I read the Dali Lama’s book Beyond Belief and that is the extent of my exhaustive research so I may be a little off base. If I am, please feel free to correct me on his teachings because I would be interested in what you know of his teachings. What struck me and still nags at me two years after reading his book is that he believes the world is getting better, he believes that people can step up to the higher call of compassion, and he believes that all people can learn to be moral and loving toward each other thru education. I thought that I believed the same things but as I have started evaluating my own belief system I realized that I was taught differently.
I visualize the Christian’s negative worldview as three fold. These three beliefs fold in on themselves making it difficult to believe the world is getting better. The first belief in this worldview is when man sinned in the Garden of Eden; he fell into a sinful state and changed the world. The world plummeted into a fallen state which can only be remedied through Jesus’ sacrifice in the New Testament. To drive this point home, pastors will often give examples of two year olds throwing fits and point out that they were not trained to act that way. This fallen nature is prevalent even after you accept Jesus’ death on the cross because we all have a sinful nature since the fall. This sinful nature is often discussed as self and Christians are encouraged not to listen or be enticed by it. When I examined this belief I realize that it is extremely difficult to improve my outlook on the world when I believe it exists in a fallen state.
The second element in this negative worldview is the belief in the second coming of Christ and the Apocalypse which is foretold in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation. This allows Christians an excuse, albeit not a good one. Instead of focusing on the present day betterment of the world they can focus on the belief that we will be rescued from this dying planet and it will be destroyed in a ball of fire. I mean what is the point if the earth will be destroyed anyway?
The final belief that fuels this negative worldview is that as Christians are just passing through this life, our final destination is heaven. This destination is reached when we die or when the Rapture takes place, either way we end up in heaven. On the bright side we want to take as many people with us as possible so we are nice and giving as long as the person we are helping is willing to look at their sinful nature and turn to Jesus Christ. Christians will feed the hungry, rebuild destroyed towns and give clean water but we always seem to have an ulterior motive. I think it is pretty hard to believe that the world is getting better when we view it as a temporary station.
My conclusion is that most Christians don’t actually believe that the world is getting better and my next question is why? Why do we have such a negative view of the world when the message of the Bible is so positive? As Christians we also believe that God created this planet. I guess if I were God and created this wonderful planet (animals, people, plants and all it includes). I would be a tad upset if the people that I made stewards of my work trashed it. My indignation would be similar to the way an owner feels after renting to a bad tenant.
I know the spirit of the Dali Lama’s belief that the world is getting better rests in the fact that he believes that as people learn and begin to understanding each other through education. They can learn to be more compassionate and loving towards each other. I am a firm believer in education as well, and I hold a masters degree to prove it. I was born in 1962 and have lived to understanding the shift in human rights over the 50 some years of my life in America. But I grew up in Colorado and there were many times when I thought and still think that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. teachings failed to reach Colorado. Or perhaps we didn’t think they applied to the migrant workers from Mexico. These field workers are quite instrumental in the continuing economic growth of Colorado. They are important to our farming industry, our school system, and our personal value system. There is a lot of hoopla about the illegal immigration and much needs to change. The problem is we like to make the immigrant into the problem, instead of viewing them as people struggling to live a better life. We need to begin viewing immigrates as the mothers and fathers they are, trying to give their children a better life. I still wonder why we are so exclusive when most of our families began as immigrates if we look back a couple generations’.
The Christian community is also a bit exclusive. People who don’t attend Church are referred to as “non-believers” or “the world”. The church prides itself on being in the world but not of the world. This pride factor segregates. In beginning to view the people outside of our church as good hearted people who are struggling just like we are, we can begin to see them not as “non-believers” who need to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, but as people who are seeking the truth. I think that if Truth is Truth, the way I understand it, that person will find it. I believe Jesus said, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be open to you.” My job then becomes simply to love people as Jesus Christ loved people.
The Dali lama believes that each person has a moral compass and that it is easier for them to learn moral values if they begin with their childhood religion. He even believes that an atheist has a moral belief system. In other words, Christians should be instructed in moral values using their current belief system. I am sure that you can see how this would benefit the world if each of us learned to love and respect each other without trying to convert each other and freely gave compassion. I have a hard time however, believing that most Christians would be comfortable saying…..stay a Muslim and learn to be the best you can be within your belief system? I am also sure the good Christian would argue that he is more concerned for the Muslim’s soul.
What if we were excited for the person because they were seeking truth? We could step back and allow the Holy Spirit to draw that person into truth as we encouraged them to become a better person? What if we allowed ourselves to be guided into truth through our own personal seeking? What if we encouraged people to pursue truth within their current belief system instead of trying to lay down an entirely new system? I believe that anyone who is truly seeking will find truth. Isn’t God big enough to change a belief system if needed, even if it is yours? What if we ask God for compassion and then started befriending people of other faiths, races, and sexual orientation (without asking them to convert)?
Jesus taught us to love one another. He told us to bless our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us. He taught us that in order to love our neighbor we must first love ourselves. This teaching is not exclusive at all, it is all encompassing. I am choosing to change my worldview to that of believing the world is getting better because the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of each person who is seeking the truth. I believe that Jesus taught us to love ourselves and others, including our enemies and since I have to think a little too hard to figure out who I should exclude, I am including everyone that I come in contact with throughout my day. I will no longer have any “non-Christian” friends on my facebook page, at work, in my neighborhood or in my life…..only friends! Namaste!