Baptism. Sprinkle, immerse, infant, adult, which is correct? Talk to any member of any flavor of Christianity and they will likely say their way is the right way but is it? What about salvation? Some fundamentalists believe no one goes to heaven or returns to God unless the “Sinner’s Prayer” is recited prior to their death. Predestination? Once saved always saved? Some churches have no salvation message except for membership and regular church attendance. How is one guaranteed heaven in that case? If I miss a Sunday or a bank of Sundays will I still get into heaven? How many times can I miss and still be on the heaven-bound express?
Dancing? Some churches believe it a sin or certain types of dancing sinful, at any rate. Gambling, drinking alcohol, enjoying the nightlife in the local bar, sporting piercings or tattoos are also taboo in some churches and others have no solid rules surrounding these issues. Some will say if we participate in excess we are sinning, but who defines excess? What if I get a tattoo on Saturday, attend a liberal yet somewhat fundamental church on Sunday, recite the Prayer of Salvation, partake of communion and am accepted by the congregation, then walk down the street to another brand of staunchly fundamental church and am declared a sinner for the tattoo? Am I still saved? Did God reject me somewhere between the two churches? It was questions like these and experiences with people who viewed all of the above differently between the various churches I have attended in my life that has led to the conclusion God is not the author of the doctrines and tenets in most of Christendom – mankind is.
Several years ago I taught Messianic Dance as a form of worship. I loved it, I felt the Spirit of God as I moved through the steps of the ancient Hebrew dances. A Baptist church with whom I was familiar asked if I would teach a class and I accepted. The caveat was it needed to be advertised as an “exercise class” because Baptists, or at least this brand of Baptist, didn’t believe in dance. One cannot make this stuff up! So, what they were saying was that even though it was clearly dancing, if it was billed as exercise God would be none the wiser. Beyond ridiculous in my book. Isn’t that considered a lie?
Religion and its various associated practices need to be separated from living a spiritual life and journeying with God. They are not the same and when we see them as equal controversies arise. We become territorial in religious practice, wars have been and will continue to be fought over religious practice. We erroneously believe we are fighting God’s war and in fact, we have completely lost sight of God. Instead of being happy others are pursuing a relationship with God, we ridicule and criticize their journey because it does not match our own. Religious practice is merely an expression of our spirituality. Religious practices may resonate with us and not with others but it makes me neither right nor another wrong. If we believe God is love perhaps our actions and words should mirror our belief…..