I drove behind a vehicle today that was sporting this bumper sticker:The thought is nice. I guess the point is that these world religions all have some things in common and we should focus on those similarities in order to “get along”. It is true that we should not fight or war against one another because of our different belief systems. I find something troubling about these presumptions however. I assume the creators of the bumper sticker, and society in general, see two things these religions have in common. First, a belief in a higher power. Second, a desire to “be good people”. I guess the thinking is that we are all headed in the same direction so we might as well get along. The troubling thing is not what these religions have in common, but where they differ. Each believes in a higher power, but followers of Jesus are not taught to simply “be good people.”
It is true that followers of Jesus should be what the culture would define as “good” (sometimes). But we are not “good” for the same reasons that adherents of other faiths are “good”. The religions of the world teach that people need to be “good” in order to have a better after-life. Followers of Jesus are taught to, well, follow Jesus. Here’s where things can get tricky. In following Jesus we will be honest, hard-working, trustworthy, “good” people. But we do not do these things to gain a better after-life. We do these things because we follow Jesus and He commands us to do these things. We are motivated by our love for Jesus, not our fear of having a bad after-life.
We can coexist with adherents of other faiths in that we should not take up the sword for proselytizing purposes. We should be the people Jesus has called us to be and let others see the freedom that comes from loving Christ. It is a far greater joy to be a “good” person when we’re motivated by love rather than motivated by fear.