a friend wrote me about one of my posts recently, and his comments prompted me to think about how my belief in a creator God influences how i live my life. one of the blogs i read frequently is an atheist blog (atheism.about.com/b/) which often questions the notion that belief in God causes one to live a more moral life. as i watch the behavior of many of those who are the most vocal about their christian beliefs, i wonder if religion, and more particulary christianity, motivates one to live a moral life. i suppose the question of what one means by "morality" is the key in making such a determination.
for me, a moral life is one that is concerned about the well-being of others. Jesus teaches that we should love others as we love ourselves. are we moral people if we ignore the plight of the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the elderly, and the sick? are we moral beings if we prosper at others' expense? must one accept orthodox christian theology to practice the teachings of Jesus? when Jesus said that those who love others as they love themselves are children of God, did He mean that those who don't believe in God but love in this sense are God's children?
the essence of true religion, i have come to believe, is to have this sort of love for our fellow creatures. one cannot love the Creator without loving the created. in loving those created by God, one expresses love for God, even when one rejects the notion that there is a God. in this sense, i am convinced that it is possible to be a christian while rejecting most of christianity's orthodox beliefs, including belief in God. if there is something of God within each of us, we can be led to true religion without agreeing that there is such a thing as "true religion."
each day as i read, pray, meditate, and think, i am brought more and more to an acceptance of universalism and rejection of christian "exclusivism." we are all part of a human family struggling to understand what it is to be truly human, and the more we come to love and care for one another, the more human we become. my prayer today is that each of us grows in love for ourselves and for one another and that we place a higher value on compassion for each other than we place on "stuff" that has little lasting value.