Today the Christian church has come under attack, sometimes with justification. A few prominent theologians have lost their way and yet have influenced many pastors, resulting in a watered down version of Christianity with key biblical verses, which are now seen as not politically correct, being challenged and disobeyed. Then, too, there are so-called pastors who have made themselves exceptionally wealthy. Remember Christ’s dire words to them: depart from me I never knew you. As a result of this devilish onslaught, people who have never or seldom sat in a pew, say the church is irrelevant. Such churches might be, but Jesus Christ is the world’s most relevant person - yesterday, today and tomorrow!
This century has seen a marked rise in interest in world religions, especially Eastern ones. There is a search for inner peace, for an answer to the question of the meaning of life, a quest for a glimpse of the afterlife: for few people are atheists deep down. Death creeps on us, forcing us to think about what happens after we die.
A convenient thought is simply nothing: oblivion. One’s conscience must have been sledge-hammered to believe this. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die! Or become a corrupt politician, or use slave labour in your factory!
What we believe about God influences us about what we think will happen after death. Some say, God is love and I’m not a sinner. I didn’t murder my mother-in-law when I felt like it and I give to charities and I obey the law! Hell is conveniently forgotten: but there is one because God is a God of wrath as well as love. His justice and holiness demand it. On judgment day when Christ returns, he will separate the sheep from the goats. God grant that I am a sheep and have followed the Shepherd!
Some religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism, believe in reincarnation. They differ in that Hinduism has priests and rituals and Buddhism concentrates on meditation to find meaning. Many people in the western world now believe in reincarnation: when we die our soul survives and we re-enter life on earth with our soul intact but in a new body. Our souls never die and might in time inhabit many bodies.
Worldwide there are many religions. Some incorporate aspects of Christianity. My grandfather married my grandmother in a Baptist chapel in Wales, became wealthy and retired to South Africa. He built the oldest church in a Black suburb in Johannesburg to research new forms of Christianity. There are no new forms of Christianity, poor grandfather!
Take your pick of the many religions! But be warned! Over the centuries Christians have been martyred for their belief in Christ and the Bible. Thousands are still being martyred. I don’t believe in vain.