I was raised in a very religious family. As a teenager, in a tough high school, I tried being a member of the tribe. We had a co-ed physed class, and I remember sitting out for the dance lessons. The teacher made me sit in the bleachers and watch, and my friends thought I was strange, but I thought I was holding up the flag for my faith. In our home, we were never allowed to go to dances.
I tried to keep my strict religion because I thought it was important. My friends were OK with my strange habits, and they had their own family traditions. People believed in religion in those days, more than they do today, and we tried to live out the beliefs of our families.
As we got older, it seemed like we cared less and less and everyone was busy with important things. After a while I stopped caring.
Now I understand how someone could become an atheist.
I also understand how someone could follow Jesus. I started my young adult life as someone who prayed to Jesus. The best way I can describe it, is that I developed a spiritual relationship with someone I could not see. Jesus told us “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
That is a simple idea but it is a hard lesson for religious people like me. Waving the flag and cheering for our team is not the same as following someone who has the truth. The next lesson was that this person also had power, and I could become a new person.
Some people are very loud and clear about this:
We all prefer different styles of public speaking, but that man said what I learned. Each of us has to do something about that person who changed the history of the world.
Did you know that Jesus is a popular person, outside the Christian religion? There is a belief that he didn’t die on the cross, but that he escaped and travelled to Asia. Some people believe that Jesus became a Buddhist or Hindu teacher in India or Nepal. There is a shrine to Jesus in Japan, where a few people believe he lived and taught after he escaped.
Muslims also have beliefs about Jesus:
One writer summarized the religious beliefs about Jesus, apart from Christianity.:
Jews believe Jesus was Mary’s son, was a teacher (Rabbi), had many disciples, was respected, performed miracles, claimed to be the Messiah and was crucified on the cross. They also acknowledge His followers reported Jesus was raised from the dead.
Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, is to be revered and respected, was a prophet, a wise teacher who worked miracles, ascended to heaven, and will come again.
Ahmadiyya Muslims believe Jesus may have been born of a virgin, was a prophet and wise teacher, worked miracles, and was crucified on a cross.
Bahá’í believe Jesus came from God, was a wise teacher who had a divine and human nature, worked miracles, and was crucified and resurrected as an atonement for humanity.
Hindus believe Jesus was a holy man, a wise teacher, and is a ‘god’.
Buddhists believe Jesus was an enlightened man and a wise teacher.
New Age believers maintain Jesus was a wise moral teacher.
From my experience, it looks like the whole world is doing what I did. We will each do something with that person of Jesus. Religions don’t believe, people believe, and people are thinking. We are becoming more secular and busier, with important things. Whatever we are told to believe, the decision will come for each one. We might decide yes or no, but I believe we will all decide.
This decision was given to us long ago:
I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life, so that you and your descendants will live, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. (Deuteronomy 30:19)