Religious practices and customs have been around for as long as we have records of human beings on the planet. Religion sets out to answer the big questions: why are we here, what is life about, where did we come from, where are we going? Over 90% of us here on planet Earth believe in a supreme being or higher form of life in one form or another, and I believe there is something to that. It’s because there is something out there, not because almost all of us are under some sort of mass delusion. If there isn’t, then none of our lives matter. Everything is ultimately meaningless.
There are four major religions in the world: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Adherents to these religions account for approximately 6 billion people. There are lots of others too, and even a cursory list would include Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto and various folk and new age religions.
What I want to address, and to ask, is something that can be very challenging to some. What do you believe? Why? I had someone on Reddit ask me once, after I had expressed my beliefs, “so, are all the other religions in the world wrong then?” As many have said over the centuries, not all the religions out there can be right. I think that’s obvious, but it’s not the point.
Consider that if there is a God, or some other supreme being, and there is a purpose to our existence at all, shouldn’t we found out what it is? It would be the single most important thing to know, ever! I’m here to say that life is about more than just growing up, getting a job, and raising a family. It’s more than about just falling in love, or making money. There is a purpose, a reason we are all here on Earth. Wouldn’t you like to know what it is? That there is a way to know?
In the absence of experiences with God, one can doubt the existence of God. So, put yourself in a position to begin having experiences with Him. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Get off the sidelines and get into the game. Start looking into the major religions (or any others for that matter), read the sacred text, attend the meetings. See how it feels, see what you think. Do the work required to find out. Not all religions are right. But there must be at least one that is.
For Christianity, the book is the Bible. My recommendation is to start in the New Testament. Start reading it, pick a Christian denomination and attend a church meeting, learn the doctrine, meet the people, see what it’s about. Start wherever you want, but start. Those who are already Christian should realize that one of the most important things Jesus did was organize a religion. Religion is His idea, both before He came and after, and it’s necessary.
For Islam, the book is The Quran. If you’re interested, start reading it! Learn about the Five Pillars of Islam, go to a Mosque, meet the people, learn the doctrine. It’s the second largest organized religion in the world, it seems like an obvious choice if you are looking for truth. Check it out if you like. Again, find people that are Islamic, talk to them, see what it’s about.
For Hinduism, the books include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas. Pick one and start reading, learn what the deal is. Find a place where Hindus gather, such as a temple, get to talking to those who have Hindu beliefs and ask questions. Go see what it’s about.
For Buddhism, there is not necessarily a consensus as to what constitutes scripture. Learning the Sutras is important for almost every Buddhist, but the greater recommendation here is to visit a monastery or temple. All you have to do is Google it, I can all but guarantee you there is one within driving distance. Find people who are Buddhist and can back up their beliefs with more than just a general statement. Go see what it’s about!
There are lots of religions and lots of beliefs out there. They can’t all be right. What have you done to discover what is right? What are you willing to do? Remember, if there is any real meaning to our lives other than just these few decades we have, then it’s the most important thing, ever. Don’t you have time for the most important thing ever?
You may be asking, ‘why should I bother? I’m going to find out eventually anyway.’ Let me answer with a quote from Jesus Christ in the Bible: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” This is a sentiment that is common for many religions. The idea that living a life with purpose is overall better than one without it. You can have more joy, live a deeper and more fulfilling life, and be better prepared for what awaits you after it. You can also avoid so many of the pitfalls that await us in life.
Religion, faith, spirituality, they can provide a moral center to your existence. They can help you grow up and mature. To quote another scripture, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” In other words, you won’t just go along with whatever the masses, popular culture, or your friends believe. That stuff changes about every 20-50 years anyway. God can make a lot more out of your life than you can!
My plea, my invitation, is to not be cynical, to not just go along with with popular sentiment or whatever you grew up with. I invite you to search, to seek, to find, because there is a God out there, and He wants you to find Him–but you need to put forth some effort. Do the work involved, even if it’s just having a desire, and you will get results. I promise and testify that if you get off the sidelines and get into the game of looking for the truth, your life is going to get a lot better in ways you don’t yet understand.
Those who have been following my blog know regarding my religion. If you’re interested in knowing more, please check out my past blog posts under the Spiritual Topics tag, or go to www.comeuntochrist.org.