I was influenced by teachings of conservative churches I attended growing up. Some of my views changed over the years when I sensed certain teachings did not portray what I think God is really like. I don’t doubt I would have gone on the same journey if I had attended so-called liberal churches. Religions are hell-bent in telling people certain “truths” must be believed to have a relationship with God. I stopped going to church when I couldn’t fit it, but that isn’t the path for all. Each must find their own environments that encourage the pursuit of spirituality.
I can accept one who denies spirituality is important if not an excuse to lead a self-centered life at the expense of others. But, I am convinced relationships are more likely to thrive when one seeks to loves others as they want to be loved. There will be times when we act unlovable and hopefully others will go the extra mile with us without necessarily excusing our behavior. We then must do the same for others. The truth is that relationships are hard work and when one seeks only to be served, it is difficult to have hope for such a relationship.
For years my blogs assumed people might not follow God because how others portrayed God according to the Bible. It is difficult to follow a God one can’t respect. We don’t have to believe everything we hear! I now think a lot more about those who didn’t grow up in the church or the Bible is not really a part of their consideration. We mustn’t assume that one can’t be spiritual if they don’t believe in God, read the Bible, or don’t attend a church, synagogue, or mass.
Many parents believed in God and so that is why we children believe in God. Family hypocrisy can also explain one rebelling against God. Some may simply not believe in God because it just hasn’t been a part of the environments they have grown up in. Many may not believe in God because it is difficult getting their head around the idea of having a relationship with an invisible Being. Regardless if you believe in a God or not, I don’t think we can deny the importance of living a life loving others like we want to be loved to change the world for the better.
Many who may believe in a God hear views of God that deter them from pursing a deeper relationship with God. Think for yourself! Views of God according the Bible are subject to interpretation. Some believe the Bible teaches hierarchical relationship in marriage while others believe the Bible teaches egalitarianism. Some believe the Bible teaches Hell is a real place where people go after death if not believing in God. Others believe the Bible doesn’t teach such a place exists. You are free to reject any characteristics of God claimed by others and explore your own views. Consider that God’s love may compare to perfect, human, parenting love that we desire.
I am not willing to “die on a hill” and I am not convinced Jesus was either to assume certain truths must be accepted before pursing spirituality. Jesus’ closest friends didn’t believe in His resurrection, so some 2000 years later one may question such a historical event. I am unwilling to insist God inspired the entire Bible because it can’t be proved. The writers may have penned their own views of God. God respects such freedom but this doesn’t make the entire Bible corrupt. God never intended a Book to replace a relationship with our Creator. There are no sacred beliefs one must accept if interfering with the desire to love your neighbors as yourself.
Bible believers can’t help but notice what God and Jesus confronted the most. God in the Old Testament didn’t declare war on those who simply refused to believe in the Jewish God. God has always respected one’s freedom of beliefs if not violating the rights of others. No parent believes forcing their child to love them leads to acceptance and intimacy. The Israelites engaged in war with God’s approval against nations that were simply evil. You can believe in any God you want but if that God insist you sacrifice children to appease them, as OT gods did, God can’t just stand by. If your next door neighbor is sexually abusing their child, are you going to stand against evil?
I am not sure if there were many non-religious folks in biblical times but Jesus certainly didn’t seek them out. Jesus’ biggest confrontations were with those who believed in God, who attended religious meetings, and probably prayed often. Religious leaders had views of God that were not Jesus’ views. Religious leaders insisted that God had certain beliefs you must believe in to be accepted by God. Nope! Jesus did speak out against many immoralities because He sought to protect those less fortunate such as the poor. Selfishness impacts the one being selfish and those they interact with.
I don’t think it is worth dying on a hill for any belief or supposed truth except for loving others as you want to be loved. I believe that is what Jesus died for – to inspire all to be the kind of person we deep down desire to be. Jesus came to convey God only desires to encourage and support us acting in ways for our best interest in the long-run. You don’t believe in God. Okay! If I believe there is a God I should have enough confidence God can convince those who want to know. You don’t believe all the things the Bible says about God. You may be right! You don’t believe you have to be religious to be spiritual. Amen! Simply consider how to live for the sake of those you love and for a better world.