Part II: “WHY”
“Why should we start a spiritual relationship with God?”
This may be one of the most important questions to be answered by those contemplating a spiritual path as part of their future. We often understand ‘how’ we respond to the people, events, or incidents in our lives. A true understanding of ‘why’ we do what we do often goes unnoticed before, during, or after we act.
Why should one consider starting (or re-starting) a spiritual relationship with God through acknowledgment of Christ Jesus? In simplest terms an active spiritual connection brings God’s guidance, counsel, blessings, and protection as well as a promise of everlasting spiritual life. Many scoff at this statement. So be it. Either one believes in God and His word and thereby acknowledges His Words to be true, or they don’t. For unbelievers there are no words, suggestions, or debates which may change their minds or a particular stance regarding spiritual acknowledgment of Christ Jesus.
So, why start a spiritual relationship? When you accept Christ into your life, He will send the “Spirit of Truth” (the same spirit that is God) to ‘activate’ (dwell with) your spirit. The Spirit of Truth is exactly that; a new realization of Truth’s presence in one’s life. Employing spiritual strength allows one to innately recognize both Truth and its antithesis forms; lies, deceit, falsehoods, fabrications. With knowledgeable awareness of Truth, the ‘veil’ of rationalized delusion is lifted.
We have each been given ‘free will’ choice and a mind for decision making. Although knowing or realizing this, truth does not automatically portend truthful grounded actions or responses. Truth reveals new understanding to statements, actions, responses, or activities in one’s life. Particularly those inherently false, fabrications, manipulations, or lies.
We each come into this world dependent on life support by our parents, siblings, grandparents, care givers. Those who accept responsibilities for our care and nurturing as babies, infants, children. At about age two we learn the power of the word “No”. We soon learn its adverse fallout. Consequential outcomes become well established norms in our mind through actions tied to ‘right vs. wrong.’ In every aspect of life, we soon learn right and wrong actions result in ‘rewards or punishments.’ The more accustom we become by experience the more we learn to identify ‘right and wrong’ actually means ‘reward or punishment.’ Whether legal systems, religions or through social interactions, right and wrong play out as reward or punishment.
Right vs. Wrong is inherently sound in its foundation but for many it can morph into a choice between “Will this decision result in a reward or punishment for me?” Its colloquial applications for some in our twenty-first century culture are, “it’s all about me” or, “what’s in it for me?” These can become the lead precursors to every decision made. At the core of “right or wrong” a grounded mindset tied to “reward or punishment” is focused on outcomes for self, first and foremost. A problem with this type of exculpatory living is it keeps us isolated in thought and direction.
Because God is Spirit and creator of the universe and all that is in it, including us, we are also spirit in our essence. As a unit of cosmic spiritual energy (soul) created by God we are conjoined with body and mind to become human. Our character and nature being formed by the humanity we come to know and embrace firsthand, ‘right vs. wrong’ are foundational for choice, action, or outcome. Our natural instinct is to consider how choice and consequence affect us directly, in the moment. (Again, “what’s in it for me?”)
God’s character and nature are grounded in morals and ethics, actionable by love and truth. Coming to know God we better understand morality and ethics rooted in every choice or decision. When we engage ‘free will’ choice by considering moral and/or ethical implications of our daily decisions we can extrapolate the benefit (or harm) any outcome may have. Not only to ourselves but as importantly toward other (family, friends, co-workers), people we care about. This is the power of spiritual strength when we have a spiritual relationship with God through Jesus Christ. By knowing to consider the morals and/or ethics of a decision the question is no longer, “what’s in it for me” (‘right vs wrong’). We now understand ‘how and why’ morals and ethics are what’s in it for others?
Stay tuned for Part III.
Part I: "HOW"
The question I get most often is: “How can I start a spiritual relationship with God?”
Many people think or believe the world is a place of goodness and light. Where evil and corruption have only a sliver of presence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is the world is a place of evil and corruption under the guise and guidance of men. The sole glimmer of hope for the world is God’s spiritual presence.
It’s “the world’s ways” designed and implemented by men whose dictates are grounded in greed and cruelty determining much of humanity’s suffering, stress, struggle, and conflict. One might think God’s intervention would be decisive, with a finality for one’s life. A problem occurs with this false premise. The ways of the world run rampant against hope and desire for a relationship with God. It’s through suffering that many people often turn to God. And yet, because He doesn’t respond immediately to their protracted delusions or disappointments, they keep themselves even further from Him.
