Chapter 7 in God is Love, is about our beliefs. In this chapter, I discuss what a belief is, my definition of a Christian, and the beliefs of Gnostics, the New Age movement, and other religions.
Our belief system creates a foundation on which to build our lives and provides guidelines to help us navigate through life. It determines our values, help us understand who we are, why we are here, and how we interpret the world around and beyond us. It is also what often separates us from other religions and causes wars to break out among us. When we don’t understand what others believe, we tend to fear them and either avoid them, lash out at them, or defend our position. Rarely are we encouraged by others to set aside our fears, question our own beliefs, and look beyond what we have been taught, or to seek to understand the beliefs of others and why they choose to hold these beliefs without judging them.
Our beliefs can become like idols in our lives. We fear changing them, so even when we know they no longer serve us, we cling to them, caring more about being accepted by people, society or by the church. A belief is different from truth, it is not set in stone but is something that guides us through life. Every time we learn new information or have a new experience it should affect our beliefs. People previously believed the earth was flat but had to change that belief based on new information. People believed that women should not work, but now they work. So do not fear changing your beliefs as you experience more of life.
Every religion has false beliefs within it because every religion was created by imperfect people incapable of completely understanding God. Every religion also has true beliefs within it because every religion has people who are genuinely seeking God, and when you seek God you will find him and his truth. When people claim that their religion is the only truth, they place themselves above others and become prideful, believing they are somehow better than others, more spiritual, or superior in some way. This then creates division and conflict. People are no longer seen as fellow beings to love but as targets to convert. In the Bible, I never read about Jesus threatening to send people to hell for not believing in him. Jesus did mention the religious things people were doing that were based in fear, power and control rather than love, but did he not condemn their core belief system. Jesus, Buddha and many of the other religious teachers never asked to have a religion made out of their life and teachings.
I believe religions were not created by God but were created by man. From the beginning of time man has known there was something beyond this earth; a spiritual connection, a moral code, a God of some kind existed. Every culture created a way to express and to define these ideas, which became known as religions. These religions were then given hierarchy and structure to try to bring unity among followers and to control the people through one common, agreed-upon belief system. When Jesus was alive, many religions had long existed, and yet he never warned people to avoid certain ones or their beliefs. I do not believe any of them has all the truth, but they all have parts of it, and if we can let go of our fears and replace them with love, understanding, and respect, we will find much to learn from the different religious belief systems. I believe when we get to heaven we will see people from all religions and belief systems because God looks at the heart or the intent of a person, whether someone was motivated by love or by fear, rather than the person’s man made religious affiliation.
My prayer is that we can all stop putting labels on people and learn to love and to appreciate them for who they are, what they believe, and where they are in their own life journeys.
God is Love, A Spiritual Journey from Fear to Love