Reflections: "Weighing The Cost"
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
"But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one shall give an account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Romans 14:10-13 (KJV)
It is my sincerest prayer that this week's Reflection will not only bring encouragement, but also food for your spirit and for your thoughts. May the light of God illuminate your paths, as He fills you with His love and presence.
This past week I came across a discussion on religion and spirituality. The conversation went as such to distinguish the profound difference between the two. Many gave their opinion; and of course, debate ensued. The moderator of the discussion, a Christian believer herself, had written an article, "Religion and Spirituality". To summarize for you: Religion is an organized group of persons that tend to identify with a specific belief or teaching, and follow a set of organized rules and creeds by which they govern themselves. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the recognition of the soul, heart and spirit. The act of one becoming conscious of their spiritual self that may connect to a higher power.
Of course, we may have our own interpretations of religion and spirituality. But this was the moderator's view. The discussion raised the issue of rather or not people can be "religious" or have a religion and call themselves "spiritual". Some suggested that spirituality had nothing to do with religion, since religion is a man made institution. One person stated that no religious person could ever be spiritual because they were too concerned with the organization of religion and not the truth, which is that Christ is the only way to a spiritual life. Because, it is Christ who gives the spirit life.
I realized two things: one, people began passing judgment on one another's beliefs without perceiving what the actual post was about (that in religion and spirituality there is a connection that many sometimes miss). Second, not one time did anyone mention "relationship". That got me to thinking, as God began speaking.
Everyone must weigh the cost of their actions. As believers, we must weigh the cost of the things we say and the actions that we perform; especially if we are to draw people into the Kingdom. Do we really have time to enter into heated and endless debates and philosophical free-falls? Do we have the time and luxury to fight over the difference between religion and spirituality, and who's right and who's wrong, when the Heavenly Father is desiring "relationship"?
Many of us have missed the mark. There is no time for debate or judgment when there are so many hearts breaking, and souls wondering if there really is a God. Why do we spend so much time picking people apart, instead of showering them with love? When do we cease being judge and jury and begin acting like the children of God that He has ordained us to be?
One of my majors was, Christian Ministries Education. I've studied and taught Biblical studies for the past twenty years. I've even the opportunity to be a dean of a Bible School for some years. So I can pretty much say that I have some knowledge on Biblical teachings and religion, as well as spirituality. But you know what? None of that matter's to God. None of it! No amount of education or credentials; no amount of certificates or degrees or "spiritual enlightenment" has the power to trump the intimate relationship that God seeks between Himself and His creation. Of all that I have studied, learned, and have taught; it is the "intimate relationship" that God desires.
Who are we to say who is in relationship with God or not? No one knows the heart of a person except God. Who are we to condemn or judge someone because we may believe differently? Here is what God spoke to my heart...
Everyone of His creation has been created in His image. There is a part of God in each one of us. We are more than flesh, we are spirit, as well. At some point in each person's life, God speaks or calls to the spirit that resides in us. Some of us answer, some of us ignore it. But make no mistake: God is calling to that part of Himself that resides in all of us, His creation.
Yes, I firmly believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light. I also believe that the path that one takes, is an individual path that only the person seeking can travel. Everyone must find the truth for themselves. We cannot allow ourselves to judge a person's path to truth.
I'm probably going to cause some debate myself with my next statement, Does it concern me? No. Because God has sent me into many places to be an agitator! So with that said; it is my belief that once a person answers the "call" or "wooing" of their spirit and begins to seek for truth, they have entered into a relationship with the heavenly Father. It does not matter what faith/religion one may practice. Or from what walk of life one comes-a relationship is awakened between Creator and creation when someone desires to know the truth.
The Word of God tells us that he who would seek the truth will find it, and that the truth will set him free. God knows the exact time a person will believe and receive. He knows everything about us. And it is God who does the calling. I believe that when we begin to seek, that is when our relationship with the heavenly Father is awakened. And it is God, and God alone that leads us to His truth and how we can become fully apart of His kingdom.
