1/19/2016 Tok about 24
“To be honest, sometimes it seems very negative, like I can never do anything right.” That’s how Tok, a senior business major, described the faith he had grown up in and has now begun to question. Another example of a prodigal son from a Christian church? No, Tok grew up in a Vietnamese immigrant family and was very active in his Buddhist temple and in their Buddhist youth group. He welcomed our conversation and described how his objective questions have caused him to see some of the negative aspects of Buddhism. He can never be quite sure that his good karma will outweigh his bad, and believes that only Buddhist monks have any chance of breaking through the endless cycle of reincarnation. I could see some parallels with young people within our churches, and I told him how many see Christianity the same way. They haven’t learned to read or trust the Bible for themselves and they still believe that their faith is just a bunch of rules to follow that they will be judged on. Like the idea of karma, they hope their good deeds will outweigh their bad.
Why the similarities between a questioning Buddhist like Tok and the skeptical youth of American churches? Because “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8) Those without Christ are still under this law, whether Christian or Buddhist or what-have you in background. They have not yet been set free in Christ, and are still under the ‘law of sin and death” – all experience death in their relationship with God because of sin, a death that no amount of good or religious deeds can save us from. Tok listened intently to the good news that we have been save not by good works but by faith in Jesus, and how a faith relationship with Jesus can transform even a business major into an opportunity to honor and serve God in response. I could see real hope in his eyes as he learned how a right relationship with God can be so much more than “never being able to do anything right”.