Religion tends to prefer and protect the status quo or the supposedly wonderful past, yet what we now see is that religion often simply preserves its own power and privilege. God does not need our protecting. We often worship old things as substitutes for eternal things.
We have to be careful to remember what is really important. We can easily substitute “the way we have always done it” for God Himself. We can’t make idols of things that make us feel comfortable. Jesus spent a lot of time making people uncomfortable.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
Sometimes trusting God is not easy. Sometimes things seem so bad that we think that God has deserted us. Sometimes we just want to fix things ourselves.
All of these are times when we have to pray fervently, listen and wait for God. God is with us through everything. He never leaves us. We are the ones who leave. Turn back to God.
If someone wants to learn more about God, he(Jesus) implies, it will involve more than believing someone else’s answers. It will involve thinking deeply about the questions you are asking and why. Then it will involve acting on the answers you come up with in order to discover what is true. Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy.”
We must continue to question and grow in our faith. To sit and think we have all the answers is a mistake. We never have all the answers. Only God does.
Following the rules can be good but sometimes the rules can be stifling. We have to learn when the rules keep us in a safe place and when they need to be discarded. In our religion rules can be either. Discernment is needed to see when they are helping us to follow Christ’s way or when they are holding us back. Throwing out the rules in favor of heeding Christ’s word can be scary. Sometimes doing so can be disruptive and does not show respect for those around you. When, where and how must be chosen carefully. Much prayer and listening is needed but there are times when stepping out in faith is important.
We can end up in a box created by rules. The rules are supposed to allow us to move closer to God. Some of the rules seen in ritual can help us to “center down” and experience God. Bowing at a certain time, in some faiths taking your shoes off in a holy space, genuflecting, saying the proper responses can make you part of the experience.
However, some rules that are more related to following Christ’s actions may not be for you. These are not true of all Christian denominations but each denomination has their own set. Rules that keep us from reaching out in compassion to all others by condemning them do not seem to be Christ’s idea. He treated all people with love.
Some ideas block us in and make us feel unworthy: You are not knowledgeable enough. You are not educated enough. You are not holy enough. Most of all you must believe what those around you believe. You must see the same God that they do even though in truth none of us see the same God in our minds. These things keep us in the box.
These things can be meaningful if we do them because they move us in an emotional way closer to God. They can make us comfortable. But if we are doing them just to follow the rules then they put us in a box. In the box we must follow the rules in order to be accepted by God but the truth is that we are already accepted by God’s grace. There is nothing we can do to make us perfect enough to reach the level of God. No matter how hard we try.
I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible that Christ told anyone they could not heal or bless. He encouraged his disciples to baptize in the name of the father. He never said anything about forming a church or setting people apart from others. He encouraged us to go and make disciples of ALL. He said we could do all these things on our own. He never said you needed anyone’s permission except that you follow the 2 great commandments; love god, love one another. I will do my best to follow that.
This is one of my favorite quotes. I repeat it over and over when things go wrong. It is good for soothing frustration and tension. Remember, God is with us always….no matter what.
Find joy in the simple things. That’s all love needs to thrive on. From the TV series Call the Midwife
Our society has brainwashed us to think that happiness comes from things. The things we can buy. The truth is that happiness comes from inside us. It is almost as if it is hidden away to make us uncover its secret. Most joy comes from things we can’t buy. Love, the smell of a flower, the stars on a beautiful night, the sound of the ocean. These are the things that fill our soul and turn us toward true joy.
Prayer: Help us to see the things that are real.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
I can’t imagine what it must have been like. The fear and disbelief of the disciples. The grief of the mother of Jesus. The pain he felt. The effort of dragging the cross. It is all beyond my experience. I don’t know where I would have been in that scene. Would I have believed in him or been part of the angry mob? Where would you be?
I do know that things have been different ever since.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
I really wish that I were never afraid. Fear can take over when something goes wrong. We have so many things to fear: poverty, homelessness, crime, disease.
We could spend each day cowering in our homes afraid to go out. Some people do. But God doesn’t want us to live like that. He has given us his peace. All we have to do is take it. Sounds easy but it never is.
Prayer: Father and Mother of us all, remind us that we are your children and you wish only good for us. Help us to grasp onto your promises and your peace and never let go. Amen
A faith of convenience is a hollow faith. ~M*A*S*H, Father Mulcahy, “A Holy Mess,” 1982
Christianity did not begin as a belief of convenience. In fact, it was very inconvenient as the early Christians were persecuted and killed. Now that it is an “accepted religion” we take it for granted. It is convenient to go to church on Sundays. It is also convenient that we can choose to not go. It is interesting to know that Christianity is growing the most in places where Christians are persecuted. Maybe we are too comfortable.
Prayer: Patient God, move us out of our comfort zone and help us to not take you for granted. Amen
As the apple is not the cause of the apple tree, but a fruit of it: even so good works are not the cause of our salvation, but a sign and a fruit of the same. Daniel Cawdray
We are saved by grace through faith. We can’t work our way into God’s good graces. However, we can’t truly be following Jesus if our belief in him doesn’t produce good works. The more we follow in Christ’s footsteps the more fruit we will produce.
Prayer: Father, let our faith produce the good fruit that you expect of us. Amen