Listen; I often tell many that according to the world and for sake of "their" classification, I practice the religion of Christianity. Yet, my faith is in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, according to my Creator and myself, I have a "relationship". An intimate relationship with my, Abba Father. And it is this relationship with the Father that led me to the understanding that I needed His Son in order for me to gain full access to the Kingdom of Heaven. I needed His Son, in order for all my sins to be forgiven and to become a new creation in Him and gain full access to God's promises for me.
How can we be led and receive, if we are first not drawn? It is God, Himself, who does the drawing. And that constitutes a relationship. No matter what religion or background you come from--if you are seeking the truth of your divine Creator, He will lead you. But make no mistake, there is a relationship going on. A relationship between God and the spirit that He created in you--in each and everyone of us.
My relationship with the Father lead me to Christ. And when I accepted Christ, it unlocked the previous inaccessible doors to the Father that I had not been privy to. Although I had a relationship with God--it had not been intimate. He had not become my Father, yet. He could not reveal to me the mysteries of His word, or grant me eternal life until I received His Son. Once I did, it unlocked the doors to every promise God had ordained for me.
Please don't get this Reflection twisted, and what I am saying. Because, as believers we know that God has nothing to do with sin. He cannot look upon it. However, He calls to that part of Himself that is in each of His creation. And when we answer the "wooing" of our spirit, and seek out truth, and how to fill that part of us, we have allowed a relationship to awaken between Creator and creation. I am not referring to those who purposely seek to live a life void of God. Or of those that have shunned the very notion that God exists. I am talking to every believer. Every person that has come into a relationship with God. I am speaking to those of us that would stand in judgment of a person, because we believe they have no relationship with God. Or because they did not follow the same path we have. I am speaking to those of us who cause people to turn away from the calling of God to their spirit, because we have convinced them that there is no way they could have a relationship because they do not believe as we.
For every believer, I will liken the relationship to that of a marriage. The relationship with the Father is like the courtship of a man and a woman. Each person is getting to know one another. During the courtship/dating, there is no intimate contact. No sex before marriage. So the relationship remains at one level. You don't know the fullness of being with one another until the marriage night. After the ceremony and the covenant agreement, it is sealed with the act of consummating the marriage. Blood being shed. A coming together of two to now be one. And from this union, unlocks the privileges, covering and promises that come with a marriage.
Now, would you say that there was relationship before the marriage? Yes. But it changed after the marriage. It became another level. A level of intimate knowledge between husband and wife. So it is with the Father. Yes, there is in deed a relationship before one receives Christ. It is a courtship, of sorts. For God already knows who is His. We can either choose to follow through with the covenant: receiving Christ as our Savior and covering. Or we can choose not to; never entering into the fullness of our relationship wit the Father. Never unlocking all the mysteries that God holds for us.
Make no mistake, God is a part of us. Whatever you decide, He is right there. Should you make your bed in heaven, He is there. Should you decide to make your bed in hell, He is there also. We spend much time debating and making judgments about the right way to God, or the correct way to be saved. I know for sure that to be in "full" relationship with the Father, is in deed through Christ. He is the only way to set one free. Yet, it is God, the Father, that first calls out to us. Drawing us to come home. Inviting us into a relationship--a courtship of our souls. Not religion. Not spirituality. But relationship.
My intimate relationship with the Father has freed me from the dogma of religion. It has given my spiritual life ears to hear the heart of another. Eyes to see what my natural eyes cannot. It (my relationship) has given me a heart to love unconditionally. To know that just because a person may not believe as I do does not necessarily mean that they have not entered into a relationship with God. And it is between them and God, as to where their journey/relationship status is currently. I only have to listen and be obedient to God. Because, that's when I may just hear that they are ready to receive the truth of Christ. But if I am standing in judgment and ridicule of them, I will never hear the Father speaking.
I implore you to weigh the cost before you would enter into debate or conflict with someone concerning any matter of religion or spirituality. I pray that you would allow the Holy Spirit to give you ears to hear with your heart and eyes to see spiritually the truth of a situation or person. I pray that you are ready to answer when God comes with the call or assignment.
May you be encouraged this week. I pray your intimate relationship with the Father is stronger with each passing day. May the spirit of peace and prosperity rest in your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, social and financial lives. Embrace the God in you. Who's image in which you were created. Be Blessed.
©2009. Ruthe McDonald. All Rights Reserved.