I have been reading and studying the bible since 1972 when I first became a Christian. Even during those many years away from Christianity I would occasionally read the word and ponder those things I used to believe. Yes it is a mirror as James points out and as all mirrors we only see what we bring to it, and yes very often I walk away forgetting what I saw. It is one thing to forget what you see and quite another to see what isn’t there. The unraveling of my fundamentalist beliefs have been a clearing away of the gloss of those beliefs which have kept me from seeing what was there all along.
This blog is all about that unraveling, the unraveling of the threads that clothed me for so many years.
The verses mentioned in my last two posts as “thoughts for the day” have been revolutionary for me in their implications. In the next several posts I will attempt to share the far reaching implications of Romans 14.11 and I Timothy 2.4.
What clothes am I wearing today? This is important to know. This may sound odd but being associated with a group of people for so many years the clothes we wear may be overlooked kind of like wearing the same uniform everyday it is just who you are and you don’t really think anything of it especially when all your friends are wearing the same uniform and you believe that is the only way to dress. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people who identify with a group tend to dress the same. And it’s not just the clothes it is their whole demeanor, even people who are married for many years can end up with similar countenances. Does your dog look like you?
Changing ones identity can be very traumatic, form divorce, retirement, leaving your religious affiliations or even moving to another country. Many people actually end up destroying themselves thru addictions or even suicide. Personally I went thru many years of addictive and hedonistic behaviors. I was taught that there was really only one way to believe about God. Even among all those who called themselves Christians I looked upon them with a belief in the superiority that my group was “really right” and the others not so much. You may be thinking I was associated with some radical denomination which constantly espouses its superiority but no I was involved in the rather mainstream Wesleyan Methodist Church and went to bible college at a Wesleyan Methodist University. We just had our point of view as all denominations do. We thought other religions and those we called the “cults” needed to be “saved” or would end up in hell for all eternity because God really didn’t like people who didn’t think like him. And people with no religious inclination or atheists well, just right them off. Of course my group was the only one who really had the inside skinny and thought like Him. My self-righteousness knew no bounds. Of all the many mistakes I have made over the years I consider self-righteousness to be the worst and the most damaging to my spiritual journey.
Was this the denominations fault? probably not, being “right” goes with the territory of being human. Self-righteousness is really a cover up for feelings of insecurity. It is the ego/sin nature that always feels insecure and separate therefore identification with a group of people who “know” the truth is so alluring. Aligning with a charismatic leader or group really fulfills the need to belong, reinforcing the group’s insistence to think like them.
The ego/sin nature insists on being right. It will readily put on spiritual garments as a ruse to keep itself in control of our lives and not God.
It is the most natural thing and the most spiritual thing in the world to want to belong, to want to join others who we consider like minded. It is a prime motivator, one that comes directly from God and seen in the world constantly. Since the original separation-metaphorically dramatized in mankind’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden-we have an innate need to belong. In most cases this belonging provides support, love, nourishment, identity and is responsible for our very survival both physical and spiritual. Individually we would not exist without the other.
The down side of this is many of our group identities are defined by our differences and sometimes seeing the other person or group as enemies. It is very unfortunate that the one very large group, comprising approximately 95% of the worlds population-those who believe in God-do not demonstrate the unity of the family of God. Of course we are very diverse group and this is how it will remain-there will always be differences-but just like the human body or the ecosystem of the planet each individual part cannot live without the other parts. I and we cannot survive without those we disagree with. They are us and we are them. And yes even when they wish to kill our bodies we still need them and they need us.
What does this have to do with Romans 14. 11 and 1 Timothy 2.4 well I will get to that in my next post. Again I will leave you with the two questions I asked in previous posts: Does God get what he desires? And is Romans 14.11 a true statement?
All comments and input are always welcome.