Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why Is Judeo-Christianity Different From Other Religions?

Buddha (who lived between the 6th to 4th Centuries B.C.E.) sought to eliminate human suffering caused by ignorance and craving. He discouraged speculation about life after death, saying, "It is like asking where the flame went when it is blown out." He believed such speculation led people into fruitless arguments and power struggles. 

Buddhism teaches its followers to meditate and cleanse the mind of "desire, aversion, and delusion"; to achieve "stillness of mind", or Nirvana (literally "blown out").  (Link)

Hindus believe there are many gods, and they worship those they like as guides for their future incarnations. While they believe in a unifying creator, Brahman, they also believe this creator is unknowable. Because Brahman is expressed through all creation, you can worship creation.  (Link)

Muslims believe in many tenets of the Jewish Old Testament, but consider Jews apostates, or deniers of the one God, Allah (literally "the God"). They believe Christians also are apostates, and say Jesus was not the son of God, and was not crucified or resurrected. Jesus was only one of many messengers sent by Allah. (Link)

While the majority of Muslims are peaceful, the modern resurgence of Islam's Sharia Law (Link) is drenching the world in blood. Sharia is merciless and extreme. Thieves have hands chopped off. Adulterers, deniers of faith, or those who become members of other religions are stoned to death, hung, or have their heads chopped off. Sharia dictates that only devout Muslims such as the Sunnis or Shi'ites will be given salvation and Paradise. Ironically, Sunnis and Shi'ites each consider the other to be apostates, and violators of Sharia, so they've been at war since Islam (literally "submission") started, in the mid 7th Century. Today, ISIS is a Sunni army, and Al Qaeda is Shi'ite.  
The Muslim Paradise, Jannah, is purely material, a Garden of Eden, that guarantees all the pleasures we have known on earth. Sixty virgins are the reward for jihadist martyrs.

Judeo-Christians believe that the Creator of the Universe is knowable, and wants us to know Him. He favors those who seek Him, like Jacob (Genesis 32:22) and Job (The Book of Job). We are rewarded and brought into God's presence when we question the meaning of our existence, mourn for those who are suffering - including ourselves - and plead with God for answers. The word Israel means "who prevails with God". (Link)

Faithful Jews still wait for a promised Messiah, and don't believe Jesus was it, even though Jesus was Jewish. But they place a high value on laws, compassion, and love, which they believe are the primary aspects of God. Christians carry this a step further, and Jesus said the whole point of our existence was to, "Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37). 

These words from Jesus are unique among all religions, and would turn the world upside down if they were honored: "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant, and whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:11-12).

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). He asks us to worship the Creator, not the creation, which is beneath us. The Christian heaven is far beyond the material world, and infinitely more fulfilling; an eternal existence of joy, love, peace, glory, and honor. (Link)

Who will be going to heaven? Those who seek it, and who do God's will. What is God's will? Everyone who believes in God must find out for themselves what God wants them to do. Don't be concerned if you have neglected God previously. What you have done doesn't count. What you do from this day forward does count. A lot. 

To a group of worshipers at Solomon's Temple Jesus said, "There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go to work today at the vineyard.'
'I will not', he answered. But later he changed his mind and went.
"Then the man went to the other son and said the same thing. Then the son answered, 'I will, sir.' But he did not go.  
"Which of the two did their father's will?"
'The first', they answered. 
"Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you. For John [the Baptist] came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did..." (Matthew 21:28). (Link)

We are all different, and even when we agree on the nature of God, our personal gifts, talents, temperaments, and skills equip us to do different things. The above is a road map for you to choose which path to take. Know that the stakes are huge, nothing less than your existence through eternity. 

                               The words of Jesus regarding the End Times,  Matthew 24:3