What I believe, part 12
What is Faith?
I believe the teachings of Christ. I believe that the only way for the world to be happy is for all people to obey him. I believe that it is easy to obey Christ. Even if I am the only person who believes him I should still do it, to save my own life, if for no other reason. His teachings are the only door out of a burning house. The life I lived following the world's teaching did not make me happy. So I have no choice but to follow Christ.
Christ has listed in his rules all the things that would take me away from loving others and being happy, and I believe those rules.
Christ has shown me that the first thing that destroys a good life is anger. I cannot, as I used to do, argue that I have good reasons to be angry. I cannot look down on others who are uneducated or that I think are lower than me in any other way. I can see that when I think of others as being better than me, I am kinder to them, and it is only when I think of myself as being better than them that I get angry. Now I understand why Christ blesses the poor and humble, but says that God is angry with the rich and powerful.
If, at times, I give in to anger, I must, in my quieter times, see that my spirit was wrong, and make plans to change my actions.
I cannot use names for myself or others (like Master, Father, or Teacher) that make some people more important than others. I cannot hold to the wealth, food, clothes, or actions that I used in the past to mark myself as being better than others.
Christ has shown me that another thing that will destroy my happiness is wanting to have sex with women other than my wife. I cannot give in to such thoughts, or argue that they are okay if the woman is beautiful, if I think I love her, or if my wife is not perfect. I should do all that I can to stop these thoughts.
I now know that what most leads to thoughts about adultery is when people leave their husband or wife if living together becomes difficult, or if they come to see the worst side in the person they are married to. Christ tells me that I must not do this. My desire for sex is not a problem if I stick with my wife. But it is a problem for both of us if I send her away or if I leave her. So I will not leave her for any reason, and I will be happier because of it.
The third thing that Christ says will destroy my happiness is making holy promises. The future is not mine; it is God's. I cannot promise to obey anyone but God. I can see that a holy promise to obey the leader of any country is what leads to wars and prisons and other killings in the name of that country. This happens because people forget their need to obey God after they have made a promise in the name of God to follow someone else. Making a promise changes our understanding of what is right and what is wrong, because we think it is wrong to break the promise even when keeping it forces us to do something that is wrong.
Christ has shown me that the fourth thing that keeps me from being happy is trying to fight against evil people. I can no longer argue that it is right to hit back, for that is the same as fighting evil with evil. If I find myself guilty of doing this, I must stop it as soon as I see it. I can see now that in the past I hit back because I believed that such action would protect me from evil people and make my life and my wealth safe. I no longer believe this.
I now see that many of the problems in the world come from us trying to force others to serve us when we should be trying to serve others. We do not change the world through force. We change it through lovingly serving others. If we will work for anyone who needs our help, we will not go hungry, and we will be happier as well. I will not use physical force to change others (but at times I may use it to save a child from serious danger). I cannot be a judge, or do any work in a court, because the courts try to hit back at evil people by putting them in prison or killing them.
And one other thing that Christ has shown me that keeps me from being happy. It is pride in my country. If I start to think of a person as an enemy because that person lives under a different flag, I should stop this way of thinking as soon as I see it, and not argue that my country is better than another country. I cannot believe in borders between countries now, for true happiness must be for all people. I now see that love for one's country is an evil lie that leads to war. If I live as Christ has taught me to live, my life will have a meaning that death cannot destroy. The understanding that I have received from Christ is a light that must burn free if it is to be a light at all. I must hold it out for others to see, and not hide it under a basket.
Before, I was afraid that others would hurt me if I followed Christ. But now, when others fight against what I am doing and saying, it only makes me more confident that what I have found is the truth.
Christ said that if we would follow him, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free; and that is how I feel – free in every part of me.
I know the truth so that I can show it to others. But I can only show it by living it. As I turn the other cheek I show evil people how they should live. And I can see that my new way of life is changing other people. They stop fighting me when I stop fighting them, and the more I serve others, the less they want to hurt me.
Each time a person or a government comes to me with some kind of evil, I see it as an opening to show them the truth of Christ's teaching. Even being put in prison or being killed would be an opening for me to show the truth. Handing on the truth that we have is the whole job of a Christian, and it is what gives meaning to our lives… and to our deaths.
False teachings become the paste that holds people who believe them together. Over time, the lie in the teaching and the number of people believing it can grow into a very big ball. When people try to break the ball apart through war and hate, they only add to the lie and make the ball bigger and stronger. The only thing that can free even one person from that big ball of evil is truth. As we live truth ourselves, it works on the people in the ball, melting away the lies little by little. Truth in action is the one thing that can free people – one at a time – from the lie.
This work of freeing people from the lie has been going on for more than eighteen hundred years now.
From the time Christ gave us his laws, that work has been going on. And it will not end until it has finished destroying all the lies. (Matthew 5:18)
The old Church has died. But a Church of people joined, not by holy promises and buildings and leaders, but by truth in action, lives on. This Church has always lived and always will. This Church is not made of people who say of Christ, "Lord, Lord!" but then live lives of sin. (Matthew 7:21-23) This Church is made of people who hear Christ's words and do them. They have found true happiness in following Christ, and they want to teach those truths to others as well.
If there are many people in this invisible Church, or if there are only a few, it will not change the truth about it: that nothing can stop it, and that one day all people in every country will be part of it.
So "Do not be afraid, little group, for your Father will be pleased to give you his kingdom." (Luke 12:32)
22 January, 1884
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