Religious people don’t always intentionally give religion a bad name but we do. The word religion doesn’t always ring a positive note in the minds of those who hear the word. If I replace the word religion with spirituality, negative connotations don’t often come to mind. True religion should inspire positive thoughts similar to true spirituality. I define true religion as loving others like you want to be love in good and bad times. For this discussion my definition will include a belief in a Reality beyond us that seeks to inspire such love.
The religious can give religion a bad name by insisting on certain beliefs necessary to be truly spiritual or even accepted by God.
Such beliefs have a way of communicating that God doesn’t accept them unless they come to share your personal beliefs. Unfortunately, the Bible has become a Book we tend to revere more than the God that the Book is about. The Bible was never meant to replace one’s relationship with God for comfort and guidance. Biblical scholars who respect the Bible don’t agree, but the religious insist on certain views rather than respecting one’s right to determine their own convictions in their relationship with God.
The religious sometimes insist the Bible defines roles between the sexes according to gender than individual gifts. I can assure you this means men are always in leadership or authoritative positions over women. The religious insist that the Genesis story must be read as literally or metaphorically. Both sides are guilty of close-mindedness despite PHDs on either side. Regardless of genre spiritual truths can be discerned but the religious insist on their views rather than discussing spiritual food for thought.
Catholics often insist their leaders can’t be married. Where does the Bible insist on this? Baptists insist on not drinking alcohol or participating in certain amoral activities. Where does the Bible insist on that? Religious folks separate into separate sects or Denominations led by certain doctrines that others are expected to believe in eventually. Sometimes the heresy word is thrown out. Religion ceases to be true religion when non-moral differences divide. Religious people share an understanding of a deeper Reality than themselves but divide into their different groups.
True religion doesn’t insist on any beliefs other than the Law of Love which entitles all to form their own personal beliefs as long as they don’t violate the rights of others.
True religion seeks to serve and not to be served. True, religious people don’t seek to convert others but to encourage one another as they strive to love others as themselves. True religion seeks to inspire others that unselfish love leads to personal freedom. For those who believe there is a God, we only want others to know God loves us in hopes we will feel empower to reflect such love back to others.
Many have a view of God that seems more tyrannical than loving. This impacts one’s motivation to seek guidance and support from their Creator. It is often implied that God demands obedience to a set of beliefs or else. This is how a tyrant acts. Tyrants have no interest in a relationship. They demand allegiance because of their thirst for power and control. As a child matures loving parents don’t demand obedience but seek a relationship to enjoy and hopefully convince their love is always in their best interest.
God doesn’t demand obedience but seeks a relationship in hopes to inspire our loving others like God loves us. This is what truly leads to the best of worlds. God, like any loving parent, is opposed to immoral behaviors that violate the rights of others but knows threats of punishment only deter destruction and not inspire true change. A tyrant could care less about your rights and your freedom. They could care less that you will be more of an authentic person when you make choices not out of fear of consequences but because the voice behind such guidance is love.
A tyrant view of God to any degree prevents genuine relationships with one’s Creator which can lead to changes of the heart that last.
Compliance out of fear at first may lead to peace but fear of getting caught can ebb and flow. How does one continue to persevere and remain encouraged to do the right thing when circumstances are difficult? If scaring the hell out of people was so effective, wouldn’t there be a lot less evil in the world, and wouldn’t church people look a lot more moral than they do currently compared to non-churchgoers?
A false view of God can have greater consequences for those prone to greater degrees of evil.
This is a bit controversial so I only throw it out as food for thought. Some portray certain views of God because they believe it inspires good behavior. Is it more important to fear God than understands God’s love? Perfect love has no fear as fear isn’t relational but only meant to warn. Even those who are more inclined to horrific acts of evil may have a sense of what a truly loving God should be like. It is they who most need hope that God is a Lover and not a Tyrant. A Tyrant God may lead some away from evil, but one more inclined to horrific acts of evil are desperately in need of a God of hope. A tyrant God who gets their way by force only inspires humans who seek to get their way by control or force. Some must know there is a God who is what even they imagine would be true of a loving God
I am not excusing one for making evil choices. I know there are degrees of evil. There are verbal outbursts of anger and then there are physical outbursts of anger. I understand people are responsible for their actions whatever the severity of their evil actions. But, one who displays greater acts of evil may feel the most hopeless and be in need of the most inspiration. It is these individuals that can only possibly be inspired by a loving God than a tyrant God. Evil people know a tyrant God is hopeless. They really have nothing to live for.
