Bible -- God. We're so bogged down with wanting the Bible to speak to us individually that we've neglected to worship the Speaker of the Bible. More than anything, God is the protagonist... the sovereign Lord of time and space who is calling men and woman to himself.


  1. Well said, Lilian! Have met a few JWs at the door, but they always come when I'm home with kids, so don't get to talk much to them. Would really like to find out more about what they think and teach.

    And yes, Christianity seemed to have become something of a trend. Certain times it's fashionable to wear the "Christian" tag, other times, it's not. But no matter how common people think all religions are, Christianity is definitely different because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post Lilian. It's so true what you have written. Thank you for reminding me where our focus should be. x

  3. Thank you both for your kind comments as always.


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