Faith, Religion, and Human Interaction
Religious beliefs are a sensitive topic to many in our world. For many, it’s very personal and something that they cherish deep inside. As a result, any opposing view on it from others often produces a defensive posture. In many arenas of our culture, faith is not allowed into the conversation in fear of extremism and/or strife. It’s unfortunate that many have opted to categorize views, whether religious or political, by its extreme representatives. It also doesn’t help that our media often highlights the few on the edges while ignoring the majority in the middle. I suppose you can sell more papers, magazines, and drive people to your network by doing this.
As many of you know, I work in several different fields professionally. I work for both faith-based organizations (e.g., churches, community development groups, etc.) and clients who do not have a faith perspective (e.g., business executives, city leaders, non-profits). I don’t go out of my way to hide my faith nor do I go out of my way to express my faith. In other words, when people ask what roots and gives meaning to my life, I tell them it’s my relationship with Jesus. Also, I do not view every point of human interaction as an opportunity to proselytize someone into faith.
My theology tells me that each human being is made in God’s image and is loved deeply by him. Therefore, my role is, to the best of my ability, to love the person in front of me in an authentic manner. Ultimately, it is God who works to help form the lives of others. I can’t force God on anyone. I can only listen and look for his imprint in the life of another. My presupposition is that God is at work in all of us.
Do I disagree with other religious views?
Like any other perspective in life, we’re all bound to disagree with others about our views. Religion is not an exception. In fact, truth by nature is exclusive. 2+2 can only equal 4 (i.e., our current mathematical system). 4 by nature excludes all other numbers. Also, an answer can’t be both A and non-A at the same time. In other words, when you contradictory views are present. Both may be wrong, but both can’t be right.
Some may place religion in the category of preference (e.g., one prefers chocolate ice cream while someone else prefers strawberry). I don’t think religion belongs in this category. I think religion is more like asking someone, “Does ice cream exist?”
Disagreement Does Not Have to Be Mean
In an overly politically correct culture, people often don’t know what to do with disagreement. I don’t think disagreement has to be taken personally, even when it comes to religion, politics, or allegiance to a favorite sports team. In fact, disagreement can actually be very healthy.
I need people who disagree with me, even as it relates to my religion. My desire in life is NOT to carry a BLIND faith. The views of others really help me to clarify what I believe in and what I possibly need to change. I’m fully aware that my views about can’t be 100% accurate. Quite honestly, there is still a percentage of doubt. I’m open to other views challenging and possibly changing my perspective.
Nevertheless, it wouldn’t make sense for me to give up my views simply because I am not a 100% sure. I don’t think most of our beliefs in this world are a 100%. We naturally choose the view that makes the most sense of who we are and what we perceive the world to be like. I am definitely not a epistemological cynic. I think you can have a higher certainty of a particular belief among a set of beliefs. [Sorry for the side philosophical rant. 🙂 ]
I hope for a world where our religious beliefs will not hinder human interaction and partnership.
I hope for a world where our religious beliefs will not be discounted simple on the fact that it is religious or spiritual.
I hope for a world where we can talk about each other’s faith with an openness to be challenged and even formed by the other.
I hope for a world where more would see that faith undergirds the life of many. Faith does not have to be a threat.
Many Thanks to My Friends
In closing, I’d like to thank my many friends who already live this way. It is so encouraging to be connected with all of you who want to make this world a better place through the honoring of human relationship and of the views we bring to the table.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.