Unity Church is about spiritual development. We aren’t a traditional religion; the world isn’t seeking more traditional religions. Yet, many are truly hungering to experience God. You are a spiritual creature, and you are likely reading these words because you have a desire to grow and expand spiritually.
Is it okay to have questions about God? Well of course! Look at the word “question,” and you will see the word “quest.” A person who asks questions is on a quest, a journey. Children ask questions because they want to understand. There is no quicker way to stunt your spiritual and intellectual growth than to stop asking questions. I love the three letter word “why,” and my heroes are those who have swam upstream rather than merely accept handed-down answers. In this article, we will briefly look at two questioners: Jesus and Thomas.
In Luke 2, Jesus’ family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. While on their way home, they realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Yikes! How would you like to be the parents who lost Jesus? Frantically they searched for him and found him three days later in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (vs 46). (Perhaps Joseph and Mary were the first two people to “find Jesus.”) The Scripture goes on to say, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (vs 47). How did Jesus amaze them? Was it some kind of Torah trivia game? Or, does understanding imply something deeper than mere rote memorization? I think it’s fair to say Jesus had a profound awareness of God from a very early age. Yet, even he had to grow, mature, and develop (vs 52).
Thomas is my favorite of the apostles. He’s been referred to as “Doubting Thomas” throughout the ages. However, I find him the most honest of the 12. One time Jesus was giving a speech about how he was going away but one day the others could join him where he was. Thomas interrupted Jesus and burst out, “We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas didn’t get it. He didn’t understand. So, he questioned. Not only do I not find fault with Thomas, I identify with him. Think of it this way. You only ask questions if you care. I do not understand Algebra, and I do not care enough to ask questions. I do not understand how a car runs. If the vehicle gets me from Point A to Point B, that’s all I care to know. I will not research manuals or ask mechanics or engineers any questions. Why? I don’t care. However, when it comes to spirituality, I am full of questions. Why? Because I care. Because I am on a journey. And, chances are, if you’re still reading, you care, too. There is some part of you that is on an honest spiritual quest.
In John 20, Thomas is told that Jesus, who had been put to death by crucifixion, was alive again. Thomas didn’t believe them. Do you blame him? What do you call people who believe everything they are told? Idiots. (That’s what I call them, but you’re probably kinder than me.) Thomas was unwilling to believe something just because someone else said it was true. I admire his desire for a first-hand experience. His questioning was not a sign of weakness, but of character. “There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds” (Alfred Lord Tennyson).
Do not allow yourself to be satisfied with hand-me-down faith or worn-out explanations. You would not rinse your mouth with the mouthwash someone else has spit out. You need your own mouthwash, and you must find your own answers. There is enormous danger in merely copying the beliefs of another. All true seekers have had to find their own path. Spiritual leaders may serve as guides and luminaries, but they must be limited to being just that. A friend of mine shared these meaningful words with me: “Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.”
Are you interested in learning more about Unity? We invite your curiosity! Here are 7 of my reasons for you, for Unity.
Reason One: A place to belong. As Sapiens, we thrive when we are part of a healthy community, for we are social creatures. Nature teaches us the principle of symbiosis, the mutually beneficial relationship when two organisms live in close association to the advantage of both. Do the trees not provide the oxygen we need to live, as we exhale the carbon dioxide they need to thrive?
The barriers to entry that exist (whether written or unwritten) in most churches do not exist here. Your social status, your race, your religious background, your sexual orientation…none of these are exclusionary. We are truly an open-minded and welcoming church. We practice complete love, and love is inclusive.
Reason Two: A place to think. At Unity Church, we embrace a range of thought. When I came to Unity in the summer of 2016, I was searching for a place that would allow me to be intellectually honest. We have Five Basic Unity Principles, and we teach The Twelve Powers of Humanity. However, we allow you the freedom to flesh that out as you understand. We are not a “Here’s the creed, sign on the dotted line” organization. We won’t force or coerce you to rigidly believe some dogma. In fact, I will encourage you to think. You will not be spoon fed here. Quite honestly, I am more interested in your living the Beatitudes than quoting the Ten Commandments.
We embrace the good in other world religions. I am excited when people share with me what books they are reading. We learn from each other. That’s rare for a church. You have insights; you have spiritual revelations. There are moments when the pieces of the puzzle come together for you, and that experience you have can help someone else interpret the events in their own lives. The river of truth is always flowing, and it flows through you. Ask questions. Engage your brain. In the words of Einstein, “Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Reason Three: A Place to Experience God. I have always fought against the feelings that there is anything about me that experiences God in a different way than everyone else. But now I am thinking “Why fight it? Allow it!” God has acted in history through revealing himself and speaking through ordinary people. It does not mean those individuals were intrinsically of any greater worth than those who did not receive the same experience. It certainly doesn’t mean that anyone who experienced God in this way desired to be worshipped or to be well thought of. It was simply a reality to the prophets. Did that necessarily stop? I once thought it did. Now I think I was mistaken to believe that an extraordinary experience of God was relegated to the time in which the Bible was written.
