For the record, I am not a Christian hater. I applaud any who seek spiritual awareness and understanding to empower themselves in whatever way best resonates. Some of us feel comfortable, accepted, and vibrate collectively with a congregation, others through spiritual study and practice be it one of the Eastern, Native American, Judaism, etc. religions. The five (5) major religions according to someone out there are Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and New Age. I am opposed to the “New Age” moniker, which I have said before. There really is nothing ‘new’ about it. As long as a religion or belief system focuses on the Divine Source, what others think of as God, and seeks to learn, grow, and become more like God, I’m in favor. As soon as hate creeps in and we segregate, or worse, begin to harm others, it ceases to be a religion, or spiritual endeavor, seeking God.
There is a billboard as you merge onto the major Interstate in my area that reads, “Real Christians Obey the Teachings of Jesus” Absurd statement, not to mention arrogant. I have met a few ‘real Christians’ here and there, but none that would make the above statement with a serious face. How many ‘teachings’ are there? Is there a scorecard? There is a great article in the Huffington Post on the four (4) teachings of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of the author, which is not to say these 4 are all of the teachings, but they are definitely worth pondering.
#1. Jesus alone brings life, not the Bible. In other words, relationship with God, since Jesus is God in the flesh. We can memorize all the scripture we want, but if we don’t internalize God’s essence, the purity of love, and purpose to live it out, what is the point?
#2. We get to heaven by doing. Hmmm…..Nope. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do you?
#3. Jesus didn’t condemn. How many sermons are centered around condemnation? Seems there are lots of ‘Christians” determining who and what is acceptable to God and handing out guilty verdicts, yet Jesus did not condemn. From my understanding of the Bible, Jesus was harsh with those religious leaders who did the condemning.
#4. Love your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Do we?
The Bible was written by men. The words are theirs, and were carefully chosen. The words and teachings we attribute to God and Jesus were man’s attempt to control others through intimidation, manipulation, and fear. Rest assured, God and Jesus still shine through, and most often in opposition to man’s teachings.
Christian means ‘Christ-like’, which is partly why I choose not to claim the designation. I am fully aware I am not like Christ, and it’s not that I don’t try, but humans are fallible. From my experiences inside the walls, there are plenty who claim the title and flaunt it like a sparkling 10 carat cubic zirconia. And, to be fair, there are some who seem to be living a Christ-like life, yet are quick to admit they are woefully human. I have respect for those few.
At the end of the day, I believe there is room for all who choose relationship with God, with the Divine Creator, and no way is better, or more ‘right’ than another as long as we seek to love. Therein is my criticism of organized religion. The long-held belief that only ‘Christians’ go to heaven, ‘Christianity is the only true religion, and all others, along with their followers, be damned. I have never heard anyone seeking spirituality say the same, however. Those who seek to journey with God and do so in their own way allow others the same. Seems more reasonable to me. We don’t all have to agree on everything and don’t all need to think exactly alike; within the differences we can learn from one another, grow, and become more like God…..