We’ve all gone through something. We all can recall at least one unfair hand that life has dealt. We know of hurdles mastered, mountains climbed, uphill battles and broken wings. And from a certain vantage point, it’s true—we are all survivors of life. But sooner or later perspective arrives always followed by its fair companion, humility.
Most recently, perspective arrived for me in the form of a new book by Jenny Hayworth, Inside/Outside: One Woman’s Recovery from Abuse and a Religious Cult. This gripping story was so poignant simply because it revealed a battle field I have never faced. It shed light on shadowy places I never knew existed; or if I had heard of them, they remained dimly mysterious. Her book put my own painful experiences in perspective.
Inside/Out is unique, gutsy and raw. After growing up intrenched in the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jenny bravely details her emancipation, the causes that led to it and the painful aftermath. My eyes stung with tears as I read of her sexual abuse, physical and emotional abandonment, clinical depression, suicidal thoughts and loneliness. Jenny shares without reservation about her own shortcomings, stating courageously that her only motive is to spare others her same pain.
The audience for this book, those who will find themselves in the pages, is vast. Some portion of Jenny’s story will undoubtedly resonate with everyone. And everyone who reads it, will find a second wind beneath their own wings, a new light on their own troubles. Jenny’s bravery, hope, determination and survival will be the encouragement many need to go forward one more day, to reach for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Bear with me, one more conversation with C.S. Lewis. (I never tire of this man.)
Recently, I wrote a brief word study on “religion” for Swagga4Christ Ministries. Wouldn’t you know, the very next day in my C.S. Lewis Daily devotional from Bible Gateway, the sage himself wrote on the topic. So I thought I’d share our perspectives. It’s a hot, controversial topic. I’d love for you to add your voice!
Bound by Freedom
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
No one really knows where it came from. The word “religion” is kind of mysterious. For hundreds of years, scholars have debated its origin.
One opinion I stumbled upon bothered me at first. Modern scholars think it might have been derived from the Latin word ligo, meaning “bind or connect”.
I got hung up on the word “bind”. Many people today view religion that way. They feel that it binds them, constrains them to a certain list of rules. But Galatians 5:1 says that Christ set us free, so our faith must have nothing to do with being bound. However, there is a different kind of binding, of connecting. Colossians 3:14 says, “Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” The Christian faith is not merely a religion. Jesus came to bring us freedom from the law—a long list of do’s and dont’s. But it is also the love of Christ that creates harmony among believers. We must be diligent as we enjoy our freedom in Christ that we work for unity among our Christian brothers and sisters.
I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’
Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
What do you think?
Is religion the same as faith in Christ?
Do you need Jesus to get to Heaven?
How do you experience Christ?
“God is love.” It is one of the most dangerous truths. The father of lies can take the simplest truths and spin them into a deceitful, transparent web in which all but the most diligent will become tangled. “God is love,” is sometimes used as a peace-making agreement, or the common ground among polar opposite faiths. Even our entertainment proclaims “World Peace.” Oprah preaches for us to love everyone and that whatever you call the goodness in you is your own innate deity.
The global mantra begs us all to get along on the grounds that deep down we desire the same thing: peace, love and happiness. Everyone is happy with the “golden rule” so that few even realize its Biblical origins. Most people consider it their religious duty to love their own god. We identify our gods by our devotion to them: money, sex, fitness, success, etc.
The Bible agrees that the first and greatest command is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second [commandment] is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Mark 12:30-31
Just one little problem. There is an essential sentence just before this well-known verse. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is one.” Mark 12:29
The God of the Bible, Elohim, Yahweh, Yeshua, Adonai, Jesus Christ our sovereign redeemer, creator and Lord is the ONE AND ONLY GOD. “God is love,” is not an all inclusive, happy agreement between the myriad world religions.