The Difference Between Religion and
Christina wrote, declining The Issues of Life, citing
negative childhood experiences and unwholesome influences. She also
asked that there be further dialogue. I was given to share what happened
my life, briefly, and to inform her of the difference between religion,
whatever it may be called, “Christianity” included, and
the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the first of four parts. We begin with
letter and some of the reply:
I am doing very well. Thank you for asking. […] Anyways, I am
now working in several group homes as a caregiver to people with brain
injury and developmental disabilities. I love my new job. It's the most
rewarding thing i've ever done. I feel grateful that every day i am made
aware of how precious life is. I am studying many things right now. I
am presently studying buddhist philosophy and meditation at a library
in Calgary (kadampa) you can check out there website if your interested.
I have also committed myself to a yearlong study program at the Institute
for contemporary shamanic studies. The program teaches the traditions
and philosophies of turtle island, they are called the sweet sundance
medicine teachings of turtle island. This is making a huge impact on
my life right now and opening my eyes more and more each day that i acknowledge
these teachings. I chose to be removed from your mailing list because
i usually open my mail, see chrisitian and christ written more than once
and choose to ignore the entire thing. I am writing this with absolute
honesty and not with the intention of offending you. I see that you have
found your way to God and there are many people in my life that have
chosen your path. However, i have a very difficult time accepting it
as my own. Although it was the path i was given as a child i chose to
look elsewhere. It is not necessarily the teaching of christ that deterred
me but, in my experience, the pretentious and self righteous community
that advocated them. This formed very definite opinions in my mind as
a child. Now as an adult, i find that i still cling very tightly to these
negative opinions and i realize that i have become judgmental and narrow
minded towards Christianity and its proponents. Although i try hard to
be understanding and open minded, especially considering my boyfriend’s
family are very strict christians, i read things like your letter and
become infuriated. It only reaffirms my opinions and shuts off my interest
in christianity. For example, you write in your letter: "Prayer
is good, yes, but not in and of itself. Do not many religions pray? Do
all love the Lord Jesus Christ? Some have never heard Him. Do not the
heathens pray too?" I want to argue this statement, but maybe i
should first seek clarification. Do you mean to say that there is only
one path that leads to the light? That there is only one true religion
that allows for spiritual growth and enlightenment and all other paths
to the light are false paths. Couldn't it be possible that god chose
to reveal him/herself to humanity around the globe in different ways
and that maybe our true challenge as spiritual human beings is to realize
that. That god is in everything and that when people live with good intention
towards one another and all of creation that they are choosing to live
in the light. I believe that there are amazing similarities between the
world’s religions and that a true enlightened perspective realizes
that we need to look past our differences of race and culture and see
where we come together as children of the light and of god. I guess this
is my step forward and an attempt to bridge a gap with understanding.
I hope to hear from you.
Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ, Christina,
Please forgive me for not getting back to you any sooner. It has been
so very busy. However, don’t get me wrong; it is not a matter of
what is or is not important; I consider your situation very important.
I am satisfied that God’s timing will suffice.
I am thankful to hear that you are trying to live with integrity, that
you have found a rewarding job, and that you are honest and sincere with
me as in this letter. You have not offended me at all.
To answer your questions, I would like to start by telling you a bit
about my spiritual journey. I was born and raised Catholic in a family
rather committed to Catholicism. I was an altar boy, served as president
of the Catholic Youth Club, sang in the choir, and attended a boys’ high
school minor seminary for a year to test the waters for the vocation
of priesthood. I decided against the priesthood, not comfortable with
that direction at all. However, my search for depth and quality of life
was not abandoned, though it seemed to take a delay or detour for some
When I was 25, I messed my right leg up badly in skiing, while working
for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Winnipeg. I was laid up for three
and a half months, over a month of that in the hospital. It was at that
time that I began searching in earnest for meaning to life. I was beginning
to ask questions like: “Who am I? What’s this life all about?
Is there a God? If so, can a person talk to Him? Will He answer? What
does He want of me? What is the best thing I can do with my life?” I
got involved with several people from various religious circles, Catholic,
Protestant, and other. I looked into Buddhism, Concept Therapy, which
professed to teach and receive its substance from science and the Bible,
and other philosophies. I got interested in the environment. I was trying
to find meaning and purpose. (I have the impression that something similar
is happening to you).
I had quit the Bay, finding it quite meaningless being there. In my
search, I was impacted by Concept Therapy which taught that by study,
and learning the “truth,” we could reach “cosmic
we could be in tune and harmony with everything around us, that we
could throw off the ignorance and shackles of religion, particularly
I felt like I was walking on air. Life became very exciting and I was
contemplating being an instructor. Through this whole process and search,
I began to read the Bible more earnestly, but got nothing out of it
that I could tell. I understood nothing, and I mean nothing. Here and
however, some people would tell me about Jesus Christ, how He had
been crucified for me, and how He was the Savior of the world.
