As you know I was once a pastor in a Christian church and I still believe that people can get meaningful guidance from religions, like Christianity. I will go further than that and say all religions have something to offer, and it is down to the individual to be open-minded and gracious about their beliefs. Remember the cornerstone of most religions is love and tolerance, not being judgemental of others who do or do not believe.
I think the Bible remains as relevant now as it was when first written some 2,000 years ago however people now interpret the Bible through a 21st century lens. Our focus is on the lessons it teaches about living a righteous life in an affluent technology-focused world. The Bible is a dynamic document laden with lesson relevant to every stage of history. We just need to uncover them. Look at this reading from Romans 8:14-16.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
This verse tells us that becoming a Christian frees you – ‘the Spirit you received does not make you slaves’. Christianity does not entrap or imprison you but gives you the freedom to truly be yourself and live a joyous life. There are many temptations and powerful forces that can enslave you in 21st-century Australia. People can become beholden to technology, such as mobile phones and the internet. They come to feel that they always need to be online, watching the latest video on YouTube, texting to online friends and as the Roman’s verse implies ‘you live in fear’. Some people become slaves to their devices. This dependence also comes with a level of fear. If you are addicted to a device like a mobile phone or tablet, your fear is that you could lose this device or one day it will malfunction, but if you pledge your life to God you will not fear because God lasts forever. Peter 1:25 tells us this, “The word of the Lord remains forever.” God, unlike an electronic device, will never malfunction, lose power or run out of warranty.
The Muslim faith also has many great lessons on how to live well. The Quran stresses that righteousness is not in exact observance of rituals but in acts of compassion and kindness. It says that the best test for true belief and genuine worship is to lead a compassionate life.
Al Quran 2:178
1. Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travellers and beggars and to liberate those in debt and bondage; those who keep up the prayers and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.
This verse talks about having a set of good beliefs and then carrying out good deeds, the relationship between the two often escape us – at the end of the day, it tells us to practice what we preach.
Buddhist Scriptures also tell us to live noble lives.
And like other religions, Buddhism tells us to turn noble beliefs into actions.
“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” – Buddha.
In today’s world many cynics are scornful to people who have faith. I say have only respect for believers, regardless of their faith, and from time to time listen to what they preach. You may not believe in a higher deity but religion can give you guidance as to how to live well. Many verse of the Bible are dynamic and have lessons applicable to our lives. In our technology-focused work people seem to have obsessed with documenting their lives online. They use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to write about what they are doing on a daily basis and post photos of their activities. This technology almost encourages people to become self-focused but the truth is there are many people in our world in need of attention, love and support. The Bible reminds us that the Holy Spirit is calling us to attend to other, Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
The Bible, full of lessons relevant to contemporary life, reminds us to exercise self-control. It prompts us to be among people demonstrating love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness.
The Galatians is in accord with what Christ said when asked what the most important moral of Christianity is.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The moral of this teaching is that we must be loving to others. Our focus on others must equate to our self-focus. Whether you are a believer or not moral implication is that you must care and respect other people as much as you care for and respect yourself. In our modern world advertising on television and the internet tells us that we should be self-focused. We should spend all our money on ourselves and buy designer cars, clothes and technological devices. We should be like the online celebrity family, the Kardashians and spend our time documenting what we do. Technology appears to have encouraged people to become narcissistic and self-obsessed. Has the core teaching for most religions – to love and respect others – ever been more relevant than it is today in our online self-obsessed world?
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ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.