By Reno Omokri
The majority of the people on Earth did not choose their religion. It was handed down to them by their parents, who got it from their parents, who got it from theirs. You were not born into any religion. Except you chose it as an adult, you were indoctrinated into it.
One of the most ignorant statements people make is ‘I am a born Christian’, or ‘I am a born Muslim’. Even Scripture says “naked I came from my mother’s womb”-Job 1:21. Your entire identity, including your name, and often your religion was determined by others.
Your date of birth is when you were born. Your date of awareness is when you realised that you came into this world with a clean slate, and almost everything you grew up with until you became an adult, especially your identity, is the result of other people’s decisions. You only become a true adult when you seize control of the process.
People do not know themselves. And with smartphones and the Internet, it has become worse. Billions of people distract themselves with their devices and think they are living. The type of deep thought that led Newton to discover the Law of Gravity under an apple tree is now a rarity.
Scripture says “the kingdom of God is within you.”-Luke 17:21. If we are always distracted by television, smartphones, the Internet, and modern living, how will we ever get a chance to look within by way of meditation? And if we don’t do that, how can we find the Kingdom of God?
There is a toxic relationship between indoctrination and extremism. Without one, there cannot be the other. The more people are aware of the fact that they are as human as the other person, and that we are all evolving beings with no moral absolutes, the more this world will be a better place.
And this is why though I am an unshakeable believer and follower of the man wrongly called Jesus Christ, but whose Name is in reality Yeshua, and whose Title is Hamashiach, I make it a duty to learn about as many other religions as possible.
Not because I have doubts about mine. Never, ever, ever, to a thousand degrees. The reason I do this is because I want to understand people better. You see, where there is understanding, there is cooperation. And where there is misunderstanding, there is confrontation. And that is the biggest challenge facing my country, Nigeria.
Always try to understand people. It does not mean you agree with them. It means you respect them enough to listen to them and see their point of view. It is the greatest courtesy you can give anyone. And it makes them more likely to like and cooperate with you.
Which is why I have strongly recommended that every Christian student must compulsorily study Islamic Religious Knowledge, and every Muslim pupil must mandatorily take Christian Religious Knowledge.
Understanding your neighbour will not necessarily make you agree with him, but it will definitely help you disagree with him without the disagreement leading to confrontation. That is why it is almost impossible to quarrel with someone who nods his head as you speak. That act of nodding is not agreement. It is a testament to understanding.
When you look at the various religions on Earth, many of them do not even understand themselves enough to agree on the basics of their faiths, and rather than come together to reach an accord, they break into denominations and schisms.
But when you make an effort to truly understand people, your paradigm shifts from confrontation to cooperation.
For example, while I do not necessarily agree with all of their theology, it is my opinion that fringe Christian denominations, like Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, tend to be some of the purest forms of Godliness on planet Earth, while more mainstream ones, especially evangelicals and Pentecostals, make you question if what they are all about is still Christianity as Yeshua Hamashiach taught it.
Sadly, people approach these fringe groups with preconceived biases and suspicion, fed, not by Scripture, or actual knowledge of their workings, but by the media, and organised religion, which feels threatened by them.
Catholicism is a bit different. They try to balance European paganism with Scriptural beliefs. And while there are issues with that, they have developed a way of life that ensures a sort of balance which guides adherents from the cradle to the grave. It is hard to fault that.
In terms of personal discipline and self-control, it is difficult to beat an Adventist. And in terms of devotion to God, you can hardly fault Witnesses. The only people who, in my opinion, come close, are Muslims. But unfortunately, crowds are carried away by miracles.
Out of curiosity, I went to see the magician, David Copperfield, at one of his live shows in the US. If that man performed the magic I saw him perform, with my own two eyes, in a Pentecostal church, he will be the busiest Daddy GO on planet Earth, bar none. And precious few will question his theology,
But my people do not read Scripture. Mesmerise them with miracles, and they will do the very thing Scripture asked them not to do.
The sad truth is that most people on Earth are unconscious. Unfortunately, they are not aware of it. Just think of a product in a supermarket. It is brought in barcoded and that barcode determines its life, until it leaves that store and is consumed by the end user.
That pretty much sums up the existence of most people on Earth.
They are born and have no control over their parentage, gender and birth nationality. Then, they are named by their parents. When they come of age, they are indoctrinated into their parents; religion, or lack of it. By the time they get to school, they are put on an assembly line of a life destined for 22 years of classroom moulding, 35 years in a cubicle they call a job, and then 10-15 years to enjoy what is left of their lives.
And then death.
Only few buck this trend of living the result of other people’s choices and calling it life. And those few are labelled by the rest of the crowd in order to bring them into line.
You are eccentric. You are weird. You are odd.
Almost nowhere on Earth is this manufactured reality so poignant as in Northern Ireland, where the nation is divided between Catholics and Protestants. Same ethnicity, same nationality, same origin. But different branches of the same root religion.
Iraq is a facsimile of Ireland, where Shia and Sunni Muslims are at each other’s throats.
Meanwhile, in São Paulo, Brazil, Dimas Aliprandi and Elton Plaster were mistakenly switched at birth, and lived lives and had names, religions, and lifestyles suited to their parents and environment.
This went on for 24 years, until In December 2008, a chance event made them realise the error that led them on different paths, and they are now trying to reconcile their lives to their new realities. True story.
Do you now see how easy it is for outside forces to shape your lives from the cradle to the grave?
Who are you? You are not the name your parents gave you. And the reason we know this is because when we die, we will be given our real names in God’s Kingdom.
We see this in Revelation 2:17.
“I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
So, you are not your name.
We also know that in heaven, there is no gender. We see this in Mark 12:25:
“When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
Angels have no gender.
But more importantly, in heaven, there is no religion. Only love. Unconditional love.
We see this in 1 John 4:8:
“God is love.”
God is not Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or any other religion. He is love. And not only is He love, but Scripture tells us in John 3:16 that He loves the world.
So, stop hating and fighting others on the basis of a barcode that was handed to you at birth. Be like God. Be love and love your neighbour as yourself, irrespective of the barcode they were given at birth.
On The Issue of Misprinted New Naira Notes
If you Google misprinted dollar bills, you will see multiple actual misprinted US Dollar bills, printed by the United States Treasury Department. Hundreds of thousands of errors are made annually by that well regarded branch of government. And these bills are highly sought after, as the error increases their value. Please do not take my word for it. Research it yourself. Of course there will be misprinted Naira notes. It does not mean that Nigeria is a useless country. The only perfect kingdom in existence is the Kingdom of God. But as long as you are under heaven, expect imperfection. Give your country a break. Cut it some slack. You can use your mouth to finish bad officials. But don’t use it to finish Nigeria!