Unrealized Syncretism

Michael Brooks wrote, in Forthright Magazine, about the syncretism he finds as a missionary in Bangladesh. It’s easy to see how people who have long worshiped in tribal ways would be likely to mix their previous religious customs with a new-found Christianity. It may be harder to see that it can even happen with those of us who have grown up with Christianity.

We all have feelings, plans and desires that color how we respond to everyday happenings. To some, the plight of a child is impossible to ignore. To others, a day without the gym is like a day without oxygen. I know these are wide-ranging examples, but that is the point. Each of us has some different thing in our background that colors the way we interpret what is important in the world. We each want to respond to THE world as MY world.

In a way, that is very proper. If we were all the same, this would be a very boring place. But when it comes to important areas of life, we need to be responding to TRUTH. We don’t want to act in whatever way we feel if those feelings have no basis in fact. Why not? Well, did you really feel like spending an hour in commuter traffic this morning? (<–insert your own distasteful, but necessary, task here.) Or did you do it because, the fact is, you need to keep your job? (<–insert whatever reason it is you went ahead and did the distasteful task.)

In the same, although infinitely more important, way, we need to base our spiritual or religious decisions and actions on what is true. We need to take the time to evaluate our way of living, our beliefs, our goals, etc., in the light of essential verities. It’s easy to let good ideas like patriotism, family devotion, ambition, etc., override one’s intended devotion to God. We do need some sense of these other things. But we need to be aware of the truly paramount and fundamental part of life. Is it work, or family, or golf? Or should the destiny of one’s God-created soul be one’s primary concern?

It is human tendency to allow our feelings about social activities, family requests, work needs and other things to mix in with our spiritual awareness. But we end up with a religion that conforms to our own personalities rather than challenging us to a higher ideal. Let’s find a way to have the other parts of our lives enhance our spirituality and devotion to God rather than overpower it.


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