I’ve spent a lot of my life in some sort of ‘religious’ organisation of one form or another, mostly within the Christian Church. Some of them felt more ‘religious’ than others, sure… but all of them had one thing in common – adherence to doctrine.
Each group had their set of core beliefs, and to stray outside them could lead you to either being reprimanded or excluded… or at the very least, people would worry that you were ‘not quite part of the church’. Sometimes it was amazingly trivial things that caused the greatest fuss – smoking, for example, was definitely frowned on, although I couldn’t find an admonition against it in the Bible!
I can remember one day at University when we found out that (horror) someone was sleeping with someone else – immediately one of the leaders was despatched to talk to the culprit and gently lead her back into the flock.
It seems that the distinguishing factor of all these faiths is that we need a teacher. Someone to set out the rules. Someone who tells us what to believe. Someone to follow. And then we find out that these people have feet of clay. They lose their temper. They make mistakes. They forget things. Or ‘worse’….
I remember when the pastor of a church I had been a part of for many years ran off with a member of the congregation. The stunned congregation stumbled on for a while, but eventually the church fell apart – because its leader had gone.
And I have been struggling with this one for a while now.. looking for a teacher, a leader, someone who can tell me what I should be doing, someone to guide me, someone to tell me what was important, someone to advise me. No-one seemed to appear. I was pretty aure that the student was ready… but the teacher didn’t appear!
And suddenly I realised…. I don’t need one.
You see, there’s a new world coming – a new freedom, a new truth. The amazing thing is that God is speaking to us individually. It used to be that revelation came through the religious leader, through the voice of the chosen one. But it was never meant to be like that. We each have our own personal connection to God, to the Divine, to the Universe. We don’t need a mediator. We don’t need someone to interpret. We can hear God ourselves. And, yes, I meant that. ‘Hear God’. Prayer isn’t just us talking and God listening…. it’s a conversation. Expect it, and God will speak.
So, we become our own teachers. We hear the voice of God ourselves, speaking into our own circumstances. We hear God’s voice through the books we read, the teaching we hear, the TV we watch, the newspapers we read. I hear God speak through the lyrics to songs, through the words of movies… and often I publish the ones that really seem significant on my other blog, Touching Zero.