Holy Spirit and the Church
As this reinterpretation emerged, it became, and remains, a mystery of what was missing from Jesus‘ first words as He left the empty tomb (John 20:22) It is truly amazing that He simply charged everyone to receive the Holy Spirit, and be open and receptive to Its gifts for them. Did He choose to lay out specific, undeniable instructions on how to have church? No. Did He indicate specifically what doctrines to teach? No. What about all of the dos and don'ts that crept into the
modern church, did He indicate their necessity to live righteously? No, He did not do that! He did not give them any warnings about what to be sure not to do.
Obviously, He knew all that one needs is to receive daily from Spirit—this must be
the most important message for humanity. That message leaves the Holy Spirit as the new personal Master Teacher of the spiritual life—not the church and not some doctrine or set of rules and regulations.
Thus, the Holy Spirit took its rightful place of power on the Earth. In His glorified body, Jesus visited and sat with those who loved Him and cherished His words (Luke 24:36-49, Mark 16). As they sat in
amazement and wonder of the resurrected Son of God, Jesus tells them to receive the Holy Ghost and that the sins of those that they forgive are
forgiven, and those that they do not forgive, their sins are not forgiven. Jesus gave common man the power to forgive sins through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
No longer did God solely hold the power to forgive sin. However, the power that
they were to receive brought an amazing ability for them to escape death to live free of the world. The Holy Spirit was to be their Comforter, Healer, Teacher, Counselor, and the Giver of the gifts of Spirit.
"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
The Two Agreements: A Good News Story For Our Time
S.L. Brannon on DBSA Life Unlimited web site
The Two Agreements fb page
Christ is often quoted as saying we should turn the other cheek when another wrongs us. This comment lies at the heart of thedebate regarding the true meaning of forgiveness. If we try to live as Christ did, does this mean that we too must suffer at the hands of others, as He did? Does this mean we must ask God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do”? What if the person that hurt you knew exactly what he/she was doing? What if you knew what you were doing when you hurt another? The answer to this is that while people usually know that their actions are harmful to another, they do not know that these actions are motivated by the illusion of separation from others and from the Creator.
Christ also told us to love others as we love ourselves. But whatif we never learned how to love ourselves? Or, what if we loved the idea of ourselves as successful, “together” people, only to have the idea shattered by the loss of a job or the onset of mental illness? Compassion and the ability to forgive begins with ourselves; if we do not forgive ourselves for things we have said, done and thought, we cannot truly empathize with others.In fact, we often judge people with the same faults, failings, and flaws that we perceive in ourselves. However, once we forgive ourselves for not being perfect (at least, not the way we envision perfection in this three-dimensional realm), we realize that we are still knowable and loveable. Like magic, our whole worldview changes.
I have also given much thought to Christ’s message to turn the other cheek. What if He was not telling us to ignoremistreatment, but to simply turn away from it, let go? For in the end, no matter who we are forgiving, we are really choosing to move on from a painful act, word or memory. This frees us up, mentally and spiritually, to receive the new blessings coming our way.
Being a follower of Jesus is difficult in the present day. 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
I was told that people must love God or else, meaning be tortured by fire. Now, I believe that that "love relationship" is sick! Genuine love can not be possible under coersion. Come on, we must stop and think before buying into such proposals.
We must decide if we will continue to let ourselves be made to feel guilty and afraid because someone who knows nothing about us tells us we are not a “saved” or spiritual person. Having the kingdom of God within us, grace reigns. We can choose to live in a world-changing new relationship—a new covenant—with God. For humankind there is no greater religion than seeking the truth.
"MY UNDERSTANDING FAMILY LETS ME BE ME"
Every culture in the world has certain norms that govern everything from personal relationships to religious practices and political views. These norms shift depending on the times and places in which we live; however we are always expected to conform to them. Those who do not often find themselves subject to a painful, even paralyzing, stigma.
There are two of these nonconforming groups who I have found to be particularly stigmatized: those suffering from mental illness and those who consider themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious” (SBNR). I know about both of these by personal experience. I am a person who lives with depression and lives a spiritual life unattached from organized religion. Despite the fact that a growing number, nearly 20%, of Americans are identifying themselves as SBNR, they are consistently branded as heretics and “non-believers”.
How can this be? Religious texts and leaders proclaim that God/Source/the Creator loves us all unconditionally, yet it seems that this message is often followed up with—you guessed it—conditions! We either don’t believe enough or the right way, and that’s why we’re not getting what we want in this life and why we won’t end up in heaven in the next.
The real issue, I contend, is the continued practice of viewing those who differ from us as “other”. It’s an exclusivity game—we belong, you don’t. Christ’s mission on earth was to help us understand that we are all of the same Source energy. We are all loved just as we are, and all entitled to heaven, just as we are. Yet (and I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular), instead of embracing people across the spectrum of spiritual beliefs, we allow norms to divide us. On the largest scale, this leads to conflicts between the world’s three major religions; on a smaller scale, it leads to the stigmatization of people who do not follow the rules.
We must push back against stigmas—that is a given. In the meantime, however, we also must seek out and cultivate what I call the “understanding family”. This is a group of people who accept, love and support us no matter what. It can be the family we are born into or the one we make for ourselves, but they are critical to our mental, spiritual and even physical wellbeing.
Many of us take this support system for granted, especially when our lives are going well. It consists of our spouses, parents, friends or religious community. However, it is when we suddenly find ourselves on the fringes of society that we must sometimes seek out a new family built on common interests or struggles. They are the people who will let us know that we are not alone. They are often our only refuge from the world at large. Most importantly, they are the ones who will help us combat the most damaging stigma of all—the one we assign to ourselves.
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.
A healthy spiritual life is vital to recovery and wellness for those living with a mental health challenge. I share my spiritual faith system, one of my own design. In my book, I encourage everyone to do the same - create a spiritual life that works for you.
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