Chapter Two: Part Three – The Balance Between Order and Chaos

 

In this third post from Chapter Two, we explore our quest for the Truth, while discovering some incredible surprises about the diversity among three of the world’s great religions.

What is Truth?

         Those words, uttered by Pontius Pilate in the hours before Christ was crucified, have baffled me for decades.  What is Truth?  Does it exist?  How are we to recognize it?  Can we speak Truth?

         I’ve had friends tell me they’ll be whoever God wants them to be once they get to heaven, or that their church pastor has assured them there are no perfect humans, as if they are free to go about their lives without seeking growth.  What does the Bible say?

         “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  [Romans 12:2]

         In other words, we must put in the work now.  I too used to think that I’d die and instantly wake up in heaven.  My hope was, before I died, I would have been able to ask for forgiveness to improve my chances of getting the “all-access” pass through the Pearly Gates.  I’ve since come to appreciate how naïve my thinking was, and how drawing close to the throne where Jesus sits demands that we expand our thinking beyond the traditional constraints of organized religion.  Shouldn’t we aspire to be who God wants us to be now?  We must seek what Tony Robbins calls CANI – Constant and Never-ending Improvement.  We must grow.  We must test out ideas and thoughts and engage in challenging discussions.

         I believe our ascent to heaven is a conscious act.

         I was recently at a weekend workshop with two Christian men and gave each a copy of Love Letters to the Virgin Mary.  I wear an Iron Sharpens Iron [Proverbs 27:17] bracelet on my right wrist; it was given to me by a dear friend of mine two years ago, and I haven’t taken it off since.  One of the men said most Christian men he knows no longer believe that saying is true.  My response to him?  Find a different opponent.

         The truth is, the Truth lives inside us, every one of us; we all come from the same source.  At the moment of the Big Bang, your DNA was released into the universe.  Geneticists have determined that human DNA is like a computer hard drive, capable of holding 13.8 billion years of information; that’s the age of our universe.  It doesn’t matter where you’re from, when you were born, and is obviously independent of what you believe – when the universe began, so did you.  This is a truth.

We all have our own unique connection to the Truth.  It’s up to us to find it.  No one can do that for us.  Not a politician or religious leader, not a teacher or parent.  Those people, like our friends and colleagues, will reflect back the truth we’re projecting, showing us where our version of the truth may be off-base…it is still and always will be our truth.

I understand life is busy.  We have so many people and things vying for our attention.  The truth is, no one can master your faith except you.

         The truth inside of us is the most intimate part of us.  This truth is not always easy to come by.  Since the start of 2020, I struggled for three and a half years because of where the Truth was leading me.  I was still worried about what other people would think of me.  I resisted, procrastinated, and contemplated everything but what Finally, I was inspired to write this book.  Our search for the truth inside of us is the ultimate hero’s journey.

To be sure, there is a dragon guarding the treasure we seek, and that dragon is in us.  Remember when I mentioned the oldest part of our brain is reptilian?  That too is a biological truth.  I’m going to reference Dr. Peterson throughout this book, as I have become a great admirer of his talks and ideas; he’s an incredibly deep thinker.  In a day and age where so many of us are living life in thirty-second video clips and texting has become the basis for how people interact with one another, it’s refreshing to hear someone who willingly swims in the deep waters of their mind.  A relevant thought I’ve heard from him on this matter starts with the question, why do dragons hoard gold?  Because that which you need to find where be found where you least want to look.

 

 

         The last place I wanted to look for a relationship with Jesus is where I found it, and that was in my heart.

The story of Jesus is so intimate, so personal, it defies institutionalization.  This becomes readily apparent when we peer into the numbers of denominations of each of the Abrahamic faiths.

         In Islam, there are seven denominations, or sects: Sunni, Shia, Whabbi, Salafi, Berelvi, Sufi, and Deobandi.  The distinction within these sects is not relevant for the purposes of our analysis; we can agree that seven is a reasonable number of variations of one faith.  While we might expect some homogeneity within Islam with only seven different major groups, a quick glance through history tells us that Sunnis and Shias have gone to war over their differences, even though both fall under “Islam”.  Seven denominations for Islam.  What about Judaism?

         It turns out there are four main denominations: Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist.  That’s less variation than Islam, and yet we can assume that these distinctions exist because of different interpretations of the faith.  I don’t know of any history of armed conflict between these denominations, which suggests whatever differences may exist, they are not so pronounced as to incite violence.  This leads us to Christianity.  This is where things get interesting.

 

 

         Of the 45,000 denominations of Christianity in the world today, which one is the truth?  You read that right; there are more than 45,000 different denominations of Christianity across the world.  Some have hundreds of members.  Others, hundreds of millions.  Which one am I supposed to follow to get to heaven?

         An immediate response might be, yeah well…they all generally believe the same thing…it’s still Christianity, right?  Well, no, it isn’t.  Like the Sunni and Shia, Christians have gone to war against themselves.  Catholics and Protestants went to war for thirty years over the differences in their beliefs.  As recently as 1998, the two sides were still fighting with one another in Northern Ireland.

         I would offer that Christianity, through the multitude of its variations, is attempting to solve the mystery of faith.  Said differently, I believe the thousands of denominations within the religion are an attempt to arrive at the realization that, there really is a cross each of us must carry, that faith is less about how many people I have on my side, or that my denomination is ultimately going to “win.”  Instead, faith is about answering the hero’s calling within us by having the courage to approach the Judgment seat of Christ, which we arrive at by carrying our cross, grounded in our understanding that, no matter how bad a life we may have lived or how many times we have judged others, he is ultimately stronger than us, and has accounted for our misses.

         This discovery, that each of the three main Abrahamic religions has differences of opinions on the path that the faithful should pursue, and that Christianity has been interpreted in tens of thousands of ways, guides us to ask a more basic question; when did we start separating things to understand them?

 

We will answer this question in next week’s post!