A moment of doubt

 

but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”  Luke 22:31-34 (NRSV)

There are times when our faith may fail.  What then?   In this scripture, Peter is puffed up and telling Jesus he will not have doubt.  Jesus says “Oh, you will, but when you come back you will be strong enough to strengthen others.”

In John chapter 14 verse 6, “Jesus says I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”   This statement infers a lot, and we often use it as an exclusionary device for who is in and who is out.   This is a statement that causes me a good deal of doubt.  What if Jesus is not THE Way?  What if Christians are wrong?

I am currently reading The Book of JOY.  As I read,  I can’t help but think that the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, in their spiritual life, are in conversation with the same creator and the same God.   This opens a whole can of worms in the small box of faith I am at times most comfortable in.  My thoughts start swimming around, and I start questioning lots of scriptures.  This is good.  When my thoughts begin to settle again, I remember what I really know for sure.  God is Love.  Love with us and in us translates across cultures and religions.

Personally I am a Buddhist, and I consider faith very important.  but at the same time the reality is that out of seven billion people, over one billion people on the planet are nonbelievers.  So we cannot exclude them.  One billion is quite a large number.  They are also our human brothers and sisters.  They also have the right to become happier human beings and to be good members of the human family.   The Dalai Lama

Jesus’ teachings focus a great deal on unity.  We need to be unified with God and each other  This learning is simpler, narrowed down by the claiming of Christ as the only way to God.  Being united in love is much more difficult because we get uncomfortable with our differences.  Jesus, in the Gospels, shows us the way to love each other and the way to love God.  We love by serving and putting others ahead of ourselves.  In following Christ, my faith has a focus and a purpose.   The way to unity is love.  My doubts are transformed when I look outside myself and offer love to someone in need.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8NRSV

Personally, I am a Christian, and when I think about these things, I think of Christ.  What do you think of?

A moment of fear

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“let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts…For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Fear is a powerful force that can stop us in our tracks.  Whatever we are moving toward,  may be completely avoided when we justify our fears and give them power.

Identifying our fears by naming them might be our first courageous act.  What is the enemy that you are going to battle today?  Is it loneliness, despair, guilt, abandonment?  Spend a quiet moment asking God, “What is the source of my fear?”

Today, the source of my fear is the idea that I have not done what I should have done in the past and the future of others will be forever tainted by my failure.  That statement is full of guilt.  And there is nothing I can do to change the past.  So, having named it, I have two choices, wallow in the past (punishing myself) or move toward a better future.

I spend a quiet moment with God and ask, “What have you entrusted to me today?”

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because he first loved us.     1 John 4:18-19 (NRSV)

God has entrusted to me those whom I love, and though I may have failed them in the past God’s love for me is unending and I must have the courage to overcome my fears and extend that love to them today.  “I can do no less.”