The summer after my first birthday, my older brother, Joel, died. Although I could not understand what had happened when I saw him so still, his death later shaped the path of my religion. I wanted to know where Joel was, and how God could take him from us so early on. Growing up in a strong Christian background, my doubts left me cold and clammy inside, like something was going on inside of me that shouldn’t be happening. It was years later that I realized I may not stand behind everything in the bible, but I do have beliefs, and there is no reason my beliefs cannot be set as Christian.
God is not material. I sometimes analogize God to the wind, but the wind is air moving, and God is not related to movement or mass. In some senses, whether or not one believes in God, God does not exist. And because God does not physically exist, God cannot possibly be false. The bible is a man-made interpretation of God. God is whatever one makes God to be.
I have experienced God in love and kindness. I believe God is the feeling people get when they are connected to other people, or to nature, or even to themselves. God loves because God is love. God cares because God is care. God is warm and makes people happy because anything that makes people feel warm and truly happy is God. Thus God should neither be feared nor distant, as often portrayed in the Old Testament, or God will become fear and disconnect, and praying to God will not have the same effect of opening people up and letting them release their stress and anxiety.
I believe Jesus was a man who, like any pastor, wanted to connect people to God. In the bible he does not call people to worship him, and even rebukes a man who calls him good, saying, “Do not call me good. God alone is good.” I don’t think the details of Jesus’ life and death matter, and resurrection in many ways is just a detail – a detail that can separate people and a detail people can be killed for believing or not believing. Whether or not Jesus rose from the grave, he taught us lessons and helped many people in their faith. I think the conceived power of God is, if anything, lessened by the miracles God and Jesus perform to prove themselves; why must a loving and caring God constantly prove complete superiority over us? Why make a man to relate to us and then make him better and give him abilities none of us could ever hope to have? I believe God and the Holy Spirit are synonymous, but Jesus was included in the Holy Trinity in order to avoid hypocrisy when Christians worship him, as they claim to worship only one.
I believe in love and kindness and their ability to work wonders, and I believe in the importance of a community that can bond deeper than talking about how to do their hair or catch the biggest fish. I am not surprised that many statistics show higher scores and performance abilities from those who regularly attend church, but is it because those “succeeding” in life are more prone to attend church, or because church makes it easier to succeed? I believe it works both ways. Daily life tends to break people down. Church tends to build people up. The parts of religions that do not build people up and cause antagonisms, sometimes leading to separation, violence, and war, are no more parts of a religion than racism is. I don’t support Christian crusades, but rather the Christianity that says, as is in a Christian hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Therefore even when I doubt God exists in the way the bible portrays God, I still stand behind Christianity, and I know Joel is with God. This I believe.
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