A previous post discussed the fact that a person can have a spirituality without religion. This post will discuss how a person can have a spirituality without religion. The steps enumerated here are suggested for Christians only. There are similar or parallel ways for members of other religions. I cannot discuss for them in this post.
Step 1. Learn More of Jesus
As you learn more and more of him, he will grow more and more in your mind and in your spirit. Do not pin him down in a statement. No statement can fully express or describe him. He is always far greater than we can think of.
What happened in the early church was that church leaders were busy formulating creeds to capture the essence of Jesus. Thus we have the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. These creeds made into a formula the essence of Jesus, basically that he was true God and he was also true man.
People were taught these creeds and they were told to profess it, publicly every Sunday. Eventually they got satisfied with just professing these creeds. They felt that by being orthodox, that is, following the correct doctrines about Jesus they became true Christians.
Now we realize that these creeds were a trap. They lured us away from the ongoing, daily learning of Jesus, which is the most essential task of a Christian, a disciple, that is a learner—which is the meaning of disciple in the original Greek language—of Christ.
At the time of the early church orthodoxy and orthopraxy (right conduct according to church teachings) were the marks of a true Christian.
A genuine Christian is first and foremost a disciple or learner of the Christ who is Jesus. He learns more and more of Jesus and he knows that this learning has no ending here on earth. He can always learn something more of Jesus. It is an ongoing, daily activity for a real Christian.
That is the first step for a Christian to become spiritual without religion, an ongoing learning of the Christ.
Step 2. Talk with God Affectionately Always
Converse with God as with a friend more and more often until you talk to him all the time in your mind.
In the early church the priesthood of the clergy and the veneration of the saints developed. This was due partly to the desire of the church leaders to give in to the pagan practices so that the pagans would be attracted to the church. As a result of this development people thought that the priests and the saints could pray for them, talk to God for them.
Now we realize that the emphasis on the priesthood of the clergy and the veneration of saints was a trap. It got us away from a daily intimate conversation with God himself. People forgot the injunction of Paul the Apostle to pray always. Eventually they got satisfied with attending the Mass or church services, saying the Rosary or grace before meals and reciting the novenas or Bible memory verses.
A true Christian is a child of God and as a child of God he is always in communication with his Father God, day in and day out, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
This is the second step in becoming spiritual without religion for a Christian, always talking and listening to his Father God, to his brother Jesus, and to his Spirit guide.
Step 3. Be More and More Compassionate Towards All
Expand your love of others: people, animals, trees, so called inanimate objects such as rocks, soils, streams, chairs, tables, etc.
In the early church there was this movement to leave the sinful world and go to the desert or monasteries to devote one's time for God in study, manual labor, prayer and good works. The goal was to become holy, to flee the contamination of the sinful world, and to be pleasing to God so that the person would be saved after death.
Again we know now that this was also a trap. These Christians did not seem to hear the prayer of Jesus that they be not taken from the world. Those Christians who fled the world eventually got satisfied in living in the desert or monasteries doing all sorts of penances to atone for their sins and the sins of others in imitation of Christ. And the ordinary people thought that these were the ideal Christians. Since they could not leave the world because of their families and businesses they were satisfied to be counted second class rate Christians.
They forgot that the essence of Christian practice is love of other people, especially fellow Christians, not inflicting pain upon one's body and keeping oneself busy with manual labor, study and formal, timed prayer.
The real Christian loves people, animals, trees, the whole environment, even the heavenly bodies trillions of light years away because these are creations of his God. And this love grows because it is a living love.
This loving is the third step in becoming spiritual without religion for a Christian.
Step 4. Be More and More Fully Available to God’s Work for You
There is work for you to do so that you can express more the power, goodness, wisdom, beauty of the God inside you. Be more and more available for this work.
In the early church there were councils and these councils produced decrees which later on were enshrined in laws eventually becoming part of the church's Code of Canon Law. These decrees governed the conduct of Christians and churches.
Now we know that these decrees and the eventual canon laws were a trap in the life of Christians and their churches. Instead of fulfilling the commission Jesus left to his disciples, that of immersing the nations in the transforming power of the life of the Father, his Son and their Spirit, the church leaders became satisfied with the implementation of the conciliar decrees and in making the commission a formula in the valid administration of baptism.
Each Christian has a part in the fulfilling of the commission of Jesus, whether it is as lowly as washing dishes, or as high as preaching the Good News. And the only ones who know what this work is are the Father God and the person to whom he has entrusted this work. That is why the genuine Christian discerns what this work for him is and gives himself to it.
Whatever that work is the long term overall objective is to imbue the nations of the earth (not just individual persons but nations, for that is what the Gospel says) with the very life of the most wise, most powerful and most good God. If this commission were fulfilled in each generation of Christians we would not have those countless wars among so called Christian nations.
That is the fourth step in becoming a Christian spiritual person without religion, doing the work God has intended for him towards the fulfilling of Christ’s commission.
Looking back at history it is funny how Christians for hundreds of years fought over terms like filioque (and from the son), over the number of the books of the Bible whether 66 or 73, whether there were 2 or 7 sacraments, whether water baptism was by sprinkling, pouring, or immersing in water, whether the bread in communion is leavened or unleavened, etc.
Karl Rahner once wrote that in the future all Christians will be mystics. We can paraphrase this by saying, In the future genuine Christians will be spiritual without religion. After all their Master was such a man, spiritual without the religion of Judaism. He called himself son of man, not son of Judaism. He did not adhere to any doctrine because he himself was the truth. He did not observe a code of conduct because the love of his Father was his code of conduct. He did not observe a ritual because his life was the supreme ritual acceptable to God. In fact he came to give us life in all its fullness, not religion. He condemned the religious leaders of his day as hypocrites, blind leaders leading blind followers to the pit of destruction. His followers can do no less.
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