The Common Task
|Anything sensible and sound said in spiritual teaching, I find, will
immediately be greeted by criticism from over believing lunatics or
under believing liberals. You will, I suggest, if you have any judgment,
disregard both groups. The liberals don’t believe in a God who stoops to
act or give direction to human
life. Their God is not in when you ring the door bell and does not
answer the door. Why bother with Him?
On the other hand, the God of the unbalanced and over believing lunatics is definitely always in. He answers the door ranting creedal bigotry, raving intolerance, advocating religious wars, and hate for others of any other faith. I just don’t see the blessed God consciousness in this religious faction. In fact I see a grasp of what religion is without a true sense of God. It isn’t pretty. As I used to pray when a boy after hearing lunatic preachers rave and rant, “God, let me believe in a God but not like that!”
Actually, the Christians I like to be with are the Sane Ones in the middle who nobody ever hears from or talks about, because the under done believers and the over done believers have seized the spotlight. Therein they dance. This is an age that wants sensationalism and delights in grotesques. They’ve got them in spades. Sane Christianity is rarely recognized in the media or in communal life.
I define the believing Sane Ones as believers in a supernatural God who acts, gives direction and leads. He is a spiritual comrade and companion. He is a Gospel God. He is the Christian’s Sane Companion: personal, sympathetic and spiritually motivating. He has a community sensibility.
I see the Sane Christians as on a higher plane of civilization, moving away from the Stone Age, because they have spiritual beliefs that securely put them on higher spiritual planes of civilized living above mere materialism with its uni-dimensionalism or one dimensional mind set of things, things, things.
A mind without an awareness of spiritual levels is on a barbarian level. I believe spiritual minds truly applied to the application of spiritual living on earth can move us, the people, beyond mere materialism. No matter how far into the spiritual view you get, the fact remains we are all children of God with responsibilities to each other, God and the world. I believe we either learn to live that fact or we all go under as the world self-destructs. It tends to take the self-destructive path.
That we have a God matters. We may not all have the same revelation of God, and the vision of God we have, is important, but the important thing is we see God is. If God is, then all of us share a responsibility to Him about the world and all that is in it. The earth is sacred and we have divine responsibilities no matter what our creed, denomination or faith. This is the great awareness we must have. The duty of religion goes further than immortal life after dying, which life of course there is. But life here and now is our concern: responsibility for each other all over the world. Charity does not just begin at home. It is a concern at a world level.
Instead religions in the past have not been properly centered on spiritual priorities. This is probably a great understatement. Instead religions often turned the earth into a real hell in literal wars and ugliness over which sacred revelation was right. Religions turned on each other in constant ugly spiritual wars over which spirituality was to be forced on mankind. It was horrible.
But the religions were without sufficient vision for the good of the world. They were interested only in their own taking over the world for their revelation and creed. Creed was put first and the needs of mankind last. But now we are at last moving from selfish vision to world vision. The world that God created is now threatened by very possible destruction. If we as different religions do not combine to help to serve and save God’s world, then it is very possible there will be no religions at all in the future because of the destruction of the world, not by God, but through the mixed up values of humanity.
I loathe amoral scientific technology for pushing us to this present point of possible world destruction whereon we stand. It is far too early a time in the march of civilization because people and religions all over the world are not mature enough yet for world responsibility, yet responsibility has yet been put upon us. We must grow up in God or we shall go under. We as religions cannot now unite in revelations. That is ridiculous at this time, nor do I think we necessarily even have this obligation. But it is our responsibility to work together as different faiths to help serve the interests of the world and save it from destruction.
Creedal agreement is not necessary to agree to serve the world. It is only necessary to respect each other’s creeds, and then to unite in telling the entire world we all agree there is a God; and we have divine responsibilities to Him. We also have sacred responsibilities to each other and the world. All religions can agree on this. If you cannot agree to this, consider your children and grandchildren. Do you want them to have a world to live in? It is possible they will not if those with a God consciousness, whatever their revelation do not act as one in saying that the world belongs to God and must be saved. One generation must not be allowed to ruin it for any reason.
The vision is that all believing in God together make a positive contribution to affirming life. All religions share a new “call” today to a higher, better, newer Vision in religion, that of all faiths working together to save and further the earth. The emphasis must be on our Spiritual Unity Of Belief in God and what that means. We must repent the past where religions often made life hell for each other and the world by fighting each other over which one was right. This was so wrong and so shortsighted.
