On 20th June 2014, I came to know one very hard and heart breaking fact of this world we live in. The fact was this: to love God you need to belong to a particular religious group. Don’t get surprised if I say that almost everybody around you would subscribe to this ideology. People do not identify us on the basis of our faith or works towards God, but on the religions and names we profess.
When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and my Savior, all I had in my mind was to give my life to Jesus and to get baptized, following His command in the Bible. The Holy Spirit kept on telling me to get baptized. I was really happy, and I shared this with a close friend. The first thing she said was “Hey, so you are getting converted and changing your religion.”
She knew I am a Hindu by birth. I was perplexed. I was wondering why she wasn’t happy about my baptism but was instead thinking about religion and conversion, when I hadn’t even mentioned those words! The word ‘conversion’ was fine, as I accept that my heart and mind got converted when I accepted Jesus as my Lord. But I know she meant ‘getting converted to a different religion’. That whole conversation disturbed me. Then I got thinking, if getting baptized means getting converted to another religion, won’t Jesus love me if I won’t get baptized?
I have always been against religion as that word is a threat to humanity. It divides people and makes them stingy and dislike each other for no reason. During the very early stages of my life, someone very dear to me told me something that impacted my heart and soul. She said “Don’t believe in religion or God and never speak about it. It is created by humans and divides hearts, people and nations. It makes borders. Here, I give you five words. Please consider them as your God and stand only for them, speak only about them – Love, hope, faith, kindness and respect”.
When I was still growing up, I almost forgot those words and thought the world only needed love, so there was no need for the other words. But later, I saw grim realities of life, how differently people were taking God and his words. God never asked anyone to kill in his name. None of the holy books say that. That’s when I came to understand that no one has any fellowship or relationship with God. No one was actually interested in understanding what the mighty God wanted to say and wanted all of us to do. Yes, they feared their god but it wasn’t because they loved him. They did so because they felt that the god has powers to punish them for their sins. Where was the love here?
As I read through the bible, I felt all that our mighty Lord was asking us is to love Him back, because He loves us deeply, each one us. And when you love Jesus, you will follow His teachings with joy. You will fear Jesus out of reverence, as God is our father and we don’t want to hurt Him. Isn’t this how it is with all our fathers?
I refrain from talking about religion. I don’t have a clue of what it is. I look at the idols of different Gods and try to identify what I was taught when I was young. During religious festival I visit my family back in Kolkata but it’s only about meeting them, having good food together, wearing new dresses and roaming around with them. That’s all. There’s no feeling about loving God. My parents never taught me to love God, no one taught me that. And I don’t say that it’s their mistake. Probably no one told them either. I was asked to get up early morning, take bath (as we cannot enter the temple without bath) and offer prayers which were in a set pattern, as written in religious books. But I never understood why it was so complicated. Does God want us to do all this? No one told me who God was, but I was asked to fear him. I dared asked a priest once, but I was shut silent, and was named an atheist, a rebel and a threat to religion and family. Why is it that everyone bothered about religion and were ready to kill for it? What kind of worship required people to raise swords against their own brothers and sisters? Why is everyone judged by his/her religion? Why cannot we all love God, and so each other, as God ever wanted? I could not find any answers and went further away from God. I felt it wasn’t worth thinking.
I lacked fellowship with God.
When I encountered Lord Jesus, I began to understand how much my Father loves me, and I gave my soul to Him. I never felt this loved, cared, and most importantly, heard! I decided to get baptized. But with much doubts flooding my mind, I asked my pastor about this. And his answers cleared the clutter. He said this beautiful thing, “Man made religion and God made relationship. The followers of Jesus should take baptism as the Bible says to take it in obedience. Don’t let the society label you, and don’t even get bothered if they label you as that’s what they always do. You do what your love towards Jesus makes you do.”
Baptism is the commission Lord Jesus made and I needed to obey Him no matter what this world says and how they relate all this to religion. We all need to understand one thing that we are not religious being. We are spiritual being. Our body, mind and soul are designed to worship and love. But we need to choose wisely what we want to worship and love. Jesus brought us life and freed all of us from our sin by shedding His own blood. That’s His great love for us, and we need to honor that love. We should always keep a distance from words like ‘religion’ as these words demonstrate difference and division.
In Luke 11:23, Jesus says “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
We all are one in His eyes and He loves all of us more than what we can ever imagine. Our only duty is to believe Lord Jesus and follow his words.
Isaiah 54:10 “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Now if we all know this, what stops us from loving Him and getting baptized? Nothing should come between us and our Lord.
Loving Jesus and deciding to walk with Him is a difficult choice and our own people will go against us, Luke 12:49-53. In such difficult times, we need to ask the Lord for His grace and help us sail through that time. But never give up on Him as He never gave up on us. No opinion and no mentality should matter. All that matters should be how our Lord wants us to be and how are we becoming. Now I must say, that’s a thought worth thinking!!!