‘us’ and ‘them’ continued

8 Aug

If I see myself in the eyes of others I can be one thing or another. According to some, I am amazing; independent, fearless, a role model in many ways. According to others I have committed the grave sin of ‘falling short’ in the religious world, I have given my babies to the ‘baal’ of secularism and acted in a selfish manner, blind to the consequences of my actions. Professionally and academically there will be another view altogether. People will look at me according to their world view, their failings, their vested interests. A person who is weak will admire my strength because in me they see what they lack but others, however, might see the complete opposite.

In order to ‘measure’ oneself up according to the expectations of the outside world one has to carry with a variety of measuring devices, depending on who one is talking to. Or perhaps one should simply stop measuring?

This is the pitfall of the religious world, by the way and this is proof in point that religion is man-made, not God-made. It is a mass, organized religion based on a group identity; reinforced with group prayer, learning, celebrations etc. The second one enters the group one begins the process of self-assessment and self-modification vis-a-vis the group. Religious peers are constantly assessing who you are, according to the standards and norms of the group.

The same process of finding a social status exists in secular society, by the way, but there is one key difference. A person with a higher ‘standing’ or with better ‘rating’ in the religious world is called ‘closer to God’  whereas in the secular world he is not. Seculars do not even try and pretend that. But calling a man or woman who has made his way up the religious-social ladder a ‘man of God’ is called an abomination.

And yet, in prayer we supposedly speak to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our real and genuine role-models. And we’ve fallen short. How so?

Abraham – the pioneer of monotheism who risked his life more than once over to speak the truth when the whole world, seeped in idolatry (including his own father) was against him

Isaac – a message from God told him to sacrifice his only son and he was ready to do that. God? Speak? Sacrifice?Do we understand this type of relationship with God any more? 

Jacob – lived in Lavan’s house (treif lemehadrin) for years and yet maintained his intimate connection with God.

What these three patriarchs have in common is the intimate connection to God despite the world around them. Creating a homogeneous world of religiosity was not within their horizons at all.

When I reflect on these paradoxes God shows me clearly how much religion is man-made and with no connection to God whatsoever.

 

Now I feel that questions come up, such as ‘but what about society? Family? If each person lives an individual life with an individual relationship with God what will be? It’s been proven that people thrive within the framework of a society.’

To this I say, there are many things we leave to God and this is one of them. There is one thing that we cannot leave to God and that is our relationship with him. A relationship is not self-running and self-regulating. It takes work. The miracle of a relationship with God is the minute we give, we get back.

 

So back to the topic.

 

I am a person of inherent value because I am a child of God. God loves me, knows me better than anyone else and He holds me in his arms and binds me with his love. His gifts are priceless, because they are tailored to me, the child he knows more intimately than anyone else, for my growth and my ultimate good.

I am not ‘good’ because I am gifted, self-confident, good-looking, wealthy or anything else. I am a child of God, with a soul and a will to connect with Him (though I’m not always successful, I admit). This, rather than the approval of those around me, is what gives me peace because this is not an arbitrary, but eternal truth.

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