Imagine how your spiritual life would look if you loved every person (both friend and stranger) unconditionally, rather than with the condition that they must alter their beliefs to accord with your own worldview if they are to meet with acceptance within your community.
Imagine a spiritual life where your religious activities are not motivated by the fear of hell (a doctrine which undeniably paints a picture of God as a cruel monster), but by a desire to understand the ways in which your neighbour experiences suffering and to try to help ease their suffering.
Imagine a church where people of all faith backgrounds feel welcome because they all have something vital in common: a belief that in reality – in accordance with what is actually true – there is only one God. This God is not the exclusive property of Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or anyone else. He has, in reality, created every person in accordance with His will and intends for them to believe precisely what they believe at any given moment in time, because He is sovereignly unfolding all the events of their lives.
Imagine if church was about debating the moral, theological, social, and technological issues of our time, and if part of the role of the church was to help shape the future of humankind in a way that would eventually lead to the alleviation of poverty and conflict.
Imagine a church community where everyone is encouraged to learn more about other faith groups through discussions, debates, and social activities that are truly inclusive. Imagine valuing every person you meet in this community and trying to understand them through the lens of their own beliefs, rather than feeling you must persuade them to conform to your beliefs.
Are you willing to consider that for every scripture you can quote in defence of your religion, your neighbour, who has a different religious understanding, can quote a scripture from their religion which is equally compelling to them? Or would you be so arrogant as to suggest that you are absolutely right, and they are absolutely wrong?
Imagine a worship band with a Muslim on bass, a Christian on guitar, a Hindu on drums, and a Sikh on vocals. Imagine if these band members could compose a worship song together that they all felt was God-glorifying, because it reflected certain universal truths about God, rather than particular doctrinal differences.
Imagine if Christians studied the Qur’an and Muslims studied the New Testament; not with the intention of converting one another, but with the intention of understanding one another. Imagine if your guru – your spiritual mentor – was someone from an entirely different cultural and religious background to your own.
Imagine if you could appreciate the vision I am presenting here without regarding it as idealistic or naive, but instead embracing it as a realistic possibility. Imagine if in response to this article you didn’t feel anger or fear, but felt excited and inspired by the possibility of getting to know your brothers and sisters from other cultures and understanding what it is that motivates them and makes them so devoted to their particular faith.
Imagine the possibilities that would be open to us if our spiritual lives weren’t focused on defending our interpretation of particular doctrines, but were instead focused on extending unconditional love to all people.