Our study of If God Is Love continues, although I missed the meeting on Sunday because of the trip. I’ve gotten a little behind on reading due to my hectic schedule over the last few weeks, but am working on getting caught up.
In our last meeting, Karen shared something that she had learned about how we should interact with others. I thought it was rather profound and will be trying to adopt it in my future conversations.
Before we say something, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
If we all practiced that, it would literally change the world.
A couple of my favorite lines from this reading:
No one can discern the truth, let alone fully and freely embrace it, while under the threat of hell.
What happens after death is a mystery. Every belief is speculation.
Here are the questions from the last meeting that I attended:
On page 117, the authors make this statement: “We don’t need to accept Jesus into our hearts; we need to have the same heart as Jesus.” Name three or four implications of believing this to be true. For you, what makes this a challenging proposition?
I believe this type of “salvation” would make for a more spiritual, better person, but I’m not convinced that it is biblical. I’m not sure that the writers are concerned with how scripturally-sound their arguments are, but are searching for a deeper truth that sweeps away all the imperfections and contradictions of modern Christianity.
I understand that the directive to be “born again” could refer to a life-long process instead of an instant transformation, but that certainly becomes a stumbling block for those that believe in heaven/hell, as those young and ignorant of Jesus’ teachings who die would not have had the time to complete the process of redemption.
Also, the Bible makes it clear that God’s grace bestowed upon us by our faith, not our works, is what brings about salvation. The interpretation in this book puts too much emphasis on becoming perfect, or like Christ, and while that is certainly a beautiful thing to strive for, I do not think is possible for most people.
While most of Christianity worships Christ as a god-man, believes he was literally resurrected, and that believing in him causes an instant spiritual transformation, the authors seem to view him more as a man who discovered the truth and tried to enlighten those around him. As someone who likes proof of the unexplained, I find the latter description more believable, but, again, unbiblical.
The authors briefly relate a story: the sphere containing the fullness of God’s truth slips out of an angel’s hands and shatters into bits. This explains how it is that religion has partial truth but not complete truth. Can you think of one or two sacred truths from other traditions that you find compelling?
I believe in karma, which is found in the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Jesus’ command to “Do unto others…” certainly coincides with belief in cause and effect. There are several other elements of Buddhism that I am also attracted to and many of them do not conflict with Christianity in any way.
In your reading of this section, where do you hear God speaking most clearly to you? What might God be asking of you as you digest these particular pages?
I certainly felt a pang of guilt when the authors discussed the way we are trained to judge the religions of others. I really liked the statements: “If God loves every person as much as God loves me, God is working in and through others as much as God is at work in and through me.” and “The moment their members cease striving for justice and love we will know that their religion is not the one God gave the world.”
The following Hindu prayer was printed in the book and I was struck by its beauty and its truth.
O Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations:
Thou art everywhere, but I worship you here;
Thou art without form, but I worship you in these forms;
Thou needest no praise, yet I offer these prayers and salutations.
Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.