Somewhere around 1995, I was hired by the local Catholic Campus Ministry (Newman Center) to implement and facilitate a program for adults joining the Catholic faith. Developing the curriculum and facilitating this program proved to me what I was already beginning to understand about what people REALLY need when it comes to matters of the Spirit and inspired within me a desire to be part of something that gives people what they REALLY need.
We do not need to be forgiven. If we believe what Jesus taught and what early theologians say about the meaning behind Jesus’ death and resurrection – we have already been forgiven (not that there was anything to forgive in the first place…but that’s a whole other blog post). Yes, we need to be open to an ongoing process of forgiveness – forgiving each other 70 times 7 times, and we need to be open to the grace of forgiveness over our own non-loving acts (freedom from the shame we feel, release from our resentments and reconciliation with those we’ve harmed). But if God loves us without condition, then simply by our desire to be healed of the brokenness we feel within ourselves and the hurt we may have caused others, we are already forgiven.
We do not need to be saved. If Jesus died and rose from the dead to save us and if this has already been done, what more saving is needed? If there’s anything we need saving from, however, it is ourselves – from all fear that arises out of the false perception of separation which then cause the non-loving acts we commit against ourselves and others.
Nothing needs to be earned. If God loves us without condition as Jesus taught then there is nothing to earn and nothing to be taken away. God loves us – PERIOD. More pointedly, if we believe in the truth that Jesus died for (Oneness with God), then there is really nothing to earn. God is love. We are one with God. Therefore, we are love. Period! We don’t have to earn our way into heaven and heaven will not be denied us. It is heaven on earth that Jesus was concerned about and this is the legacy he left behind.
If it is true that we do not need to be saved or forgiven and nothing needs to be earned, then what role and purpose is there for church? Of course there is a place for Church (religion) in the world – first as an outward cultural expression of spirituality; and as a cultural way to formulate and enforce what the culture agrees to be acceptable behaviors between human beings. Church is also a way to express our human need to be culturally connected (ie. Find our tribe). And church is important for those who believe they need to be saved or forgiven and who believe heaven is something they have to earn.
Whereas churches can provide a great container for cultural norms, and offers to some a sense of belonging and others with comfort for their own inner shame or sense of unworthiness, I would argue that there are deeper needs that most models of church are failing to address. In my own journey and in providing ministerial support for over 20 years, beginning with the program for adults joining the Catholic Church, here is what I have observed to be these deeper needs.
People need to know they are loved.
People need to feel safe.
People need to know they matter – that their unique personhood is of value.
People need a life which has meaning and purpose.
People need unconditional loving support.
People need connection (to feel they belong).
To these I would add one additional need that is unique and specific to the modern world in which we are living – a world that becomes more and more global every day and which is being decimated by our misplaced need to be right and to have dominance over the earth and over another:
We need to be freed of the ignorance, fear and false perceptions that cause us to separate ourselves from the earth and from one another. We need to know we are One within ourselves, One with the earth, and One with each other (and ultimately ONE with God).
Authentic Freedom Academy, through our programs, services, writing and publishing, seeks to help people find the fulfillment of these deeper needs – for the sake of the individuals and ultimately in support of the betterment of our world. Find out how by exploring our website or contacting Lauri Ann Lumby (920) 230-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org .