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Choosing the Christian Path
- 147.5 million Americans claim affiliation with a religious group
- 94% of those who claim affiliation are members of Christian or quasi-Christian denominations
Every culture offers every opportunity for evaluation on the part of the individual as to whether the spiritual beliefs which that culture encompasses are spiritual beliefs that are comfortable for the individual living within it; it is a matter of conscious choice on the part of every individual in every lifetime to decide for themselves whether the doctrine that is being taught - the doctrine that is predominant throughout the culture - is a doctrine that 'rings true' for their inner self.
In many cases, individuals have found that the doctrine advocated by the Christian sect which constituted their upbringing did not 'pass the test' of meeting the requirements for being the spiritual foundation on which their lives were based, and - as a result - many individuals have turned their backs on the Christian faith that dominates their society. In some areas, a 'cold war' has been declared, with Christians condemning free thinkers as 'false prophets of God' and free thinkers condemning Christians as 'narrow-minded and judgmental.'
From both directions, this separationist attitude is inappropriate and against the Universal Law of Acceptance, which recognizes both the right and the responsibility of every individual to live their life according to their own personal truth. In an all too human need to justify our negative attitudes towards each other, both sides prefer to focus into the 'negative aspects' of the other's belief system. We can only bridge the gap if we are willing to move beyond our emotional need to feel that 'we are right and they are wrong' and come to recognize and respect the positive aspects of all belief systems - including Christianity.
Modern society has a tendency to 'categorize' groups of people by race or religion. We seldom take the time to look beneath the surface to explore the differences that make for individual truth within an umbrella spiritual foundation. We may unwittingly judge others simply as "Christians," using our limited exposure to one or two sects as our justification for our belief that "Christians are narrow-minded" or "Christians are anti-New Age." This is the equivalent of someone deciding that anyone who believes in God is "just like the Muslims" or "just like the Wiccans" or "just like the Universalists." If we truly want to create a world where people live together in harmony, then we must begin with the basics, and one of those basics is not only understanding but accepting belief systems that are different from our own.
Because we have chosen to be a part of a culture in which Christianity IS the primary spiritual foundation, it is our responsibility to know enough truth - as opposed to personal expression - about Christianity to deny or confirm its place in our spiritual foundation. Too often, we have allowed extremists to stand in the way of our personal pursuit of spirituality through the Christian belief system; our emotional response to those who judge anyone who thinks differently than they do is a major obstacle to peaceful co-existence. Both factors say, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Both factors DO judge the other as 'wrong.' On both sides, we are not living according to what we say we believe: our actions and our attitudes are in direct conflict with our words.
There is a common bond that neither side recognizes: there is no such things as "a Christian," anymore than there is such a thing as "a new-ager." The strength of the Christian religion (and 1.5 billion adherents world-wide - one in three adults in the world - DOES constitute strength!) lies not in a passive acceptance of doctrine as it has been taught by the Church over the centuries, but in a continual need on the part of the followers to break away from the predominating belief system and 'find and follow their own truth.' Depending on the source you turn to, there are between 200 and 1000 Christian sects registered in this country alone.
Such diversity in beliefs has not been accomplished passively, and the reception to the changes advocated by each budding denomination was similar to - but much more intense than - the reception being given by the 'core Christians' to those free thinkers who are seeking a new truth that will, inevitably, threaten the position of the core. It has been - and will continue to be - an ongoing cycle, a cycle that is not exclusive to the Christian faith.
Every major religion in the world experiences this cycle, in which a basic truth on which the religion is built serves as the catalyst for spiritual evaluation on the part of the followers, and - inevitably - the catalyst goes in one of two directions: either an individual agrees with the truth offered, and "follows," or disagrees, and "leads" in a new direction toward a new truth. This cycle of spiritual evaluation and confirmation is the purpose of organized religion: like most other elements of life on the physical plane, it is a learning tool, but it is useless if we are not willing to use it as the tool it was intended to be by thinking about the truth it offers and comparing it to our own instead of ignoring it as 'inappropriate to our needs.'
The order of God's universe is evident everywhere, and the cycles through which the learning process takes place are always the same, following the pattern established when the souls split into multi-dimensional aspects and 'left the whole' (God) in pursuit of truth. They have gone off in innumerable directions as they experience on innumerable levels of existence, and it is only when they all return from the deviations of truth, and their learning process has been accomplished, that they all agree that Universal Law is truth, and they become a Whole again.
