God's and Christ's relationship to one another provide food for thought regarding another question that has been nagging in my mind.
This summer I experienced a measure of peace and acceptance. Suffice it to say that it was relief from self-doubt, regret, and judging. I feel that the teachings and proverbs that brought me there stemmed from *eastern religion.
I live in the moment. I don't look to the past for nostalgia or regret. I don't look forward to a 'better time.' I accept where I am in my journey in life and I don't constantly wish to be more knowledgeable. I accept others because I know they are on a journey as well.
I know the Bible tells us to 'forget what's behind'. But stating the negative version of 'live in the moment' has not always solved my problem. In this case Yoda says it better, to my way of seeing things.
So I bought a book on Zen. I read the first two pages and realized that trying out any of that stuff means to go all out. Try it. Do it. Is that how the children of Israel felt when they worshiped idols? They wanted to try something new?
Though I don't know much about eastern religion; my gut feeling is that it is a rejection of a personal God. I have a feeling that in a way, the proverb about 'living in the moment' stems from a philosophy that is antithetical to my own worldview.
This is why: relationship.
On my 21 hour drive home from Minnesota I heard a sermon about the latter part of John 1. The pastor, Brian, was talking about Christ's reaction when John the Baptist's disciples started randomly following him.
They wanted to be Jesus' disciples because John told them Christ was the Lamb. They didn't know how to say that to Christ. Christ said "Why are you following me?" They said, "um, can we come over?" Christ said "sure."
As Pastor Brian said, Christ didn't say: "You want to be a Christ-follower? Ok. Believe in these three things and you're an official member." Instead he said: "let's hang out."
Relationships. It would seem that the highest realization of an 'Eastern' religion would advocate an inward meditation, one that is devoid of relationship with another person.
Perhaps a mystical relationship is achieved? A contrast with Christianity which asks us to literally dip ourselves in water and to literally taste bread and wine.
Here's another thing though:
Relationships in the real world are messy. They hurt. On the positive side, they are often based on memories and not 'living in the moment.' "Remember that time that we..." or, "you have proved a faithful friend." Do I reject all that for a peaceful, sterile, 'living in the moment?' Maybe I will, if those relationships hurt enough.
I feel that there are friends in my life that are denying my a chance to explain myself. Whether it is purposeful or not, whether they are hurting like I am or not, the thought exists: that I want reconciliation.
And I am finding that conversely there are other friends who I am not granting reconciliation to. But it's incredibly complicated. Even as a firm believer in communication, I don't know if we can fix the problem.
Relationships involve deep hurt and deep happiness.
All this is an allegory.
God offered us friendship. We blew it. He offered us reconciliation. Hence sin, evil, and unhappiness. Hence joy, peace, and gladness.
Here's to relationship.
*Disclaimer: I hope that my catch-all term 'eastern-religion' is not offensive to anyone. Perhaps there is a better term for specifically all the various forms of Buddhism and descendants of Hinduism? In this area I call upon the spirit of Bono "what you don't know you can feel it somehow" which is sort of my 'mantra' (haha mantra, get it?) this year.
I acknowledge that while any prominent religion is much more complex and well-reasoned than its opponents allow, and I have not studied in depth these religions, I do have a good measure of awareness of basic tenants of east-originated religions.
Finally, although the paradigm that has governed Christianity for the past 600-1000 years has been nicknamed 'western'; I am looking forward to discovering the 'eastern' in Jesus' teachings.