Fairfield, Iowa, is the home of Maharishi International University. It promotes transcendental meditation.
In 1983 MIU decided that if the square root of 1 percent of the world’s population meditated together at one time they could bring about world peace. In weather that was 20-something below zero some 7,000 people descended upon Fairfield. The big draw, of course, was that the founder himself, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, would be there.
As the local newspaper’s photographer, I sat up front in the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge and witnessed it. Excitement built as people anticipated the Maharishi’s appearance.
Then it happened. This little guy with long, stringy grey-white hair wearing what looked like a white sheet and sandals, entered the stage. The minute he appeared, the atmosphere in the room physically changed. His high-pitched, mosquito-like voice surprised me.
Looking around me stunned me. What I saw was not what others saw. All around me people had looks of enrapture, as if they were seeing God himself. I remember thinking, “You better know what you believe.”
It’s still true today. We better know what we believe. It’s easy to be fooled. Many are. And many are professing Christians. How is that even possible?
There’s a huge shift in our culture that subtly began decades earlier. We’re seeing the fruit of it now. For one thing, we rarely hear preaching on sin from the pulpit. We hear good messages. Many are Bible-based, but they aren’t warning of the perilous times in which we live. We’re not told about the two roads. One is wide, filled with travelers who think because they’re good people, they’ll go to Heaven.
Others wrongly believe that all roads lead to heaven. The Bible says that “small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14).
In February, Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s Catholics, met with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi. They signed the Document on Human Fraternity, according to the Vatican News. Many believe that by signing this, the Pope is taking steps toward a one-world religion.
They talked of peace between the various world religions. We all want peace, but at what price? The word “God” was used again and again to identify Allah and the God of Christianity as the same.
Just as the Maharishi is not God, Allah is also not God. Nor is Buddha or anyone else who is not God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth. The one who loved the world so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to come to earth and die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). There’s only one true God. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.
It’s important to know what we believe.
How do we find the truth? In the Bible, the inspired word of God. We’re in the midst of a spiritual war. It began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. It’s only gotten worse. Don’t be fooled. Test everything you hear and read.
“... Test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ... Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-6).
I never thought I’d get into trouble praying in public because I ended by praying in the name of Jesus, but I did.
There’s a problem with the word “Tolerance.” It accepts anything an individual believes as truth simply because they believe it. With one exception. The traditional Christian. We’re portrayed as hypocritical and hateful. In fact, we’re often referred to as “The Haters.” Whenever a group is dehumanized by a label, that group is an easy target.
Jesus loves people, but he doesn’t tolerate sin. What did he tell the woman caught in the act of adultery? All of her accusers left. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11b).
She was forgiven, but told to stop sinning. That’s what our pastors need to preach. Our sins can be forgiven, but we have to call sin sin. We need to repent and to stop sinning, with the Lord’s help.
There’s a high cost to remaining silent and not living what we believe. Sitting in the pew on Sundays and not disagreeing with sin is tolerating sin. Jesus warns us about this. “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
There’s one true God. Don’t deny him. How do we know that we’re saved? “... If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Don’t remain silent. Take a stand. Speak out, while we still can.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.