In my search, I recall, as you now think, I believed that there are
many ways to God…Buddhism, the Muslim religion, Hinduism, etc.
One day, my uncle spoke to me these words:
“Victor…Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and all those spiritual
leaders are in their graves to this day. Jesus Christ’s grave
alone is empty. Those men said,`Come, and I will show you the
way, and the truth’ but Jesus Christ said, ‘I AM the Way,
the Truth, and the Life; no man can come unto the Father but by Me.’ History
(BC-AD) surrounds Jesus Christ. It does not do so with any other.”
Those words stuck with me. My uncle was devout Catholic, and after being
married and having a family, and losing his wife to some illness, he
became a priest, something he had always wanted. While I do not and cannot
agree with his walk or “path,” knowing the teachings and
practices, those words stayed with me.
In my searching, which grew increasingly intense, I decided to fast
for three days and nights without food or water, and cried out to God
in prayer for Him to make Himself known to me. It was not long after
that, when I had a dream. It was, using common terminology (which I do
not use now), of the “Second Coming” of Christ. This was
the first time God had manifest Himself to me. In that dream, I saw the
face of Jesus Christ. The whole world had stopped at His coming. Everything
fell into complete stillness and silence. That dream so impacted me.
I was never before or ever thereafter as afraid as I was in that dream.
I woke up soaking wet with perspiration. The thing was that He was not
frightening me, but my Catholic doctrine and understanding was. I thought
I was surely a goner, being a creature that did not measure up to His
love and beauty of character, virtue and perfection. I thought I was
doomed to eternal hellfire.
Immediately I set out to be good, to be clean, upright, honest, without
vice, not giving in to the lusts of my flesh, whether in mind or body.
I tried hard, very hard to measure up to God’s requirement of me,
as I perceived it. I labored to be acceptable to Him. I found such an
undertaking utterly impossible and hopeless. I was about to give up when
I received another dream. In that dream, God spoke to me and said, “Victor,
don’t give up; keep going; you are almost there.”
Shortly after, a man came into town to service the mobile homes in my
sales branch in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was well versed in the
Scriptures, and immediately began to open and to share those with me.
He did so for seven evenings. He was telling me that I could not clean
up my own life, that it was impossible for me to make myself good or
acceptable to God, that only by admitting myself a sinner, and by putting
my entire trust and dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ (the anointed
one), could and would I be brought to victory and salvation. Here I was,
without the answer, but this man declared, without hesitation or doubt,
that Jesus, the Anointed of God, the Christ, IS The Answer. I, the proud,
cigar-smoking businessman, believed, got down on the floor, on my knees,
and awkwardly confessed myself incapable of making myself right, of “cleaning
up my act.” I asked Jesus Christ to take over my life. I confessed
Him as Lord. That was it…no bells, no whistles, no lights, no sounds,
no answer. It was late, and I went home, perhaps a bit disappointed…not
knowing that I was different. One Scripture I remember that stood out
among others was:
Romans 10:9 ISV
(9) If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in
your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
In the following days, my life had somehow changed, and was changing.
The vices I had tried so hard to defeat were disappearing…and I
was not the one doing it. I found myself with peace and purpose for the
first time. I now began to see and hear and understand things I had never
been able to before. The Bible, which I had read through completely,
and of which I had understood nothing, was now alive to me. No other
book was, but the Bible was suddenly a Living Book, not because I was
reading it, not because I had asked to understand it, but simply because
it was alive, without explanation or anything I did.
I recall a few days after my conversion that I used the Lord’s
Name in vain, in cussing, which, in spite of my trying to “clean
up my act” in days previous, I had done without conscience or remorse.
(I can’t explain it to you now; maybe later I will have the privilege
of doing so). This time, after conversion, using His Name in vain struck
me to the heart with great impact. Did I feel horrible! It did not bother
me before, but now it did. For a moment, I thought, “I haven’t
changed! I used His Name in vain!” But I soon realized that the
fact that it bothered me was an indication that I had indeed changed.
Something was different. There was a new nature within, recoiling to
that old nature’s disposition still there. That never happened
again, not in 31 years.
I contacted former people with whom I had been involved in my search.
I wrote my former Concept Therapy instructor in Ontario, and jubilantly
declared to him that I had found the Answer to life. I had previously
been asking him for answers to my troubling questions on life’s
issues, and receiving no answers, except that I would receive them at
such and such a conference, in such and such a city, at such and such
a time (sometimes more than a year in the future). For these conferences,
I had to pay good money too. I told Harry Roder (the instructor) that
I had the answers now, that Jesus did not make me go to conferences,
or make me wait, or charge me, but that the moment I acknowledged Him
as Lord, and committed myself to Him, I had the answers, and He was them…all
of them! I told Harry he would never attain to that “cosmic consciousness” he
was promising everyone else unless he too discovered Jesus Christ as
Lord. I never heard from Harry again. You understand that, I think. There
is, as you suggest, something quite repugnant in that Name to people.
