Important, but not always easy, to ‘love thy neighbor’

In my last column I finished with the words: “Don’t store up treasures on Earth, for the real treasures are those that are stored up for heaven.” I was blessed to receive many, very kind responses where the most typical response was, “Thank you for reminding me of what is most important.”But of course I had that one critic who was bound and determined to demean my character and spirit. Nothing I could say or do in an attempt to appease him mattered. I likened it to an evil assault. Actually it was evil due to all the vile language used to demean my character. There was no counter to the points I raised by this critic, just childish nonsense packaged in four-letter words.

There are treasures that cannot be measured by the “things” we own. Of course we all need a certain amount of earthly treasures in today’s society like a roof over our heads, food on our table and a means to get to work to make the money to avoid living under a bridge somewhere. But, one of the heavenly treasures that the universe wants us to learn is to respect the spirit that lives in each of us, even the spirit in our detractors. Our spirit, our soul, is the offspring of God and it means we have a direct link to our maker.

No matter what religion you are, even being atheist like my detractor, we all (well, most of us) have this inner compass that directs us to respect others. I happen to be Christian so I have come to understand that the entire New Testament boils down to two simple lessons: To love God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Think about that a little.

If everyone lived by those two lessons there would be no wars, there would be no greed and there would be a happy and harmonious world. John Lennon, in his oft unusual methods, penned the song “Imagine.” One of the lines in his prose finishes with “… and no religion too.”

Religion may just be the best and the worst that humanity has had to struggle with. Each religion seems to think their God is their own and they are willing to kill or maim you in order to force their belief down your throat. Wars continue to be fought defending a God that just happens to fit inside the box that each religion has placed around God.

Each religion seems to be a critic of the others. It is this festering negativity that sticks in the psyche that causes its followers to be taken away from the real truths of their religion where hatred and revenge can override the good and become the focus instead. It galls me every time a pastor of mine infers that Jews will not go to heaven because they haven’t accepted Christ as their savior. To me that is just flat wrong because we are all His children.

My daughter and I have penned a book on spirituality that will come out soon. We already know that we are going to get a lot of grief from what we have written. We know we will be criticized without mercy by some and that the criticism will be difficult to accept. We will be tested when trying to “love our neighbor” while our character is being assassinated.

But Christ was also quoted in books like “The Book of Thomas” and the “Book of Andrew” (both are Disciples who penned these books, which were overlooked by Constantine when he assembled the New Testament 300 years after Christ). In these books he was quoted as saying: “learn to love the spirit that lives within every human being but have the wisdom to turn away from the evil that comes from those who have not yet discovered this spirit within themselves.”

In other words, don’t let evil get the best of you. Focus instead on the good things in your life instead. That, of course, is easier said than done.

I watched a VH1 show recently featuring Taylor Swift. Ms. Swift at one point between songs told her audience a story about one of her critics. She said that she gets volumes of mail lavishing her with adoration but she told of one detractor (a newspaper music critic) who just seemed hell bent on destroying her.

This critic wrote vile things about her character and did everything he could to get inside her head to destroy her, to turn her into something she wasn’t. She said that at one point she even tried to communicate with this person in the hopes of changing this critic’s mind and perception of who she really was. But, she eventually came to the realization that this critic was not to be persuaded. She came to realize that this soul-less critic had come to own her (which was his goal) because she allowed the criticism to fester in her head from the time she woke up to the time she went to sleep.

When she finally came to the point where she knew she had no control over what this critic thought and said, she decided to throw up her hands and to give it all over to God instead. She decided to forgive her “enemy” and to focus on the positive things in her life instead. I don’t remember the title of the song she wrote in regards to this experience but she ended up winning a Grammy Award from it and grew as a person as well.

In conclusion, God wants us to be happy. We can’t be happy if we are mad or bitter. So despite your critics, despite my critic(s), we should do our very best to accept the bad with the good, learn to forgive, forget and focus on what is most important in our lives instead: love, happiness and peace.

 

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