by Rev. Dr. Paul McCullough
I am a Christian man. I’ve believed in God for as long as I can possibly remember and I can’t imagine my life without God in the middle of it. This is never something I wanted to hide, but my religious persuasion is now abundantly clear to anyone who receives written correspondence from me, as the title of “Reverend” has preceded my name for the last three years. My hope is that when people see this credential, they would know that I am person that believes in hope, forgiveness, and love. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that so many people have been the victim of hurtful words or actions from those who profess to be Christians, that my designation can sometimes push people away without me ever saying a word.
Since 595 BC, wars have been fought and blood has been shed in the name of religion. Including during the time of Jesus, people have been obsessed with following religious laws, rather than a relationship with the God of the universe. I do not believe this is what God intended for us. Do I believe the exact same things as people who practice their faith differently? No, of course not, but this does not mean that I cannot show them love. In fact, I have multiple friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. Although there have occasionally been times when we disagree about certain aspects of our faith, people of all faiths should be able to agree on the goodness and value of the most basic human emotion – love. On occasion, when people speak bad about me because of my faith, I remember the words of Jesus, “If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get?”
Our nation has become painfully divided in many areas, but one of the clearest lines of demarcation is that of faith. In this digital age of TikTok videos and viral social media posts, it has become far too easy to make hateful comments and go about your business. However, I suggest there is a better way. When a person has a different opinion than you, look for common ground. Find something to love about that person and actively work to unite with that individual, rather than place a wedge between you.
Our country has some deeply rooted problems that have existed for generations. I believe we can only solve these problems when we stop focusing on what divides us, whether that is our religious or political beliefs, and instead utilize our varied backgrounds, personalities, and abilities as a source of strength. Throughout my time in the military, I’ve had the great privilege of serving with people of all faiths. All that mattered is that the person to your left and right would “have your back” in combat. Let’s do the same in civil society to bring about healing.