The view of God that we tell others about is critical for all, but possibly even more critical for those more prone to greater acts of evil.
Our interpretations of God according to the Bible are so important. Some understand certain biblical views are not of a loving God so they play the mystery card to explain God’s behavior. They suggest we can’t understand why God acts hypocritical but isn’t a hypocrite, since they defend God not abiding by perfect human morals. But, the Bible or any Book was never meant to replace one listening to God through a relationship. We all long for a loving God and know in our hearts such a God is not a Tyrant!
One striving to be more spiritual-minded might reflect from time to time how to be more the person they desire to be deep down. One way for me to reflect on what God may really be like, which can inspire, is reviewing Posts/Reflections I have written in the last month:
- If you grew up going to church you may have heard about a set of beliefs necessary for God to accept one into Heaven. No such beliefs exist. We don’t have to worry about finding the right church. Jesus didn’t talk about some prayer to get a “free pass” out of Hell; Jesus talked about how we can experience true freedom on earth by loving others like we would want to be loved if in their shoes. Jesus wanted us to know how much God loves and forgives us in hopes that may inspire and encourage reflecting such love back onto others.
- What do we possible say to others who are worried that they might not be reunited with their loved one? Can we give hope for those who possibly didn’t talk much about God in this life or say a magical prayer to be accepted by God, but didn’t live like the Devil? Jesus encouraged living life lovingly to make meeting God in the future a more joyful occasion. God doesn’t stop forgiving or giving second changes after one’s last breath. God will melt away any untrue thinking about God so we can decide if we wish to spend eternity with God. I think most will accept the invitation except the Devil.
- I am always writing about views of God and if such views inspire or not hanging out more with God as we strive to be a more spiritual person. I defend God in hopes it may challenges any views of God that hinder seeking comfort and support from our Creator. God’s love and perfect, human love are one in the same. I am more motivated to follow those who “walk the talk.” God is not an angry, egomaniacal, sexist, torturing, homophobic, hypocritical God.
- God seeks justice not to pay a price but in hopes to restore. Jesus didn’t die to placate a blood-thirsty God who murdered their child to have their honor restored. Soldiers die for one another for causes they believe deeply in. Jesus died to convince us of God’s incredible love so we might let God empower us to reflect such love onto others. No punishment returns robbed memories because of sexual abuse or murder. True justice is being forced to understand your victim’s pain and accept the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Justice can’t always be on earth what it will like in heaven but we can strive to restore than just punish.
- Finally, I still believe the Bible is inspirational and reveals a lot about God, but it cannot be proved that a biblical writer didn’t at times record their own views of God rather than what God wanted. God’s uncontrolling love certainly can allow this to happen. Giving the Bible almost supernatural qualities can lead to worshipping a Book and not who the Book is about. Genesis may be a literal historical account or allegory to convey important spiritual truths. Reading the Bible is discerning spiritual truths applicable to our circumstances. The Bible was never to replace one’s relationship with God for comfort and guidance.
08-31-16 Why Getting Into Heaven Doesn’t Depend on Certain Beliefs?
08-25-16 Is The Bible Useless If Has Errors?
08-19-16 What Is God Like And How Can We Know?
08-12-16 Is Your View Of God Working For You?
08-02-16 Why Is There Hope For God’s Grace Beyond The Grave?
08-07-16 There Is Hope For God’s Grace After Death For Our Loved Ones!
08-15-16 What Might God’s Justice Look Like After Death?
08-22-16 What Beliefs Killing God’s Reputation Might Change Your View Of God?
08-27-16 What Can Beginnings In Genesis Teach Us Whether Literal Or Not?