It was the summer of 1982 when I returned home to Hawaii after completing my sophomore year in college. Since my last return at Christmas, there were many changes in my life. For over a year, I had been following the teachings of a woman known as “divine mother.” She taught a universalistic religion declaring that all religions were different paths to the same god. Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha… all of them were prophets, different manifestations of god. She also claimed to be a prophetess and, while acknowledging the truth of all other religions, claimed that her path was the most direct path to god. When I began my sessions with her, I eagerly accepted what she taught. I bemoaned the conflicts between the many different religions and sought a way to harmonize the different religions. I found her teachings to be intellectually satisfying and refreshing.
I augmented her teachings by delving into advanced studies in Hinduism and Buddhism. I even began reading the Bible. After all, if all religions are paths to the same god, I naively believed that all religious writings should point to the same truth. Initially, I was pleased to find complementary ideas between the religions and its respective writings. But with time, some cracks began to appear. I kept stumbling upon the verse from the Gospel of John in the Bible.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 (ESV)
If all religions are paths to the same god, then how can one reconcile what Jesus emphatically stated with His teaching? I realized that I needed to have this answer completely resolved. I spent many hours asking God for answers. God responded and sent a dear brother in Jesus Christ who faithfully met with me every weekend, explaining and clarifying the truths of the Bible. Slowly, God changed my heart and opened my eyes to see the Truth. A week after Easter in 1982, I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. God gave me the freedom to seek Him and He blessed me exceedingly abundantly. All of the doubts were gone, but there was still one more task I needed to do. I had to confront “divine mother.”
With some trepidation, I met with her. After a perfunctory exchange of pleasantries, I began to share some of the changes in my life. It was almost as if she were not listening to me as she nodded and smiled. I persisted in updating her and began to share the Gospel with her, pointing out the inconsistencies between her teachings and what Jesus Christ taught. I was so intent upon sharing my faith, I did not realize the change in her countenance. The smile disappeared and a glare replaced the formerly serene visage. In a burst of anger, she exclaimed, “I give your freedom! Go!”
Divine mother was having a very human tantrum!
I was free, but for the first time in over a year, I felt separated from God. But which god? Was it the universalistic pantheistic god that I and every particle of the universe was a part or was it the Christian God who created the universe and every living creature, a Creator, separate from His Creation? There was a twinge of doubt as I fell on my hands and knees and asked God to reassure and confirm my faith. In a moment, God affirmatively and decisively answered my prayer and filled me with His peace and comfort. It was a freedom to choose and a freedom to love God who gave me His Son, to die for my sins.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36 (ESV)
In Jesus Christ, I have found the greatest freedom that I have ever desired. My earlier misconceptions of Christianity, encompassing a set of rules and do’s and dont’s, was shattered once I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. There were no rituals, no good actions or good behavior that could earn my salvation. No one is good enough, only God. This seemingly uncrossable gap between man’s sins and God’s perfection could never be bridged by my actions. No, God would have to bridge this gap. In the greatest act of sacrifice and love the universe will ever witness, God became a man and lived a perfect life, without sin. This is Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for all of my sins and for all Creation.
Only God gave me the freedom to be the man that He created me to be.
Thanks be to the Living God!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.