I wish to join all people of good will to thank God for the exemplary leadership of the late Metroplan Yona Lwanga. He endeavoured to serve and unite people under the Orthodox Church in Uganda, the Interreligious Council of Uganda, Uganda Joint Christian Council and Bible Society of Uganda.
I recall visiting him in Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, in 2015, with other members of the Board of Governors of Bible Society of Uganda. His prophetic voice on nation-building has been loud and clear.
Mindful of this, I wish to underscore the importance of religion in uniting people, rather than dividing them, as some circles claim. Pitifully, some politicians are using the latter accusation to weaken religious institutions, as if secularism will unite.
Human beings are religious by nature, because we acknowledge our physical and spiritual reality. The word religion (Latin- religio), means to bind to God. If a religion does not teach how to directly link with God, to love, respect, and have regard for all others as pertaining to Him, then it can hardly be called religion. Good religion nurtures unity with God, unity with oneself and unity other human beings; bad religion divides (Galatians 3:20).
Good religion makes us understand that God is great and we are subordinate. God is our greatest friend and provider (Matthew 6:26). The ultimate purpose of religion is to regain our love for God and to return to God. This means that we rise above earthly desires and designations and transcend material life (James 1:27).
Good religion invites us to honour whatever is worthy of honour and whatever level of universal truth is found in any other culture and religion. People who show their love for their own religion by hating all others, will spiritually stagnate and cause disharmony and quarrels between those of their religion and those of others. Indeed, people who know the least about something are also the most fearful about what they do not understand.
Being open-minded to learning about other religions will actually increase our understanding of God. We will, then, see that we are all spiritual brothers and sisters of the same Supreme Father. To practically see the Divinity of God in all, without judgmental bias or prejudice, is the true way to establish peace and harmony on earth.
It is natural that religions of the world may become disunited because of the external differences in regard to language, rituals, posture, clothing, food, behaviour, worship and traditions, but it is very improper that there should be quarrel among them on the grounds of this disunion. Religion is not a matter of outward observation, but an inward process of transformation and development (Luke 17:20-21).
We should, as mature servants of God, think that the religion of others still holds the same worship of the same God.
Thus, by understanding how we are all spiritually related, we will find no difficulty in harmoniously working together and helping one another to understand the laws of God and advance accordingly. Unfortunately, before we reach this advanced stage, we easily embrace a blind and fanatical allegiance to a particular process of religious expression rather than attachment to real love for God.
God does not favour one sect or religion over another, but monitors one’s sincerity, devotion, surrender, and willingness to love Him and others. In order to show His concern, God sends not just one but as many messengers and representatives as it takes to help guide and deliver all beings from material existence. “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
May God’s servant, Yona Lwanga, rest in eternal peace. Amen.