I recently finished doing a series with my high school Sunday school class on comparative religions. We talked about everything from Wiccans to the Amish and a good chunk of beliefs in between. I loved it because I’ve always been fascinated by cultures, languages and yes, religions. I learned some new and interesting (and in some cases, scary) facts and just generally had a good time with it. But even I was surprised when I sat down to write the wrap-up lesson. I thought we were going to talk about how every religion has their own “path” to God (whoever they believe that to be) but that Christ is the only true Path, or something like that. It’s what was expected. But our God is the God of the unexpected… Allow me to share with you where we ended up:
Most of us know that Muslims pray five times a day. But did you know that the most devout Muslims have specific prayers for everything they do? They pray before they get out of bed. They pray after they get out of bed. They pray as they get dressed. They have a prayer for riding in a car, for crossing a street, for making a purchase. Before they go to one of their five daily prayers, they wash themselves ceremonially and yes, they have a prayer for washing.
Orthodox Jews keep Kosher in every aspect of their lives. Most of us know about their dietary restrictions (no bacon cheeseburgers for them), but they also have restrictions on the way they dress, how much and what type of work they do and when, and about how they interact with other people – both Jews and Gentiles. They don’t view these restrictions as oppressive. Instead, they see keeping Kosher as a symbol that they are set apart by God – they see them as an act of worship.
A devout Mormon reads her Scriptures every day. By the time she is six, she’s already thinking about getting baptized in the Temple, what her testimony will be and what it will be like to go on a mission – her entire childhood leads to her mission. She thinks deliberately about her actions and her words and whether they would please God and make her worthy to enter the Temple the next time her family goes – and more importantly, on her wedding day.
Some Christians may look at these people’s lives and see nothing but legalism. We don’t have to work for our salvation and hold to a bunch of laws if we want to have any hope of pleasing God enough for Him to love us. But at some level, I’ll admit to being convicted by their lives. When I look at them, I see lives completely devoted to God (as they understand Him): I see people who pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I see people who are trying to be holy because their God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16). I see people who put thought into all of their actions and who live with purpose (Colossians 3:17).
I think I take my Christianity too lightly sometimes. I don’t pray without ceasing and I’m not disciplined enough to spend time with God every single day of every single week. I reserve my holiness for when I’m at church, or reading my Bible, or for my occasional praying, but not necessarily when I choose what I’ll watch on TV. I don’t always think about how my words or my actions affect my testimony or whether what I’m about to say or do will bring glory to God.
Please don’t assume that I’m suggesting we all take on a life of devout piety or that we must be legalistic in everything we say and do. We do live under grace. We are free in Christ. But I don’t think it would hurt if once in a while, we put a little thought into how we live out our faith in the world – and before our God. After all, if we want to wear the name of Christ, shouldn’t we try to be a little more like Him every day? (See 2 Corinthians 3:12-18).
Have you ever been convicted by something you saw “in the world”? Got any tips for living a more disciplined spiritual life?