Start with believing in God/Christ/Holy Spirit, but beliefs are only an invitation to us into a life lived in the presence of God. They do not, by themselves, take us anywhere closer to God/Jesus/Christ/Spirit. But… if you want to live in God’s presence, feel God’s love, realize the promise of your own creation, be sure to do these things: 1)find the still point within you where God can speak to you; 2)carefully examine your own self—your motives for doing things, your ability to love yourself and others and own all that you are—the good, the bad and the ugly; 3)live from the deep soul-self, the agenda set in motion at your creation, deeply connected to God/Christ/Spirit; 4)know the Lord, read his Word, study it, live it, experience it; and 5)let your beliefs change as you gain more and more experience of God/Christ/Spirit, let your beliefs come into a natural alliance with what God is telling you and with how you are experiencing God in the world and in other people.
These five steps constitute the formula for loving God, because to do them takes a dedication to the Lord above and beyond our own self. Beliefs shape very little about us. We can sit in church Sunday after Sunday, but if our beliefs and the rituals we participate in don’t change the nature of who we are, then we are entry-level Christians, who can profess belief, but whose actions and daily lives belie those beliefs. Jesus called us to “Follow me,” not to believe in him. Belief is the short course, the easy way. The Way as Jesus lived it is about a life lived in the presence of God, attuned to the nuances of our call, not allied to the culture and its demands, but to the God who wants our whole selves—heart, mind, soul and strength.
Jesus showed the Way and the goal; love should permeate our whole being and activities. This is not “tough love” wherein we preach to everyone else what they are doing wrong. It is a loving, embracing stance towards everyone, not choosing who would receive God’s love through us. We might one day be with a tax collector, the next with a prostitute, another with a homeless person, another with a rich man, and another with a poor woman. It might be a cashier at the store, a co-worker who has been problematic for us, the driver who cuts in on us, the person who irritates us always. A friend. A neighbor. An acquaintance. Someone we are suspicious of. An enemy. Everyone receives love in the same measure, just as God measures out love indiscriminately. If you are not experiencing a growing capacity to love other people and yourself, you are not on the right path. If you are not embracing who you are—all of you—forgiving, loving, caring for body, mind and soul, what are you doing?
Know Jesus. Know what he said and did. Follow him. Occasionally, he does chastise the Pharisees for being hypocrites. Are you a hypocrite? Do you say one thing and do another? Take Jesus by the hand and follow him. He will teach you, transform you into the person God created you to be, with the ability to love deeply and freely as God is already loving you. Listen to your deepest soul-self; practice, practice, practice listening to your self and to others and to God. We already have within us all that is needed for a rich and fulfilling life. Uncover it! Tear down the walls! Find out who you really are! Then take that true self out into the world, do what you can to remake the world into the kingdom!