The title of my article plays around with the Robin sayings from the old Batman & Robin series. I Googled it, and Robin exclaimed everything from “Holy Alphabet, Batman!” to “Holy Love Birds, Batman!” to “Holy Zorro, Batman!” But let’s talk about why this article is entitled “Holy Admiration”…..
Recently, my family and I had the pleasure of attending the annual Chardhi Kala event sponsored by the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek. They had East Indian food common to the Sikh community. They had Sikh music, Sikh martial arts, and they even had Sikh turban tying (and yours truly also wore a turban). It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about the Sikh religion and culture. Consequently, I felt a sense of “holy admiration” for their religious faith and spirituality, and I believe that this is a good and healthy thing.
As Christians, we follow the Eighth Commandment to “not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16) which also means that we try to “interpret everything they do in the best possible light” (Martin Luther’s Small Catechism). So according to this Commandment, whenever we take part in interfaith relations we are free to have “holy admiration” for the best aspects of other faith traditions, even if it is a non-Christian religion.
Of course it is important to be spiritually discerning about harmful religious manifestations — and even to be critical of aspects of other faiths that might be opposed to the core beliefs of the Faith, Hope and Love of Jesus — but we should also leave room in our hearts for reverent appreciation and even a kind of “holy envy” concerning the good that we see in other religions. This is right and true and faithful for us to do as believers and disciples of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus).
However, this does not mean that we believe all beliefs are equal. In fact, because all things are not equal in philosophy or science or any other discipline, therefore not all things are equal in theology and spirituality. So while we reverently appreciate, admire and even almost “envy” aspects of other religions, we also believe and trust in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who is the fullest revelation of God’s Heart and the fullness of salvation for all people everywhere.
As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 1:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith…”
And as the Apostle John writes in First John chapter 4:
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.”
So let us engage in interfaith relations, dialogue, admiration and lovingkindness, but let us also hold fast to the universal good news of God the Son. And let us never be ashamed or hesitant to share this good news that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have everlasting life” (Jesus speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:16).
Together in Christ, Pastor Tim