The Journey Is More of a Climb (My Thoughts on the Unity of Believers)
March 8, 2023
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To study spirituality is to study the individual, to study religion is to study community, and to study theology is to study unity.
Is the Christian God the same God of the Muslims? The Jehovah’s Witnesses? The Jews and the Gentiles. How can people form such different beliefs? Is there a right or true religion? Why are there so many different belief systems?
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. There are differences in ministry, but the same lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works in all. But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." (I Corinthians 12:4-7)
Imagine for a moment that we, as a group of people, decided to go rock climbing. It doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but bare with me I am going somewhere. The people in the group prepare for the climb. They spread out; some plan their strategy while others wait for no man and head off to take on the challenge. As each person looks toward the rock, they all see a slightly different image. What you see is based on where you stand in relation to the rock. The people to the left side of the rock can see vegetation. From another angle, a bird. We are all looking in the same direction at the same thing, yet we all see something a little different. There is no right or wrong answer.
Now, suppose we figure in our individual eyesight. Some people have sharper vision than others. Also, the things we focus on our different. I may be able to see the bird, but my eyes are fixed just above it (or maybe below it). Now let's imagine the people in this group symbolize the people of the world. The different religions are represented in these people climbing the rock. The climb itself represents the journey through life. The top of this rock means we have made it home. Are You Ready? Times a wastin'! Let’s start the climb!
The climb through life is an individual journey but also a collective one. Scripture tells us that to love God is to love ourselves and each other. So welcome, this is the first day on the job! We are trying to make it home in time for dinner and we have to make sure everyone in the group gets there too. I mean, what would your mother have said if you came home after school without your brother!?
This may not be the walk in the park you had planned for, but the same can be said for life. We can’t very well carry another person up this rock, just like we can't bring someone into our perception. Our job is to help guide our neighbors as we all walk closer to God. In the climb, as in life, we are all just walking each other home. We are all in pursuit of the same destination.
“God is love. Can we ask him to be more? Do we expect to change perfection? His work is done, and we only have to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation. The divine being must be reflected by man.
God is love, more than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go. Does thou love the Lord thy God with all their heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind?" (Mary Eddy Baker)
God is perfect and complete. He did the work and set the man into position. We only have to be humble and available in service. It is in service to others that we find salvation and come into alignment to receive His blessing.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
It seems like a pretty straight forward mission. Eyes on the prize now. We have to journey through life, be of service to God, which means, we are to help each other along the way. We have the necessities and the marching orders. So what’s the problem?
There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is above all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
That they may be one, as you Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one is US, that the world may believe that You sent me. We are one; I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one. John 17:21-23
Atonement is the exemplification of man's unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus's mission was both individual and collective. The atonement of Christ reconciles man to God. In serving others, we serve God and in this service we find salvation. We are all one. So it is important that we remember to avail ourselves to God so he can work through us. We connect to God and to others to eventually connect and align us all.
Matthew in 13:15 says, the hearts of these people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears so they hear; For assuredly, I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.
Okay, the good news is we didn't fall asleep in class. But the bad news is most of the climbers have! Some may have gotten disconnected, sick, or tired. I think someone may have packed wine in their picnic because it seems as if half of the group is now drunk! So it’s up to us to roll up our sleeves. The moral law, which has the right to acquit or condemn, always demands restitution before humanity can "go up higher." Broken law brings penalties in order to compel this process (Science and Health). All trespasses against one another have to be amended. We have to right wrongs done to one another. That is how we heal each other. This explains why the group is not together. They are all in different positions, different distances and proximities to the top.
People can be easily confused; we tend to have short memory spans, and can become rather selfish at times. Our friends along this climb are not quite the same people we started out with. They might need a snack! You’re not yourself when you’re hungry! However, they are still our neighbors! Carry each other's burdens, and so fulfill the laws of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Sometimes we just have to help. We didn’t push anyone down, but we do have an extra band-aid. We have to act as referees, nurses, teachers, and guides at this stage in the climb. Sometimes all someone needs is a bottle of water from a stranger and friend to sit with them awhile in the grass. The rest of he group lost sight and some were not very nice to one another. But, nonetheless, we all must go up!
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
We must help others without being overtaken ourselves, lest we be of no help. If you're on a plane and the oxygen masks descend from above, always and I do mean always fasten your safety mask first. Make sure your mask is securely in place before you try to help your neighbor put on their mask. Some people may refuse to wear the mask, we can’t very well strap it to their face. We try our best to do what we can, when we can.
The lesson we learn as humans is to be diligent, as we strive to be reflections of God. We must be vigilant in our service and not lose focus. If we love God with all of our hearts and all of our minds how can our hearts grow dull? We have to prioritize this focus! Then, it is up to each of us to avail ourselves and be humble in service. We have to choose our battles, or to say understand exactly how to help man. We can not force or condemn another person to come into alignment with God. Being wise as a serpent allows us to see truth and guard against being overtaken, but being as gentle as a dove allows God's love to work through us so that it helps our neighbors.
As much as we sometimes wish we could bring someone into our perception and closer to God, it may not be the plan. It maybe that God is working for them and through them at that time. Perhaps that person is in the correct position to be able to reach back and give the person behind him or next to him a hand. The one we are not able to reach.
"No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it." (1Corinthians12:22,26)
But, speaking the truth in love, may we grow up in all all things unto Him who is the head-Christ-from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:15)
Is there one true religion? Yes and No. Each variation in belief works for the common good of the collective. This is necessary. It is how we ensure that no one gets left behind.
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