By Niya Tanielle
Special to Inside The Pew
My former co-worker had been married for seven years. Being raised Hindu, she married her Christian husband at 18, and surprisingly there was no talk of the difference in religion with her deep rooted Hindu family. Seven years later, her family is no longer practicing Hinduism, but are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Wow, what a difference. And here I was in a relationship with another Christian that was proving difficult to maintain.
Why was the relationship not working? Denomination. Spiritual conversations that were supposed to uplift, enlighten, and create a sense of fellowship, turned into World War III with screaming, telephone hang-ups, and irrational break-ups that would last hours, and sometimes days. I’ve never had so many fights about the interpretation of Bible scriptures in my life. I found myself saying things like, “You sound stupid!..”, and asking, “Does that scripture make any sense to you?”, and my favorite, “Your reading that scripture all wrong!” Needless to say that soon we had lost the lovin’ feeling. A Hindu and Christian have a seemingly “happy” marriage, and two Christians can’t get it together?
He was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, who even though he called himself a “liberal Adventist”, our teachings were completely different. I am classified as, what some call, a New Testament Christian, believing in speaking confessions and using my mouth to shape my future (Isaiah 55:11), speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4), and resting in the promises of God (Matthew 11:28-29, Colossians 2:16-17), not an old covenant practice of a physical Sabbath day in the Ten Commandments. For him, Exodus 20 is one of the foundations of his faith, and he had no understanding of what confessions were, among other things.
This difference destroyed any plans we had of building a future. Through all the fighting, I held out some shred of hope that we could compromise, learn from each other, and find a happy medium. He was everything I told God I wanted, and some of the great things I forgot to add. We, unknowingly, represented the church as a whole, and played out how the church has been fighting itself for centuries. Pastor against pastor, small storefronts against the mega churches, and I have yet to find a place in the Bible where a demon is fighting against another demon. Hell is on one accord, ladies and gentleman, while God is waiting on us to lead with the same agape love he has shown us.
Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. Christian love, distinct from erotic love or emotional affection.
We didn’t shine our light before each other; we simply argued point after point. Stop trying to convince people to see God the way you see Him. It’s a waste of time. God will finish His work, not you (Philippians 1:6). You are a believer, NOT a debater of the Hebrew version of this, and the Greek translation of that. I don’t know anyone who truly cares. People care about your heart, your motives, and a Jesus that’s available to deliver them out of their mess.
I see now we had different aspects to offer each other, and we were in a position to be the best teachers. Maybe if we learned this lesson early, our budding romance could have been salvaged. Lesson learned. What aspects of religion have caused you to lose out on the growth of a relationship, either with God or people? I’d like to hear from you!
Niya Tanielle is editor in chief of The Journey Suite, a Christian-based news site for women. Visit www.thejourneysuite.com.