At one point, I had determined to go back to the Catholic Church, until
God set me down to read all of Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
Reading those in one sitting, so to speak, He opened my understanding
and showed me that what was in Scripture and what the Catholic Church
taught and practiced were very different indeed. I could not go back
there in good conscience. There was formed a chasm that could not be
crossed between me and my family, friends, and associations from then
on. This was according to the warning words of Jesus:
Matthew 10:34-39 KJV
(34) Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword.
(35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and
the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her
mother in law.
(36) And a man's foes [shall be] they of his own household.
(37) He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me:
and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(38) And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy
(39) He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life
for My sake shall find it.
There is great unreality and hypocrisy in nominal Christendom. They
try to be good, to be nice, knowing they are supposed to be, but when
the chips are down, when brought to the wire, all goodness and nicety
disappears. Often, it takes no challenge or crisis at all. At the same
time, they will not face the reality of the ways of Jesus Christ as just
quoted above. He does divide; He does cause sorrow. When the truth is
spoken, and some believe and some don’t, automatically a division
comes if those believing the truth are determined to put action to their
words and beliefs. It is easy to have beliefs, without commitment to
those beliefs, but one will live out that which he or she truly believes.
Many think that mental belief alone of doctrine or true things is sufficient.
There is nothing further from the truth than that notion. Jesus Christ
calls on those who believe to follow Him, to take up their cross, to
deny themselves, to forsake all that would disagree with that walk, as
good as those things might be in and of themselves. It is “crucial” to
Christina, let me tell you something concerning the use of the Lord’s
Name in vain. I discovered that while people have often been in the habit
of using His Name in vain, the case is not so with any other name. Watch
a movie or two, or some programs on television, or listen to conversations
in many places, with many people, and often you will hear the Lord’s
Name used in vain, in cursing and swearing, and in exclamations. Why?
Why not the Queen’s name, or Buddha’s, or Krishna’s,
or Mohammed’s? Why not another name but that One? Some say that
in other cultures and countries of other religions, perhaps the names
of the leaders of those religions are “used in vain,” but
that is not so. It does not happen. Why? I know why. But I will leave
you to think about it.
Why is there something repugnant in His Name? Why were you turned off
by my letters, primarily because of the Name, as you say, and not so
much by the ideas or declarations, although those too, yet because they
were connected to Him? Is it because of your past experiences connected
with His Name as you suggest or think? Why was I using His Name in vain,
until I met Him? Why was I embarrassed at the mention of it? Why do not
people blush or turn the other way sheepishly when hearing about Buddha
or Mohammed, or a US president, or some Greek or Roman deity? But when
they hear the Name of Jesus, they often get that strange and uncomfortable
look on their faces, or they nervously giggle, or outright mock and/or
ostracize those who use His Name with respect and honor. Why? Something
to think about.
Now for your sore spot and quandary. When I came to know the Lord Jesus
Christ, the One of Whom the entire Bible is about (though when I read
it before my change came, I could not discern it), I also discovered
the very truth of His Words, saying: “I am the Way, the Truth,
and the Life; no man can come unto the Father but by Me” (John
It is also written: “Neither is there salvation in any other:
for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we
must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Christina, it is true that there is only one way, and that way is not
a religion but a Person, and that One Person was none other than God
in the flesh Himself. I found that out when I finally “found the
Path,” as you put it. He was the only one Who could conquer death,
which He did by the resurrection. Only God can do that. When one discovers
the Truth, one knows the false too. It is obvious. I am told that they
train counterfeit experts how to know counterfeit money by never showing
them counterfeit money, but rather by showing them the real thing only,
over and over again. Then, when the counterfeit comes, they know the
real so well that they automatically spot the false. When one comes to
know the truth, he or she also comes to know the false, automatically.
It is thought that God has come in many persons, in various cultures,
as you perhaps think. The Bible, the record of Jesus Christ, says:
John 3:13 ISV
(13) "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down
from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (Jesus spoke those
words of Himself). And:
John 3:16-18 KJV
(16) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
(17) For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but
that the world through Him might be saved.
(18) He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes
not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of
the only begotten Son of God.
A peculiar thing is that people will flock to New Age, to Buddhism,
to “Muslimism,” shamanism, to any religion, philosophy, set
of beliefs, or cause, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous, but they are
repelled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Interesting. The Bible calls that
disposition against Jesus Christ, the sin nature, of which ALL men are
partakers, and declares that it hates God. As it is written:
Isaiah 53:2-3 GW
(2) He grew up in His Presence like a young tree, like a root out of
dry ground. He had no form or majesty that would make us look at Him.
