We recently asked readers to share the lessons they have learned from their own — or other — faith traditions. They responded with examples from their families’ background to the teachings of Buddhism. Here is a sampling of what they said:
Father shows best
My father taught by example rather than with words. I don’t remember that he ever said: “This is what Mennonites believe.” A key element in his life was returning kindness for ill-treatment.
I recall one small example from late in his life. I was visiting my elderly parents in British Columbia, when we heard a knock on the door, which Mother answered. A man she didn’t recognize asked to speak to my father alone, so Mother and I retreated to the bedroom. After about 10 to 15 minutes, Dad came to us holding a small wad of bills.
Earlier he had owned a small grocery story in northern Saskatchewan. During the ’30s, when drought, dirt and depressed conditions reigned, storekeepers charged groceries for farmers, sometimes for a year at a time until the fall crop came in. Sometimes it never came in, and the customer, embarrassed about not being able to pay his bill, went to the next store, hoping for credit there.
This man had racked up a bill at Dad’s store and never paid it. His conscience bothered him to the point of tracking down my father decades later to make good his debt. He wanted forgiveness.
I will never forget Dad’s puzzled look and comment to me and Mother: “He never owed me anything.” Dad had long ago forgotten – and forgiven.
Strength through sorrow
The main lesson of faith I’ve learned in 70 years is that even though I’ve not been as good a follower of Jesus as I could have been, God still delivered me from the crushing sorrow and burden of my son’s death when I asked Him to.
I have been a believer in Christ all my life and felt His positive force, but never had my faith tested as when I turned my grief over to Him in a simple prayer. The burden began to lift quickly, and a year later I don’t suffer. Some people may think I don’t care anymore but I relate the experience of faith and prayer each chance I get.
Christianity must not be silenced
Christians in this country led the way in charity and in improving women’s lot in life, besides building schools and hospitals. Yet other religions seem to be more accepted now than before, while Christians are often ridiculed. While some of us who claim the name haven’t been the shining lights, true Christianity must not be silenced.
It cannot be that and some other religion, but Christianity or another. I choose Christ; He is the only one who could remove my guilt and turn my life around.
“There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Practicing compassion, respect, inner peace
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) statement of identity reads: We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.
The words of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The identity statement of my denomination and the “Greatest Commandment,” according to Jesus, are the philosophies that undergird my daily life as a Disciples of Christ minister and hospice chaplain. I strive to be inclusive, compassionate and respectful of others in living out my faith each day.
I also find interior peace and strength in studying the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
God’s rules are for our benefit
I have learned that God gave us rules, not for His sake, but for our own benefit. If we follow His commandments, our life on Earth is easier. Though sin is attractive and may give us instant satisfaction, it ultimately becomes a burden, a “monkey on our back.”
We need only to look around to see the results of sin: addictions, broken homes, abortion, degradation of women, imprisonment, and embarrassment to self and families, to name a few. God, like any loving Father, knew what He was doing when he set out rules for us.
His pathway to heaven is really the easier way.