Saturday, December 16, 2017

Religion: Resentment or Reconciliation?

“There can’t be a God when religion causes so many wars!” a new-found friend protested to me.

Tragically, religion and wars are linked, yet God’s existence actually triggers his objection.

God offers personal security for our stress; and He stimulates us when we are stagnating.

Religion offers a structure for faith and worship, and protection against erratic attitudes or actions. Yet religion’s greatest challenge is to stay flexible, for Jesus himself warned about the futility of using old, hardened wineskins to store new, active wine.

When this flexibility fades; resentment, distrust and division arise; tragically and hypocritically. As British politician Tony Benn observed: “Faith is something we will die for, while religion is something we will kill for; and there is a world of difference.”

Church history is deeply shamed by the Crusades, by religious persecution and by prejudice; but brutal Sunni-Shiite rivalries also divide Islam.

Insecure bullies frequently exploit religious fanaticism among their followers to cover their political scheming. However Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot jointly killed thirty million people without religious excuses; and secular ethnic feuds triggered the slaughter of a million Rwandans in 1994.

These blights on humanity don’t deny God’s existence, for unless He existed, we would not recognise injustice, nor would we pursue it. Jesus’ teaching and ministry opened new doors that overrode anyone’s background or status; and He took on ultimate injustice through His death and defeated it through His resurrection.

So now He invites us into options for reconciliation in place of resentment.

Noel Mitaxa,

On behalf of a church near you,

Inviting you to explore God’s love

 

Noel Mitaxa is from South Eastern Australia and has been in ministry since 1973, firstly with Churches of Christ – similar to the Disciples in the USA – until 1990, when he moved to a faith-based inter-based inter-church sports ministry of sports evangelism, sports chaplaincy and sports media, before returning to pastoral ministry with Baptist Churches in 1996.

Throughout his ministries, he has always aimed at building the kinds of churches that express God’s love practically, as much as verbally.  Most recently, this included a community centre for woodworking, a community garden and counseling and education programs.

He also enjoys the methanol fix of speedway chaplaincy, in which he has served nine seasons as the Head Rev of all those rev heads!

He and his wife Judy have been married for 35 years; their four kids have grown up and they have three grandchildren.

His writing began in 1982, with his first weekly Good News column, which has always focused on helping unchurched people to realize that God loves them and that He is already there for them.  The column has also been a tool for feeding and starting ‘water cooler’ conversations among Christians and non-Christians.  He also writes for Cypress Times in Houston TX.

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