Random ramblings on three of my favorite subjects.
As I’ve traveled to many different countries, I’ve discovered that most people are nice. People want to be friendly and do good, for whatever reason they have personally.
It’s funny because we fear the unknown. When I first came to Europe, I was afraid of getting pick-pocketed, because of what I’d heard about Europe, knowingly fully that this is just as common in major US cities.
When I talk to Europeans, a lot of them are afraid of coming to the States, if they’ve never been. But they aren’t afraid of a pickpocket as much as they’re afraid of getting shot — they think every American is packing.
We all fear the unknown.
I’ve met random cab drivers throughout Europe, people at supermarkets, locals out and about, and business owners. I’ve made some great friends that I’ll keep for the rest of my life.
For the most part, people come off as friendly, and they want to help others. It’s like we all have a desire in us to help and do the right thing. Of course, the Bible tells us that we’re innately evil, and I agree with that deep down. We’re all selfish, but we also share some sort of common good.
Deep down, we are selfish. Deep down, we want what benefits us the most. Deep down, we have different struggles to do the wrong things. But we fight it. It’s like we know that there is good out there, and we want it. And of course, I believe that good is Jesus.
I’ve met people from many different religions… Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, Hindu, Buddhist, Satanist, and everything in between. People actually want to have a decent conversation.
In general, our world strays away from topics like religion because people often don’t know what they believe personally, and we are typically non-confrontational when it comes to these points. Americans stray away from “religion & politics” more than any other people-group I’ve met.
In contrast, I’ve had great experiences by leading freely into these conversations on sensitive topics, and as long as I’m not a jerk, these are some of the most edifying conversations I’ve ever had.
I love discussing religion. I’m not much for politics anymore, but I don’t avoid the topic. I’m mostly interested to find out what people believe and why. That’s the best place to start for me to explain my beliefs and apologetics.
When you look at the world religions, most people claim to be Christians, whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or simply a Jesus Follower — my personal favorite label, if I had to choose one.
The other religions carry a small percentage of the world. When you examine each one individually, it’s easy to see that they all relate in many ways. For example, the Quran mentions Jesus often… more than it mentions Muhammad actually. And there are accounts of things like a global flood and creation stories.
I’ve heard the Universalism viewpoint stressed quite a bit — that all religions lead to one god, and that any path works to get to Heaven. I don’t believe that, because it doesn’t line up with any one of the religions’ holy books. I’ll put my own belief out for the most explicit example:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.John 14:6-11
I know you’ve probably heard this verse many times before now, but that’s because of its exclusivity. It’s offensive. But you simply cannot believe these verses, and believe that all people will enter Heaven through whichever route they choose. It’s hard to swallow, but that doesn’t make it untrue.
On World Travel
In my travels, I’ve been to 16 countries. Not as many as most world travelers, but more than most people. And these countries have spanned broadly, from the States to Italy to Ireland to Bulgaria to Israel.
Traveling is an amazing thing. I love learning about and from other cultures. The more I travel the more I see the truth in this statement:
When you travel, you realize that the things you thought were exclusive to your culture are actually universal, and the things that you thought were universal are exclusive to your culture.
I’m not going to cite anyone for that quote, because it’s been said by so many with slightly different wording.
I remember being home in Arkansas and seeing a redneck driving what looked like a homemade tractor, pulling a trailer made from a truck bed. People will say “only in Arkansas.” False. I’ve seen some of the most redneck things in my life right outside of Rome, or on the country roads of Ireland… and even in modern cities in Germany.
We think we know how the world is without seeing the world.
I don’t claim to know how anything is, other than what I’ve personally experienced.
And traveling the world has helped humble me in that regard.
I encourage everyone to travel. See the world. See what you’re missing… and what you’re not. And for the love of God, I really wish people would stop hating the place they grow up in. I see this so often.
The “grass is greener” syndrome. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. Except when it is. But don’t automatically assume that somewhere else is better. Appreciate the things that your town has to offer, and then… go see the world.
World traveling has taught me humility, gratitude, and grace.
I suggest trying it. Even if you “don’t like to travel.”