I have been very lucky when it come to religious education. I grew up in the Anglican Church; actually my elementary education was in a school affiliated with the Church. In those days we would all march to the church on Ash Wednesday to get the grey black crosses on our foreheads after school assembly. I thought that was really cool and would proudly keep my ash cross till I went to bed. I later became an altar boy because I loved the purple red robe and the pious look on the altar boys faces as they marched onto the altar. Things started to really get more complicated as I started to think more into some of the rituals around the faith which I had grown to love very much. Well I would tell you some of the things that gave me sleepless nights in my early teens.
Why were we kissing the feet of an image of Jesus Christ Crucified when Exodus 20:4 says “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” Bible KJV
Well I told myself that must be ok, because it was the image of Gods own son who was also God. I am not going to go into the trinity at all because that is totally beyond me.
Well if there were no cameras in Jesus’ time and Jesus was not wealthy enough to hire a painter for a portrait how can we be sure it is really how Jesus looked like. I will leave this to the Renaissance artists to answers since they have the oldest depictions of Jesus Christ anyway.
Recently an old friend suggested I was wasting my time and resources on issues related to Gay Rights when I could spend my time spreading the Gospel. I answered him appropriately but failed to add that I believe religious teaching was not for everyone. Unfortunately though there are a lot of people out there professing to teach God’s word whilst forgetting to live by it. I prefer to do the best I can to live my life by the parts of that gospel that reflect my essence.
I am lucky to live in a country whose constitution guarantees it’s people the right to develop themselves according to what is within them not what others believe they should be. Many a Christian parent believes that by holding back gay rights they are protecting their offspring from the gay lifestyle. Some even go further to propose that the growth of other religious beliefs should be curtailed. I am not going to argue on this but would like to ask these good Christians these questions;
” How would you feel if your government told you who you can and cannot love?”.
“What business does your country have determining how you should decide to worship your maker?”
A few years ago a black person could not marry a white person in the US, a law that was believed to be ordained by God. Today, fortunately this is no longer the case even though there are still those who hold those beliefs.
Everyone has his or her own path and much as most leaders in todays organized religious groups today profess to know one way that they believe we all need to follow to achieve religious Nirvana or Heaven that is not the whole truth. The unfortunate truth though is that in our efforts to get an easy road to heaven people would continue to flock to such prophets/bishops etc seeking their path or the path.
I recently read about a pastor in Kenya who got arrested for offering tickets to heaven for a price, and there were a lot of people willing to pay money for that. Paul the apostle wrote in Philipians 2:12 ” Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” As Christians we should all work out our own salvation and stop worrying too much about what others are doing.
As we work on these let us all realize that we are going to have times when what we feel to be true does not fit what most people of our faith believe. In times like this just remember there is no box, search within yourself and you would know your path.
By Dr. Leonard Sowah, an internal medicine physician in Baltimore, Maryland