He interrupted my writing as he was hitting away at my tap. I could see him accidently drop a washer down the gurgler. That’s when he exclaimed;
“I HATE religion!”
“Why is that?” I asked, wondering if some of the Scripture verses on my walls could have triggered that comment.
“Because religion is the cause of most of the wars and hatred in the world,” my newfound friend Brad said.
I asked him if he really believed that and without even thinking about it, he shot back at me, “I do not believe it, I’m convinced of it!”
“All religions?” I asked him.
Without hesitation, he responded, “ALL of them.”
I said, “Funny that because my religion tells me that we are to love each other.”
“What religion would that be?” He quizzed.
“I love God’s Word,” I said.
“Mmpphh, you’re one of those Christians,” He said.
Clearly, Brad was assuming things. What was I to say to that? I did not know what he meant when he said, ‘one of those,’ but I wanted him to like me and not hate me because of my religion. But more than that, I wanted to convey to him that my religion is one of love. And I was not quite sure how to go about that because Brad clearly had preconceived notions about Christianity and what it entails being a Christian or being someone that loves God’s Word.
I didn’t know what his preconceived ideas were, other than that they weren’t positive.
So I repeated what is true for me and said, “I love God’s Word.”
Brad came over and sat down next to me. “You mean the Bible don’t you?”
I nodded affirmatively.
Well, that really got him going. He stood up again and walked up and down my living room with the spanner in his left hand, waving his arms up and down in despair. “The Bible has caused more wars and deaths and calamity than all other religions combined! How anyone can believe in fairy tales like that is beyond me.”
Maybe it was premature when earlier I referred to Brad as my newfound friend. My daughter had brought him over to fix a couple of leaky taps and a gate that had come off its hinges. I treated him as a friend because I was grateful that he came to fix a few things for a reasonable fee but I do not like it when people refer to God’s Word as fairy tales. At the same time, I recognise that this reference is generally used by people who have never read God’s Word.
I did not want him to go on a rant of no return. For the sake of our now seemingly fragile friendship, I decided to find out what got him going like that.
“You seem pretty passionate about your anti-religion stance Brad. Where is all that coming from?”
He sat down next to me again. “Mimi, come on, you can see what’s going on in the world, surely? If it weren’t for religion…”
His voice trailed off and as he was about to take in a breath of fresh air, I noted,
“Religion doesn’t do anything Brad. It’s people and their interpretation of religion that can be a problem.”
He got up again, down. Up once more. He sure was passionate about the subject.
“So Mimi, you’re saying that the Bible doesn’t tell people to kill each other if they don’t believe according to the teachings?” And before I could answer, he continued. “You do know about the Inquisition and all the ‘Holy Wars’ that have been raging throughout the ages?”
“Yes, I do Brad,” I said. And then I asked him, “Do you know about God’s commandments?”
Brad shook his head as he walked back to the tap. “What do they have to do with anything,” he asked. “Does anyone even care about those anymore?”
“Good question Brad and pertinent too. You’re absolutely right. For all sorts of different reasons lots of ‘believers’ indeed don’t think that these commandments apply to them. Many are of the opinion that their faith sets them above the law.
To get back to your other questions Brad, yes, I know about the Inquisition and all the ‘Holy Wars’ and as far as I’m concerned the commandments have everything to do with this. And you know why?”
He just stood there looking at me not quite sure where the conversation was going. So I continued,
“I tell you why the commandments matter. They matter because the commandments tell us not to kill, not to steal, not to lie, not to commit adultery, not to covet, to honour our elders and so on. This is what God’s Word teaches us right from the very beginning. The commandments set a moral standard for the whole of society.
We were taught to be nice to our neighbour and to treat foreigners with kindness and the Bible tells us that those simple ten rules constitute love. They are a benchmark, a measure to live by and live up to.”
Brad looked at me and said, “Sounds wonderful. Mimi. Here’s a reality check for you, NO one is paying any attention or listening to any of those rules, nor following them.”
“Exactly my point Brad. It isn’t for me to judge if anyone is following God’s rules; what I notice however is that many believers follow all kinds of rules but not necessarily The Ten. Wouldn’t it be wonderful indeed if we were to follow those ten simple rules? There’s nothing wrong with those rules, is there? There’s nothing wrong with the Bible either. What’s wrong is that all through the ages and still today, people interpret God’s Word any way they like to suit their own purposes.
The Bible tells us to love one another. We’re taught that Jesus’ disciples will be known for their love for each other, we’re encouraged to turn the other cheek, bless our enemies and we’re taught that God is love and if we do not love we do not have God in us.
Can you find fault with any of that Brad?”
He looked bewildered. “But Mimi, no one is DOING that ‘loving thing.’ All these so called religious people are killing each other!”
“I know that Brad,” I said.
“Does that make the commandments wrong or the people?
Brad scratched his head as he asked; “What are these again, the commandments?”
So Brad my friend, this is for you.
God’s Holy Word from the very beginning from Mount Sinai.
Does the Bible tell us what love is? Yes, the Bible tells us what love is.
God is love and He tells us that not lying, killing, stealing etc constitutes love.
This is love according to the prophets with a little help from 'Moments in Love.' Music courtesy of Art of Noise.
I write about this all the time because I am passionate about it. Here is another article that gives you biblical references and here also for our ‘love’ theme.
And here is a repeat of the disclaimer for my fellow religious friends who believe differently from me; I love you.
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