Now religions must all affirm the truth of the existence of God and man’s responsibility in the world towards Him. There is a God. All religions, regardless of faith, have a divine responsibility to Him to save the earth and serve the people on it. This is implicit in the revelations of all the major faiths. Grace is everywhere. Who is right is a side question. How we can serve the world is the question all religions now share.
We must now in religion work together for good. I do resent the immoral and amoral use of science that forced such grave responsibility on an unprepared world where most are still living in the Stone Age in spirit, if not in technology. But it may be just as well that this has happened. Anyway it has happened, so we must make the most of it as we are called to it. Did not the Apostle say,? “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) May the new responsibility make the different faiths of the world grow up more and stop the spiritually immature bickering between religions.
Instead of the old world reality of religions working always against each other, the new world vision must be of all religions and faiths respecting each other more as citadels of belief in a God while working and cooperating for the common good. If you can’t swallow your pride and do it for God, do it for your children and grandchildren. Only if we work together on affirming life, may the world survive. My view is that if we make it clear in six faiths, the accumulated totality of agreement may help.
“Now, you may say, the faiths of the world working together positively is too good to be true.” In some places they are already doing that. But, yes, the overall task will not be easy. It will be a jungle at first. We may have to cut a way through a lot of religious overgrowth to reach each other. But no faith will be giving up anything vital, because the faiths will be out to work together for the world, not to convert each other individually and selfishly.
Of course in Christianity there will be the liberals on the left telling us there is no supernatural or supranatural God, no true doctrines, no answers to prayer. God isn’t leading, because there isn’t one. They will be of the nature of the Anglican parish vicar who doesn’t really believe in God but has a church, which sounds like something out of a comic opera by “Gilbert and Sullivan.” The project will be cursed by those arias of absolutely inconsistent twaddle that is liberalism on center stage. But that’s life and original sin.
Then there will be the lunatic fanatics of inhuman creedal bigotry in nearly every world faith raving, ranting, raving. That includes Christianity. You will notice violence among some on the Moslem fringe today. But let us not forget in Christian history, the Crusades, the Inquisition and scores of various sectarian wars, killings and burnings. Religions in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks. And rock throwers we Christians have been. I hope we will be no more.
Until we as Christians and congregations can learn that, without compromising a whit of doctrine, other religions have some grace in them, and must be treated with fundamental respect, we have not the mind of Christ in us. We have been and are often now congregations of people talking creeds but not in the spirit of Christ, our high revelation of God. When we talk Christianity empty of the spirit of Christ, we are untrue to ourselves, hypocrites to our religion and Judases to Christ. Talking of an empty Christ is not worthy of us nor those we talk to.
In the same way we non-materialists of Western civilization must demonstrate we are on this planet, not with inferiors of other religions and nationalities, but with equals because all peoples are children of God, whatever faith and whatever geographical area, loved by Him, and respected by us. Then we and they can work together on common goals and missions, One of these missions is to enter into the service of helping literally and not figuratively to save the earth in an unusual new and crucial hour of its peril.
Only non-materialists can talk in the spiritual way! What can a materialist talk? Only things, things, things. But the non-materialist knows, acknowledges, and understands the force behind all religious belief, which is the truth of Jesus in Matthew 4:4, “Man cannot live by bread alone.”
Ultimately it will be up to the Sane Ones in Christianity to make things work for the Christian’s part in world faith. These are Christians whose beliefs are not overdone or underdone but can show a rightly balanced belief and a wisely held faith. Frankly, there are not too many of these. There are some in every denomination, but not too many in any. Pray for the Lord to call out Sane Christians for the world’s hour of need, for the world’s survival. Consider if you are not so called. Put this before your conscience in prayer.
As for the other faiths of the world. I believe they will do their part if we but respect their part. Shakespeare said a rose by any other name did smell as sweet. I say that Grace behind strange names does move, did we but know life more fully, we would know it! Grace, no matter what kind or category, common or special, is busy falling like rain, everywhere. The world will make it but we need to put our hearts, hands and minds together to make visible His Invisible Spirit, God’s Wishes and His Will
So if somebody asks mockingly if, as a Christian, you are out to save the world, I suggest you say, “Yes, it so happens, I am, as are all my other brothers and sisters who believe in a God, like the Buddhists, the Moslems, the Hindus and all believers that on earth do dwell. We are one in this.”
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.