We have a problem. Many would agree spirituality is important as defined below, but such conversations are rare or taboo. One reason I think people are less inclined to discuss spiritual issues openly is because God-folks don’t have conversations without agendas and their view of the God of the Bible is standoffish and may not be what God is really like. I am convinced becoming more spiritual brings peace of mind and is essential for a better world.
Most religious leaders define spirituality as loving others like you want to be loved. Christians may be even surprised this was Jesus’ message along with how God could help us in such a journey. Also, in a broken world we must consider how to love others who have hurt us. Relationships may never heal if we never go the extra mile. Such a definition can allow people to encourage one another in this endeavor. Some seek to justify their self-centeredness or immorality, but most friends would agree with the importance of living a more selfless life.
Many who have grown up in the church will not agree with my definition of spirituality, but I have grown weary of barriers that prevent such discussions. I don’t wish to discourage anyone in their beliefs about God, but more may be open to living a more focused, spiritual life without all the baggage added. Places of worship that aren’t extreme in their beliefs tend to have a positive influence on those who attend, but one doesn’t always notice great differences in relationships such as marriage of those who do and don’t attend a formal setting for worship.
I am convinced the following are important changes we must make in our thinking if we are to encourage others to become more spiritual. The main challenge is to not necessarily define spirituality in “God” terms and certainly not in “God of the Bible” terms. Often, we never get to “so how should we live” because of debates about such beliefs. It is true actions can flow from beliefs but I don’t believe there are any excuses for lack of spirituality or selfishness. If there is a Creator, such a Creator is capable of making themselves known to individuals. If you can’t buy into the whole Jesus and Bible thing, don’t throw Jesus’ message out as well.
- It is suspect that the Christian God insists on belief of the God of the Bible when the majority of people who have been born and died on this earth had no written knowledge of such a God. Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God through Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. The truth is one’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is based on the family born into whether be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.
- It is suspect that a loving God judges people based on decisions and beliefs in the short time here on earth. Do we really think a thief is going to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus hanging on Cross right before their last breathe? If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times. One may be able to believe either in a God, a wiser Reality greater than them, or that living less self-centered lives than more self-centered lives is the higher priority.
- Spiritual minded people who wish to encourage others in their spirituality must get out of the conversion business. People don’t need to be converted to a certain religion or set of beliefs; people need to be encouraged to have conversations how to love in their relationships. If God truly exist God can draw anyone to themselves if so desired. Jesus’ only agenda was to convince people to listen to their heart. God-folks especially must be open to considering other opinions gracefully, so one can work out their own convictions. It is manipulative when spiritual folks engage in relationships other than for friendship or desires to help one how they wished to be helped.
- It may surprise many of the Christian faith that when Jesus was asked how to obtain eternal life, He simply said to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Jesus didn’t attach certain sacred beliefs as clear in His interactions with individuals, and Jesus didn’t have in mind perfection or God is going to be mighty lonely. Jesus didn’t insist the woman caught in adultery believe He was God but simply to do what she knew was right in her heart and leave her life of sin (Jn. 8:1-11). Jesus wasn’t passing out get-out-of-hell-free cards when quoted: “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Jesus was only warning that selfishness leads to regret and destruction. The narrower path – loving others as we wish to be loved – leads to true freedom.
- Jesus main message was to encourage unselfishness for our own best interest, but Jesus too wanted us to know about God. Jesus including loving God when asked about eternal life because Jesus believed that loving God is being empowered to love others to the fullest. Jesus wanted others to know their Creator will never give up loving us and forgiving us in doing good and shunning evil. Jesus believed there was nothing in one’s past that God could not love and forgive us. Jesus believed a relationship with God helped one to love others while also making amends with others when needed.
- The manuscript reliability of all ancient literature is far less than the Old and New Testament, but we don’t question Julius Caesar’s recorded exploits in the Gallic Wars. The Bible though was never meant to be a Book of rules but stories about God to reflect on what God is really like. Jesus when leaving this earth didn’t promise to leave us with a Bible but His Spirit so we might be able to discern evil from good (Jn. 14:16). God never intended a Book to replace our relationship with God. The Bible’s main message is crystal clear, but interpretations of writings thousands of years ago are fallible and we can’t ask the writer for clarification.
- Spirituality should not be confused with debatable views of God or being religious and attending religious services. Being spiritual isn’t being Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, etc. Find people who encourage one another in striving continually to love others as well as going the extra mile in relationships. Change only happens sometimes when spiritual minded folks take the first step. Look for people who can help in handling personal disappointments along your journey.
Do you agree that the world needs a lot more people who discuss and become more spiritual by loving others as they want to be loved? Make being spiritual a constant endeavor and know how to get back on track when discouraged. My view of God’s love for me does this for me. Identify any problems, such as certain views of God that may be erroneous, in making spirituality more of a focus in your life. Honestly, I don’t think there are any legitimate excuses for being self-centered. I am convinced becoming more spiritual bring peace of mind and is essential for a better world.