A life-long close friend had this to say in response to my blog post covering THE PRESENT TRUTH, by Martin Murphy.
while I may not share your beliefs and philosophies on religion, I applaud the extent of your research, though this seems very complicated. Three words suffice; Respect, Love and Kindness.
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
To which I replied
We don’t have to share beliefs to be friends. Respect, love, and kindness will maintain a close friendship over time and distance. The world could use more of this.
Christian theology can certainly be complicated. There are thousands of great theologians and philosophers who have written millions of pages over the last two millenia, each using words created by men, defined by men, and collected and organized by men to explain things which men are not truly capable of understanding; yet men must do this.
Remarkably, not one word of complicated theology is required to have a relationship with the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Moses, as indicated in the bible. Understanding complex theological concepts is also not required. The CORRECT and PROPER understanding of complex theological concepts is certainly not required. If it was, we’d all be in trouble.
In the book of John, Chapter 3 verse 16, is is recorded that Jesus said:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
That is not complicated.
That God loved us enough to offer us the free gift of redemption to reconcile us with Himself is not complicated.
Grace is not complicated.
Theology, on the other hand, can be very complicated, since ephemeral minds are seeking to explain things that are eternal. Men must do this. Men cannot help themselves. We seek to use all the rational capabilities we have to explain something that is basically irrational, though our hearts tell us otherwise.
The only harsh words that Jesus had for any people were reserved for the ultra-religious people of his time. The Pharisees were a sect that had all the outward appearances of religion, kept all the religious dates, did all the religious things, wore all the religious garments, ate all the religious foods, said all the right religious words, yet the Lord said that their hearts were far from Him. He called them a wicked generation of vipers. The Sadducees were the established sect that controlled the Temple grounds and the money-changing tables there, making a profit off those who came to the temple to do their temple duties. In a rage, Jesus overturned their tables saying that they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves. They were doing business as usual, concerned with their own power and profits rather than the needs of the people.
Other than that, the recorded words and actions of Jesus on this earth were kind. They were meek. They were designed to get a man to look inward and see what was in his own heart, for that was the only place a man could work spiritually on a soul, and to recognize a need to be reconciled via a personal relationship with God. Other than that, Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, and exhorted and comforted the downtrodden.
The Apostle Paul said, in his letter to the Galatians, Chapter 5 verse 22 and 23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.
Unfortunately, the world does not quite see enough of this outwardly manifested in the lives of Christians. Instead, they see the things we so easily show: division, strife, dissension, envy, railings, accusations, self-righteousness, self-sanctimony, and a strident ardor to apply the law to others as if we were, by some divine right of passage, claiming exemption from the very thing we would inflict on others. We see the speck in our brother’s eye, yet fail to see the big splinter in our own. We are prone to showing this hypocrisy while failing to display any of the things mentioned above . . . those things against which there is no law.
I am persuaded that through Jesus, I have a relationship with The Most High God, the One Who, when asked His name by Moses, replied, “I Am That I Am.” I cannot be dissuaded otherwise. I have tried it and found it to be true. I can try to explain it, but I would be inflicting my theology on you, and my theology is what very few want, and absolutely no one needs.
The theology men need is easily summed up in these words of Jesus:
If any man is thirsty, let him come unto Me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’
I have tasted that water, and a spring has welled up in me until it overflows. Truly, my cup runneth over. We’ve all had regular water, but I am persuaded that I have tasted Living Water. The Living Water is free, abundant, and there for everyone who would drink of it. Since there is no shortage of it, I am free to share it. No one is required to have a special cup, dress a certain way, or speak in a certain manner to drink it. All that is required is that they be thirsty and willing to drink. I am required to share it when asked. I am not required to force it down anyone’s throat. They’ll most likely rebel, choke, and be extremely resentful if I try. No one is served that way. The way I should share it is by continually displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control to every person I come in contact with. If I fail at this, I sure hope you’ll point this out to me and remind me of what I have written here. If you do, you’ll see my head lower and I will blush with shame at myself, yet will be thankful for the one who reminded me what a Spirit-filled life is all about.
What it is NOT about is religious philosophy, or the correct understanding of an obtuse, abstract theology. Those CAN be a millstone with which we hobble ourselves. They don’t have to be. We only hobble ourselves when we try to hobble others. Better if we write about our theology and let those who will glean from it glean what they will.
If you will come with me, then come on. If not, I’ll be following the trail blazed by billions of others that is bold enough to be followed in the dark, that way, you can find me if you’re of a mind. If not, you are welcome to follow your own trail. Just know that the invitation is always open.
Do I enjoy theology? You bet.
Do I find it useful? You bet.
Am I CONSTRAINED by it? Absolutely not!
Are YOU constrained by my theology? I throw back my head and laugh at MYSELF at the suggestion.