The Fallibility of ALL Men
“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” – Psalm 146:3, The Bible, King James Version
There is turmoil among some Catholics due to the announced resignation of Pope Benedict. It reminds me of the sadness, dismay, disappointment and sometimes shock I saw in many a Christian following the 2012 presidential election. Yet both reactions, from those who profess a faith in God, demonstrates not the strength of God within them but the weakness of men who, though claiming God as almighty, actually behave as if man on earth is the most powerful.
Such expressions of fear seem common to most men, as they actually place their faith in other men rather than in themselves and their own spiritual journey. Yet, each of us knows we are fallible, don’t we? Think of all the changes you’ve gone through in your life (assuming you are one who has evolved during his life). At any given point, you thought you were proceeding well, but then again, at another point, you just might determine that something you felt so strongly isn’t actually the truth or way to go. You’ve also likely made plenty of mistakes – when you did them – you thought it was the best thing to do – only later (after consequences) did you have an opportunity to learn the lesson from that life experience. So, you likely agree with me, you’re fallible. What makes you think any other human being isn’t? And if they’re fallible, why would you totally trust any of them by giving over your will to submit to theirs? No matter what spiritual belief you may have, I bet it focuses on your path and how to live.
Is whomever is the Pope or whomever the president of one’s country the decider of whether you live the love and peace of God daily?
For those of other faiths, is it your hierarchy of men and their titles in whom you trust or in the God you and they proclaim?
In your personal life, is the “authority” figure – whomever it may be from a parent, aunt or uncle, good friend, etc. – more adept at living your life and establishing the basis of your character and actions than yourself?
Maybe you deem a group around you, a neighborhood or community, a social or peer group, as being the decider of right and wrong for yourself. Are you such a weakling, an idiot, a mindless and heartless being in comparison to those you place upon pedestals? Or, all you a beautiful creation, an individual of unimaginable and unfathomable potential?
It’s A Personal Journey
The spiritual life, your life, is the most personal journey you take. In it, you may join with others with whom you share common beliefs and values, but those others and their group should never replace your will, your heart, or your mind in its decision making.
An individual hasn’t any reason to be disturbed within by the happenings of the world of men outside themselves, unless rather than truly being an individual he is actually a herd member whose security lies within a given group.
All religion is of man seeking God. One’s value system, to the degree it is related to or derived from a tradition of man, is fraught with error, mistakes, misinterpretations and, yes, even outright deliberate control of the faithful for agendas of men. The word of any human being must always be taken, as is said, with a grain of salt. For even the righteous seeker is but a fallible creature, as is each of us, prone to his confusion, oversight, and though perhaps well-intentioned, use of his mind to profess his perception of God’s will even though it may be far from it or perhaps indicative of it. But blind following is not the way of wisdom, neither is trusting solely in your or the minds of other men. Wisdom is a personal evolution. It’s a blessing of having a heart willing to learn.
Thus, the wise seeker of truth, God’s will, and he who endeavors to evince God’s love during his time on earth, must never confuse his church, its teachings at the time, nor any of its elders as the ultimate decider for himself in his quest to live well. Rather, he is wise to observe what others teach, deliberate, ponder, discuss and pray upon it, and come to the conclusion his own heart convicts him of. For to ever acquiesce to a teaching which troubles one’s own heart is to make another man’s judgement greater than his own out of fear of trusting himself and his own relationship to his heavenly Father. The concept of the indefectibility of the church, for example, was itself a construct of men. Jesus had no dogma he imparted but only teaching…teaching of love. To the degree your beliefs, and the beliefs of your chosen church, abide in Him there will be love and its peace. To the degree its dogma contradicts it, within said organization, and within the hearts of the faithful, there will be unrest. Thus, an individual must always ultimately decide for himself the validity of any given dogma to his life – with the consequences thereof likely showing one the answer as one lives it. Again, inner anxiety is a sure sign of leaving, compromising, or confusing truth with untruth. Revocation within churches of previous teachings is evidence of what I share, as is the widespread divergence of opinions regarding many issues within those who profess the same faith.
Likewise, he who has chosen love, non-aggression, seeks God’s will, must be on the lookout of his own weakness to also put his “faith” in the kingdom human beings have made with all its societal/political hierarchical ladders of importance and “authority.” Nothing of their world has any impact upon a child of God, do not you believe? So why devote yourself to its faithless systems- these are not fellow seekers of God’s love nor is their system a creation of God, thus you must realize you have no need to try and reform their system. You merely live your life, according to the values and beliefs you have chosen, to the best of your ability. You need do nothing more. Your affect, living such love, outweighs any miniscule, if any, affect you will have working within their corrupt systems. If you believe strongly on an issue which has say, become politicized, use not their system to force what you believe right upon others but use only the path and opportunities God brings into your life to bless and teach others. God’s opportunities will never involve your trying to use coercion upon your fellow man (which is what politics is), but only direct persons coming into your life, ready to listen, or ready to observe the kind of life you live. And when asked about your point of view, you share. You may even actively teach the truth you feel you’ve come to. You may ease suffering of others. But, never, will God’s opportunities require you to utilize the evil systems of the world to share His love.
