My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
Many people today want to have a personal connection to God or their higher power. Even professed non-believers ask me, “How could this God you believe in allow such and such to happen?” I feel like people who ask me that question aren’t actually non-believers, but people who want to understand the divine creator in their own terms. It is not comfortable for everyone to view God through the same prism as everyone else. When people feel as if religion prescribes only one image of God, they will look elsewhere. I can respect that opinion. Frequently people I have met who struggle with a singular image of God tell me that they are spiritual but not religious. I always bristle when people say that to me because it usually seems to reflect some displeasure with “church folks.” As a “church folk” myself, I see it all the time. It seems so easy to fall into an attitude that says, “It’s our way or no way.” As if being accountable to a community and attending a weekly service makes us better human beings.
Being accountable to a community doesn’t necessarily mean that they will teach you reverence for humanity. How often have groups of people stood together, with a false sense of morality on their side, purely by the numbers who gathered?
But here is the good news. You can be spiritual AND religious; you can value each person and treat them with love and compassion. There is no need to speak about love while demeaning another and feeling righteous about your point of view. You could do that while being “spiritual” or “religious.” Most of us have had that experience of infinite love and felt something deep within calling us to be more selfless. Don’t we all, regardless of religious belief or disbelief, have a desire to be of service to humanity?
We can release what separates us: concepts like “spiritual” or “religious” need not be divisive. If we focus on allowing the source of truth in our heart to bring us together without judgment – without proclamations of who is right or wrong – we will be able to step into a 21st Century that we might all envision as truly inclusive of all.
Perhaps the most formidable call of 1 Corinthians is not simply to recognize that our own divisions are not God’s best for God’s people, but to take up its insistence that we make the gospel message of the one, crucified Christ our own measuring stick by which to measure the world.
Thought for the day: Can I embrace people who believe differently than I do?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.