Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Joys and Trials of Religion

I have been tagged by my niece, Jaspenelle, to participate in this meme. Since I feel she is a sincere spiritual seeker, I do not want to ignore her request. Jaspenelle is very creative and thoughtful person who is following a Pagan path. I do not hide the fact that I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that my faith is very important to me. I am happy that we respect and love each other and can share in discussions such as this one.

While my faith is important, I am not a religious person. Religious people follow dogmas, rules and rituals that are often man-made and divisive. Nothing is uglier than a group of "christians" fighting among themselves or with others over an interpretation of scripture or a particular doctrine.

I attend church regularly, not to save my soul, but to share with others and encourage them as they grow in their faith. I can worship with true believers from many different denominations. My faith is as important to me from Monday to Saturday as it is on Sunday. The Bible has more condemnation of religion than commendation. Jesus had harsh words for the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his time who were outwardly righteous and inwardly corrupt.

James 1:26, 27 defines religion this way.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The meaning of "polluted by the world" in this context means this to me. My behaviour is not influenced by the desire to accumulate things for myself, whether that is fame, influence, money, or material possessions. My moral compass is set by scriptural guidelines.

In Galatians 5:6, Paul says, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

So, with that background in place, here is meme.

Rules

  • 1. You have to use your own belief system for the meme. No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire. Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!
  • 2. You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.
  • 3. You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
  • 4. Please post these rules
Joys
  • I do not have to struggle to make myself good enough for God to love me. "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:22
  • I can share God's love with others by accepting them and caring for their needs even if they are not like than me.
  • My life has a purpose and even if my role is small, I can make a difference in the lives of others.
  • I can have joy even in difficult times, because my peace and happiness comes from God.
Trials
  • That Christianity has such a negative image to some because of harsh and judgemental people who condemn people without even trying to love or understand them.
Count yourself tagged if you are interested in the topic.

6 comments:

  1. Great meme Ruth. I loved your "joys" column and feel mine are about the same as yours.

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  2. I always feel so blessed that, while our paths differ we can come together and talk about them with each other. I always love this too:

    "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

    When there is overlap of beliefs that we can both completely agree with. :)

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  3. Ruth - I'd missed this and found it quite lovely and reassuring. Just yesterday I asked a Chinese friend about her religious beliefs and she said quite the same thing you did here. There's a lot of good in the human heart and great wisdom in the words of the Bible.

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  4. Your comment regarding "religion" reminds me of the church laws and beliefs that are enforced by church representatives who... I won't expound on this. I don't agree with any of it but I do practice my own faith and I know I am a good Christian. Your joys hit home with me. I'm looking for another church to attend and I'll keep looking until I find the one for me.

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  5. Jayne- I always find memes to be challenging, but it was not hard to come up with the joys list.

    Jaspenelle- You are an interesting person in many ways and I am so glad you keep in touch with me. ((hugs))

    Cathy- I feel badly that many people have had no exposure to the Bible. We had one religion class a week in our public school, but I don't believe that happens any more. The Bible is full of truth and wisdom. It is referred to frequently in literature. Yet many have misused it to justify their wrong behaviour.

    Jennifer- I have never heard this song. Very interesting lyrics. Thanks for the link.

    Mary- I hope you are successful in finding the right church to nurture the faith you have already.

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