Ask Pastor Adrienne column: Test-driving all the gods?
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Should someone attend a religious service from multiple faiths before picking a religion?
A: I’ve never been asked this question before, but I’ve certainly debated spiritual cherry-pickers numerous times. Mostly, it’s a young person who feels the need to explore the spiritual landscape before settling down. I call this “dating God.” Test-driving before the purchase. My response is a very large, blinking, caution light on the whole idea.
Over the years, I’ve delved into the roots of such questions. Why would someone avoid Jesus? I’ve discovered that most folks who’ve experienced the shrapnel of a religious spirit ... a family member or toxic church embodied the Pharisee who used Christian faith as a threat, judge, rulebook or weapon ... are wounded in that tender area. These injured seekers may wisely recognize the need for a spiritual path for themselves, but refuse to engage in any confining, overzealous or even particularly structured Christian groups. I thank God that nondenominational churches exist to attend to such people.
Some folks were left to their own spiritual discovery by well-meaning parents who gave no guidance or insight on the matter of faith. These folks attended no churches in their formative years and have wandered through life looking for something they can’t quite grasp. They’re starving for direction and meaning in faith areas. But they were taught to negate the importance of church; they’re missing a life-changing puzzle piece.
Then, we have the youth. Ah, youth! The season of life when our excitable temperaments cannot grasp our own mortality. Instead, we’re sure we have plenty of time to mosey through the fascinating realms of religions and enjoy our process to enlightenment. Jesus addressed a prosperous fellow like this who chose to spend his productive years making money instead of deciding on faith: “God said to him, ‘What a fool you are to trust in your riches and not in me. This very night the messengers of death are demanding to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?’ This is what will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God” (Luke 12:20, 21, TPT). Not one to mince words, Jesus pointed out that none of us knows the hour of our death. An old pew-sitter once said to the reluctant convert, “If you died tonight, are you sure you’d go to heaven?” We must set our houses in order, spiritually, at any age.
“Exactly,” you say. “That’s what I’m trying to accomplish. I intend to visit the Muslim mosque, the Buddhist temple, a few bar mitzvahs and a sprinkling of Baptist, Catholic and Mormon services to make sure I decide correctly.” Pardon me, but are you sure you’re equipped to decide what’s right for you? After all, each of the above religions has their own doctrine, practices, creeds and belief systems which all sound perfectly fine. But in order to sift through the sales-pitches, you must first understand their gods. Who’s pulling the strings behind their curtains?
There are two truths in competition for your soul: the truth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world; and the truth of the world. In order to recognize the genuine from the counterfeit, you must first identify which truth is talking to you. Wisdom is important, here, right? Yet, there seems to be only one access-path to wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, NASB). This statement was written in Hebrew by a spiritual seeker about 3,000 years ago. The word “Lord” there means “Jehovah;” the ancient name of the God of Christians. The term “Holy One” means “sacred,” as in, the only sacred thing in the universe. “Fear” in that scripture translates to “respect.” So if you respect God enough to go looking for him, you’ll need wisdom to begin the journey. The only wisdom available for the trip comes from the Christian God.
Alas, there’s no need to venture into temples and mosques and strange religious gatherings to find God. No test-drives are needed before you sign up. Jesus has already provided your wisdom to decide. Take the shortcut. Choose Christ.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information, please visit www.adriennewgreene.com or tune into the “Ask Pastor Adrienne” YouTube channel.