22Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
23Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ 24But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
25“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
28When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
So Jesus goes home, and his old neighbors try to kill him. Why?
The point Jesus made, or perhaps it is better said that God made throughout the centuries, is that affiliation with a religious group, even a group that God himself has declared his own, isn’t what matters. We’ve carried this fight on since long before Jesus and it will go on till Jesus comes back. You can’t go through the motions, sign the right forms, say the right things or be with the right people and expect God to honor that.
God sees the heart.
When you read about Elijah and the widow or Naaman and Elisha, there is no indication the widow or Naaman had any idea who God was. Perhaps they did, but both certainly came from cultures that were polytheist it would have been very unlikely. So what did God see in their hearts? We can’t really say for sure, but he ignored their religious affiliation.
So does that mean all religions lead to God? I don’t think that’s possible since every religion I’ve ever looked at is the opposite of Christianity and two opposites cannot both be correct at the same time and in the same way. So what is going on here? What does matter?
When we raise our children we require different actions at different ages. When a 3 month old baby bites it’s mother, the mother gently moves the baby away and probably even giggles. When a 3 year old child bites it’s mother, it is likely in very big trouble. God is like a good mother. He judges people based on what they know. He can see the heart of people. He knows and understands what they know and what they are motivated by. He hears their thoughts in the middle of the night.
He can judge the heart, we can only judge actions. He can read minds, we cannot.
I’m not say there is not differences in religions. I believe most were created by the devil himself. I think we can judge the reasonableness of a religion based on logic and it is ok to say some religions are false. It’s ok to say some actions are wrong. But we can in no way shape or form say that each individual practitioner of any religion or that everyone who commits any particular act, is condemned to Hell. We can’t see the heart. That is for God alone and we are called to love everyone. It is also why we are called to defend till our last breath the freedom of religion.
So if the heart is what really matters, and you can’t know other people’s hearts, the lesson is to be sure your heart is right with God.