There seems to be no end to religions around the world. Whether one travels to the centers of governments with all it politicians and military powers, to the most scientifically advanced universities, to the most back-woods hick town in the Louisiana swamps or the most dangerous and isolated regions of the Amazon guarded by murderous headhunters — regrettably, there is no end to religions around the world.
How does a regional religion begin? Possibly through fear — people devising methods of appeasing the Dark Forces which are imagined to accompany the world’s troubles. All humanity lives in a world of darkness and death; in places where even the word “taxes” has never been uttered, there is still something more sure… death. And there’s no way for the natural curiosity of people who watch others die (especially loved ones) without their speculating on what happened to “the person” who had been conscious and alive moments prior to death. Where did that person go? Did that person cease to exist? Is there something that can be accomplished during this temporal lifetime that can positively affect what happens to the person who now is gone?
If human beings throughout the world were left with no more information than what they could observe with their various senses, religions would still be devised, and they’d be constructed with the presumption that the afterlife would be something like the temporal life had been. After all — people cannot imagine any world or environment other than something similar to that which they’ve previously experienced. So, for millennia, corpses have buried with favorite possessions, trinkets, weapons, pots filled with honey or grain and other items of value for use in that Other Land, which is generally considered a place like that in which we live — whether more or less hospitable.
But humans are not left with merely their human senses by which they can evaluate That Which Lies Beyond the Vail of Death — Humans have a “built-in communicator” that reaches across that dark wall of death to Life on the Other Side. All humans, every human has this built-in “communicator”.
This “communicator” isn’t very sophisticated. It has no “instruction manual” but it operates with every human being who’s ever existed or will exist, with or without another human “coach” or “instructor” involved. There’s no “on” switch (though apparently there may be an “off” switch!) And through this “communicator”, a minimal but sufficient amount of information is passed from one side of the Great Divide of Worlds to any and every human being in all existence.
The earliest evidence of this “communicator” in action is seen in ancient Hebrew literature. Never mind the tales of First Man and First Woman “walking daily in the Garden with God” — there is an even more explicit incident drawn from tales of those Antediluvian Days: The story of Enoch, of whom it is said that he lived in the seventh generation after Adam.
What is recorded of Enoch (little as it is) in Hebrews 11.5,6, is that “Enoch had pleased God well” — and because of having gained God’s favor, God “transferred” Enoch directly from the kingdom of Darkness which makes up this troubled world of ours, directly across the barrier of Death without Enoch having to die — taking him (as it were) from life into Life. One day, as Enoch “walked about with God”, it says God “took him by the hand and carried him away, and he was no longer on earth.” [Genesis 5.22-24]
Stories that last throughout the ages do so because within such lies a seed, an idea, or some wisdom which each generation wants passed on to the next generation — even (as in this instance) for thousands of generations. And in Enoch’s story is found the Key to that which resides within any and every human being; something that reaches across death to Life on the Other Side. In a sense, it might be argued that there isn’t anything that “resides within” a person that can “reach across”, but that there is Something already on the Other Side — in the Life after death — that reaches back across the wall of death to engage every person who’s ever lived. Enoch’s story tells us this must be true, especially with one final detail of that account.
In Hebrews, it says of Enoch that (prior to God transferring him) Enoch had implored his fellow human beings to believe, along with him, a simple truth having two parts: (1) God exists, and (2) He rewards those who crave to seek Him and know Him.
There isn’t a land on earth, no period of history, no culture, and certainly no environment where any individual human cannot do that which Enoch did. Slave or free, rich or poor, Mensa or feeble-minded — every human being has the ability to sense the reach of That Which Reaches Across from the Other Side. And every individual has a response… a two-fold response: first, they either choose to believe That Which Touches Them in an eternal sense exists and is real or that it doesn’t exist and isn’t real.
[A short rabbit-trail here: no primitive culture on earth has ever been discovered which does not have an implicit, generationally transmitted sense of the existence of a god or gods. The more a society develops intellectually and rationally, moving away from primeval stories and on into philosophies, societies have often, rationally persuaded themselves that there is no “god” or “gods” and frequently that there is no afterlife. Not all societies choose to believe this — this agnosticism or atheism is more often a sign of the more “highly civilized” cultures…
But throughout the world as a whole, when questioned, most people still choose to believe there is some sort of afterlife and an Entity Which governs an existence on the Other Side of Death. Even in “highly civilized” societies as in the U.S.A., the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Germany and possibly even France, the majority of “man on the street” interviews find people believing in the existence of a god of some sort. (Great rabbit-trail… now, back to the main point…)]
Every person who has ever existed responds to That Which Touches Them in an eternal sense: first, they either choose to believe that a god exists and is real or that no god exists; second, for those who choose to believe that some god (about Whom they know virtually nothing) is either good and can be confidently trusted with one’s life and will in some sense reward them in this life and especially after physical death — or they believe some god exists but can’t be trusted. Possibly this untrustworthy “god” or “gods” is wicked, frightening, or even demonic.
Enoch had broken down the potentialities of Life and Death into two, fundamental categories. He put it simply: either a person (1) chooses to believe or not believe that God exists, and (2) chooses to believe or not believe this God rewards (now and later) those who crave to seek Him and know Him.
Since the story of Enoch (from thousands of generations ago) includes the phrase that Enoch “walked about” on an ongoing, daily basis with God, this embeds into the story the concept of Relationship… It proposes that a person who believes God exists and that He is good (a “rewarder” of those who desire Him), is able to actually enter into a personal Relationship with this Being Who Exists on Both Sides of the Barrier of Death.
People today commonly speak of “religious experiences” (corrupted by misinformation and temporal fantasies as these are) as requiring “faith”. Subsequently, “faith” is fraudulently described as “believing in something for which there is no evidence” or even “a leap into the darkness of the Unknown” (which is further evidence of the ridiculous positions philosophy can take people’s minds.) Enoch would have laughed in derision at such ideas.
Why? Because Enoch had evidence. In his confident search for this Being he knew existed, he’d entered into a Relationship with this Person. Rather than “leaping intodarkness”, the story of Enoch tells of a human being who “leapt” — but he “leapt” into the Hands of a God great enough to take him from this world into the Next. That’s not “blind faith” but a confidence based upon the evidence of having come to know this Being.
Considering that this primordial story has lasted for centuries, it’s not foolish to take the elements of this story seriously and with some reflection, to consider on an individual — a personal — basis as to whether you have considered Enoch’s Choice: do you believe that God exists, and if He does exist, that He will reward you with Life now and hereafter?
Again, drawing from Enoch’s Tale, if you reflect on these two propositions and decide you agree with them, then nothing remains but for you to begin (or continue) to pursue knowing this Everlasting Person on an individual basis. If these things are not only ancient but True, it could prove the Beginning of a Very Wonderful Relationship!