Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I'm Free!

One of Christianity's greatest claims is "freedom". And rightly so! When we are caught in the endless cycle of stuffing up, guilt, shame, low self esteem, that leads to more stuff ups, we long for some sort of freedom.

The acceptance of Jesus as an external source (outside of ourselves) who can break that cycle by taking all those things onto himself by a mystical act of substitution is very powerful. I personally experienced that power regularly throughout my life, and was about the only thing that stopped me from taking my own life on many occasions.

The problem of course was the cycle was never really broken, just moved up a notch, just far enough so I could sense the freedom and the joy that it brings.

But over the years I had greater revelations of freedom. There would be deeper realisations of God's grace and love that would bring me to a place where I'd think "this is it - finally, I understand what freedom is!".

A few months or so later, another doctrine etc would unlock more of the hold religion had on me, and I'd see how bound I'd been by things like legalism, expectations, ritual and so on. But then the cycle would begin again.

Lately I've seen many preachers, who were very influential in helping me break out of religious deception, falling back into the same cycle, but in a way that is sickening. They are mocking and belittling anyone who believes there is any more to discover. They believe they have made it and if anyone continues to look beyond the limits they have set, they are heretics. And yet it wasn't so long ago they were the heretics!

But here's the point - all these exercises in struggling to find deeper truth, moving from one level of revelation to another, although they can be stimulating and bring personal joy and satisfaction, don't really bring freedom. Nor do they bring anything of real value to the table.

Like a broken record I'll keep saying again and again. Love is all that matters. It's not a doctrine, its not a philosophy, its not a mystical process or some gnostic ideal.

Love is also described as "goodness". The simple act of being good - to yourself and everyone else. Although the doctrines surrounding Jesus and general christian theology can be beneficial as I said, they are just stop gaps, solutions that require greater solutions.

The simple act of being good to ourselves and good to others is powerful in its simplicity beyond measure. The act of seeing the goodness in everything around us, in the air, all we see and touch, in the grumpy checkout girl, in the lonely guy at the bar, anyone anywhere - the appreciation of the intrinsic value of simply being a human, is the start of all wisdom. Not some esoteric belief system that requires detailed understanding of complex doctrines to be "saved". Of course, many will say we need Jesus as our ticket to heaven, but that is another story and not that relevant in the big scheme of things - yes, I can hear the screams of protest ;-)

God is all in all - He IS goodness/love. We simply choose to slow down and see it - everywhere. We take the time to be thankful for it. We nurture it, in US first, and in everyone and everything else.

Only love brings life - and freedom.

Friday, 9 January 2015

It's so friggin simple!

(Sorry, tried to find a picture for this blog but everything to do with love was just soo cliched and tacky! So just use your imagination)

Theology, doctrines, religions, denominations, cults and sects, eschatology, hermeneutics, etc...
On and on it goes.
Endless debates.
2000 years and christianity is even more divided than ever. Religions divide the world.
Complex doctrines abound that try to explain the basic tenets of the faith - of all faiths actually. Yet despite our best efforts its all really murky.

Sure, there are some basic ideas that persist, but really, it all comes down to putting our faith in a book instead of the source - instead of love - instead of that which is deep in all of us.

Jesus supposedly said that we needed to see all this with the eyes of a child. Our faith, our meaning for existence, has to be simple enough for a child. Sure we can ponder the deeper issues and embrace all sorts of philosophical views. But the most foundational issues of all we are and do must be simple.

Christianity as it's traditionally presented, simply does not fit this requirement. It is anything BUT simple. It involves every person believing a complex set of doctrines in just the right way so that they can be saved.

Now many of you probably know, I'm a bit of a broken record with the Live Loved thing. I'm forever simplifying everything down to that. And I get accused of being naive, simplistic, ignorant, idealistic etc, to say nothing of the shouts of heretic! (seriously - a heretic for preaching love?!)

I've writing many blogs about the bible and about our preoccupation with clear defined boundaries and rules, so no point in repeating all that. Suffice to say, the more I focus on the simple most basic concepts of who we are, the less importance the bible has. And the less important ANY religion is.

There is only one thing that is common to all mankind - every person everywhere, at every moment in time. Its deep within every heart - its the innermost cry of and expression of every soul. It's what every mind, whether through emotion, intellect or logical reasoning longs for.

It's LOVE.

It's not love defined by any religion. It's not love with conditions. It's not a set of rules and principles that make us lovable.

It's unconditional love. It's being accepted exactly as we are with no questions asked. It's something we all long for even if we have never experienced it.

There are no doctrines, there is no holy book, there are no wise teachers that can tell us any more than what is already in each of us. We are made from and for love.

So what do we do about that? We live loved!

We look for that deep need in each other. We nurture that need. We do all we can to find that point of love in every single person we meet. We BE love. And in being love to others we are becoming love to ourselves, and this, and this alone, is what brings change to the world, one person at a time.

When we "live loved" we are beyond all concepts of good and evil, right and wrong or sin. We have abandoned the need for endless doctrines and holy writings (although they can certainly be of value). We have simply embraced who we are.

