Have A Shining Window
|Much Christianity today seems
to have slipped from a spiritual level to a lower literal
level of publishing gnostic creedal information to many shallow church
members who think mumbling
their creeds as they live totally conventional lives will get them to
Heaven. This is absolute
Unfortunately much of Christianity has slipped down to a shallow literal level of religion far away from any personal relationship with God or a direct experience with God. But Christianity is not simply sharing with the living that creedal information that enables them to go to Heaven when dead. Christianity is a spiritual taste of living with Christ. In Matthew 8:22, Jesus says, "Follow me; and let the dead bury the dead." Jesus is saying that He preaches a God for the living. It is then not with burying the dead that we are primarily concerned, but living with Christ now.
Faith cannot be relegated only to an acceptable path to get to Heaven. Religion is a call to spiritually aware living on this earth. You are called by an effort to have a redeeming and enhancing (perfecting but not ending in perfection on this earth) spiritual relationship with God. Most of the creed mumbling conventional Christians of today do not understand what it really means to be spiritual Christians. They have slipped into being literal "creedal religionists." They do not understand or recognize any of the transcendent affirmations of New Testament faith.
Do not think you can be given a sense of being spiritually alive on this earth by mere information. You may be enlightened by information, but you will not be saved by it. You are saved by a personal relationship with God. You must be born again in some way to an interior spiritual relationship. (John 3:3)
As evangelical Protestants, we advocate that all people, everyone in a formally organized church or not in one, needs some of a direct experience of God or something of a personal relationship with God. Now you will not have a complete relationship with God because you are merely one finite person, but you may learn something of God if not all about God.
Do not let churches tell you what to do. We've seen how in history churches often have been and still are: physicians who need to heal themselves first. (Luke 4:23) To the churches, say the personal relationship with God comes first. To see what to do, go first to your conscience that is steeped in a relationship with God. Then judge the church by your conscience, then test your conscience by the church. Then you will have a spiritually balanced faith. You will come closer to a spiritually balanced answer out of a spiritually balanced faith.
Do not have a small, mean and literal Christianity, which is what many have, but put God before creed because God is love. (I John 4:8) When you think you are saved by creed, you are on a much lower level than love. For what is creed and faith, but a stained glass window at night, a carefully designed statement of the mind, but what is that? A creed or a church is real and beautiful only when illuminated by interior love from the inside.
I am tired of conventional stained glass window religions not illuminated by love. I am weary of seeing energy wasted arguing and disputing over if a creed is the right intellectual design. What if it is? When there is not the illumination of grace and love behind it, who cares? You won't notice it in the dark anyway. It is just another dark shadow in a religious night.
There is a natural body and a spiritual body that should co-exist in a church. The natural body is how the window is created and made. But the spiritual body is the light shining through the window that is the natural body. We now have many religious windows made of unique stuff by different craftsman, but few where the light of love and graciousness shine powerfully through the windows. What is made in weakness needs to be brought out by light and love. It needs to be raised by an inner power. (I Corinthians 15:43-44)
Always there is a choice before us. Shall we be one more literal if well designed window of faith of which many boringly exist in conventional churches? Or shall we be a uniquely shining window where the grace of God is seen? We do not need to be fighting over which is the right window. Without the light of love behind it, who cares ? But we in all creeds, religions and churches need to send love shining through the windows of creeds and faiths we already have. I suggest that the best way this can be done is through the light that comes from a relationship with God.
Believers, any group can build a religious window. But few have Christ shining through it. Shall our churches illuminate the world or be just one more darkened stained glass window passed by quickly in the night? Let your church have the shining window.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.