Reading through the Christian part of the Bible, the New Testament, there is constant affirmation of an inclusive God. God is not vengeful. God is not judgmental. God does not punish nor give favor. The New Testament God wants only that we develop a strong, mutually loving relationship between man and God. God speaks through Jesus to describe what we as followers should do to love God properly. One well known instruction is made very clear: Love God above all other Gods.
This reaches further into our life than we may think. A deity can take many forms that never occur to us. Any overzealous or self rewarding activity is a form of god-worship – called Baal worship in the Old Testament. I know friends who put the variety of life aside, including proper financial security, to be avid sports fans. How about the alcoholic who drinks away all the family money, leaving no emotional value in the drinker’s or the family’s life? How about the compulsive gambler? Then there’s the capitalist – including we small ones – who make decisions in favor of money rather than people. All these are Baal worship because these behaviors are used to appease one’s self. Only God can do that. One’s addictions to other icons prevent one’s ability to engage in God’s work or feel God’s joyful presence in one’s life. Without focus on the curing power of God, the loving relationship will never occur.
On the surface, Baal worship can seem innocent or helpful, even worthy of mental ease or meditation. Grow flowers, attend Zen classes, become a millionaire, paint pictures – it doesn’t matter. If the activity, whatever it is, becomes a source of dependence for fulfillment in your life, it is self gratification; it is Baal worship.
One may think such continuous focus on God will prevent living a complete, human life – quite the contrary. There is no requirement to be other than who you are. Enjoy the times you can enjoy; suffer the bad times. Fall in love, live the life you have at hand but take God with you to sustain your inner value, to be the rudder that steers you through those experiences and to ensure personal happiness.
What does this love relationship feel like? There are words like Grace, salvation, born again, God’s will and many other nuanced terms. But these words don’t describe the simple reality of a love relationship with God. Have you ever had a moment when mental anxiety was suddenly released? Remember a time when danger lurked but then danger passed and you felt a feeling of relief? The God relationship has the same uplifting effect but doesn’t require a continuous feeling of relief. Rather, it’s that tiny moment of discovered peace at the very end of the experience that we want to remember. Feeling at peace is a common experience in the God relationship. The God relationship provides quiet relief by letting you know that you are in a nonjudgmental world and trust that this quiet peace is able to guide you through the rest of your life. Don’t try to aim or direct this feeling; God is everywhere – even within you. It is within you that God can be felt. In time, you will feel a living guidance system; call it God’s rudder in our life.