In my hometown, we have a farmer’s market. When you walk into the giant covered pavilion, many vendors have booths set up, selling every ware from food and drink to handmade crafts. Once you get there, you can pick and choose what fruits, vegetables, beverages, and extras that you like. Most marketplaces – whether they’re markets or seasonal craft fairs – are structured in this way.

Another slightly unconventional, but effective type of marketplace is probably even more common in the city or town you live in: the buffet. Once you arrive at the restaurant of your choice and are seated at a table, you eagerly line up, grab a clean plate, and pick and choose what food you like and how much of it that you want. It’s a “marketplace” of sorts that can be of benefit to you – in a different format, but the idea is the same.

Did you know that it’s entirely possible to view religion as a whole as a marketplace? Some people have the tendency to pick and choose their “favorite parts” of any religion – not just within the Christian faith – and apply it to their belief system. However, as great as this sounds at first, there is danger in this line of thinking. Let’s dive into the idea of a “religious marketplace” and look at how we can handle this ideology as we walk Heavenward.

The Bible is not meant to be picked apart for the “best” content that we prefer; it’s to be used in its entirety to guide our lives.

Let’s go back to the buffet idea. You have your favorite foods, so naturally, you put more of those on your plate as opposed to the foods you don’t like as much, if at all. However, we can’t treat our faith in the same manner. Did God tell Moses to pick two or three of his favorite commandments out of the ten He gave him on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17)? Or was he to deliver all of the commandments to the Israelites? Though the commandment to honor one’s father and mother is the commandment with a promise attached (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2), every commandment is of equal importance. For example, it’s just as important to not covet your neighbor’s possessions as it is not to commit adultery. Therefore, we need to treat all of God’s commands for us – all outlined in His Word – as equally important, because that’s precisely how He views them. And if we view His commandments for us as He does, we’ll see the importance and reverence in the act of obeying those commandments.

Also, we should not allow ourselves to be swayed by the ideals of other religions, no matter how inherently “good” they seem on the surface. We should serve our one God and our one God alone.

Think of Elijah for a moment and his dealings with the prophets and followers of Baal, as told in 1 Kings 18:20-40. He made it very clear through his demonstration of God’s presence that God did in fact exist (1 Kings 18:30-39), and that belief in other gods wasn’t worth it in the end. This lesson ultimately cost the followers of Baal their lives (1 Kings 18:40), because they placed their complete, undeterred faith in a god that didn’t exist to begin with.

Now, think of all the religions – and sects of these religions – that exist today. Some of these religions promote peace. This doesn’t sound all that bad at first, considering that the Bible does encourage peace (Titus 3:2) Does it sound appealing to get a “fresh perspective” from another ideology? It can, but not when adopting the parts that “sound good” from other religions could potentially put our eternity at risk. It’s made very clear in scripture that we cannot serve two masters, so why should we try to take bits and pieces of anyone else’s ideology and mix it with the perfect gifts of salvation and the Gospel message that God has already given us?

At the end of the day, we’re to serve the one true, living God who created us and gave us life. To do anything less would be a great disservice to both Him and us, and we would be doing such a disservice if we choose to either pick and choose our “favorite parts” within our faith, or grabbing “favorite parts” from other religions. We don’t need to pick apart the aspects of our faith that we prefer over others; rather, we need to embrace His will for us as it is, and as a whole. When we do so, we’ll be able to walk with God and believe in a greater capacity than we ever thought possible.

By Savannah Cottrell