Even though I consider myself a follower of Jesus before anything else, I generally stay away from the word “Christian.” A lot of that is because of the negative connotations of the word, but it’s also because I grew up Christian, and the conservative, legalistic beliefs I learned then are totally different, and in some ways almost opposite, to what I believe now.
It’s also because the religious Christian community tends to be reflexively opposed to anything that seems odd, superstitious, or “New-Agey,” even if it really isn’t anything of the sort. Except odd, I guess I am that. When I was traveling around and speaking about the Healing Codes a number of years ago, it was pretty common for a preacher or pastor to turn me away from their church. The funny thing is that a lot of the time they had read my work and didn’t even have any problems with it themselves. They just felt that their church “wasn’t ready for it.” I’ve even had some of those same preachers ask me for help with a personal problem in the same conversation!
I didn’t start using the Codes until I was convinced they were in harmony with what I believe, and when someone gives me the opportunity to make my case, they usually end up agreeing with me. The funny thing is that even though I’m not the New Age healer I’m often accused of being, pretty much all the actual New Age people I have met have been incredibly kind and welcoming. In many cases, a lot more so than Christians. But remember, I share an upbringing with these folks. So what is it that makes them—us—so eager to pass judgment?
Ancient manuscripts claim (and I’m paraphrasing) that “from a young age, man’s inclination is toward evil.” I’m not sure how much proof a statement like that needs, but I do find it interesting that recent psychological research has shown that we have a pronounced tendency toward the negative. It’s part of our survival programming, prioritizing threat-identification in order to keep us alive. Obviously, it’s a vast oversimplification to call negative reactions “evil” and positive reactions “good,” but it’s also true that most of the world’s great human problems are caused by runaway negative reactions. Fear, hate, selfishness. Mostly fear.
Fear has its place in moments of immediate, genuine danger, but it’s lethal to any meaningful, long-term relationship, and even to the simple idea of a happy, joyful life. Fear was also the main driving force behind religion during my upbringing.
Last week, I told a story about my dad’s views of religion. He believed that in order to be saved, you had to continuously and specifically repent in prayer for every mistake you made—and if you happened to die before you could repent for a stray thought, that was it! You were bound for hell!
Now, that’s a bit more extreme than the majority of Christians I know today, and I personally believe that the grace of God is much less pedantic than this, but I think it is very often this type of fear that drives religious people to treat new concepts with such suspicion. Because even when the subject appears fairly innocuous, the stakes from a spiritual perspective can be incredibly high.
That being said, I think that living in fear of sin is missing the point. I lived that way myself through most of my twenties, and it nearly destroyed my whole life! So what turned things around?
I made a lot of lifestyle changes when I made my commitment to living in love, but putting all my mistakes behind me wasn’t one of them. What really saved me from sin, or wrongdoing, or whatever you want to call it, wasn’t a behavior at all. It was a belief. For me, that belief was a spiritual one, based on ancient manuscripts, the teachings of people I trusted, and my own conclusions after studying pretty much every belief system I could find (even New Age). I came to the conclusion, impossible though it seems, that a person who tries—just tries—to live in Christ is really “declared righteous,” declared good and right and even happy!
You can see something like this playing out even on the physical level. We’re all born with both a belief in love and a fear of death, but when you believe your eternal soul is hanging in the balance of every little misstep, you’re sort of forced into feeling fearful and stressed about … well, everything. Continual physiological stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, which is great for short-term bursts of fighting or fleeing, but also has the effect of suppressing your immune system, reducing your creative thinking and emotional intelligence, and pretty much everything else conducive to long-term health and happiness.
So yes, trying to do the right thing is obviously important, but one of the great diagnostics for whether or not you’re living in love is whether or not you genuinely want to do the right thing for its own sake. This can come up in the simplest ways—for me, it was toilets.
My wife and I made some extra money cleaning houses back then, and I used to loathe cleaning toilets more than anything. I guess I thought it was beneath me. A little while after I made my commitment, I caught myself humming while I worked on them. It’s the smallest little thing, but it points to an internal change. I wasn’t doing it because I thought I had to anymore—I was convinced that I was saved regardless of how many mistakes I made. I was doing it because I wanted to, because in committing to love I had let go of fear, and that had released me to live the sort of life I’d always wanted.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!