Religions attempt to convince people to believe and accept God. However, instead of using love, compassion and mercy, religions often use images, language, and descriptions of ‘fire and brimstone’ coupled with damnation to extort allegiance. Threats of punishment from God for disobedience or ‘sins’ of daily living are common pronouncements by religions. Many think of religions as a cudgel against those “[who] lead lives of quiet desperation”.
The world wants us to think it’s one way or the other. All or nothing. All God or no God. God wants us to know and understand life’s essence is rooted in balance. Balance between who we are as humans in our physicality and who we are as spirited souls.
The world’s vices and volitions are purposed to entice, embolden or further encourage those who willingly embrace its wanton ways. The world promotes its own and rewards those who use its ways to control, coerce or cause victimization of others. Both the world and religions effectively use fear, shock, and punishment attributed to or from God as weapons against His love. It’s this conflict, this battle between the natural (wo)man and the spiritual (wo)man, between good and evil, that is a foundational discovery for each of us. Who we are, who we will be and where we fit into our world.
The more we participate and embrace exclusively the world’s ways with its layers of tests, trials, and challenges the more we (can) become complicit in and at the same time victims of its harshness. Many turn to God often as a last resort hoping for relief. It’s here the world redoubles its efforts. Even without knowing it we can become targets of attempts to dissuade us from establishing (or re-establishing) a spiritual relationship with God through Christ Jesus.
Our levels of comfort with the world can make ‘new’ spiritual life difficult. And yet, God waits. This may be one of the most underappreciated facets of life. That God waits on our response. Will we (again) succumb to the challenges or old pattern options presented to us in the familiarity of the world we know? Will we give rise to its siren call of comforting misery? Will we abandon God’s path because we think He has abandoned us by not answering? Or will we gather ourselves to muster the strength of spirit needed to look closer at self-reflection?
The goal of the spirit is always to start (or re-start) upon the path and then stay the course. In so doing, to grow with and through hardship with His spiritual strength now abiding within our spirited soul. This is a dilemma point. We are (perhaps once again) ready and motivated. But how do we start on a Christ led path? What do we do? This is where so many have stumbled. How and what do we do? Go (back) to church? Falling into a well-trod cycle of disappointment amid accusations, guilt and shame? Are there alternatives we can take?
Here are five scripturally sound steps to (re)activate your spirit.
Matthew 7:7-8; Invite.
John 16:13; Embrace.
John 14:16,26; Engage.
John 14:6; Emulate.
Romans 10:9-10; Believe.
These steps are all you need. You don’t need to ‘know the Bible.’ You don’t need to ask permission of some church member or official. You don’t need to get approval from a family member. Read and understand these scriptures and you’ll be prepared to step on the singular path that will bring Christ’s spirit into your life. If you don’t have a bible, go here- https://www.biblegateway.com/
These five provide clarity for understanding and practice. Clarity of the world, clarity of ourselves. A first step opportunity to change your life is here, right now.
The world’s ways are to distract us from cognition that God’s spirit of origination dwells within us. (“God is Spirit” [Jn 4:24]). Therefore, as our creator we too are of His Spirit. These two are to be acknowledged and reiterated. From the moment we invite and ask Christ into our lives, having received His Holy Spirit, our spiritual task is to walk a path that takes us closer to God. By accepting His spiritual guidance, counsel, or instruction while emulating His thoughts, words, and deeds we become living children of God.
With the spirit of truth within us our quest now becomes to learn and apply balance between our human and our spiritual selves. Balance between our physical needs and active spiritual grounding. In this way we become more complete. We become a ‘new’ complimenting combination of physical and spiritual. As we grow in completeness, we become more balanced and fulfilling as partners in our personal and career relationships.
This is part of the design and purpose of life. To come closer to God. Our relationship with Him will grow as we acknowledge and consider His lead to our responses with spiritual support for our actions. Through this burgeoning new spiritual awareness, we recognize a deeper level for future choices.
With reflection comes better understanding for possible application of truth and love in our life. We are now able to understand more competently practiced compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. We also employ spirit inspired strength to turn from corruption and evil. No longer denying these exist. No, far from it. Knowing with certainty they do! Understanding they run rampant within and throughout our world. At every level, within every endeavor, industry, government, commerce, or religion.
Awareness automatically gives pause to the ways and influences of the world. By our spiritual grounding we now recognize truth’s presence in all we do, in all we are. Not only by our participation in the world at large, but by our now spiritually grounded personal and career lives.
Stay tuned for Part II.
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