Bible Reading: John 4:1-30
Turn on the television, read a newspaper, or magazine, listen to the radio…and you will hear about all sorts of different kinds of religions. Then, someone is going to say, “We should be tolerant towards one another. We need to learn how to coexist.” Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? What does the Bible say? Let’s stop and think about that, for a moment.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
I saw one again the other day. A car bumper sticker that reads, “COEXIST”. Except, instead of using letters from the alphabet, it uses symbols from different religions and philosophies…
- “C” comes from the crescent moon that represents Islam
- “O” comes from the Peace Sign. While it is often associated with the peace movement of the 1960-70s, it is also associated with Hinduism, paganism, communism, and even Satanism.
- “E” is a combination of the signs for male and female
- “X” is from the star of David
- “I” is from the sign of pagan Wiccan (witchcraft)
- “S” is from the Chinese yin-yang symbol
- “T” is from the cross of Christianity.
What does it mean? In its simplest form it means that it doesn’t matter what you believe, or what you do, all religions and philosophies about life are the same and equal. Therefore, they should all be willing to ignore their differences and get along, to coexist. But that is not reality. All religions and philosophies are not the same. There are huge, radical differences and those differences are meaningful, and significant. If we consider only the religions and philosophies that are included in the “COEXIST” bumper sticker (much less the many other religions in the world)…we see that they are hugely different…
- Islam…there is one god, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet (their followers are called “Muslims”). All those who do not accept Islam are to be killed.
- Peace Sign…generally, the philosophies associated with it are non-religious and don’t believe in the existence of god (atheistic).
- Male/Female sign…is generally associated with astrology. There is no god, but there are forces within the universe that can be understood by studying the stars and other celestial bodies.
- Judaism…there is one God and He has been revealed through the Jewish people.
- Wiccan…is a form of witchcraft that worships nature and man, himself. Some Wiccans believe in one god, others in multiple gods and goddesses, and others in no god.
- Yin-yang…there is no god, at all. Instead, there are opposing forces in nature that, when working together, give harmony to life.
- Christianity…there is one God, and the only way to God and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Then, there are other religions, as well. Someone has estimated that there are 4,200 religions in the world. While some of these religions teach that they are inclusive, meaning that all religions are equal and valid…there are others that are exclusive, claiming that theirs is the only true religion and that all other religions are false…including the god(s) that they worship. Christianity is exclusive in that it claims to worship the one and the only true God. And yet, it is inclusive in that all people can know and relate to that one and only true God (through faith in Jesus Christ). As Christians, we believe in “tolerance”…meaning that God has given all men a self-determining will. In other words, God has given you, and me, and everyone else, the right to believe in Him, or not. And in fact, God has given everyone the right to worship anything, and anyone, that they want. In that sense, God is tolerant of the rights of men to make a decision of their own will…and therefore, Christians are tolerant of that right. But, God will not accept the worship that is given to anything, or anyone, else, other than Himself. Even if someone says that they are worshipping the God of Christianity…but by another name. Someone has said, “Just because you have the right to do something, that doesn’t mean that what you do is right.”
Jesus and the disciples were on a journey towards Galilee. Along the way they came to a Samaritan village named, Sychar. The disciples went into town to get food and Jesus stayed by a well that had been dug many, many years before by Jacob. A woman came to get water and Jesus began talking with her. She was surprised that a Jewish man would talk with a Samaritan woman. Then, she made a comment about the differences in their religious beliefs. Jesus told her that her religion was wrong and mistaken. He told her that the only worship that was acceptable to God must be done in “spirit” and “truth”. The word “spirit” means that it is not worship that is just a performance, going through the motions of ritual and ceremonies without thought, or purpose. Worship that is in the “spirit” comes from the heart. It is based on love for God that leads a person to faith and obedience. The word “truth” means that you don’t just make it up on your own. True worship is based on what God has said and commanded…and, it follows the methods and practices that He has determined.
Now, think about it. Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman. She practices a different kind of religion. Jesus does not just smile and say, “Well, we need to coexist. To ignore the differences in our religious beliefs and get along.” No, He immediately points out that her religion is wrong, invalid, and unacceptable to God. Then, He tells her about the one true God, the one true religion, and how it is practiced.
Don’t be deceived. People are going to tell you that it doesn’t matter what religion you practice…just as long as you have faith in something. They are going to tell you that all religions are alike. They are going to tell you that all religions lead to the same god. Well, may I tell you something? Someone is wrong…either they are, or Jesus is. I’m going with Jesus. Let’s see…Son of God, worked miracles, rose from the dead…yeah, I think the evidence that He knows more about what He is talking about than they do is overwhelming. I’m going with Jesus. Be tolerant of other people’s beliefs. But remember: just because they have the right to believe, that doesn’t mean that what they believe is right.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,