This morning as I was “praying through” my continued desire to be real and much less religious, I was pondering the struggle of the many with whom I associate. Given a nation that is fast becoming secular, now devastatingly politicized and pluralistic, we of the Christian faith have our challenges if we are to remain viable and convincing of our love.
I have always found my spiritual moorings in the life of Christ and by virtue of a living experience that seems new every morning, I qualify as Christian. However, given the growing tension within that sect due to the morphing of our republic, I now fear we are becoming more religious than relational, the antithesis of the life of Christ.
My use of the word “real” is best defined by the following quote:
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Back to religion, our menu is vast; that volume representative of man’s attempts to know God, something it appears that every human struggles with at some point. Even within the Christian genre, we now have so much diversity among the many Christian denominations that each has created subsets, some of whom distrust even their own brothers! That cannot be of the Spirit.
Judaism maintains scores of ritual requirements, compounding Moses’ Ten Commandments; Islam I am told with at least five prequalification’s; and my own denomination, holds to its 16 Fundamental Truths. The words of Christ: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 27:37-40 NIV). Pretty simple, yet we humans are too often selfish with our love and unwilling to risk that we might be wrong in some areas, which takes me to another place.
We tend to be guarded with our relationships and securely boxed in with our beliefs; if you are not in my circle of friends, you are challenged to enter; and if you do not believe as I do, even though I may never have experienced first-hand those beliefs, you are wrong from the “get-go” once those beliefs are challenged!
Can love be love without compromise? I think not. Yet compromise is risky unless we trust the omnipotence of the One God. Of course, we must first believe that God is; a problem for some of my readers and for those who serve a different god(s). I guess I have circled back to my original question, the answer being that love always compromises on the side of what I individually hold true, but cannot compromise the One true God that is always merciful and just. I then am free to love those who do not believe like me, look like me or even love like me.
In fact if I truly love those around me, where does that love come from if not from another? I know myself too well to believe differently; if my love is pure it did not find its origin in me, and if I demand that to be true, I reveal my own arrogance.
Therefore, if my love has its essence in an Other who is pure and just, then surely I am free to love without fear of compromise, for that Other will certainly out of love, cover any error if I follow my heart.