I have commented in the main threads more than once about the essay I have been working on. It is a religious essay about what it means to be Christian in a nation where many atheists are better Christians in their behavior than are those who lay claim to the name of the Christ. I have been pondering, especially, the difference between right belief (Orthodoxy) and right behavior (Orthopraxy) and have been coming to the conclusion that behavior is what matters most.
It is what explains that it is better to be an Atheist who does what is right, for any reason, than it is to pretend to be a Christian who can not be bothered to do what is right.
Here then, for the consideration of the Lizards, is the first fragment of that essay. It will probably end up about 3/4 of the way through how I envision the final essay at this time. Please let me know your thoughts, pro & con, in the comments.
The Gospel is not a fire insurance policy for the next world, but a life assurance policy for this world.
It is better to fulfill one’s duties out of love than out of fear.
This has long been a teaching in Judaism and would have been obvious
to Jesus. This is why he tells us to love each other and to do what he
has commanded out of love - of God, of our neighbors and ourselves.
When you do a thing out of love even the most annoying and onerous of
tasks can be a song in your heart. This is how the yoke is eased and
how the burden becomes light - even though we do the same things as
before if we do them with an awareness of being God’s love in the
If you do the same tasks simply out of fear or obligation but without
caring why, then the task has no meaning. A slave might as well
perform the task for all the meaning it has for either the one doing
or the one receiving. Fear twists and corrupts the act until the
greatest act of charity has become meaningless.
Likewise is the task done solely out of hope for a reward. A sycophant
is no more free than a slave and his actions have just as little
meaning. Greed for that reward also twists and corrupts the act and
likewise leaves even the greatest acts of charity meaningless.
No hell. And no heaven. Not for now; it’s not time to concern
ourselves with the unseen things. We can have no fear of punishment or
hope of reward if we want to live the Way here on Earth. Only the hard
work of doing good simply because we have made God’s will our own will
and try to do what matters because it is right.
Love remains the fulfillment of the teaching. Not fear of hell or hope
of heaven. Only love. It abides and remains the greatest of all the
manifestations of grace in this world.
In this world, where we build the real Kingdom of God if we dare.
So what does matter in this world; in this Kingdom?
To love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength
To love our neighbor as we love ourselves
To love justice
To do mercy
To walk humbly with God
To know that faith without works is not faith but a dead thing.
To know that love does no harm to your neighbor
To know that love is the fulfillment of the Law
To know that love covers a multitude of sins
To know that love abides
To know that you should not do anything to someone that you would not
want them to do you.
But instead to treat them as you would want yourself to be treated.
The rest, as it has been said, is merely commentary.
To live in love will make the stick and the carrot go away.
It has also been said that if we are perfect as Jesus was perfect we
can pick up the whole of his yoke. But if we are not perfect, then
simply pick up what you can. Step by step, doing the best you can with
love instead of fear or greed, will get you to God in the end and
leave the world a better place than you found it.