Monday, April 18, 2016

No Membership Required


I think that there are a lot of people like me out there.

People who had no childhood spiritual roots, from a family and peer group that was agnostic or who at best considered religion as irrelevant to life.

Yet, during a formative period in life, I had a very real, spiritual experience that left me wanting more. Seeing in that brief spiritual “encounter" more joy and sensing an awareness of reality that goes beyond description - I felt like a man who had discovered buried treasure, but had forgotten where it was and how to find it again.

So, I have lived my life with this sense of spiritual longing in the background - like an itch that I can’t reach.

My first response to my “glimpse” of reality was to explore religion. That may have been the first of many mistakes I made in my search for the “Truth.”

THEY SEEK IT HERE - THEY SEEK IT THERE

Naturally I was at first drawn to “exotic” religions - having no familiarity with the religion of my own culture beyond that of a few negative experiences from Church Sunday School.

So I began a search through almost every religion and philosophy that I could get my hands on - and I stand here today - with a lot of relatively useless knowledge about so many religions and a fairly deep understanding of most of the meaning behind so many religious practices and spiritual disciplines.

All of this means virtually nothing when it comes to making a comparison to my original experience that engendered the search. The knowledge does not make the experience. In fact, it could easily be argued that the knowledge that I have actually inhibits the chance of having the experience again.

I had made the search difficult by my own decisions and I had created a mountain path of my own invention that I could not climb by natural means.

My openness to spiritual reality - that I had at the time of my initial experience - has been seriously wounded by the Evangelical and Theological mindset that I adopted when I became a Christian. This ideal that there should be answers to everything. Doubt was never to be left unanswered; doubt was a springboard for expanding knowledge rather than an opportunity to explore or appreciate the mystery.

I have come to realize that only by living on the edge of doubt can I be open to the pure grace that is God’s gift. I can choose a belief, but a belief can block the truth just as easily as it can explain it.

NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED

A friend said it well - no institution can ever bring wholeness.

God’s salvation, based on unconditional love, must be world-embracing or it is not worthy of God.

My only chance of experiencing peace and contentment in my life is to totally trust that God is in control of creation. That is exactly the sense of well-being that was at the root of my initial experience. That all is well and that life is good as it is. I can’t make that happen - it can only be received as an act of grace in response to the total acceptance of reality.


I realized quite recently that truth does not require membership.

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