So it is with religion: every major religion in the world begins with a premise that is offered as truth, and every soul involved in that culture must either accept that truth or 'go off in their own direction.' What is evident in the self can always be expanded outward, and just as we as individuals pursue our own truth, so groups (or churches, or religions) pursue theirs. Eventually, we all end up in the same place, recognizing that Universal Law is the root of all religion, and the doctrines which any individual chooses to apply to express that Universal Law within their own life is purely a matter of conscious choice.
No small part of the transition currently taking place is a need within the group consciousness to 'get back to' the point from which we started: recognizing that Universal Law is the root of every major belief system on the planet, and the only difference between 'what you believe' and 'what I believe' is the way we choose to express our spirituality on a daily basis. We have all become lost in the doctrine of the various religions - including Christianity - and as a result we have failed to see that the REAL core truth around which the various religions have been built is Universal Law.
It's no wonder that those who have chosen to express their spirituality outside of the Christian community are often confused as to what Christianity really is; we should take the time to realize that many Christians feel the same way. There are a bewildering number of Christian sects, each working independently of the next, and each confirming, through their very existence, that Christianity has played a major role over the past two thousand years in providing the 'core truth' against which each generation within each culture has sought to find their own truth. If we are willing to look at the Christian religion objectively, instead of feeling threatened by it, then we will see it for the diverse religious organization that it is, and respect that diversity as a perfect example of willingness to go against the popular conception of 'truth' to express the personal relationship with God in a new and different way.
Life - and the learning processes that comprise it - follows a natural sequence, and the spiritual growth sequence offered through the 2000 year history of the Christian religion is one that leads to culmination in 'one truth for all,' recognizing Universal Law as the framework on which life should be built. Contrary to the popular Christian perception that this "one world religion" will be a "false religion" that will lead people away from Christ, the recognition of Universal Law as the core truth on which all religions are structured will not change anything. We will always have a diversity of religions, through which individuals will explore their spirituality in a way that is comfortable for them and that agrees with their 'inner truth' about how that spirituality should be expressed. The only thing that will change is the level of acceptance with which each religion views the others, and it is the lack of that level of acceptance that stands in the way of practical co-existence now.
The purpose of any religion is to open the door to a higher awareness of the role that God intended them to play in life, and a higher understanding of the way God intended life to be. Christ taught Universal Law, but through the centuries, many of Christ's teachings have been twisted, and it is disagreement within the Christian community as to 'what teachings were twisted when' which has historically been the driving force behind the establishment of new sects.
I would remind you of a basic thought that is too often lost in the doctrine today, and that is that there was no 'Christian church' during Christ's lifetime. Christ chose not to teach in the synagogues; instead, he taught informally, sitting on the grass, or standing on a mountain, or sitting in someone's house, and it was the followers of Christ who established the Church and in turn established the doctrine that would govern that church. The Catholic Church - and I would remind you that the Latin phrase for 'universal' is 'catholic' - was the original Christian church, and the majority of individuals within the first one hundred years after the death of Christ were a very loose congregation of individuals who saw the church as an opportunity for fellowship and interactions with other followers of Christ's teachings, much as today's seekers congregate loosely in their personal pursuit of truth.
Having been born into a culture in which Christianity is the predominant religion, we cannot hope to come to terms with our own spiritual foundation unless we are willing to work with the learning tool that Christianity provides when it serves as the catalyst for confirmation of our own belief structure. We must be willing to move our focus away from those 'die-hard' individuals who fear change in any form, and focus, instead, into following the example of those who have come before us, and drawn their own conclusions regarding spiritual truth in spite of Christian majority within the culture, and in doing so, we must come to respect the fact that - as evidenced within the diverse nature of what is all too casually referred to as 'the Christian community' - the past two centuries have been witness to drastic changes within 'the church' as generation after generation has done what it is that we are hoping to accomplish. They have explored, and they have found a different truth, and they have suffered and died in their efforts to live by that truth.
There is much to be learned about 'finding and following your own path in life' by exploring the history of Christianity. Take responsibility. Study. Evaluate. Find your own truth, for it is only in doing so that you can objectively explore the entity Jesus Christ and the role, if any, he plays in your belief system.
Lois Grant-Holland is a Life Path Focus Counselor offering Life Path Focus Sessions, Karmic Astrology Charts, Channeled Guidance, Intuitive Readings and Classes and Workshops to spiritual seekers on all positive paths, and is the site facilitator at The A.N.S.W.E.R. - (The Seeker's Resource Guide to Alternative, New Thought, Spiritual Growth, Wellness and Enlightenment Resources.) You can visit her website at http://www.loisgrantholland.com
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