Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

Arguably, religion’s usefulness is exhausted at times or gets polluted. So, how can nearly 6 billion faith adherents keep religion useful?

Religion News Service asked faith leaders to predict the 2018 religious landscape. Here are two responses: an increase in women’s influence in the wider society as well as in the churches; and speaking truth with love, in an atmosphere of anger and hateful rhetoric.

It’s noteworthy that the responses carry a recognition of interconnectedness between religion, societies, and politics.

History shows that that human institutions influence one another, nationally and internationally. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are two leaders who deftly wove religious teachings into political actions.

These models of symbiosis remind us to value our institutions and keep them as pure as possible.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Earth serves as a bountiful source of life, beauty, and food for us. It’s only natural we’d want to return the treatment. But human ego, greed, confusion, and fear tempt us to do that which is unnatural, and suffering is felt. Too often, we make others suffer first.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What is natural is possible.

Many of us find help in prayer or meditation as helpful in quieting the human egos bent on self-destruction and self-deception. The mind’s eye sees peace and encouragement. We can look around and find people who are contributing to the health of Earth. We can join them or we follow their footsteps on our own.

Religion News Service posted an article January 26, 2018 that juxtaposed environmental care and religion. Evelyn Tucker, co-director of the Yale Forum on Religion and the Ecology, “pointed to programs such as Yale Divinity School’s master’s degree in religion and ecology, which trains future ministers to view the environment as a critical component of faith formation.”

The environment has always been a critical component of my faith. I enjoy my daily walks in the woods. The natural environment tells me love and light are real. It tells me I can’t stop newness and healing. It humbles me and inspires me to share goodness, to tread lighter.

  • I think before I buy and notice I buy less.
  • I turn off unneeded lights.
  • I eat smart, from my garden as much as possible.
  • I read instead of watch TV.

I believe we were given dominion to take care of Earth, not to dominate. Just as I believe I was given dominion to take care of my children, not dominate them.

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one. (Matt. 6, NIV)

Don’t give chocolate and donuts to people with weight problems.

Food is a temptation and love doesn’t tempt us, but encourages us to be moderate and nourishing.

Jesus said, “know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)

Free of what?

Pain, loneliness, lack? Or, freedom from responsibility toward family and society? Big difference and I believe Jesus meant freedom from pain loneliness, and lack.

Truth sets us in the way of being responsible to family and society. To God.

Once that question was out of the way, I wondered, what exactly is truth?

I’ve noticed that my truth is not truth for others. It’s true that I grew up in a supportive family, but a supportive family wasn’t true for the children I fostered when I was older.

I’ve also noticed that human insight isn’t truth. For example, when reading spiritual texts, I may feel touched by a moment of profound insight, yet still not feel free of fears.

There is also the insight of correction, that poses as truth. Most of us have learned something in life that we need to unlearn and correct, however, the correction isn’t truth.

I grew up attending the Christian Science Sunday school and was taught that Christian Scientists radically rely on prayer for healing. When I was older, I researched the origin of this teaching and found it was an unwritten rule, and a wrong one at that.

The unwritten rule was opposed by Mary Baker Eddy, a teacher of Christian Science, in her writings, Science and Health. She wrote, “Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized.” Reliance on Truth, not prayer, was her maxim. This correction was so enlightening and freeing for my human mind, that I temporarily mistook it for truth, but it wasn’t truth, only human insight, glad as I was for it. Therefore, I’m back on track seeking and manifesting Truth of Love, one Mind.

Truth appears abstract, but even Pilate glimpsed guiltless truth in Christ Jesus. At the cross, “Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.  (John 18, ESV)

A power of goodness embraces us all and this truth allows us to share it forth, to participate in truth.