Can you look for God on your own? Or do you have to buy into an existing religion, accepting all of its precepts and dogmas?
I have struggled with these questions even since I was about nine years old. My mom forced me to go to church and Sunday school every Sunday and I hated it. There was something about it that made me feel queezy and uneasy. In Sunday school we cut out printed pictures of Jesus and other Biblical figures and pasted them onto another piece of paper, or colored them or something. We got to drink lukewarm orange Kool-Aid in Dixie cups. I was put off by the depictions of Jesus as some kind of pathetic sissy. He had long hair and wore a dress. I found that really unsettling. Jesus didn’t seem like anyone I’d want to hang around the playground with. At least, not their version of Jesus.
I didn’t like church. There were those hard-backed pews, the hymn books, the subtle knocks to the back of my head from my father or mother when my brother and I pinched each other or started snickering about some private joke. The only feeling of elation and deliverance I got from church was when the long and unendurable service would finally end. I don’t go to church today. No surprise there.
All I learned from church was that I was going to Hell unless I submitted to a couple of hours of extreme boredom each Sunday. In my young age I wondered why God was so boring and threatening at the same time.
As I got older I longed to know God, to understand his purpose for man and the universe, to know how I fit into the big picture. I began a spiritual quest that lasts to this day. Yes, I know what the Bible says, I’ve read it. My problem is that I have a skeptical mind.
If Jesus really did walk on water, change water into wine, heal the lame and raise the dead, then he is clearly from God and his teachings have great credibility. My problem is that I was not there to see these events and, knowing how the human mind works, how legend and myth grow over many generations, I cannot base my faith on these stories.
On the other hand, I like Jesus. He was motivated by a love of humanity. He was a good guy. But was he the Son of God? For me, the jury is still out on that question. However, I do not resent anyone else’s faith and have no desire to damage or assault anyone’s faith, unless it is one of the faiths that kill people. If you have performed your soul’s quest for God and have found him in Christ or some other faith, good for you. Now let me continue my own quest.
As I have learned, family members get upset if you don’t share their faith or conclusions about God. They find that very threatening, somehow, to their own faith. They see your lack of a decision in the matter to be a repudiation of them. I do not repudiate anything, I am only a seeker of truth and will not be deterred in my quest by the sensibilities or preferences of others. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. To quote Dr. Seuss: “Be Who You Are And Say What You Feel Because Those Who Mind Don’t Matter And Those Who Matter Don’t Mind.”
In later posts I will describe my spiritual quest and things I have learned, in case it may be helpful to other seekers along life’s path.