He had nothing in His appearance that would make us desire Him.
(3) He was despised and rejected by people. He was a man of sorrows,
familiar with suffering. He was despised like one from whom people turn
their faces, and we didn't consider Him to be worth anything.
Let me ask you a question: If there are many ways, and Christianity
is one of them, and Christianity is founded on Jesus Christ’s words,
and again, if you consider His way to be a valid one, why do people not
believe His Words and claims? They call Him a great teacher and a prophet;
even the Muslims call Him a prophet of God, yet these all refuse to believe
His claims. As it is written:
Matthew 15:8-9 GW
(8) 'These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far
(9) Their worship of Me is pointless, because their teachings are rules
made by humans.'
I would like you to know something else, Christina. I said that the
one way, or path is not a religion, but a Person, Which Jesus Christ
declared He is. It is evident that Christianity is a religion, along
with all the others. Therefore, Christianity is not the Way either. You
say you have a boyfriend whose family is very strictly Christian. If
what they have is religion, they do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. If
they do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, then all they do and say in His
Name is vain and empty, and of no value whatsoever to Him, or to anyone
else. Such religion makes one “pretentious and self-righteous,” as
you put it. External religion always has done so, and always will.
I tell you the truth. Many in Jesus’ day were known as God’s
people, and were very religious. They tithed, prayed, fasted, gave to
the poor, attended “church” regularly, witnessed to others,
read the Scriptures devoutly, and yet were enemies of God. They crucified
Jesus Christ, Who came, sent of God, and in Whom God dwelt and manifest
Himself to mankind, at His chosen time of history. The One these people
professed to worship, they crucified. Religion does that, and is never
the way, or the path, no matter what it is called, not even Christianity.
More than a billion people in this world profess to be Christian,
of one sort or another. Few, very few, know the Lord Jesus Christ and
and obey Him. What you experienced as a child was not Jesus Christ,
but religion. What you experienced was a testimony to man’s righteousness,
which is an effrontery to God, and not God’s righteousness. A
prophet of God, Isaiah, declared this:
Isaiah 64:6 KJV
(6) But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses
[are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities,
like the wind, have taken us away.
I found that out for and of myself, not by reading the Scriptures, but
by experience, as I have already related to you, and the Scriptures have
confirmed these things to me.
God’s righteousness can only be found in the Person of the Lord
Jesus Christ dwelling in a true worshiper of God. It is not about religious
affiliation, or religious works at all. As Jesus said to the woman at
John 4:22-24 GW
(22) You don't know what you're worshiping. We Jews know what we're
worshiping, because salvation comes from the Jews.
(23) Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers
will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for
people like that to worship Him.
(24) God is a spirit. Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and
Connection and harmony with God can only come through faith in Jesus
Christ. The apostle Paul declared:
Galatians 2:20-21 KJV
(20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but
Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live
by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
(21) I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes
by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Christina, you write:
“I believe that there are amazing similarities between the worlds
religions and that a true enlightened perspective realizes that we need
to look past our differences of race and culture and see where we come
together as children of the light and of god.”
While there are similarities in many things, religion, whatever label
it may be given, is very different from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you get right down to it, there are only two religions in this world,
the false and the true. If you were to compare Buddhism, for example,
to true faith in Jesus Christ, they are very different. Go to my website:
www.telusplanet.net/public/harvesth, click on “Writings,” and
look up “Buddhism…” As well, you may want to read “Counterfeit
Christianity.” You will also find glaring differences between Jesus
Christ and His teachings, and the Muslim religion. People have the erroneous
notion that these are all compatible. Not so at all. I have read the
Koran, and the Koran is quite against Jesus Christ and His teachings,
as is their doctrine and religious practice, though they profess to revere
Him as a prophet. John the Baptist, who was sent by God from birth, to
introduce Jesus to Israel, said this:
John 3:35-36 KJV
(35) The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.
(36) He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes
not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.
John told it like it was, and did not mince words. It cost him his life.
Jesus said of him, “Of all men born of women, John is the greatest…” Jesus
went on to say, however, “…but the least in the Kingdom of
Heaven is greater than he.” That is the great and awesome privilege
Jesus Christ has in store for those who repent of their own power and
understanding, and turn to Him with all their hearts. He is the Way.
You have heard from me as you hoped. I ask you to diligently read that
which I have spent some time putting together for you. Do not take this
letter lightly. I know whereof I speak, and hope that God will grant
you the grace to know the same. Mind you, if you should take the One,
True Path, it will require everything of you, even your very life. Are
you willing to contemplate that?