For years, I’ve been very confused with the idea of the identity of religion. To me, religion is a mind game. You have to decide who you’re following, who you idolize, who you worship and many times, religion becomes secular.
I grew up with an adverse religious background but never grew up with one faith. I’ve been exposed to Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and so forth. I was on my own to decide my own faith as a teenager. All it took was a friend to say he was a follower of Jesus and not religion to get me hooked.
For the past week and a half visiting Bethlehem has exposed me to things the western world would never teach me or help understand about Jesus. Our team decided to go to The Church of Nativity last week for an afternoon tour and discovered something. While the majority of my family is Catholic, it wasn’t until I experienced or came to an understanding of who Jesus really was until this week.
Jesus was in fact born in a barn, however, the church wanted to make it sacred and turned it into an alter. The more I learn about the various of faiths where people are simply searching, the more I begin to understand religion and where people are coming from.
When I walked into the Church of Nativity, we formed a line to go down into a place that appears to be a cellar, except it’s where Jesus was born. Only to discover it’s an alter where people can bow down to thank Mary for giving birth to our Lord. It wasn’t until the last few days I started to really dig into the book of Luke and tried to understand something about Mary and Jesus. First of all, Mary was acknowledged to be blessed by the angel that appeared to her but it was not just because she was about ready to give birth to the Son of God, but it was because of her simple obedience and belief. *(Luke 1-2).
But get this, “As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother – the womb from which you came, and the breast that nursed you.” Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
Tell me, where does it say you need to pray for blessings to Mary? Or even work to be blessed? The word of God is the simple truth and when we follow the truth and practice it, we are blessed instead of cursed. Mary knew she was very blessed, but she praised God for all He did and Jesus made it clear how you can be blessed. Be obedient in all you do is the simple message he had for us who think blessings come from the people Jesus associated with.
How simple is our Heavenly Father.