My personal understanding today.
Infographic I shared recently:
Text reads, Religious Beliefs to Unlearn: I cannot trust myself, I am nothing without God, My desires are sinful, Your spiritual self is all that matters, I’m broken and need to be saved, There is only one right way to live, I am responsible for saving others
I cannot trust myself… My desires are sinful
I was told…
that my heart was desperately wicked and not to trust my feelings or desires.
to not lean on my own understanding
wait for God’s leading
obey my elders/leaders (and not try to lead myself)
The support of trusting that God is good and the hope that comes from believing that a good Creator cares matters. But a deep, bottom-of-my-heart level lack of trust in myself hamstrung me early on. And it’s not the truth. He’s given us a spirit of power and of sound mind. He has put the ability to reason and understand and care and… all the things. I don’t have to only follow a man’s teaching. I can trust my own understanding of myself and God.
I am nothing without God
Well….. I wouldn’t exist without a creator, I guess. But each of us is something! Why would God LOVE us if we weren’t valuable? We are! We’re a whole package… heart, mind, soul, body…. desires, emotions, ideas, experiences… Solomon found the value of existence in enjoying the life we live. Let’s do that. Let’s take this huge, valuable gift of life and use it. We don’t need to stop and check if we’re actually “nothing.” He’s very happy with us having free choice and giving all the angels a show.
Your spiritual self is all that matters
This focus on the afterlife has clipped the wings on the power of the living church. We don’t show up for each other and care for each others’ specific, human needs like we were made to, because of the focus being shifted on something “after.” The kingdom of God is here one earth! If we behave like it. It’s us. It’s what we do, what we do with our physical bodies.
I’m broken and need to be saved.
This one is about the core of much of the church’s teaching and most of my Christian friends will agree with it. My husband does and he’s as generous and open-minded as old-school Jesus followers come! But hear me out… go back to the place where I’m not trusting myself and where the things that come out of my own heart are sinful and destructive. And have that be your belief for perpetuity. You know, until sanctification is complete upon our deaths and whatever God does to us then that he hasn’t done to our current selves. That destroys the vigor and vitality of a soul. It leaves us worms. It leaves us powerless. It left me sinking into a pit of depression and despair. But… what if the thing God made (me) is a good thing? A beautiful thing? Something powerful and wonderful? What if everything changes when we think about ourselves as whole instead of broken? What if God has plans for us. Us. Me! Just how I am? What if just how I am is all He wants? I think it’s time for the story to be reframed. I’m learning about “original sin” and “original good” and learning. One of the two feels more like real life.
There’s only one right way to live.
Welllllllll, I believed this and tried for decades to find and adhere to this right(TM) way. And it felt like a moving target. And missing it felt like proof that I was broken and nothing and a failure truly. And then…. I realized that while I could believe that a God created me and that Jesus is real and that the Bible is a holy book… not everybody interprets it exactly the same, but we can all, even non-Christians, do our best to love and honor and respect and care for each other. And that this kingdom of heaven on earth (of loving each other) is what Jesus wants. And that’s where the focus should be. And I can celebrate my failures and have hope in my suffering, because they’re all part of the big, beautiful experience called life that I’ve been given. That right(TM) way to live can go to hell. Because for me, it was hell on earth.
I am responsible for saving others (in a spiritual sense)
Telling this to each other is emotional manipulation. God does not throw people in hell because we didn’t find or convince somebody of the right(TM) way. When we let this bleed into the rest of our lives, such as parenting, it puts impossible pressures on us. We cannot make children like we can make a pie.
Furthermore, Jesus is not just a name. It’s a power. And all we’re responsible for is doing our best to love and respect ourselves and love and respect others. This honors God.