Belief And Religion
I don’t believe in a god but I do believe in the teachings of Jesus interpreted for the modern world. Fortunately, for me, Jesus holds no religious (or other form of) authority so I also get to draw on the teachings of other religions and philosophies for inspiration, but I find them mostly consistent. The basics of ‘living right’ seem to be mostly universal.
Unfortunately I’ve often found the Christian religion to be overly preachy, more focussed on worship, sin and conversion of others than actions in this world. For me the focus of Christianity should be on living a life according to the spirit of Jesus’ core teachings, if people did this there would be no conflict or bickering between most of the faiths.
Recently Debbie’s church got a new Minster (Richard Jevons) and I was fortunate to spend the morning listening to his first three sermons. They were extremely interesting, thought provoking and grounded. I picked out a few of the things that he said that particularly resonated with me, I won’t quote, but the gist of what he said was:
- Don’t quote from the Bible, quotes can be taken out of context to support any position. Instead look at passages in context. In context of the time they were written, in context of the section of the bible they are in and in context of the bible as a whole. Try – through reflection – to get to the core message and talk about that instead.
- We should not try to convert or preach to people about the gospel, instead we should live according to the teachings. In doing so we inspire people through our actions to want to learn more about what motivates them. When people inquire then we should share our beliefs with them as explanation.
- We should find time to be alone with our thoughts and our belief, being alone is not the same as being lonely.
- Christians should not expect God to ‘look out for them’ to ‘listen to their prayers’ they should expect life to test them, just like Jesus was tested. Look to God for the strength to get through the testing times, not to make them easier.
- People (including Christians) are obsessed with money, sex and power, just look at the news. He particularly called out people in the church who seek power overtly or by manipulating in the background. In the Christian faith power is replaced by service to others. This reminded me of the idea of the Servant CEO which I liked a lot. I try to provide value now through service to others, so this was an appealing idea.
It’s possible that I’ve misrepresented Richard, so please listen to the podcasts yourself, I know I will continue to do so. It’s nice to have finally found some common ground that I can share with Debbie in this important area of her life.
The picture is of Buttermere, in the lakes, that I recently walked around alone. I thought was perfect for this post as the series of Sermons I mentioned are titled ‘Hill walking with Jesus’ and feature the importance of being alone with your thoughts and beliefs.