Divine revelation is not reserved for the few, but for each of us. To the degree we have sought His will, we may receive it. Certainly, those who have sought His will and made it a priority may receive it and share it with us. But you, as a child of God, can also be a receiver of such guidance. Divinely inspired teaching, from those we trust, is a blessing, though not the only way to grow in our spiritual understanding. Sacred Scripture, sacred tradition, indeed our very sacraments, provide us spiritual edification all of which can bring you, as an individual, the awareness you need regarding any matter in which you are in conflict/questioning those you respect.
Those who would find exception with my individualistic trust in receiving guidance from The Holy Spirit directly for all such matters are those who have blindly, and without careful study of their own sacred writings, chosen out of fear to accept the proclamations of those they consider “men of God” while blatantly overlooking, indeed rejecting, the clear truth that they themselves are “men of God.”
Authority which is trustworthy is that in which you choose to voluntarily place your trust and would never condemn you for questioning, for it would, as God does, respect your prerogative to use your free will in determining your course of action. God never forces anything upon anyone. Respect to any authority you have chosen to listen to lies precisely in that, listening.
Whether you ultimately find you have chosen rightly or wrongly on your life path at any given moment is a personal experience of which no man has any spiritual authority to judge. Again, it’s a personal journey not a group one.
God’s will is for each of to evince our love of Him through our own holiness; we are all called to be saints.To reject this is to fundamentally reject the love God has for you and desires for you to evince. It is of no matter when you err, but in such time, to learn, grow, evolve so as not to likely commit that same error again. A saint is not a perfect person, an ideal unattainable by you, but a man who has chosen to seek, find, and teach through the life he has been granted through the love of God. Will he at times deviate from what his heart has chosen, yes it is likely. Will he at times be confused and wrongheaded, perhaps even changing his perspective on just what it means to evince God’s love, yes and it will likely occur throughout his life as experiences bring lessons he learns.
Change. It is characteristic of all life. The individual, the family, the society one finds himself in, indeed his own church. One need not fear change, nor be disturbed by it, but remain perfectly unaffected, for he who trust God shall abide in perfect peace. No line of communication between the individual and God is ever broken by circumstances and surroundings, and the line of communication one believes God may have with his church is not invested in only one or a few men, but through His divine availability to all whom seek Him.
No matter the direness of change and uncertainty, even in the midst of societal turmoil, the worst being wars throughout man’s history, that line of individual communion has never been broken.
To invest your complete trust in any institution of man, even if be one that seeks to proclaim and evince God on earth, is to deny your own holiness and reject the perfect peace God would have you always experience. Your circumstances are never dependent on any other man, so why irritate your mind when the answer is within your heart?
Decide For Yourself
Doctrine is a guide, developed through deliberations of men. To the degree a given doctrine be it from a church or any other group or book resonates with you, ponder it, keep it within and examine it. And remember though there is much to be gained from the council of wise and thoughtful men, it does not hold that any given group of men can not also be mistaken – sincere, but sincerely wrong. It is up to you, the individual, to listen, with due diligence to those who you do feel to be wise, but the final judgment of any matter must be what you (in your spiritual journey) intuits to be true.
Each is called to think for himself. Sometimes this requires re-thinking matters, even those seemingly well-thought out by one’s church, elders, or community. No group of man has a record of infallibility, and thus it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to think for himself. You are ultimately morally culpable for everything you do. No matter or issue, however grave, should be off limits to independent thought (and by thought for the seeker of truth and seeker of God’s will I refer as to including prayer, and quiet listening). In other words, it is your duty, as a creation of God, to question everything.
To respectfully disagree, even with one considered or noted to be a “superior,” is a necessity if one is to be the individual they are called to be…and further, to instruct another is the most loving act one can do, and no “other” should be excluded from your independent thought and sharing of the same.
The follower and seeker of God’s will must never place any fallible man’s judgment above his own. Neither must he be disturbed by the actions of the Godless world around him.
The job of the faithful is to evince God’s love through his life…NOT through the means of the world and all its systems.
One may, if it is their path, find benefit and edification from a teaching or church, but at all times the fallibility of all the human beings who make it up must be kept in mind regarding what said teachers declare. For you, too, are a teacher of God…fallible…holy…and an individual from whom others may learn if you share the insights your heart has become aware of.