Many people who believe in the “spiritual but not religious” path—myself included—are often considered “anti-religion”. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I am forever thankful for the incredible work that Christian organizations do to ease human suffering. Each day, millions of people around the world are fed, clothed and taught by Christian churches, schools, and hospitals. For centuries, Christians have made a positive difference, from healers like Mother Theresa and Padre Pio, to the individual who anonymously donates money to a poor family in their congregation. Furthermore, I still believe in church as a sacred place and would never do or say anything to belittle it.
That said, it is also my belief that the “faith-built” churches of today are not a continuation of the original church begun by Christ. Instead, over the past two millennia, man has created the Church in his image, rather than in God’s. The result is that there are some 39,000 separate and different expressions of Christianity around the earth that claim to hold the Truth.
In a rather straightforward manner, I state in Chapter 7 of The Two Agreements, “As evidenced by the history of all religions, mankind seems to compulsively work to complicate the spiritual life of living in harmony with God, a relating that is as natural as breathing.” Indeed, the connecting to God has become so circuitous and convoluted as to be a life’s pursuit, instead of the place from which we live our lives. I am reminded of the story of the two cats. One is turning in circles chasing its tail. The second cat asks him why he is doing such a thing. “I was told that happiness abides in the tip of one’s tail. And I desperately want happiness.” To which the second cat replies, “I have learned that as I peacefully go on my way that happiness is with me and follows me wherever I go.” And, certainly, we need not seek something we already possess.
Indeed, upon examining church history, we find that the original church was not a formal institution, but small groups of people meeting in each other’s homes to spread Christ’s messages. The purpose of these meetings was twofold: first, to bring salvation to those who had been born under the first covenant with God and, secondly, to spread the story of Christ’s life and resurrection. The Church of today, however, is something altogether different. Sadly, it has become a tool to measure our “worthiness”, even one’s worthiness to hold public office and serve society.
Please note, Christ did not give a list of rules and regulations for doing church the “right way” in order to prove that we believe deeply enough or in the right way. He simply told us to accept the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the man who was persecuted for saying, “I and my Father are the same” is now believed to have been the only one so connected to Source, when in fact we all are. Now we are the blasphemers if we make this claim. Too often, instead of being encouraged to live our lives with God, we are encouraged to give our lives over to institutions that run similarly to the government and any other bureaucracy. These institutions are largely based on the premise that we are separate, not only from God, but from each other. Ultimately, that premise leads us into feelings of fear, guilt and shame, which make manipulation possible.
As evidenced by the thousands fleeing the Church each year, that premise is no longer working. I believe these folk are being called to be mystics—to directly plug into the Source instead of going through the “middle man” that the Church has become.