As a passionate worshipper of Jesus Christ and growing up in a family strongly rooted in Christian beliefs, the thought of a different perspective on religion seemed trivial to me. Who wouldn’t believe in the man who was God in the flesh, endured tremendous torture, and ultimately gave his life so that our sins would be forgiven? I would soon find out as my church journey took me to a place I never thought I would go. At confirmation class one Wednesday evening, my youth leader informed us we would be visiting a Jewish synagogue to experience how others in our community worship.Order now
The thought of entering a place full of people devoted to a religion that was different than mine completely bewildered me. The bus ride there was full of wandering thoughts and preconceived notions of this mysterious place. We pulled up and the building was absolutely beautiful, almost like something that belonged in a magazine. Outside the huge wooden doors, which seemed to be twice the size of my 6’7” brother, waited a man with a robe and a little hat covering only the tip of his head.
He welcomed us with a polite hello and held the door as each wide-eyed child meandered through. To the left and right, baskets were filled with those same hats that the man who greeted us was wearing. We learned that these hats were called yarmulkes and were usually worn by men, which is a Jewish tradition. Each row of the synagogue was lined with visiting people and Torah’s. The service began with harmonious voices and silent prayers, similar to how my church service begins.
Throughout the service, the rabbi taught lessons of faith, blessed the congregation, and sometimes spoke in a strange language that I couldn’t quite understand. Near the end of the service, offerings, called Korbanot, were fulfilled and a reading from The Torah was given. In the midst of the service, I realized that although their beliefs are different than mine, we all have something in common; we worship a gracious and loving God who never fails us even when we continue to fail him.
After the service, we all loaded back on the bus and my youth minister began asking us what we thought or if it was what we expected. There was a synchronized head shake as all of the kids on the bus agreed it was far from what we expected. I think we also agreed on the feeling of regret we had due to how judgmental we were towards people who practice a different religion, which is the exact opposite of what God wants us to do. This experience has left me forever changed in the fact that I now understand how much greater faith is than religion.
On a daily basis we judge the people around us because of their label, religion, or ideas and how they are different than our own, but what really matters is our devotion to God. Religion was created based on a set of rules on how you’re supposed to act and disguise yourself to show people on the outside, but God wants to truly change what’s on the inside. Everything that people do for religion is for show and tell, not focusing on dedicating everything they have to the man who gave it all. I believe this experience truly opened my eyes to what accepting Christ into your life is all about.