To be like Christ is to be a Christian - 1718 William Penn’s last words
Although I have never attended a meeting I feel quite close to the Society of Friends known as Quakers. They are so throughly grounded in “being” a Christian instead of just proclaiming a set of beliefs. To see William Penn’s last words here it is obvious that he was a faithful Quaker.
Several years ago I came across a small book entitled Quaker Spirituality – Selected Writings. I’m still not sure what made me pause on the title but I am glad I did. Inside that book was an essay by Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941) talked about the “Eternal Presence”. I didn’t know it then but this essay put me on the path to learning much more about Quakers. It gave me the most complete understanding of who God was that I have ever had in my life up to that point.
Here are some of the words from that essay. I am just going to give you bits an pieces but enough to get its message across:
Here is a letter from my Quaker friends at AFSC that I thought you might be interested in. If enough of us speak out we might just be able to force some of the politicians to actually do some of the things that they campaign on.
If you want to sign this petition click on this link https://afsc.org
Source: God’s Dwelling Place – QuakerQuaker.
There is no such thing as a sense of integrity that acknowledges the measure of light I have within me while at the same time ignoring the corresponding light within my neighbor. As that light is as constant within him or her as it is within me, there is no reasonable way or appropriate time to withhold the integrity my neighbor deserves as much as me. Nor are we to be honest and truthful with some and not with others because of such vain differences as race, gender, age, income, and sexual orientation. God dwells in a wide variety of places.
These words from the QuakerQuaker blog site truly inspire me. They are from David Madden who is a regular blogger there and one I have come to quote quite often. As David says it does me no good to acknowledge God’s light in me if I am ignoring the light within my neighbor. Being what David suggests here is a very difficult thing. We all grow up and for the most part pick up our parents prejudices in life. This practice naturally tends to separate us from those around us. Most of these prejudices are founded on making us more noble (you choose the word) than our neighbor.
We must all understand that as David said, God dwells in a wide variety of places. I must quit thinking that I have the light and ignore the light in my fellow human beings who I encounter on a daily basis. A few posts ago I mentioned that I tend to now see people I don’t know with an eye of skepticism instead of first looking for the light of God in them. I need to do a better job of rubbing this practice out my life. We are all God’s children, even those “smelly” ones we have to occasionally step over while going from here to there, and we should all treat each other as God intended. Contrary to what some of my Christian friends say, particularly the Calvinists among us, He put his light in each of us, not just a selected few. When we kill or otherwise cause the death of anyone on this earth we are extinguishing a part of God’s light before its time.
Thanks David for your enlightening words..
Source: This Life or the Afterlife – QuakerQuaker.
I don’t spend much time worrying about where I will be after I die. Instead I try to spend my time just concentrating on the words of Jesus as found in my Bible. By his words he shows us how to live a God pleasing life. Yes, in spite of what several current Christian denominations say, I believe it is possible to please God by doing, or at least trying to do, what he told us to do. God, unlike what some say, does not just view us as worthless pieces of snot who can do nothing good in our lives. Jesus didn’t spend over thirty years on this earth simply waiting for his death; he spent it teaching us how he wants us to behave. Jesus spoke many more words about living life here on earth than he did about heaven/hell or the afterlife. Our job while we are here on earth is to do what he taught us. He will take care of everything when our life here is completed.
So, I just don’t worry much about what happens when I leave this earth. I leave that up to God. He told us not to worry about the future or fret about the past but to live in the present. So, when I ran across this blog post I was pleased to see that someone else has the same thoughts and as usual he is a Quaker. Here are some words from his post. Click the source above to see the entire post.
For Quakers, however, it’s not an entirely unreasonable theory. For starters, unlike most other religious traditions, Christian or otherwise, we spend very little time either imagining or worrying about the afterlife. We’re much more concerned with what is happening in the here and now and tend to work very earnestly towards achieving the peaceable kingdom in this life. We’re reluctant to define “God” but strive very hard to be in His/Her/Its presence. Most Quakers of my acquaintance cheerfully acknowledge that they just don’t know what happens next. No seventy-seven virgins for us or Pearly Gates, or, for that matter, hellfire and brimstone. Personally, the furthest I am prepared to go is to claim that whatever the afterlife consists of is utterly beyond the very limited comprehension of our earthbound selves, but that there is a “rightness” about it that totally transcends the picayune worries and concerns and preoccupations of our individual pre-death selves. In fact, I would be deeply disappointed if in my current very limited human state I could imagine anything close to whatever it is.
I like the words “we’re reluctant to define “God”. Many spend much time trying to imagine what heaven is going to be like or dreading hell. I don’t think I can even imagine either one and I’m not going to worry about that fact. I will leave it up to God to determine whether I measure up and where I will spend an eternity. All I can do is try to live as he taught us and put my fate in his hands.
If Only we in the U.S. spent even a minuscule amount of what we spend for our wars to promote peace…
I want to direct you to a website promoting peace instead of war. OneMinuteForPeace.org from the American Friends Service Committee. As the site states in the previous year the United States has spent over $1 trillion of military spending. That comes out to almost $2,000,000 every minute! It is sad to say but we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and many many times more to fund our wars than we do to promote peace.
The graph above from their website shows the total U.S. discretionary spending. It is shameful that our war machine takes up so much of our spending.
The AFSC is part of the Quaker faith tradition and is world famous for their peace initiatives. In fact they have received a past Nobel Peace prize for their activity. They go throughout the world helping those who are destitute and/or ravaged by wars. They are trying to raise the amount of just one minute’s U.S. military budget for those initiatives. Please consider giving them some of your resources. It is too bad that small organizations like the AFSC must do the bulk of the peacemaking work when so much is spent of war and destruction.
I find it amazing that many in government say we are spending our grandchildren into poverty while at the same time putting the biggest budget item in the “no cuts” category. It saddens me more to know that so many people who call themselves Christian seem to celebrate that fact. If only we in the U.S. had even a small fraction of our passion for peace that we seem to have for war we could indeed call ourselves our brother’s keeper.
And the journey goes on….