I think that for many people, it is a natural instinct to condemn the people that do not belong to their group and its way of thinking. To say, ‘if you do not believe what we believe, worship as we worship, and follow what we are following, then you do not belong to what is right.’ It is a sad way to affirm that what you believe in is true and the only truth. Being a Christian, I’m afraid to say that we hold great fault when it comes to accepting other religions. Many Christians think that if you don’t follow Jesus, then you will end up in Hell, a thought which seems to me to be very flawed.
My view of acceptance is very different from my view of tolerance. Tolerating something, to me, indicates that there is something that must be put up with. Accepting something is greeting it with open arms. It would be something if the arguing religions found a way to tolerate each other. However, it would be so much more to understand and embrace each other. We must recognize that no one is completely right or completely wrong about death, life, and God. Let’s stop excluding the spiritual stranger and be able to learn something from them.
The key to this policy of open arms is to recognize that God is infinitely bigger than one faith, one religion. God is too complex for us to know all about him, so no one can decide who he acknowledges as his ‘chosen people.’ Even though I’m a Christian, I whole-heartedly believe that God loves, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, the nonreligious, and so on. He loves them and accepts them into heaven after death.
My grandmother once told me that the spiritual journey is like a cluster of paths. Some are longer and more difficult to walk than others, but they all lead to the same place. Everybody forges their own paths; the paths sometimes cross, join, and wind in different directions. Each soul makes its own journey, sometimes inadvertently. Each soul finds its way to God. It is not a certain religion that leads us quickest to him, but faith in what we believe in and devotion to it. Most of all, it is following what God stands for even if you don’t know that it is him that you are following. The quickest path to God is standing for love, compassion, kindness, purity, etc. God is too caring to choose one group of people over another. So the least we can do is follow in his footsteps and love one another, even if our beliefs are different.