When they're growing up very few people ever question what they're told about God. God's story is a cultural idea created to explain where they came from, why they exist, how to behave, and what happens after they die. The story of God is interesting because it dominates the way many people think, react, and feel. Recently, I proposed 21 questions that people ask about God, and I have started to post the answers on our center's websites, http://www.cslnm.org and http://www.cslfriends.com.
The first question, "Where did humanity get the idea for God/Goddess?" must be answered in a non-religious way — which is why I am a Religious Scientist. "Religion" is your relationship with God and "science" is the study of that relationship. Which brings us to one of many "religious" challenges: loyalty to the religion of our culture? For many, religion has not been a particularly positive experience. Half truths, used with agendas that are more political than spiritual, polarize opinions and force people into emotional standoffs. Typical of this is the question, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?"
The answer to this question is irrelevant. The purpose of the question is to control the conversation and turn the answer into something that could only come from a "human-like god." A God who sits in judgment with a human agenda to punish or reward depending on whether you follow man-made rules. In science this is called anthropomorphic or ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, especially to a deity.
So what am I loyal to? To God, of course, but not a god created by human agendas, but a God created by consciousness. In philosophy, we call this the god in your mind, your mental faculties characterized by how you think, feel, and choose. This is why the story of God/Goddess is so important to understand.
Now I know many who are committed to their cultural stories sometimes get angry when someone disputes what they believe. Recently, I had a person question my philosophy, quoting their scripture as if God had personally instructed them in what is right and what is wrong. The person even asked me if I knew and, if so, what my source was. I told them it was internal and that most people knew right from wrong the same way most people know hot from cold, in from out and up from down. This, of course, did not satisfy them and they continued to quote scripture as if this was their only source of information. When they were complete, I asked them if they could rephrase their thought into their own words. They struggled with this because real answers come from within and never need to make someone else wrong so you can be right.
Last week, in my Sunday message, I urged my congregation to understand Jesus' words in the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic. The first word is not Our Father, but translates more along the lines of "that which starts, sustains, and completes all of life." I then suggested that many people suffer from incompletes because many experience just the endings of things without a sense of completion. I offered examples such as divorce, job loss, or unexpected changes in one's health. I urged each person to think of something that ended and left them in limbo. I then suggested that they use the word complete when thinking about their example. For instance, "My marriage did not end, it completed itself." "My job did not end, it completed itself."
Most everyone got the message and many shared afterward that they felt a huge sense of relief by being able to let go of the limbo and allow for completion. Such is the nature of that internal quality of Spirit trying to communicate the love it has for you. Such is the nature of a God that is forgiving, nonjudgmental and available to all who take the time to meditate, pray and observe the blessings they have been given.
Deepen your knowledge and expand your experience of how God lives in your heart. As you listen to that still small voice decide for yourself the kind of God you will come from. In the long run, this is one of the most important ideas you will form.
DR. JIM TURRELL is the founder and pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living Newport-Mesa.