When I was a child, I was taught that one must not doubt faith. One must simply believe. If one experienced doubt, one was somehow sinning. Faith was not to be thought through. Thinking was in fact the enemy of faith as it is limited by the limits of human imagination. An open-mind was possibly the worst thing to have. There was no room for doubt. Just believe.
Ultimately, this was very destructive and lead to the unravelling of my faith. Thankfully, modern Christianity isn’t so strict. Today, it is quite okay – popular even – to have questions and doubts. Had I grown up in such a church, I would probably have very different beliefs today.
But I did not grow up in such a church.
Today, I no longer believe Christ is the way, truth and life. Not exclusively anyway. It is as a result of this lack of belief that I cannot call myself Christian. I feel like I would be doing a disservice to Christians who do believe in those words.
I do believe in God, but my idea of God is not the same as that of most people I know. When I hear people niggle over things like whether God was male or female, three or one… I feel like God is bigger than all of that and we are being limited when we think of God that way.
Ultimately, I believe that to understand God, one must understand love.
Love doesn’t really require books. Books can help, but if we live our lives with open hearts and minds, we develop an increasingly better understanding of what is and what is not love as time passes. We all come to know love, whether or not we can define it.
I do not believe that anyone who lives their life by love (and love alone, whatever their beliefs) will not achieve whatever there is to be achieved, be it heaven, higher existence, another life or whatever else exists beyond death and this dimension (if anything at all). This is why I don’t believe in the ‘way, the truth and the life’ statement. It does not ring true to me. I know people who – more than just being ‘good’ – live their lives by love. People who are not Christian. The idea that these people will go to a place called Hell just does not ring true with me at all. The explanation of the best of man’s ability not being enough and that something or someone needs to make up the deficit for us to qualify for higher existence does not ring true with me either. All I have is my conviction, and those ideas do not make sense to my mind, my heart or my soul.
I honestly do not know whether Jesus actually said all the words attributed to him (as I don’t inherently believe the Bible is the infallible word of God). I don’t know whether – if he did say those words – it is what he meant (Jesus seems deeper to me than that). I do not know whether – if he said and meant those words – he was wrong (as Jesus is – to me – only as much ‘God’ as any of us are: little creators who are simultaneously components of God and who have God inside us. I think he understood this and we have mistranslated him).
While I cannot call myself Chrstian, I can call myself a student of Christ. I read his words and try to make sense of them. I read what others have to say about him too. I read beyond Jesus (just as Jesus himself did). But most of my reading is on Jesus.
My being drawn to Jesus is not because he is inherently more compelling than any other religious figure but because Christianity is what I was raised in and is the language I am most fluent in. The vast majority of people lean towards the religion they are brought up in. I am no different from anyone else in this statistic.
Christ fascinates me however because he IS fascinating. To deny so (nothing more, mind) would be patently ludicrous. But I think he was a very deep and mystic individual whose words are not as perspicuous as many presume. So I try to study him and put him in the context of his time. I remember a feeling of relief that I am not alone in thinking this when I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry for the Historical Jesus (as opposed to the religious Jesus).
Ultimately, I think Jesus understood – like many before and after him – that everything boils down to love. The two commandments that he replaced the ten commandments with were both founded on love.
I believe in Love.
I believe it transcends everything. It’s this ‘God quality’. Aspiring towards it makes us higher beings. Not just in an abstract sense, but in a very palpable fashion.
Some achieve this through religion. However I feel like this is in spite of (and not because) of religion. I feel like religions as a whole are a well-intentioned attempt to get humankind to practice lives of love. Through practicing what religions preach, some people touch upon love in a very genuine fashion. Naturally, they attribute that to religion (when it is in fact just love). Many others however do not, as religions often twist the very simple and basic nature of love, strait-jacketing it in dogma.
There is nothing more important than love. To be a higher being involves striving to make love the motivation for everything you think and everything you do. Not just a love of others, but a love of yourself: the two must be balanced. I think all religions understand this.
More than a student of Christ, I am a student of love. I believe that Jesus was both a student and a teacher of it. But I do not presently believe that he was anything more than that (although it is possible that he was. Possible: not definite). I think love transcends Jesus and not the other way around (if you are Christian of course, God is love and Jesus is God so Jesus is Love. I don’t, so – at best – God is Love). This may change as I come to understand him more. Or it may not. I am open to either possibility. Ultimately, I imagine I will move past Jesus to study love not just in other religions, but beyond religion too.
Nevertheless, my not being Christian does not lower my esteem for Jesus (or the account of Jesus that we have received).
5 thoughts on “Love is My Religion”
As3m ooo… if people of all religions will just understand that love is all that it takes to make the world a better place…>> I tried to write something about my life as a Christian sometime ago on my blog too >> http://ofolikwei.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html
For the first time, someone has actually voiced out my inner discussions on Religion. Good piece. Love indeed is the greatest and only thing.
Very well written, on sundays I feel like I am the only one of my friends and everyone I know who hasn’t found the truth. I have questions and feel that the Christianity I was brought up will never answer them for me. When I voice them out I am always told to have faith, to believe. It has never been possible for me to believe or have faith without a sign. I have resigned myself to believing in God but struggle with several things Christianity dictates and I am so glad to read that another person feels the same.
I should have kept up with your blog better! Jesus, to me, just doesn’t seem that nice a guy or that inspiring. Give me the words of people such as Nietzsche and you’ll have me jumping up and down with the excitement of the perspective he offers me (sometimes disturbingly bleak). God and Jesus – why are they Love? Our descriptions of them in religious texts don’t seem to fulfil the promise of that word. My sticking point is god. I don’t feel the presence of any “higher power”, I don’t see any evidence of one and “being spiritual” seems a wishy-washy position or a stage on the journey to complete non-belief. Rather, I can occasionally locate that place of peace within myself, through evolution understand my connection with ALL life on this planet and through science understand my connection at the atomic level with the cosmos. These things for me are far more beautiful, humbling and awe inspiring than concepts of the gods. I invite you to accept your doubts and dismiss those nagging contradictions you feel at the thought of god, and take a step into the heart of life, into non-belief and humanism!
It is easy to live with the truth that God is love. But what is love? Is it ‘love’ to sentence a convicted murderer to life imprisonment? If so, then isn’t our definition of love narrow? Can acts of love not have unpleasant consequences for some members of society? if so, can we agree that not every act of love will please everyone. Sometimes, it even goes against the majority. Shall we redefine what love is then?
The contention over whether Jesus existed, said what is in the Bible, or not is interesting considering the evidence. How many ancient manuscripts speak to the life of Jesus? How does that compare with Plato, Aristotle, Iliad, or other philosophers and religious thinkers? What contention is there over The Republic or the Odyssey?
Love is not what we make it. Love is an absolute reality that we may or may not agree with. But that does not invalidate it. God is love, not the other way around. Jesus is God in human form exhibiting love for us to see and imitate.
You cannot be a student of love outside of God. Then at that moment you are a student of something else, not love.