A Journey of Truth…..Leaving Fear-Based Religion Behind

I am a seeker of truth and wisdom, and have spent the better part of my adult life on a journey for higher truth. The interesting thing about journeys is that often there are bends and twists in the road, sometimes we detour as the road less traveled beckons and the journey becomes an adventure.

In my nineteenth year I attended a religious crusade and left a born-again, saved Christian. Not altogether sure what that meant, I did feel differently, refreshed, and as luck would have it, fell headlong into the Charismatic theology by virtue of marriage. Immersed in this exciting twist on the rote religion of my childhood, I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. Any number of events were likely to happen on any given Sunday; prophesy, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, people being slain in the spirit, in other words, falling out under the power. Praise and worship was fresh, not the dusty tunes retrieved from the catacombs found in every hymnal in the country, not that I think that’s a bad thing, just boring at times. Let’s face it, the majority of the hymns aren’t the liveliest melodies known to man.

Over the years I studied, prayed, listened, and asked questions. The more questions I asked, the more questions I had, and the crazy thing is the answers didn’t always make sense to me, which usually ended with, “it will all make sense in heaven”, or some similar response. But, I didn’t want to wait for an answer, and more importantly, most of the whole didn’t resonate with me; it felt like a puzzle where the pieces didn’t quite fit together so the puzzle-builder pushed and squished the pieces together so they kinda-sorta fit together, but not really. No one else I knew seemed to have the questions I did, and they seemed pretty content swallowing doctrine that didn’t make sense to me, so I concluded I was the oddball, God’s problem child.

An abusive relationship and life got in the way, so I put aside the questions in an effort to merely survive. Once out of the relationship, and mad at God, which is another story, God and I found tolerable ground and we declared a truce, of sorts. The truce became the journey I am on, and here we are today, still journeying with God although we took a detour.

Before I go any further I need to be clear; I am not a church-hater. I think for many the safety of church life is necessary, comfortable, and easy. Lots of people sit in pews week after week and then go about their daily lives keeping the two separate. Some earnestly seek God trying to understand the deeper truths, doing their best to live lives within the boundaries of the Bible and church doctrine, some just like to belong to a group. All are welcome, or so they say. The truth is that all are not welcome; those of us who poke and prod, who are judged as not fitting in, as not having enough faith, or just plain being trouble-makers are not welcome, not really. And so, we fall away, some for good, and some looking for God elsewhere, outside the church walls, and, hold onto your hat, He does exist outside the church walls!

Being outside the church walls has been a blessing for me. The journey, much like that of the ancients who have passed before me, those without advantage of church walls, doctrine, theology-educated pastors, has brought me to the place I am today; a place of deeper and broader understanding of God, of life, of people, and of myself. Free of doctrine that was confusing, suffocating, limiting and most of all, fear-based, I am able to see myself through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of the church, or the world, a view devoid of judgments, thou shalt-nots, and shoulds. It’s not a journey that all can or want to take, but all are welcome on the journey; it is a journey of self-discovery, gratitude, forgiveness, and most of all love; learning to love self and others through the eyes of God, and not through the harsh lens of the church and the world.

The teachings and doctrines of western Christianity are fear-based. A founding tenet of fundamental, Bible-based churches is the need for salvation. Why? Because in their eyes we are born corrupt, evil, we are subject to a “fallen nature” before even one breath is drawn. The “Sinner’s Prayer is a mea culpa of sorts; it’s my fault, I’m guilty, I’m not worthy, and so we come to Jesus asking forgiveness for all of our sins, faults, flaws, we are in need of forgiveness for being human. The purpose of salvation is the avoidance of hell, we gain entrance into heaven through confession of unworthiness, some even go so far as stating that without salvation we are deserving of eternal damnation. If that isn’t fear-based I don’t know what is.

Studying church history and reading the Bible through the eyes of a loving God I have come to a radically different conclusion than what the church teaches. Man has meddled in the texts that became the sixty-six books we know as the Bible. The meddling, by and large, is a result of man’s insatiable, ego-driven, need to control, the desire for personal power, leading to the development of man-made rules and boundaries not necessarily in line with the mindset of God. The Bible declares that God is love, that He is merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive, that all are welcome in His kingdom, all are welcome to ask and receive, and yet man has decided that none of that is quite true, making God out to be a liar, a fabricator of half truths that reel us in only to find out that there is a high ladder reaching toward heaven we must climb to be considered worthy. Am I reading it wrong? I don’t think so.

In the beginning God declared all He created “good”, and yet somehow we became fallen, tainted beings, worthy of eternal punishment for being human, for exercising our free will and making a poor, ego-centered decision, in need of being rescued from eternal damnation through a spoken prayer. All who speak the prayer will be saved, but what of those who speak it out of fear, their heart motivation being skewed by the desire to avoid the fires of hell more than establishing a relationship with Jesus?

Rapidly approaching my 60th year on planet earth, well in a few years anyway, I am done with fear-based theology. No longer do I choose to be held captive by man’s hellfire and brimstone teachings, nor do I choose to be elevated above others. That’s the other side of the coin of western fundamental Christianity; those who believe themselves to be the chosen of God, worthy of elevated status by virtue of the Sinner’s prayer, the us/them mentality that looks down on those outside the church walls, those who say they accept and love but judge nonetheless based on their set of standards that are not accepting or loving in the least. What I have chosen is to live a spiritual existence, in communion with God, the Universal Light, the Creator, the label we attach inconsequential; an existence living in communion and seeing others through the eyes of love and not judgment, an existence that acknowledges the worth and value of the whole of creation, not just a select few, on a journey to bring God to those who need to know He is a God of love and mercy, compassion and acceptance, a God who declared His creation good, and still believes in the goodness of all…..

