I met him on the elevator of the senior high rise. “What is your name he growled?” “It is Joy, I said” He continued to look down at the floor of the elevator not saying another word to me.
I didn’t see him again until several weeks later when I was having dinner with my friend. We walked into the dining room where dinner was being served. He was sitting at a table by himself. No one spoke to him or attempted to sit with him. “Strange”, I thought. Everyone else in the room was seated at a table for two or four.
When my friend and I were seated I asked who this man was. “Oh, they say he was a doctor”, she replied. “He is Egyptian. One time I approached him, he was very unfriendly. I tried to engage him in conversation about where he was from. I mentioned that I had been to Israel when he said he was from Egypt. That seemed to make him irritated, I never attempted to speak to him again.”
Subsequently I have been to dinner a few times with my friend, and have seen him there. The same scenario continues, isolation from the other residents.
This morning as I was contemplating this situation it occurred to me that he was of an Eastern religion. They are commanded not to even eat with infidels, which would be all the rest of the world who are not of their belief, that could be the reason why he keeps himself separate from the others.
As I thought on this, the last time I was there, after I was seated, I greeted a couple that I have come to know with a wave at the husband as he came into the room. He just happened to be behind the Egyptian at that moment and the man thought I was waving at him, and he waved back. A look went across his face when he realized I wasn’t waving at him, but rather this other man. I felt badly for him.
Isolation is not what man was created for. The God of Abraham is a God of family. That is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven.”
As I have been contemplating all of this, I wondered what his name is. I don’t know, of course, but I thought, Saleem. Looking up the name online, it means “peaceful”. Interesting, because the man seems anything but peaceful.
As I watched him, he would glance around the room at the people, never gazing long at anyone. I made eye contact with him a few times and began to see what was in his soul. He is envious of the others as they eat and visit together while he sits alone. Yet his religion isolates him from the very thing his soul is drawn to.
He got up from his table, stuffing his aluminum wrapped food into a bag hanging from his walker, walked over to a table of four and gruffly, loudly said something to them, to which they didn’t respond, except to stare at him. Turning away he shuffled out of the room….lonely still because of his manner.
My heart goes out to him. I would like to say to him, “What has your god done for you? You are alone, your health is gone from you, your end is in sight and you have no one who cares for you.”
Religion is a terrible thing. It assures you that all is well, you are on the right track and heaven awaits you when you die. It is false assurance which leads to a place prepared for the accuser and his angels.
The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob is the only true God. He does have a Son, and that Son became a man, Yeshua of Nazaret. He is the door to Heaven, there is no other way. It grieves the heart of the Father that people refuse to walk in the way that He willed. He has done everything He could to make His will, His way and His Word known to mankind, yet there are those who choose religion over relationship.
Every religion is based upon works. If you do, you can be, and you can have whatever they promise. Relationship with God is strictly based upon what Jesus did for you, you cannot add anything to it, nothing. It is so simple a child can understand it.
Religion blinds the eyes of the spirit and keeps the blinders tightly closed over them.
Religions blocks the ears of the spirit from hearing the good news that the price for your soul has been paid through the bloody sacrifice of Jesus over 2000 years ago and you can enter into His rest through faith.
Religion promises you Heaven, but keeps you from your desired destination.
The power of agreement is virtually unknown to most of mankind. You will become like the one you agree with. You will take upon yourself much of the thinking, much of the behavior of those you are around on a regular basis. Adaptation is inevitable unless you are under the influence of a spirit, whether the Holy Spirit of God or a spirit of the adversary.
Saleem, “peaceful” one, what kind of peace is the experience of such a one? False peace.
There are two kinds of real peace. There is peace with God that comes to a person who turns from sin, from his own way of doing and being, to embrace God’s way of doing and being.
Then, there is the peace of God that comes to someone, who is in the process of getting to know the God of all peace, who is at the same time bringing their mind, will and emotions into subjection to the Holy Spirit of God.
God’s peace brings rest for the soul. There are also many believers in Jesus, who have never entered into God’s rest, the still strive to be what they believe they should be. I have a friend that says of these, “They always think, ‘shoulda, woulda’, coulda’.” True.
Friends, I trust that I have provoked you to think about religion versus relationship. God, my Father, would have all men to be saved and come to know the truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the answer to every question, the hope for every desire and the love of your life when all others have failed you. Come to the Father through the Son.