Where does someone like this come to worship? Come to Unity! I refuse to create boxes, with their inherent limitations and control. I invite you to connect with your inner self, your God-self. What that looks like on an individual basis will differ and that’s okay. It can be a powerful raw energy, bursts of creativity, pure love, or pure peace. For some, God may radiate as a healing force. Here we desire to empower you with the tools to express the God within you.
Reason Four: A Place to Develop. We care about you as a person, for you are intrinsically as valuable as anyone else. The same Divine Essence is in all of us. Every attribute that comprises God is within you. You are unique, filled with unlimited potential. Here we want to give you a place to have that developed, cultivated, and grown as a seed matures to fruit. I look at you with wonder, and I imagine what you can become. I look at myself as growing. If I have already arrived, this is terribly anti-climactic! Unity is a place to push, to grow, to stretch, in divine partnership with each other and with God.
Reason Five: A Place to Heal. Your wounds are not a sign of your defeat; they are a sign of your survival and triumph. They are a means to help and bless others. Acknowledge your wounds! Each of us has a story and most of them involve some hurt. For some of us that hurt came from church. Unity is a place of wellness, wholeness, fullness, and completeness. One of our own, Minnie Burton, shared her testimony of cancer healing and the place that prayer and Unity teachings held in that. You can read that here on our website.
Reason Six: A Place to Launch a Better World. Remember the lyrics to the song from Disney’s Aladdin?
Yes, we will acknowledge the challenges, personally, as a congregation, and in our world. But we will also affirm our solutions. We don’t just moan and groan, we help each other! With faith the size of a mustard seed, we can create a better world.
Reason Seven: A place to take a fresh look at Jesus. I am not going to treat you like a “sinner”. We’re not discussing talking snakes or a fallen race or separation from God here. Jesus was a peasant carpenter with a profound understanding of God. He himself said, “I and the Father are one.” He had a spiritual energy so intense he manifested physical healing.
He wandered the villages and communities around Jerusalem teaching messages of hope. He showed compassion and honored the outcasts. He upset the apple cart and for that he was crucified. Sadly, much of Christianity has created a fixation on his death, rather than an appreciation of his message!
I remain open-minded, if you need Jesus to be Savior, that’s okay. Just understand that here at Unity God is not angry and satisfied only with the blood of his son. You are not “lost”. Here we look at Jesus with wonder and appreciation as a mystic whose teachings we explore and study from a different angle. This is a place to allow the teachings of Jesus to richly bless your life.
Our time is now. Yes to Unity. Yes to now. Unity is “A Positive Path to Spiritual Living” and this is your invitation to join us on that path!
Religion to liberate humanity I admire. Religion as a means to control humanity I abhor. Discontent with having been instructed by all of the wisest spiritual teachers to simply love others as you love yourself, our ancestors and our friends today want rules. With rules comes judgment about who is a good rule keeper and who isn’t. With judgment comes pride, fear, and condemnation. For condemnation to be effective, guilt, shame, and punishment are required. The time to break the chain of judgmental control is now. It’s the love revolution. You were not created to live in chains. You are the image and expression of God, and God is Love. This truth will set you free.
Jesus was a revolutionary. His spirit of rebellion brought him into constant friction with the religious authorities. He spoke against their hypocrisy and rule-keeping self-righteousness. He said ‘enough is enough’ to the idea that a person should not experience God to such an intimate degree that he or she could not say, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus was a liberator, a chain breaker, and a perennial lover. He calls those of us who would walk in his footsteps to join the love revolution.
The first order of business is to love yourself. Love yourself enough to set yourself free from old ways of thinking that are no longer serving your highest good. If necessary, enumerate your grievances on paper against the limiting or damaging government of wrongful thinking and sign your declaration of independence. Love yourself enough to truly forgive yourself and all others. Do it for you. Love yourself enough to set yourself free from all chains of addiction. Love yourself enough to meditate and fully embrace the Divine Presence within you, who is you.
The “shot heard round the world” in the love revolution is fired when you make an honest commitment to love yourself and allow yourself to be all that you can be. “Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen…yourself, right now, right down here on Earth” (Bradley Whitford, actor).
For many of us, including myself, I am asking for a careful analysis of our approach to life. Ask yourself, “Why do I think that way?” “Why do I think I can or cannot do that?” “What do I believe is my purpose for my divine, eternal spirit to have been clothed in human flesh?”
What is it I want to do? I rewrote the following paragraph and replaced “I want,” with “I am.” I am a preeminent preacher of love. And what makes me a preeminent preacher of love? It’s because I hold love to be all preeminent. I am the apostle of love and the evangelist of love. With love, I am a bridge-builder and a wound healer. I am a link between prejudicial division, past or present, in whatever form it has manifested. I am standing on a solid rock with outstretched arms, for I stand upon the rock of love. I am the gentle and gracious father/mother who in the name of unending love calls all of my children to feast at my table, and everyone I see with either my eyes or my mind is my child. I am a catalyst for change in your life, for I love you as I love myself and I affirm your highest and noblest good.
Do you remember the words from this popular song? “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It’s the only think that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, No, not just for some but for everyone.” The world, truly needs to be flooded with love. Let’s make it happen. Let’s start a Love Revolution.