As a very progressive Christian I believe everyone is entitled to practice a religion, to hold a belief, not to believe, or to be uncertain. No-one should have the right to dictate the form one’s religious or spiritual life takes whether it remains firm, or evolves and changes direction over the years.
We all have the freedom to think for ourselves, to express these thoughts, free to be ourselves and to choose how we live our lives. In this country we can generally exercise our freedom: but only if our choices don’t in any way harm others who may think, live, love or believe differently.
Of course with this freedom comes responsibility, and it is our human obligation to conduct ourselves ethically, morally and with compassion and integrity. We should never rush to judge others, and we should be willing to forgive others – and forgive ourselves.
My personal beliefs and spirituality have evolved over the years – and not always in step with my life in general. However, I’m now comfortable with who and where I am in life, and content with what I believe and how I express that belief.
I don’t (if indeed I ever did) have a belief and spirituality wholly centered on a supernatural understanding of God or Jesus. I believe we are born of God and we die into God the Great Mystery of all creation past, present and yet to be – the God of ‘many names and none’. God is revealed not only in the diversity of the created world around us, but also in our actions and those of others.
I accept there is very little known about Jesus, who was a first century Galilean visionary and wisdom teacher. He frequently opposed convention, clashing with the authorities and was ultimately executed for his beliefs. Most of the surviving texts about Jesus were written in good faith many years after the events (and by people who almost certainly weren’t there to witness the events first hand) to create a very different picture of the human Jesus, emphasising the ‘divinity’ of the Christ: the ‘pre-Easter Jesus’ and the ‘post-Easter Christ’.
The human Jesus and his message of compassion, justice and peace for everyone (especially those at the margins of society), and his willingness to live out his beliefs even when in direct opposition with authority inspires me. I admire this man of deep faith who was brutally executed still defending all he stood for. I can’t literally believe the biblical events of Jesus’ life and ministry but I am inspired by them, respect them and believe them to have continued metaphorically down the ages:
Nativity of Jesus
the nurturing spirit of Jesus is born in every new baby.
Ministry of Jesus
the spirit of Jesus is in every act of charity or compassion.
Trial and Punishment of Jesus
the spirit of Jesus is wounded in every cruel or destructive thought or deed.
Crucifixion of Jesus
the spirit of Jesus may appear as though dead, when we fail to see it reflected in the world.
Resurrection of Jesus
the spirit of Jesus is resurrected in every act of kindness, compassion, justice or peace.
The Ascension of Jesus
the living spirit of Jesus is forever present as a guiding light in the world.