Popular in our world and culture is the idea that we can choose which God to believe in. We then determine, largely for ourselves, how much to believe. From those initial concepts, we get to decide whether we want to go the whole distance with this particular belief system or blend it with others. It is our choice whether to accept or reject certain parts. We are free to be completely wrong, and if any of us are correct, certainly many (or most) of us are just as wrong as possible!
Certainly we are free to choose for ourselves, as it should be, yet our choices have eternal consequences. That truth is not just for the ultra-religious or ultra-atheistic, either. Neither is it only true in terms of redemption or salvation, but for the day to day living of our grandchildren and beyond. Our theology, in blunt terms, affects our politics, our government, society, culture, art, science, and community. Those conditions endure a long, long time.
There are two sides to consider, of course. The first includes those who have deep and meaningful spiritual experiences. They know things that directly influence their lives. This can be particularly true and effective for traditional born again Christians, Talmudic Jews, Śīla-conscious Buddhists, conscientious Natural Law advocates, and 12 Step program practitioners, among others. The “revealed truth” of these spiritual and religious expressions is enduring. Whatever “God consciousness” influences us requires some degree of study. The commands of whatever god appears rarely includes an infusion of fully developed ethics. Those who do not experience spiritual matters directly must choose standards and principles based entirely on personal desire, reason and personal conviction. And there is plenty of reason to do so.
As a Christian, it was hard to write this material so far without heavy emphasis on Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the God of the Bible. Separating eternity from eternal consequences is tricky business. The life of Christ served Godly purpose. Men such as Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, however, remained — and most Americans still remain — convinced of the life plan and government warnings without any conviction about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. So can you, if you must.
Again, as a Christian I must remind you to bear in mind that there is much more to God than earthly government. Christ offers eternal salvation, redemption. His atoning death brings us into His government. His Law calls for “just” two things: love God with all your body, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.
That makes Christianity the simplest religion to practice in the history of the world. Doing so would improve the lives of your children and grandchildren, and your neighbor would not be afraid of you. What does “love” mean in this context?
It means we commit to being patient and kind. (We fail at all of these, routinely, but more of that after we look at the goals.) It means we are not envious or boastful. Love means we do our best not to be arrogant, putting others ahead of ourselves. It means rudeness is obnoxious. We do not insist on our own way, and strive not to be irritable or resentful. We rejoice when we hear the truth. Love struggles to carry our burdens, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Not only is it God’s will, but it makes a great basis for government and society.
Love never ends. We never run out of it. If it is really love, the thoughts and deeds coming out of love never run out, either. Christianity works for others as well as ourselves, and it allows us to live with very little external government.