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Competition

I'm one of those who spend hours in front of the television every night watching the Olympic competitions from Torino. I love to see the aggressiveness of the athletes which pushes them to what might be considered superhuman efforts. I was impressed with the Chinese pairs skaters; when the woman fell, she forced her mind to ignore the injury, she got up, skated her program and they ended up winning the silver medal. Nothing but the passion to win makes this kind of effort possible.

I live fifty miles from Pittsburgh so I am a Steelers fan by default. The Seahawks are probably very nice people, but I don't know anything about them compared to what I have heard in recent weeks about Big Ben and The Bus. I don't own any stock in the organization, but I would have been very unhappy if they had lost the Super Bowl contest. That was a competition that everyone in my family and my neighborhood wanted to win!

There are areas where competition is appropriate, or at least understandable, and other areas where it is very destructive. Religion is the prime example of an arena in which competition can kill. Saying, "My religion is better than your religion," is the same as saying, "My God is better than your God." What a ridiculous claim. There is only one God, and that very fact should make competition totally irrelevant. It's like two sisters taunting each other, "My mother is better than your mother!" You have to be blind and ignorant to think in these terms.

All through my ministry, we were made aware of the efforts of Christian missionaries around the world. In fact, my sister and brother-in-law spent their whole careers as Baptist missionaries to Africa. But think about the implications of mission work. It says, "Our religion is better than your primitive beliefs." This immediately casts the matter into a relationship of condescension, and we inevitably import not only our religious style but also our political and social standards. Then the issue becomes, "Those who do not agree with our politics are enemies of our God."

Now, I abhor a religion which would teach its people that a cartoon in a foreign press is sufficient cause to loot and kill. This has nothing to do with spirituality, which should be the sole character of any organization which purports to represent God. We criticize Islam for attempting to convert the world to its way of thinking. But, in truth, has Christianity done any differently? We have so corrupted our religions with political agendas that they have lost all semblance of their true purpose - to teach love, understanding, and the sense of the oneness of all humankind.

Somehow, we need a new paradigm for seeking God. And it needs to leave the competitive element out of it. Ancient people used to think that each nation had its own God. We see this now as primitive ignorance. But if there is only one God, we must mature beyond the stage of thinking "My God is the only true God."

Until we can learn to say, "Your God is my God by another name," we will continue to kill those of other religions in the name of our distorted view of God.

Posted 2-15-06

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2006