I have some words of caution in particular for the believers in God today.
The struggles of the faithful may provide some false cheer for those who believe in nothing but themselves, and who delight in the failings of those who follow the Way, and those who aspire to God in His vastness, and in the Truth. But that is just another portion of their confusion and delusion. They say, 'see these are not perfect, and this is why I do not believe.' No, that is just another excuse from a hardened heart. The past century alone is dripping with the blood of those who worship nothing but the dark powers of this world, and themselves.
And as for believers who condemn the differences amongst themselves, let them be concerned for themselves. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at another, because as you judge, so it will be given to you.
We are all sinners, even those of the faithful, who continually stumble and fall, even with the best of intentions. And yet we need not despair, because God is merciful, and sees deeply into our hearts, as He made us.
But there is always a tendency in some of the faithful of God, those Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and those who worship God in other ways, to begin to love the rituals and the mannerisms, the words and status of their faith, the comfortable accoutrements, moreso than what the faith itself represents, and what it commands of us.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."And some think of faithfulness to God as a transaction, as if God were merely a vending machine. If I say the right words, if I am born to the right people and worship in the finest buildings, if I pronounce the ritual properly as prescribed, then I am among the faithful, the elect, and I am saved, no matter what else I may do. And all too often that 'saving' implies a worldly prosperity and honors.
The words and the covenant compel God, since I have called out to Him in accordance with the ritual, as if I were not calling out to the purest being above all else, the Holy Spirit, but pushing buttons on a machine, or summoning a demon to be my personal servant.
Your words will provide what your heart commands.
And this may even include the most zealous, who with grand gestures and exorbitant demonstrations seem to be the most ardent, the first among the faithful. But when one listens to them, their words betray them, because there is nothing of the love of God and of His creation and of their fellows in their words, which are mottled with hash judgements, violence and a defiant hardness of heart.
"Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to Me...Whatever you have not done for the least of these, you have not done for Me."Be careful of this. This gospel of greed and abuse of the faith is a sin against the Spirit, the one sin which will not be easily forgiven. It is the desecration of the word, and what is most holy.
"And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13
"Those who disbelieve after believing, then plunge deeper into disbelief, their repentance will not be accepted from them; they are the real strayers.
Those who disbelieve and die as disbelievers, an earthful of gold will not be accepted from any of them, even if such a ransom were possible. They have incurred painful retribution; they will have no helpers.
You cannot attain righteousness until you give to charity from the possessions you love. Whatever you give to charity, God is fully aware thereof."
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
or as Rabbi Hillel said so eloquently,
"That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary. Go and learn it."