You are invited to look at the concept of God as
Surely one of the biggest challenges in life is to live your faith, even among people who have different visions of what a life of faith should be. Although I am non-denominational now, I was raised in the Methodist Church, and my family were all devoted church members. Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, Mother got us all up early, washed and dressed in our Sunday clothes and we all trooped off to church together. Our church had a warm and loving, truly gifted, soul-inspiring minister who spoke eloquently in simple understandable words, and gave to us a practical, livable vision of faith and good works. That vision has stayed with me throughout my life, and is still the basic template of all my ethics and actions.
The members of my family still attend traditional churches, and even though they think of God and right actions every day of the week, their faith is still very much defined by the structure and physical form of the churches they attend on Sunday. My younger sister is deeply devoted to her church and very active in all its activities, giving hundreds of hours a year to the unpaid dedicated work she does there. This is the kind of rock-solid faith they used to call “Old Time Religion.” It is her vision of what a true faith should be, and she lives out that faith every day, just as our Mother did, and taught us to do. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this foundation in my youth and early adulthood.
I have lived a long time since then. In traveling the path of my own life through many experiences, mistakes, successes, failures, joys, disappointments, unexpected blessings, and new beginnings, I believe I have come to a broader and deeper truth. My personal vision is different now, than that of my family’s tradition.
One of the New Thought faiths, the Unity Movement, began just over a hundred years ago. It started as a prayer group in the parlor of a middle-aged couple in Missouri and now has now reached throughout the world. New Thought is not related to “New Age.” New Thought came much earlier, is quite different, and does not involve things like crystals and the occult. The Unity movement has been called "Practical Christianity" and is eccumenical.
I’m about to make a trip home to visit relatives and old friends I haven’t seen in years, and I’ve never really talked with them about the spiritual aspect of life. I know that when I go home this time, I may be called upon to testify to my faith. So I sat down this morning with my journal and my coffee, to try to see what the differences are, and how I might explain the new ideas that my faith embraces.
First of all, I realized that the basic tenets of the Unity Faith and New thought are not really new. They are expressed in the New Testament. the Koran, and the Talmud. Many of these basic principles are also stated in many religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and others. You might say that New Thought was built, essentially, on the discovery that these ancient and modern faiths do not actually contradict each other in essence, only in the physical forms and rules human beings have given them.
With that as a starting point, I set out to find and write what the differences are between my personal faith and the the Old Time Religion of my family and past generations. I will say, up front, that I do not speak with any authority whatsoever, or from any written doctrine. I don’t speak for any group or movement, and what I have written here is simply to be shared with whoever finds it meaningful and resonant with their own inner wisdom. I write this from my heart, and from my personal faith and vision. I don’t have any special knowledge, only my own personal relationship with God and the infinite.
For every human being, I believe it is a part of our work and journey here to seek and find our personal relationship with god and the truth of our own lives. Your vision of faith may well be different from mine; that is not a problem or a conflict. New thought accepts all religions, all faiths, all beings, as part of God’s Plan for us. We travel different paths to the same goal. So, for my family and all else who want to know, here is my vision and my truth as my heart and mind see it.
1. We are all, in fact and in function, daughters and sons of God; that is the ultimate truth and there is no way out of if, no matter what we choose to believe, and no matter what we choose to do in this life.
2. The God of the Universe is a loving God who does not punish us for our mistakes, and loves each soul/person unconditionally. No one is ever abandoned by God.
3. All truths are fully functional, all universal laws apply equally to all beings whether we choose to recognize them or not. Nothing is hidden from us. Everyone who earnestly seeks, will find.
4. The God who created us has given us the unlimited power of free choice. Life/the Universe always gives us what we ask for, whether or not we are consciously aware that we are asking.
5. We have the power to shape and create our lives and circumstances, and in fact we always do so, every one of us, whether we recognize this truth or not. One of the primary goals of all New Thought faiths is to become conscious of the choices we are making, and to make choices that are in harmony with our soul, rather than just the logic of the mind or the desire of the moment.
6. There are no accidents, and we are not bound by “luck” or “fate.” Our experiences are chosen by our own souls so that our physical mortal self has goals, challenges, and learnings to experience while we are here on this earth at this time. That is why we are here.
7. Every challenge is a gift, no matter what the physical outcome, because each of them is an opportunity to learn and grow in spirit and move closer in union with God and Life.
8. When we seek and follow the counsel and guidance of God/our soul/the Christ within, we are guided surely, and provided for generously. However, we are always free to follow our intellect, our ego, or the advice of others instead of listening to the voice in our hearts. We are free to hurt ourselves and others until we realize there is a happier way, and we make the decision to change those choices.
