Saturday, August 20, 2011

There Can Be Only One

If you are as cool as I am, you've watched the movie, "Highlander" numerous times. For the nerds who haven't, let me summarize the awesome plot while singing the theme song by Queen in my head. There are numerous immortals who are chosen to fight in battle throughout time in an effort to accumulate the power that resides within each of the immortals. The power is one, so it seeks to unify itself in one individual. Hence, at the end of the game, there can be only one immortal left standing. This is said over and over again throughout the movie.

Despite our disposition to lean toward the idea that there are many legitimate beliefs and they can only stand together, spiritual truths are in opposition with one another, they cancel one another out, and as such, there can be only one left standing at the end of the day. I realize that most Americans don't think past a fuzzification of the religious concepts in each religion, but they really are not compatible in those details. But what I want to say here today is that multiple religions really don't exist either. They can be summed up in their purposes more than by their details, and this reduces them to their intentions. In other words, there are only two religions on the planet when we reduce them to their base intentions, and these two religions are: the cult of the self versus Christianity.

All religions, whether it be Buddhism, which looks to release the self from its suffering in order to attain bliss, Hinduism, which seeks to do something similar, Islam, which seeks the eternal pleasure of the self via the obtainment of wine and women, Mormonism, which seeks to exalt the self to godhood, Judaism, which seeks to have a better life for the self now and perhaps in the future, Americanity, which seeks to better oneself in this life by means of religion, as well as obtaining for the self an eternal place of self-fulfillment (away from hell), seek the fulfillment of the self in various ways, yet in a unifying intention to better the self for the self. This was also true of pagan religions. The gods were called upon, not because people loved them and desired their exaltation at the expense of their lives, but because they wanted better crops, more money, victories in war, to marry certain people, to have a good life, to be saved from damnation, etc. All religions, including what are not considered religions, such as atheism, agnosticism, deism, etc. all exist as means to give the person what he or she feels is a better existence, letting them feel better about their self pursuits.

In contrast to this, Christianity does not seek the self. Rather Christians are told by Christ to deny the self and to follow Him (notice this is not a supposed denial of self pleasure, as one has in Eastern religion, in order to obtain fulfillment, but a denial of self worship in order to worship and submit one's life to Christ). In other words, Christians are told that it is not about them, but about God in Christ. They are told to do all things to glorify God, not because it will give them a better life either now and in the future, but because God is worthy to be loved, as He has loved us. Christianity, in short, is about the love of God at the expense of ourselves. This is the intent of Christians, genuine Christians that is. There are far more false Christians who use God as a means to better themselves or to just be saved from hell. And, of course, as a result of our loving God, we do receive the greatest of benefits. We do receive eternal life in fellowship with Him, we do receive a kind of self-fulfillment in our love for Him. But we don't seek ourselves, but Him. It's the difference between showing up to your friends house because he's rich and has a massive spread of food lying out for you each time you come, and coming over to his house, solely to fellowship with him. One is out of love for self, and your friend is just a means for you to do so, and one is out of love for your friend. You may get the benefit of eating all of that great food, since you came over, but the difference is in the intent of coming over. Christianity does have benefits for the self, but that is not why Christians love and serve God. They do so because they love Him. They're not just there for the food.

This has major implications for us, as we discussed before, there are only, then, two religions on earth, and they are not compatible. Either one is seeking the self, or he is seeking God through Christ. If the former, he can use whatever religious variation he desires. After all, they all seek to better himself anyway; but if the latter is true, then he must seek out the means God has provided to exalt and glorify Him, the means that love God the most. He must humble himself and listen to God rather than his own desires and pursuits of self fulfillment. This will radically alter his life, and bring about the sacrifice of the self instead of its fulfillment. Only then can he be a true disciple of Christ, i.e., a Christian.

 Either the self or God, all of mankind is busy to obtain their religious pursuits, but have no doubt about it, the two primary intentions are not compatible, and at the end of the day, there can be only one.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him  deny  himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. (Matt 16:24-25)

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