11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;Introduction: In the Apostles letter written to the church of Ephesus, he expressed what in my opinion is the problem that we are still experiencing 2000 years later in all religious circles.
12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
And that problems happens to be this: We need to get real, or another way of putting it is to get into the real world!The institutions of religion and the individuals in most religious circles simply refuse to grow up. And the fact that this letter was drafted to be read by religious individuals at the time speaks loads. The Apostle might be surprised, if he could come back for a visit today, to learn that the growing up problem still persists. I grew up in Christianity, and based upon my anecdotal observations, Christianity has not grown one iota from where it was 2000 years ago.
It would seem to me that religious individuals are stuck, and they are stuck because they refuse to grow up. and the organizations that they are a part of and their leadership fail to grow up. I have taken note of two classes of Christian religious groups (as it relates to this paper), and I am certain that it is the same within Islam, Judaism ...
The first group represent Christian leaders and their rank and file members who fail to adhere to anything that is written in their sacred texts. In other words, the texts are cited from, preached and discussed in biblical session and then the adherents engage in the opposite behaviors.
I don't like to call people hypocrites, however, to say one thing and to practice something else, doesn't that meet the definition of being a hypocrite. These are the ala carte religious groups. They accept portions of their religious texts and dogma, the ones that appeal to them and ignore the portions that they do not care to accept.
Their counterparts, on the other hand, accept everything that is written in their texts, and they have become fanatical with respect to adhering to everything that is written in their sacred texts and that has been passed down from within their religious tradition. What appears to be missing, from my point of view is that neither groups appears to be capable of growing up in love, a love that will take them beyond their often held sacred texts (particularly outdated texts that had a meaning during the time that they were written) and their obvious hypocrisy.
Today, the texts ought to seem like nursery school books to intelligent readers, one would like to believe everyone who lives in the 21st century.
That God may have related information to individuals with 1st century and before understanding in the manner that he did is understandable, he knew what they could handle at the time. It should not be a surprise to all of us then that live in a 21st century world that God will relate to us in a completely different language.
Why should God? Because our knowledge, understanding, outlook has expanded far beyond the realm of where are predecessors were at the time. I believe that it is time for both of the aforementioned groups, the hypocrite and the strict adherents to get in the real world, stop behaving like children and to join the rest of us who are in search of the real God if you!
And so what does love have to do with this? The Apostle made it clear that having a religious text was insufficient to help one to grow to where they needed to be. So, he recognized that God provided humans with individual giftings that would be used in turn to help individuals to learn and to reach the stature of a grownup individual.
The act of growing up is an act of love, and each one of us should accept that.For love is often tough for humans to endure, and most humans would prefer to switch rather than to keep fighting. Parents who practice tough love (and many parents don't do that anymore either) know this more than anyone else, for during childhood prepubescence, the methods of training a child often seem very odious to a child. Oftentimes, children feel that the ones who are teaching them the truth (parents, schoolteachers, even religious individuals) are simply mean!
In that same vein, when you attempt to confront and to challenge them to learn more than what they already know (religious proselytes and members of various religious organizations); it also becomes very odious to them. Why because, they are adolescents, and not only that, they want to remain spiritual or religious adolescents. They will strike out at you and call you a hypocrite, an apostate, a backslider ... Some individuals, simply are not comfortable with learning new paradigms.
Growth in love often means taking one beyond their comfort zones, and that is all that I have been referring to in my subsequent essays on this topic, Beyond The Sacred Texts. I do not believe that the individuals, who inhabited the earth, at the time that most religious texts were written, could have comprehended the truth, even though it was staring them in the faith. Many of them needed fairy tales, myths or pictures painted for them that satisfied their child-like minds.
Even, today, and we are far more advanced than our predecessors, we have much more to learn, even though what we know transcends the knowledge of our predecessors. Fortunately, given all of the information that is available, many of us have been humbled sufficiently so that we can admit, that there is much more to learn, and that perhaps we haven't been the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Also, we understand that what we refer to as God, permitted ITself to be understood as such in a similar manner to what we allow for when we teach our toddlers.All of us should keep in mind that when it is our destiny at stake, that we should take the responsibility for our own destiny.
I am embarrassed to say that I have sat under leaders, some great teachers, who often taught that God wants his people to continue to be children. In fact, even one were to depend on the Christian Canon, clearly, the writers spoke more about growth, development and going on to perfection. If you were to observe not only Christendom, but the majority of other religious organizations, one would be hard press to conclude that any of them or us have reached perfection yet.
God does not have to appear as 'dark matter', or in the form of a spirit if you will. Perhaps it can simply reveal itself as a 'mathematical construct', an unknown quantity that cannot be observed empirically, at least by using the methods or little technology that our predecessors had at their disposal.
Many of our ministers, rabbis, imams ... can continue to make a living, build sizable organizations and leads great followings by dispensing the old methods of , story-telling, rehearsing outdated myths ..., but the intelligent among us, the ones who are merely seeking the truth, the ones who wish to grow up in love are only too to go wherever have to and to do whatever we have to in order to acquire what is real!
Rev. C. Solomon
To be completed