Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Why, Oh Why?




Many of us think that what we believe has a strong basis which can be demonstrated convincingly to others. The apparent assumption is that our beliefs are the result of hard evidence and sound logic.


The above observation applies in spades for many of the adherents of exclusive religions like Christianity and Islam. When one accepts the idea that all must conform to my religion or be rejected by God, one's view of outsiders is invariably diminished.


If the particular exclusive religion is rejected by an outsider who is remote or little known, the tendency on the part of the adherent is to explain that rejection as resulting from willful blindness or evil obstinacy. The resultant emotional response of the would be instructor is often dismissiveness and even contempt. The assumption is that the rejecters are essentially beyond redemption.


However, when followers of these exclusive religions find their doctrinal beliefs rejected by friends and family members, those who are not easily dismissed as thoroughly evil and rightfully condemned, the contempt they might otherwise feel often manifests itself as frustration. Why oh why can't my dear friend or loved one see the truth I see? It is so clear to me? I know these folks aren't irredeemable like so many others, so what accounts for their blindness?


In effect we see two distinct scenarios faced by those who insist that others conform to them religiously. When their contention is rejected by most, they simply conclude that the hearers are incorrigible and feel anger and contempt toward the rejecters. On the other hand when those with whom they have a closer and more intimate relationship reject the same message, the resultant emotional experience involves frustration and even bewilderment.


These two entirely different emotional responses should be a catalyst to initiate a deeper evaluation of the reasonableness of claiming and insisting upon compliance with any exclusive religious doctrines. If adherents of exclusive religion are not able to reconcile themselves to the divine dismissal of friends and family, they have no real basis to denigrate others who, like their loved ones, refuse to conform to their doctrinal proscriptions. The issue of close association and more intimate knowledge is not a justifiable basis for reacting differently to one group's rejection over the other's. If the truth that is so obvious to me is rejected by someone I don't know well, the chances that I really understand why that rejection happened is much lower than for someone of a much closer relationship.


The bottom line is this. It is very easy and maybe comforting to assign evil motives and unsoundness of mind to strangers who refuse our religious instruction. It is not nearly so easy to apply the same explanation to those we care about. That very fact calls for a re-evaluation of how we react to all people of a different religious persuasion. We can't consistently label one group as malignant and the other as simply misguided. Both show the same disregard for our insistence that they conform to us, and in no case are we able to read minds and actually know anyone's motivation. In each case we just assume to know what is inherently unknowable. And no, nothing in the Bible makes anyone a mind reader either. That skill is God's alone.