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Posts Tagged ‘Is religion based on fear?’

While watching the Halloween episode of TV sitcom Young Sheldon (a spin-off of the uber-popular Big Bang Theory), I grabbed a pen and paper and took notes because it gift-wrapped an opportunity to tell you what a life of faith is all about. And why you might want to give that kind of life serious, thoughtful consideration.

The episode revolves around a church Halloween production that Sheldon’s ridiculously religious mother is directing. As she describes the production’s gruesome theme around the dinner table, Sheldon’s grandmother pipes up, “hang on; y’all are trying’ to scare people into going to church?”

Then it’s Sheldon’s turn.

“Actually, fear has been a recurring tactic used by organized religion for centuries. When you add guilt to keep people in line, it’s an extremely efficient form of crowd control.”

“Our religion is based on love, Sheldon,” responds his mother. “Not fear.”

But then the script goes in this direction: “So what happens when people don’t follow the rules?” asks Sheldon. “They burn in hell,” answers his mother.

As the camera pans around the silent dinner table, Sheldon’s mother tries to save the conversation by adding, “Because God loves them.”

Yikes. And yikes again.

First of all, the entire conversation smacks of “religion” and that’s a nasty term I want nothing to do with. As you can probably tell, religion is not about love. It’s about creating and enforcing rules in order to control and judge people. In other words, religion is exactly how Sheldon describes it.

Secondly, this conversation portrays God as a vicious ogre who can’t wait to toss us all into Dante’s Inferno. I can tell you right now, if this was anywhere near the truth, I would not have become a Christian.

But I am a Christian, which means I follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Divine Son.

I follow Jesus because He’s the living embodiment of God’s outrageous, break-open-the-champagne love for every person on this earth—no matter who they are or what they’ve done (or not done).

Jesus came to earth to show anyone willing to pay attention exactly who God is. In other words, look at Jesus and you’re looking at God. Now think about what Jesus has done:

  • He healed the sick
  • He hung out with the dregs of society
  • He lifted up the outcasts, favouring them over the privileged and powerful
  • He taught us radical ideas about loving our enemies
  • He criticized rule-loving, power-hungry religious leaders
  • He told us money and power aren’t where it’s at; a soul-restoring faith in God is the ultimate prize in this life and the life to come.

Finally, Jesus is God’s solution to the problem of human sin. God’s standard is perfection and that’s how he sees everyone who follows His Son.

God offers Jesus as a gift to YOU. Interested in accepting that gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Fear 12.13I’m still trying to work up some fear. If you see logic with this graphic posted on an Internet atheism community, then apparently that’s the basis of my faith (not “religion” – that’s a nasty word).

If I am to believe this graphic, then I came to a place of fear at age 42 – after reading many books from a variety of perspectives, debating several brave Christians and thinking long and hard about how this planet works.

After all that, I decided to follow Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God — because I simply became more and more fearful.

NOT.

There’s no doubt that ‘fear of the lord’ is mentioned in the Bible. Often, in fact. Here are just a few examples:

  • Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord. (Psalm 110)
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111)
  • A simple life in the Fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches. (Proverbs 15)
  • Happy is the one who always fears the Lord, but the person who hardens his heart to God falls into misfortune. (Proverbs 28)

As I scanned these and so many other passages in the Bible, it became plain that there are good reasons to fear the Lord:

1. Fear the possibility of disappointing Him. God knows my potential. He knows yours, too. In fact, He put that potential into you and me. So I fear not living up to that potential, of not truly letting Him into my life so He can make me all that I can be.

2. Fear mixing up who is in charge. I don’t know about you, but in North American culture, I need constant reminders that God is God. And I am NOT, no matter how many channels I can get on TV, no matter how many pills I can take to try and extend my life & health, no matter how often I’m told that I have control over everything.

3. Fear makes at least some sense when approaching the creator of space, time and the air you and I breathe. I heard one pastor liken it to approaching a massive, stunning waterfall like Niagara. We want to come close, but we also know that if we get too close, the water could drown us. And yet we still cautiously approach because it’s just so amazing, so glorious, so spectacular. We want to be in its presence.

Does this make sense? Yes or no, post your thoughts and let’s have a conversation.

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