Saturday, 29 June 2013

Heart of Flesh.

On earth there is another way.

This is the way of the heart.
And it works through people.

God says, "I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:26b (NRSV)

God removes our heart of stone - a heart that is hard and cold, a heart that cannot love.

And what is a heart of flesh?
It is a heart that loves people not things.

In the end it is not things which make us happy but the people in our lives.

"'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are my family, you did it to me.'"  Matthew 25:40 (NRSV)

All people are members of God's family and are worthy of our love.

If you remember this you are heading home.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What God Wants.

It Is simple.
What God wants is a warmer, more caring, more loving society; a more equal, more tolerant, more just world.

You can forget about battles against evil, moral end-games, magical salvation, guilt games, and threats of hell.
God is none of these things.

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 (NRSV)

"Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another."  Zechariah 7:9,10 (NRSV)

"'Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."'"  Matthew 9:13a (NRSV)

As in many of the psalms God is rejecting the ritual of the priests in favor of a change of heart, a modification in the way we live and relate to each other.

The main reason why this doesn't happen is fear.
People are afraid of each other.
They are afraid to open their hearts to others in case they get hurt or look stupid.

All too often the Church has been an agent of fear, effectively stopping the development that God wants.

The time has come to put aside all those things which inspire fear in people and allow the love which is waiting to flow freely between us.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Universal Vision.

Whatever is not love in the world is motivated by fear.

It is all too easy to take sides and back us versus them - liberals versus conservatives, Christians versus Muslims, west versus east.....

But there is truth on both sides and whatever is not love is motivated by fear.

There is fear in the darkness.

When the light comes our fears are dispelled.

It is true spiritual experience that lessens our fears.

Faith that God will provide and there will always be enough is true spiritual experience.

So, rather than taking sides and trying to beat the others, we should be looking to our fears and what triggers them.

And we should allay the fears of our opponents.

Then we could have a truly universal vision.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Do It.

It is one thing to speak of unconditional love and forgiveness, it is another to do it.

Were the people in the churches to give unconditional love to those who entered their halls would be full to overflowing.

Instead the churches are full of fear.

Fear is cold, hard, and distant.

Were we able to unravel the doctrines of fear and institute doctrines of love and forgiveness it would still remain for people to actually do it.

If you are surrounded by love you can feel it.

But all too often we feel the cold, hard shoulder of fear.

It is one thing to speak of unconditional love and forgiveness, it is another to do it.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Holy Heart.

The Holy Heart blossoms like a flower.

The difference between the Holy Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that the Holy Heart is not surrounded by thorns and pierced by daggers.

And while it may be that love is crucified in this world it is not because of Love that this happens.

Jesus was crucified for challenging the Pharisees and threatening the Romans by his popularity.

This is not because of Love.

Were Jesus able to allay the fears of the Pharisees and Romans the result may have been different.

But claiming the be the Son of God was too much for the Pharisees and King of the Jews was too much for the Romans.

I do not believe that God intended Jesus to be crucified.
I believe that God hoped the good news of unconditional love and forgiveness would spread throughout the world.

Instead He used the catastrophe of the crucifixion to show us that death is not the end.

The Holy Heart blossoms like a flower.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Money.

I have an aunt who grew up during the Depression.

She has spent her whole life working and accumulating wealth.

When asked why she felt she had to continue making more and more money she replied that she never felt that she had enough.

This is fear,
Fear of poverty.

She never had enough to feel secure.

Perhaps this is the motivation for all people who accumulate wealth.
Perhaps they are so afraid of poverty or not having enough that they work harder and harder to make more money.

Certainly this is a pattern in business.
There is never enough profit.

Their fear makes them aggressive, even violent.
Their fear makes them cheat, even criminal.

So how can we reduce their fear?

Faith that God will provide is one answer.
With God there will always be enough.

But how to get this message to hard-nosed businessmen and corporate executives?

Challenging them too aggressively will make them attack.
(As Jesus discovered.)
This triggers their fears.
Fear of losing power and money.

They must be shown that they will not starve if they pay their fair share of taxes.

No one objects to people being rich.
What people object to is people being poor.

So how can the rich be convinced to share their wealth?

We must find ways to reduce their fear.

And pray to God that they will change.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Perfect Love.

As Tolstoy said - all great ideas are simple.

My idea is this:
Fear is the problem.
Love is the answer.

Rather than creating sides by setting up a value judgment on virtue and goodness, which automatically makes someone else wicked or bad, we should look at the causes of bad behavior.

This will be fear.

And because God forgives actions taken out of fear no one is condemned no matter how wicked they may have been.

And because we seek to act in harmony with God we should not judge people for their bad behavior but look for the causes of that behavior.

This will be fear.

What is the antidote to fear?

Love.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love."  1 John 4:18 (NRSV)

God is good.

But God does not condemn bad behavior because He knows it is caused by fear.

Neither does He condone it.

Much bad behavior is caused by people reacting to Phariseeism in the Church.

And Phariseeism in the Church is caused by fear.
Fear of God, fear of evil, fear of punishment, fear of hell.

But there is no hell.
Hell is totally out of character for a loving God.

Rather God blesses us and leads us to Love.

Love is the cause and the purpose of life.

He who loves is on the right track.

That track may cause us to challenge injustice in our world.

If we can see the fear which causes injustice we will forgive those who cause it and help them to overcome their fears.

There are only two things in the world - Love and Fear.

But there are not two sides.

No good man is entirely good and no bad man is entirely bad.

Fear affects everyone.

And we should see that this applies to everyone no matter how bad or good they might be.

"....perfect love casts out fear...." 1 John 4:18 (NRSV)

And perfect love comes from God.


[Scripture quotations (Marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Others.

When we are young and inexperienced we think that others are like us - more or less good, mostly honest, rational, law-abiding, and humane.

But as we grow older we begin to realize that people can be quite different.
Some people are corrupt, deceitful, irrational, malicious, criminal, even deliberately evil.

People can believe the most astonishing things.
Even reversing what we might think self-evident.

The world contains a full spectrum of views and  attitudes.
Much like a Shakespearean drama.

Unfortunately the negative attitudes tend to dominate the positive attitudes.
This is mainly because their fear is greater.
Fear is their motivation.
It makes them aggressive, domineering, even violent.

Despite the fact that they might be religious they have little faith in the benevolence of God.

So, rather than battling against them, we should pray for them to overcome their fears and have more faith in God.

Our first reaction is to judge them - to label them bad, corrupt, or evil.

But no good man is entirely good and no bad man is entirely bad.

People are  the product of their experiences.
Even genetic factors can affect their make-up.

So we are wrong to judge them.

They are human beings like us.
And, as we need forgiveness, so we should forgive others.

God judges no one.
He forgives to the very last.
All are His children.

So we should not judge either.
And be children of our Father.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Fathers.

The image of God as the dispenser of rewards and punishments comes from our experience of our own earthly fathers.

So the modern prohibition on smacking your children will break the cycle of violence and fear which feeds the image of God a an abusive parent.

We owe much of this to feminism which reversed the roles and opposed the patriarchy.

In the future children will not grow up with the fear of God which past generations have suffered.

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on religion.

Gentle hippy fathers and sensitive new age guys will change the image of fathers for ever.

Our image of God will change with it.

No longer will God be feared and we may be able to love God as we have been taught.