If you missed it, newly elected Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said last month in his inaugural address that “anybody here today that has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister.”
I was literally blown away when I read that statement. Are you?
How spiritually lost must we all be that someone elected Governor of a US State could misunderstand his own religion this badly? And how broken must the election process be if someone with such a misguided understanding of their faith… something that is used as a litmus test for candidates in most major elections… could be elected to a major public office? And how sad must it be for Governor Bentley’s fellow parishioners that the true messages of Christianity are no longer being taught to them if Robert Bentley’s knowledge of Christianity is any evidence to what is being taught by church leadership? Were they not told that their Savior was a man of unconditional kindness, acceptance, love and compassion… especially for those who were not like him and who would look to scorn him? Was Governor Bentley not preached the portions of the Bible’s New Testament where Jesus spoke of loving thine enemies (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27)? Did he miss the part where Jesus forgave the people that actually crucified him? Is Governor Bentley that spiritually bankrupt, that he would turn a cold shoulder to strangers who don’t necessarily think or believe like he does?
Yes, I’m being harsh.
I’m being harsh here because in reality, Governor Robert Bentley represents one of the biggest problems in religion today, which is… that believers build a system of beliefs from their mind’s eye, influenced by the thoughts, feelings, and teachings of others… while at the same time shutting out their hearts (otherwise known as the Spirit) that should be more in charge of that process. And it’s been killing us spiritually speaking for thousands of years.
Every one of Robert Bentley’s warped beliefs about Christianity has been formed within his mind… a mind governed by a false self, a false relative valuations system, false fears, false angers, and false ideas… and this ultimately results in a system of false beliefs. No, I’m not saying Christianity is false… I’m saying the way Robert Bentley sees Christianity is false. It is no where near the “love thine enemies” and “offer the other cheek as well” compassion that Jesus wanted to leave with his followers. It is no where near the unconditional love and acceptance that Jesus taught to anyone who would listen.
But don’t worry.
This is where realization of the Spirit saves us. This is where the spontaneous spark that God put within for us to find comes to the rescue. This is where the calming the mind into quietude, shutting down the inner voice, and listening for God really brings us back onto the right track. Because it’s where we separate from the ideas that define Christianity in our minds, that the compassion of the heart that connects us all can be heard (that same shared heart, btw, that makes us all brothers and sisters). It’s when we quiet that little voice that keeps trying to tell us what Christianity should be that we can finally hear the roaring silence of the Holy Spirit Within Us itself.
From my human mind’s perspective, I pity Governor Robert Bentley. He isolates himself unnecessarily, and does so through his sickness of the mind called hubris. I know my beliefs are not what makes me a child of God. Being a child of God is what makes me a child of God. And similarly, I know that someone else having a different belief system from me does not NOT make them a child of God. They are still children of God no matter how different their beliefs are from mine, or how different the name is they have for God, or how lost in hubris they themselves may be in their own minds’ collection of ideas. Regardless of the different minds, they are ALL my brothers and sisters.
And I love them all.
Even those who would kill me if they had the chance.
Maybe what we need is a little less focus on Religion, and a little more focus on Spirit. That’s where the common ground ideas that represent the common ground realities are found.
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