Creation….A Last Thought……For Now!

Supposing the Bible is a collection of stories, allegorical teaching, poems, and the like, what can we learn from the story of creation?

“In the beginning God created….” All religions, and the vast majority of spiritual teachers and seekers believe there to be a Creator, a Universal Life Force, a Higher Intelligence that existed before man, and was responsible, in some way, for creation. I was never a proponent of the “Big Bang” theory, or the “we are star stuff” mindset, mainly because at its core is the thought all things were formed by so many atoms and gases swirling around and bumping into one another creating life. I don’t believe the existence of life to be that random. Created by extraterrestrials? No, I can’t swallow that either. I prefer to be more simple-minded.

Creation, according to the Bible, began with a thought leading to the spoken word; the thought and word became matter, created things, and the things were declared “good”. God created man in His image and put man in the Garden. It is my contention that Eden was a Utopia of sorts, from our perspective, a place where thought became reality, Adam and Eve “walked” with God, in other words, they were one with Him on a spiritual level. Life was abundant all around the newly created beings, and they enjoyed their lives, living, learning, and breathing higher spiritual truths.

One day that all changed; evil does not exist apart from choice and Eve chose to exercise her right to choose. Here is another area I part ways with traditional church teaching; according to the Bible God handed out punishments, as it were. As sentient beings endowed with the ability to choose, we screw up, choose unwisely, make mistakes, and part of our mission on planet earth is to learn from those mistakes, to enable us to make better choices next time. Mistakes carry with them their own consequences, do they not?

The point of the Creation story is that there is a Creator, a God, a Universal Light or Power, we are not here by accident. The Garden represents a relationship with the Creator that was present before life on planet earth, and the relationship we will fully return to after we have completed our lifetime here. Adam and Eve lost that tight relationship with the Creator; Yeshua’s (Jesus) life and death on earth restored the relationship.

Down through history there have been those who walked closely with God; Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, the prophets, to name a few. These chosen few were enlightened, gave us glimpses of living an enlightened life, and all of them had faults, slipped up from time to time just like we do. The Creator, as well, in the form of Yeshua, came once again to walk among His creation; to give us the opportunity to learn from Him and He from us. Yeshua’s death restored the relationship Adam had lost; the relationship available to every person on the face of the earth, not just a chosen few. Enlightenment is for all of us, no longer do we need to be spectators in the game of life. The more I research church history, the more I read scripture, the more I am convinced that man adulterated what we have come to know as the Bible. Why? Power and control.

Man is comprised of an ego, and a soul, or spirit. The ego identifies with the physical body, the senses, and believes itself to be separate from others and God, is self-serving, hungry for personal power and control, and is the root of our fears, worry and anger; it also is the self-preservation part of ourselves which is needed from time to time, so it’s not always a bad thing. Judgment of others emanates from the ego self, as do stress, anxiety, our need to be right and not have our actions thoughts, and words questioned.  The soul is the higher self, connected to God, to Universal Wisdom. When we are spiritually awakened the higher self comes forward, much to the dismay of the ego. The higher self seeks wisdom and understanding from the Life Source, from God, desiring to live in peace and love, putting others before self. Adam and Eve were created and lived from the higher self in the Garden; the Garden representative of the free flow of communication with God, not necessarily a physical place. The ego came forward in the form of the serpent, as the story goes, and challenged Eve’s understanding of her oneness with God, the Creator. She faltered, as we all can and do, when ego feels threatened by the higher self, and she chose to listen to the serpent, the ego, instead of what she knew to be truth. The fall was merely the expression of man’s ego taking the lead, gaining the foreground when before they lived from the spirit, from the soul, the higher self in direct communion with God. In the Garden ego and the higher self existed in balance and we know this because evil, as it was called, or ego, does not exist without choice; choice was always there, subdued by the higher self. And that is the battle each of us faces; the battle between the ego and the higher self, said another way, if you like, the battle between good and evil. I believe the reason Adam and Eve were “kicked out” of the Garden was to protect mankind in the short and long run. The Tree of Life was immortality; God, the Universal Life Force was, is, and always will be, and only created and existed from a righteous standpoint, if you will, choosing only that which is good, but Adam and Eve had proven they could not successfully keep the ego subdued and consequently were capable of choosing self over spirit, evil over good. Immortality in that state would be chaos, at best! I realize this is a rather simplistic way to look at the overall picture, but words are limiting to adequately explain higher spiritual truth, at least for me at this moment!

I do not believe God punishes. Choice brings it’s own consequences, what some believe to be punishment. The battle between ego and spirit was now in full force within the first humans as evidenced by their awareness of being naked after choosing to follow ego instead of spirit; “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked.” (Genesis 3:7 The Complete Jewish Bible) Further, in Genesis 3:9-10  ADONAI, God, called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Separation; ego had usurped the place the soul, the spirit, had once held and fear crept in. Outside the place of spirit-centeredness Adam could no longer call forth what he needed, the Garden experience was gone, for now, and man would journey through life separate from God, separate from the Light and Life Source with whom he once walked in union. Living in abundance was outside his grasp and he would toil by the sweat of his brow. And so began man’s journey to return to the fullness of living from the spirit, living in the fullness of the image and reflection of his Creator…..