01 February 2008

This I Believe

I have many beliefs - social beliefs, political beliefs, emotional beliefs. My beliefs are a central part of who I am and why I react the way I do to that which happens around me. But today, rather than write about those beliefs, I'm going to write about another belief that I have a harder time verbalizing. My belief in life after death.

I was baptized Catholic, had my first communion and believed in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost for much of my formative years. It wasn't until I'd moved to Florida at 15 that I started looking at other religions. I went to Youth Group with my best friends in high school, an Assemblies of God church. That was where some of my hot button topics, like abortion and sexuality, came into play. (Strange, isn't it, that it wasn't the Catholic Church where these questions came up. I think I was too young at the time to realize they were hot button topics.) My friends would speak about how abortion was always wrong, how those that were gay were sinning, and I couldn't get my head around that thinking. I think that's where I first started breaking from the church, though I did flirt with it once more when I got to college. Though, to be honest, a large part of why I went to service in college was because it gave me a chance to sing.

After college, I started thinking more seriously about what I believed. I had friends that were Wiccan, friends that were Buddhist, friends that were Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Agnostic... you name it, I've known someone who has practiced the religion.

Seeing so many believers of so many religions made me think that there couldn't be one true religion and the rest were all false beliefs. How could such large portions of the world be condemned to hell if the Christian view in which I was raised was the correct one? For all that the word is Belief, what makes one belief right and others wrong? And all of the religions that say "Ours is the only way" seem to rely on blind faith. While I have no problem with faith, it's the "blind" part that I have a problem with. It's difficult to tell the difference between magic and science when you're not nearly as advanced as those who are showing you their tricks.

I knew that there was something out there. I've had too many things happen in my life that I can't chalk up to coincidence. Too many experiences that border on the mystic. But what was out there?

I finally decided that it didn't mater what was out there. They all, in the end, were one in the same. Whether it is the Universe, God, Yaweh, the Great Mother... they all were one in the same - someone to believe in, to watch over us, to guide us. I don't think s/he/they/it care what we call them - for all that many bibles claim otherwise. The importance is that they ARE there more than the belief that they are.

I'm not sure if I'm getting this written as clearly as I would like to. I think I'm going to have to dwell on it a little more. I would like to discuss my beliefs with anyone who would like to, though. And maybe I'll take another go at writing this belief up, of clarifying it more, in a month or so.

It's sometimes easier to know your belief than it is to put it into words.

3 comments:

Jenni Wenhold said...

Amber,

Hey there! I saw your blog addie at the bottom of the email you sent out about the baby. I love the name Peter, and Edward, well that was my brother's name. I hope all goes well with your pregnancy.

I just had to comment to your post. I so enjoy talking to you when we're together and now I know why... we're both seekers. We're searching for truth, searching for answers, searching for meaning in life and in our existance.

I've pretty much grown up Protestant my whole life, with of course that large bump in the road between the ages of 15 - 25! Who doesn't have that bump somewhere in their lives? Now, I went to Catholic school from 1st to 7th grade (my mom thought it would give me excellent schooling and good religious background...which it did). But, because I was the non-Catholic in my class, I always felt I needed to defend what I believed in. So, I've become very good at researching and considering biblical teachings and worldview teachings.

Don't give up on the Christian Bible so easily. It's very easy for people to become confused, defensive, and argumentative by what it teaches. In reality, there is only one theme from Genesis to Revelation. It is spoken about in EVERY single book. It is summarized in the one most famous Bible verse that even unbelievers know about - John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Now, because that verse is so OVERLY used I think it's hard for any ordinary person to quite understand what it truly means.

Get the thought out of your head about "going to hell" when you die. The Bible does not say that is what will happen. It DOES speak of either going to Sheol (which is the ground) or falling asleep.

Get the thought out of your head about the part in Leviticus where it speaks about homosexuals and sexuality and stoning people for doing those things. The Bible says to "do everything in love." I don't think stoning would be considered loving.

The thing people need to realize is that we "perish" (in John 3:16) constantly. There is nothing that man does that is redeeming in God's sight... whether that is living a homosexual lifestyle, overspending on things we don't need, lying, cheating, getting up grumpy in the morning, etc. So, I'm just as guilty of offending God as 2 guys trying to get a marriage license.

Well, I'm not painting a pretty picture for you, am I? No, I am not. The realization that nothing I do in life is pleasing or fruitful or good, makes me want to throw myself over a cliff.

But that's where the rest of John 3:16 comes into play. This God of the Bible has given us a redeemer, a way out, a promise, a future, a HOPE. If you believe in God's son and believe he was raised from the dead, you can have "eternal life."

I have a friend who is an environmentalist and Agnostic. She believes we need to save the world at all costs. God gave us this world to live in and take care of, so in the aspect of recycling, caring for animals, planting trees, etc. I agree with her. But consider, God says that we will have "eternal life" with a "new heaven and new earth" (Revelation 22). A new earth without corruption. A new earth without smog. A new earth without global warming. To me, that sounds pretty exciting!

If you are a believer in the Christian way, you will enjoy a 2nd chance at life! That's mercy at it's best. A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE.

I know you're now thinking, well the Bible's not "real." There's no proof to it, so why should I belive what's inside it? I ask you to consider reading a book entitled Know Who You Believe by Paul E Little. In it he speaks of critics and skeptics who after researching, became believers. There's plenty of proof out there, but I think there's also plenty of people who choose not to believe, even after being presented with a host of research to prove contrary to their thinking.

Ultimately, as you state in your second to last paragraph, it is your choice to believe what you want to. But again though, I ask you to consider not giving up on the Christian Bible so easily. I will bet you it has every answer to every question you've ever had in life. Seek out the truth in love.

I hope this little diatribe of mine has given you a renewed sense of trying to clarify what it is you believe. Let me know if you've responded to this, I'd love to read more of what you're thinking. Or you could just give me a call to discuss.

Marina said...

It was so nice to read your goals.. Why didn't you continue with this??

Amber said...

Marina, life happened. It's often the way it goes. I'm getting ready to try again soon, with a new list of goals (since some have changed in the last 3 years). I'll probably write them up in my main blog, rather than in this one, though.