Mar. 3, 2018

Christ or Cling Ons?

This may be a bit difficult to follow. But here goes.
 
Sometimes there are situations where you cannot know something for sure - such as how some events actually played out centuries ago, due to lost documentation, various interpretations of those events or, yes, even purposefully redacted history. But because of these events or their impression, there seems to be an "effect" that still exists in the present - what people "believe" happened - and therefore it carries considerable weight with them. So, being convinced that something is of God, they embrace practices which are believed to be "Christian" which may fall under the category of traditions of men - something Christ warned about.
 
Some of these practices may have an impact that has direct bearing on the outcome of one's salvation, since they are out of line with the commandments of God and they muddy the living waters of the Gospel. Others may be quite harmless.
 
I find myself once more questioning a lot of these things. (Have I ever not been one who questions? No, probably not. And as much as it sometimes makes me squirm, I would not have it any other way.) So it becomes obvious that being a rugged absolutist may not be the most workable scenario in life.
 
Yet neither does being wishy washy about most things work very well either. 
 
What's reliable and practical and real? There are time tested beliefs and principles that support and enhance life (Proverbs calls this wisdom), contrasted with what eventually results in destructive ways (called folly). This is where it begins: with what works in life.
 
It pays, in my opinion, to be a healthy skeptic and not necessarily to be willing to hop on just any religious or "spiritual" bandwagon that rolls past. Some of these seem to be trends of late - like the "journey" of church hopping from one denomination to another, where "seekers" may be encouraged and then become convinced to substitute an institution of religion for a relationship with God. Perhaps religion and relationship need not be mutually exclusive of one another. However, caution is advised.
 
Somewhere along the line one must enter into the dialogue with oneself of either "Look before you leap," or, "He who hesitates is lost." I have leaped any number of times without carefully looking (comprehending?) first, and the result is that I'm now more of a hesitater. 
 
It seems as if life has been one big process of sorting through a lot of information, especially in this 21st century relativistic m.o. in which a lot of people are enmeshed. It's a Burger King world - "Have it your way." It is a virtual smorgasbord. We may not be able to hop into a time machine to determine what, for example, Emperor Constantine actually had in mind for the church or the empire that supposedly made history and thus determined belief and practice centuries into the future for many of "the faithful". Nor can we get inside his head or ascertain the source of his dreams and visions.
 
Yet the popular relativism from secular culture added to the mix  of religion makes everything entirely too fuzzy for some of us.
 
We can have clarity on not only perennial wisdom, but on the clear teachings of Jesus Christ that are even greater than the wisdom of Solomon. It is here that I find myself turning, rather than to the past and its haziness, or to the maelstrom of current thinking and ever shifting information and opinions. This requires a singleness of mind without becoming narrow minded, or so open minded that one doesn't know where one stands. It's a mental and spiritual balancing act. We are invited to ask for wisdom, and then move forward in faith without doubting. See James 1:4-6.
 
At this point, my comprehension of the institutional churches for the most part is that they're rather like the Borg mother ship, cruising through the Galaxy and assimilating Cling Ons (deliberately misspelled) throughout the centuries. What they espouse in the way of belief and practice may have little resemblance to what Jesus Christ actually taught and practiced. Yet they will declare themselves to be the "original, only true church". I have encountered this attitude on numerous occasions with a number of denominations or religious cults. And every time I do, that's the indicator to find the nearest exit.