Adventures In Spiritual Living

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What is Religion?
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Jesus’ Major Redefinition of Religion That You Have Never Heard Before

William Cooper

There is a spiritual way of living that provides benefits which far exceed our most vivid imagination. Jesus’ life was the greatest example of religious living that has occurred in this universe. It shows what can be achieved in a human life. 

How is the Religion of Jesus Different? 

Humanity has little knowledge of the religion of Jesus. Fresh insight into his life and teachings is destined to transform us. It will encourage radical changes in our values and priorities.

Living the religion of Jesus is guaranteed to change its sincere practitioners. Since it does not emphasize material success, intellectual achievement, possessions, self-indulgence, wealth, power, or status, this new religion is totally out of step with the pursuit of happiness as many 21st century “successful” persons define it.

Do We Want Something Different?

So why should we want to know how to live the religion of Jesus? Do we want to have our lives radically redirected toward worshiping God and loving and serving all humanity and away from anything that interferes? Because that’s where the religion of Jesus is taking us, inevitably. It requires faith and trust in our spiritual parents to be able to say, “yes, this is the true way. It is where satisfaction and meaning lie. It is what I want.”

What Is Religion, Anyway?

Religion is not a specific function of life. It is not a ceremony or a Sabbath service. It is not a secret inner compartment of your life that is opened only for special occasions. Rather, religion is a mode of everyday living.

Religion is a wholehearted devotion to some reality which the religionist deems to be of supreme value to himself and for all mankind. The outstanding characteristic of all religions is: unquestioning loyalty and wholehearted devotion to supreme values.

The accepted supreme value of the religionist may be base or even false, but it is still religious if it is the goal and ideal of life. Many people assign supreme value to securing and enjoying power and wealth. These both fall in the category of false religions. A religion is genuine only to the extent that it is devoted to a value of genuine spiritual worth such as loving and adopting the goodness of God and /or loving and serving all persons, creatures, and things.

The Religion of Jesus Is About Experience.

In the religion of Jesus, the sincere religionist is conscious of universe citizenship and is aware of making contact with sources of superhuman power. Why is the sincere religionist aware? Because the spirit dimension of life communicates and confirms, and we are able to perceive this confirmation.

The religionist may not know it is her inner spirit, but she knows what she is experiencing is beyond her usual self. She is thrilled and energized with the assurance of belonging to an ennobled fellowship of the children of God. She has surrendered to the intriguing drive of an all-encompassing motivation to find and do the will of God. This motivation chooses heightened self-discipline – restraint of self for the benefit of others. It lessens emotional conflict. It makes mortal life truly worth living. 

How will Real Religion Change Us ?

This intense striving for the attainment of super mortal ideals is always characterized by increasing patience, forbearance, fortitude, and tolerance. While these are characteristics of true religion, they do not arise in false religions such as prosperity, power, celebrity, or popularity. False religion is destined eventually to be unsatisfying, even destructive.

True religion seeks God’s help to lead a life of love for all persons and all things, manifesting in a life of increasing service. Genuine religion adds new meanings to all of life. It generates new types of enthusiasm, zeal and courage. One of the most amazing marks of religious living is that dynamic and sublime peace, that cosmic poise which indicates the absence of doubt and turmoil. The religion of Jesus is real religion.

How Will We Benefit from Living this New Religion?

Look at the benefits of real religion I have just covered.

  • Consciousness that your actions have far ranging repercussions in the universe.
  • Awareness of contact with superhuman power.
  • Motivation and energy from assurance of being a child of God.
  • Heightened self-discipline.
  • Lessened emotional conflict.
  • A satisfying life truly worth living.
  • Patience.
  • Forbearance.
  • Fortitude.
  • Tolerance.
  • New meanings in all of life.
  • New types of enthusiasm.
  • Zeal.
  • Poise.
  • Confidence.
  • Courage.
  • Sublime peace.
  • Absence of doubt.
  • Absence of turmoil.

These benefits of true religion sound immensely practical to me. In the contemporary life I live, I need a full measure of all of these. So ultimately, why pursue the religion of Jesus? Because true religion is what life is supposed to be about and Jesus demonstrated the truest of all religions. The one with the highest and best supreme values.

How is the Religion of Experience Unique?

Let’s take a look at something Jesus taught his apostles about true religion. He identified three types of religion:

  1. Primitive Religion: This arises from the instinctive urge to fear mysterious energies and worship superior forces (lightening, thunder, streams, waves, rain, wind, volcanoes, seasons, new plant growth.) A religion of awe and respect based on fear. 
  2. Religion of Civilization: This is religion of the mind. The intellectual theology of the authority of established religious tradition. This one tells you how and why and what to believe. 
  3. True Religion: This is the religion of revelation, inner revelation, personal revelation. This involves the revelation of supernatural values, a partial insight into eternal realities, and a glimpse of the goodness and beauty of the infinite character of our heavenly parents. The religion of the spirit is validated by human experience of spiritual truths. True religion fosters the power of love to unify everything into one immense undertaking of achievement of goodness.

Jesus made it clear that the great difference between the religion of the mind and the religion of the spirit is this: religion of the mind is upheld by ecclesiastical authority; religion of the spirit is wholly based on human experience of the marvelous consequences of true values. This is the experience of feeling the rightness of loving behavior.

Personal Religious Experience Is an Adventure.

Until humanity more generally recognizes the realities of spiritual experience, large numbers of people will continue to be content with religions of authority. Religion of the spirit entails active participation of mind and soul in the great faith adventure of wrestling with the realities of human experience and discovering the way things really work by personal experience.

The religion of the spirit means effort, struggle, conflict, faith, determination, loyalty and progress. The religion of the mind requires little or none of these exertions from its formal believers.

We Are Guided by Our Inner Spirit.

All three kinds of religion – religion of fear, religion of the mind and religion of the spirit – coexist in our world at this time. And pieces of each of these expressions can occupy the same person. Jesus’ religion is religion of the spirit exclusively. He described it to his apostles as not being a religion in the sense that term was used in his time. That is probably still true. Jesus’ religion is the religion of following the guidance of the divine spirit of God which resides in the mind of each human being. His religion derives its authority, its proof of worth, from the fruits of the spirit which show in the lives of its followers. He called his religion a higher spiritual communion. It transforms its followers into more God-like persons, more loving and more serving.

Religion of the Spirit is What Life is About.

To Jesus, religion of the spirit is what life is about. Jesus’ religion is not a segregated, occasional activity, but an every-moment, purpose-of-living focus. Why?  Was it because he was a son of God and trying to turn people away from worldliness and toward the afterlife? I don’t think so. I think he was demonstrating the most successful way of living a human life both for the present life and for the afterlife. To him, what we call the afterlife is fully a part of the present life. So, our afterlife begins now, not just after we abandon our bodies.

There is nothing so holy about religious living. It is just the way you involve spiritual resources and values in your struggle with life so that you can grow into the spiritual and eternal being you were born to be.

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