The institution of religious congregation has fallen into disgrace on my college campus. Where once were places of reflection, worship, and acknowledgment of a spirituality that is both intensely personal and common to everyone, we now find these once holy houses of worship desecrated by the groveling prostration of unworthy parishioners. The largest and most popular Christian congregations make obvious their intent to leech the dignity and pride of their attendees, a sacrifice to the god of brimstone and damnation who demands that his worshipers approach him on all fours, noses to the ground.
This is not the God that I believe in. The God I believe in desires us to face Him full-on and open-eyed, not with furtive glances back and forth between Him and personal sin, hoping the two will never meet. Instead, the Christianity I’ve so far seen has become the excuse for an end to learning and the furthering of wisdom. Instead of learning from one’s own experience, laying the foundation for solid beliefs, the parishioner may simply take the prescriptions of an infallible church rendering dictums from from an equally flawless book.
The church has one of the greatest capacities for good of any organization in the world; thus the tragedy of its waste of so much potential is made all the more poignant. The Bible, too, has at its core a few clear, obvious, simple messages. Do well by yourself and your fellow man; show both respect. Show yet more respect to the Creator who has, in His wisdom, made the world with its offering of the potential for each of us to realize God’s as our image.
The notion of the human spirit cannot be divorced from the self entire. In gathering to worship and reflect, Christians ought to find messages applicable to their entire lives instead of shallow platitudes of what it is to be humbled next to Christ. Christ is not meant to demean, but to elevate, not to demand groveling, but inspire greatness. For Man’s true place is not on his knees, wondering at the inconsequence of his existence on Earth, but on his feet, striding assuredly towards his goals and the realization of his image as God’s.
Today, though, those who take steps away from the prescribed thoughts, feelings, and actions of their Christian church are too often told to have strayed in the eyes of the Lord. The forging of our own path, towards God as through life, is a defining essential of what makes us individuals. It should not be that those looking for guidance should be betrayed by those they look to in askance of wisdom.
Thus the common-sense of the Bible ought to be carried forth to today’s times, dictating the individual turn from the advice of others to their own judgment in things spiritual. To do so is to bring one’s own individuality into sharper relief, advance one’s own wisdom, and take a step closer towards “His image and likeness”.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.