9. A big difference in New Thought from Old Time Religion is that we as Children of God are expected to grow, and have a responsibility to eventually “grow up.” We are here to grow and learn, and to become less like children and more like God. That is a very big task, and a big responsibility, which is one reason why so many of us cling to the comfortable, warm and familiar safety of the Old Ways, believing we can just be good children and follow the rules, and that’s enough.
In a way, it is enough. God/the Universe loves, accepts and supports whatever we choose to do with the gifts and the life we’ve been given. We will not be punished if we don’t take the risk to go forward into a calling we hear but fear to follow. After all, it is sure to be different from what we have known, and it won’t be a well-marked, well-lighted super highway like the traditional way. The path may be narrow, and sometimes rocky, and lighted only a little bit at a time.
10. No one walks this path of spiritual growth alone, and those who find the courage and trust to follow it are creating the future of faith for all of us.
11. The old way/ old thought was “follow the leader.” This is also a game children play. The new way/ new thought is not really new; in fact it is ancient. It says, in essence: “You are the leader; you are the Buddha, you are the Christ; choose to make the commitment to live the life, to accept your sonship with God.”
12. Taking responsibility for our lives gives us the power to change them. Actions and attitudes follow thoughts, and life evolves from this. When we take charge of our thoughts, choosing consciously and intentionally, we are taking charge of our lives. We can then dedicate lives of great power to the work our souls came here to do.
13. The answer is always within. The guidance you need is within, the light is within. The connection to God is not in the synagogue, the church, the temple, the mosque, or any group or place or time; the connection to God is within. It is always available, anywhere, 24 hours a day.
14. New Thought faiths, like the majority of the world’s faiths, believe in reincarnation and that life is eternal. What that means is that every soul has more than one human lifetime to do its work of learning and growing in the form of Spirit made manifest on earth.
15. As sons and daughters of God, our highest human goal must be to claim the power of our Christhood and express it in this world. We can’t know everything; we can’t see the whole journey in advance; we can only see it one step at a time. That’s where the faith comes in – trusting God, and trusting ourselves.
One of the hardest learnings for me was a message from within that said “You know you are Mine; Claim your power.”
I really didn’t want to “go there” for a lot of reasons, like the cruelty I saw in people with a lot of power, and the way my older brother had bullied me as a child and enslaved me with fear. I came to expect any form of power to be cruel and selfish. I wanted no part of that, and maybe I thought that if I claimed “my power” I might misuse it too. It took more than ten years of seeking, growing, and becoming, until I learned differently. But I did learn – that this power is an expression of strength, and inner strength is not bad in itself. It can open more choices and opportunities to be fair and generous and kind. Like every gift, it depends on how we choose to use it.
The single most basic premise of New Thought, as I understand it, is that everything counts. What you do and don’t do, what you think and feel. New Thought faith does not focus on man-made rules, or placing blame and guilt, but does require acceptance of personal responsibility. You must accept and acknowledge that your life and circumstances are created by you. No one else can. There are no “outside” forces, only those that you yourself have called forth. Therefore it is important to be conscious and aware of the choices, large and small, that you are making each little minute of life.
This is a large responsibility, and it can be a frightening one unless you also accept the power, the gifts, the guidance, the calling, the challenges, and the sonship. This is “hardball.” This is real. At the bottom line, it’s not about religion, it’s about every human being’s personal relationship with God. That is the real calling, and the only thing God asks of us.
In many traditional religions, we have seen ourselves as servants of God, stewards of His fields, sheep of His pastures, and as children. The new faith that will take us into the future of planet earth, if there is to be one, will require that we grow up. That means accepting our sonship, our inheritance and our responsibility.
All of the old traditions are still true, and all truth is eternal. What’s different now is that humankind is discovering previously unknown or unacknowledged truths. I am from a Christian family so I know that these are the same truths Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago, but we didn’t “get it.” We didn’t have the courage to recognize that He actually meant exactly what He said. He was onto something that shook the foundations of the world, and His soul came here to share it with us.
When He said “I am the light of the world” and then another time he said “You are the light of the world.” I thought he was talking about the disciples. When I found out he was saying that to me, and about me, it changed a lot of things. Do you get it? He is saying that to you.
Old-Time Religion says: “Follow the leader, follow the rules; let somebody else tell you how to live. Use their wisdom instead of seeking your own.” The New Thought faith says: “Live your life knowing and accepting the truth that you are given the choice, the responsibility, the gifts, the guidance, and the power to live your life profoundly.
Just as a wave is a non-separate and inseparable “part” of the ocean, each one of us is a non-separate and inseparable part of God.