It has been a long, long time since I was a "practicing" anything...so I guess for most people that would make me a CINO in current acronym parlance (Christian in name only). I am not sure if that is factual, but perceptually I cannot disagree with that moniker. I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, but the idealism of what was taught clashed with the apparent hypocrisy of how people actually lived their lives resulted in disillusionment. The resulting search and study of most of the known religions of the world for "the Truth" revealed scads of pretenders to that throne, not all of them religious. But there was one constant theme: do what we say and your life will be better, either here or in the hereafter. And Islam was downright threatening with it's instruction to convert or kill non-believers; there was no element of invitation or choice there.
This "obedience" thing was and is a non-starter for me. My mother named me for the eighth disciple of Jesus...Thomas...often known as "Doubting Thomas." I have no idea what moved my mother to that choice, but I have no question that it was accurate...and I have been both blessed and cursed with that attitude most of my life. Now I just embrace it as a characteristic like having blue eyes or black hair...neither good nor bad, but a fact.
But, returning to the point, this obedience thing usually involves money, and doing as I am told. It also involves not questioning either the ultimate destination of that money or the purpose behind the commands...at least not beyond getting generalities, like "helping the poor or deserving" or "to insure your being blessed by God" or the infamous "we know better than you" which occurs most often in political ideologies and is uttered by those in or vying for public office.
So I have turned my back on all organizations, both religious and secular, because when man gets involved in any group activity it inevitably becomes most concerned with controlling others for the benefit of the leadership, ultimately abandoning all but lip service to it's original reason for creation.
What does this have to do with Easter? Well, it gets back to the instincts within us that exist without indoctrination, training or learning; it involves that "gut" feeling that we all experience when coming across something or someone for the very first time. When that happens, I always get one of two feelings: either a "wow, that is great", or a "Whoa...I don't like that much." Of course, we then spend hours...or days, weeks or years...trying to get our brains to agree, or trying to convince our gut that it was wrong. But the end result most of the time is that if we follow our gut, we turn out OK. To me, that is God (or whatever higher power of any kind that you are comfortable with) trying to guide us.
And this morning, my gut turned my attention to the part of the scripture that dealt with God knocking on the door and waiting to be invited in. And the part of offering...but not ordering... needing to be invited, resonated within me. It was not obedience to commands as much as it was an offer to reveal choices from which I would have to select that was important...it was that I was also free to not "answer" the door.
That "aha moment" was, for me, the granting of the ultimate personal freedom simultaneously with the offer of knowledge and guidance beyond the scope of personal experience. No strings attached. No contract. No hypocrisy...well, except for my own.
I learned a lot of things during my search for the "truth" and I have been blessed with much because of it...but in terms of what I thought I was specifically looking for, I did waste a lot of effort and time. For me only (I am sharing, not proselytizing) the answer was within me, and the only requirement was that I stop and both "listen" and "feel" instead of being so "busy".
One final note on organizations. People should band together to accomplish certain things...but their "organizations" should disband once the initial need is achieved. If a secondary "need" is seen, form a new organization...do not continue the old one. Keeping "standing" anything...committees, governments, religions...leads to power struggles and loss of individual freedoms that have little or nothing to do with the original purpose.