The more I embrace this - the more I practice this - the more whole I become. Issues like trying to figure the correct doctrines, the way we should treat women in church, our attitudes to politics, social needs, gay people, all become completely irrelevant. Because love transcends all these things. they become red herrings.

God is not in any holy book. God never wrote a book that defines himself or what we have to do to be accepted by him!

God is love! That's it - and that is more than enough.

Although christinaity, and all religions, can show ways to see that love through their writings and traditions, they are not the truth. The only truth is love, and that truth is intrinsically part of every human being ever created.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Something bigger

I've always known that love is the key.
But its a carrot of idealism dangling just out of reach.
Yet the mere fact that I/we dream of it, long for it and momentarily embrace it...
   the fact that we are even capable of such ideas...
Shows it must be attainable - that we really can live loved.

Most embrace the concept that we are born broken as truth. We declare our sinfulness as inherent, the fruit of rebellion. We have accepted the biblical story that we are filthy and completely incapable of anything good without "repenting" and accepting the perfection of Jesus as a sacrifice that enables us to be welcomed back into God's fold.

There are so many doctrines that explain this process - so many subtle variations and nuances. There are huge disagreements as well. Some say God is angry with us and can't bear to look at us and only sees Jesus when He looks our way. Others say that Jesus took all our sinfulness on himself to allow us to be clean enough for God to live in us.
Many variations...
Many reinterpretations of scripture.

I studied the role of Jesus in this whole dilemma most of my life. Even in bible college, I knew all the right answers, but still nothing sat right. Every theory fell far short of my deepest experience with God. I mean, I wanted all the doctrines to be right. I really tried to make them work. But despite that, I couldn't make sense of the whole idea that somehow, God just couldn't simply forgive us for "missing the mark" and acting in unloving ways, without the whole Jesus thing.

I can see the psychological value of using Jesus as a point of identification, a scapegoat, someone we can dump all our crap on so we get to walk free of the guilt and shame. I can see the benefits of accepting that it's "Jesus in us" that is the point of perfection - the focus - that brings us to perfection and peace. I get that, and all the other doctrines built around everything he did.

BUT, it has always seemed like second best - a stopgap. In fact, most religions seem to just be bandages trying to cover a deep belief paradigm that is essentially flawed from the ground up.

Most of my life I believed christianity had every answer, that the bible contained the entire wisdom of God and was the sole source of all truth, and everything else was just deception or imitation. And yet I also had the niggling feeling that we were missing a far bigger picture.

What if we aren't essentially and intrinsically broken and flawed, born in sin? Suppose we are born perfect and what really happens is we forget as we grow. We become victims of everyone else who has forgotten until all that's left is a shell full of guilt, shame, fear and "missing the mark" of love.

Perhaps we've got it all backwards! Love is the essential nature of the universe. God is love, love holds everything together, it brings life, it IS life, it's universal consciousness, and our real journey in life is remembering that.

Just imagine if the "renewing of our minds" is all to do with simply focusing on that love and drawing it out of others - choosing to see everything else simply as the absence of love. We then choose to see each other as creatures of love, that are hurting and blind - blind to who they really are, and we can simply BE love to each other. We can be compassion and empathy, and look through the unloving actions and thoughts to the real person of love in all of us.

The only thing that brings real, lasting change is love. We all know this, despite our emotional reactions, we all know that if we were truly loved more, we would love more. We would be changed!

We can not bring love to each other until we love ourselves. We can love Jesus and defer all our identity on to him. We can say "I am nothing and Jesus is everything", but that's just a false image. It's transferring our true nature in an act of false humility, because we are afraid that we may actually be way better than we have thought.

I think that our unity with God is such that we are perfect at our core, that we are pure unconditional love in the deepest part of our being. I believe we can choose, as we renew our minds, to see this in each other. I think the stopgap of christian doctrine has had its day, and it really hasn't been a good day despite it's moments!

I look at scripture with a whole different lens these days. I see the layers of religion that have been overlaid and used to reinvent Jesus. I see a limited collection of documents assembled to reinforce a particular set of beliefs that had arisen after Jesus. I see these documents as records of the struggles of men trying to piece together a coherent religion out of something that was never meant to be one!

In saying all this, I risk being accused of being arrogant and patronising, of trashing 2000 years of tradition and the collective wisdom of thousands of biblical scholars and theologians. It's not my intention however, and I still respect the journey I have been on (and have hardly started in reality) and we are all on. I owe my continued existence in this world to my faith in Jesus that I clung to through thick and thin. I respect the value of the tenets of faith, and won't belittle or "talk down" to those who find life there.

I am however, finding far deeper waters. I've seen too much to confine myself to one set of doctrines and theologies. I've found God to be so much bigger, better, more loving and life giving than anything biblical christianity has ever produced, and I simply want to share that and encourage everyone to take nothing for granted - not the bible, not tradition, not teachers or wise men, not me, not anyone or anything! Question - explore - dismantle - assume nothing - and most importantly find the love that is at our core, because there lies our true worth and life.