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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Does God Love You?

I came across an article this week written by one of the mega-church pastors that said what people want to know is that “God loves them.  God forgives them.” … and in so many words, then they can go on with their lives.  My initial response was “forgives them” for what?  Are there that many people who think they need to be forgiven for something that they fill the pews of mega-churches across the country?  And to the question as to whether G-d loves them or not, it is simple enough to know; do you love yourself?  If you do, then G-d loves you too.  If people go around thinking that they are a bad person or a person who does bad things, then they need to clear up their consciousness by making amends to the people and things they can and change their ways and in this they will find forgiveness.  There is no god that can forgive us as only we can “give up” those things that create a negative idea about ourselves in our mind.

              I have often see the bumper-sticker “Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven” and it always makes me laugh but a little sad as well.  For people to think that it takes someone outside of their own consciousness; i.e. G-d or Jesus, or whomever, to forgive us is foolishness.  We are in the image of G-d.  G-d is not in the image of mankind.  We are Spirit, Life and Intelligence.  We have the intelligence to know when we need to “correct” something in our lives.  All that is necessary is the choice to do so and the conviction to see it through until old negative habits are displaced by a renewed enlightenment.

               The other thing I have noticed that has increased tremendously over the past few years are the number of Christians who state that they are being persecuted.  Not in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Muslim dominated countries, but here in the United States.  Few of these people take the time to stop and realize that the only religion that has National recognition of their holy days in America is Christianity.  Every non-Security government agency shuts down on Christmas no matter what day it falls on.  As do all businesses.  The Stock Exchanges are closed on Good Friday.  No other religion is given this same recognition in the U.S.  And this isn’t based on history as the first settlers in America did not celebrate Christmas.  It is through religious political power.  Christians should be glad that we have a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny hiding Easter Eggs, because without these I am certain that Christmas and Easter would have faded tremendously in popularity decades ago.  And the political power of the religious organizations would have diminished tremendously along with it.

              But, for now, religion is still the main beat of the drum and so people who really fail to evolve in their spiritual awareness continue to attract massive numbers of followers … and wealth.  Joel Osteen is a very likeable guy and a sincere one and to most people he is a cut-above the typical Evangelical-type pastor.  But even his messages are filled with the “god out there somewhere” theology:  From Joel Osteen’s message “It’s All Good
”:  Are you going through a difficulty today and wondering if God is there? Life is full of things we don’t like or understand. But God won’t allow a difficulty unless He’s going to somehow use it for our good. In this encouraging message, Joel is going to show you how to trust God in all things! You see, God can see the big picture for our lives. He promises in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Not some things, but all things. That means the pain, the loss, when a dream doesn’t work out, when a loved one betrays us, even in in our darkest hour, God has a plan. You’ll learn how to pray bold prayers and stay focused. No man controls your destiny; God does!”

The Truth is, we control our own destiny and it would be a capricious god that would dominate us and take away our freedom of choice.  There is no such god.  Our difficulties are not of G-d’s making but our own momentary lapses of using our intelligence to not realize the consequences of what we say or do.  Osteen is correct that Life is full of things that we don’t like or understand but his mistake is in teaching that G-d allows or disallows something to happen in our experiences.  An illustration of this would be that G-d is a Puppet Master and we are mere puppets.  Everything that happens to us is based on our choosing; what we believe, what we think, what we say and what we do.  All of these involve personal choice.

            For many people, what they think goes not further than the imposed ideas and beliefs they appropriate from others.  And for many these imposed ideas and beliefs come from their friends and religious affiliations.  The New York Times has an article titled “Friendship’s Dark Side: ‘We Need A Common Enemy” written and researched by Natalie Angier.  Here is an excerpt from the article: “…. researchers who explore the deep nature of friendship admit the bond can have its thorns, bruise spots and pesticide traces.

        Take the new evidence that people choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain. The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood.
          But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to “otherize” those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways.”

            Interesting article.  It reminds me of another article I read several weeks ago regarding a poll of people who attend church and the number one reason they said they attended church was to “socialize with like-minded people.”  It wasn’t for the love of G-d or to worship G-d, although that was the second most popular response, but to be around people like them.  It reminded me of when I visited my family in Missouri and my mother and I went to a Christian Church, fairly large for small town Mexico, Missouri and there were no people of color in the church audience.  The next Sunday I went to a Baptist Church with a Black congregation and was asked to speak at the podium as at the time I was in ministerial training with Dr. O. C. Smith in Los Angeles and the Pastor of the church was so impressed by this that he wanted me to speak.  It took only a minute or two for the audience to respond to my words and it was one of the best times of my life.  I was so impressed that the Pastor was willing to let someone who he knew was “different” speak to his congregation.  This is not the norm in most churches.

           This wanting to be around people who look like us and think like us has been true throughout history.  In primitive times this created tribal patterns.  Artists realized this when they began to create paintings of religious figures like Jesus, Moses and other biblical persons.  The same is true of those who created paintings of Buddha, Krishna and others.  This attracted those who maintained this “tribal” consciousness.  Mega churches are a reflection of this “tribal” consciousness and have been very successful in attracting those who desire being surrounding by others like them.  This has caused some Western Christians to see Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes.  At some level they know this is not true but perception is not always based on reality. 

           A friend of mine sent me a video that provides a humorous,
but truthful, illustration of this:
           Finally, does G-d love you?  Yes, just as much as you do!

And so it is!