“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Proverbs 21:21. The Bible
“Do not let kindness and truth leave you; …. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3, 4. The Bible
We’ve just celebrated the ancient religious holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Now we’re beginning a new year with new resolutions. As you consider what you want for your life in 2015, consider a religious community if you’re not part of one. They’ve existed for thousands of years in every part of our world. And, they’ve existed for a reason. For example, they –
- Provide a place to connect with people and the immanent and transcendent which many of us call God.
- Celebrate the stages of life: birth, becoming an adult, marriage, and death.
- Teach us how to carry the roles of husband, wife, father, mother.
- Teach us basic principles of how to live a moral and ethical life, how to love, and how to get the strength to do this.
- Provide opportunities for deep friendship and mutual support over a period of years; perhaps a lifetime.
- Provide support in times of emotional and financial need.
- Provide opportunities to serve and develop one’s abilities.
- Help us move toward being content and compassionate and away from the sense that we are never enough and never have enough.
- Help us to deal with the meaning of life, suffering, and death.
- Provide for a stable community over the years.
Think about how important these things really are. In addition, couples will probably find that a religious organization will –
- See marriage as sacred with the couple accountable to God and the community as well as to each other.
- Provide healthy role models for men and women.
- Encourage men to spend time with their wives and children and develop close relationships.
- Provide community support for couples: mentors, books, video’s, conferences and people to talk to about the challenges of being a couple.
- Religious organizations pass on thousands of years of wisdom – how to live a good life vs a foolish one. They teach us how to love and be loved. They teach us what is morally good, morally justifiable and acceptable in the community.
Trust in God and the modeling and support of a healthy religious group seems to allow people to develop positive traits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, benevolence, faithfulness, gentleness, humility, self-restraint, and courage; it provides a genuine opportunity for personal transformation.
Spiritual communities give you and me opportunities to be truly altruistic, to serve others. Working for the good of our community, nation, and world takes us away from self-absorption, personal problems, and the drive for ever more personal success. Altruism widens our world and allows us to escape the narrow world of “me” which can never satisfy and bring happiness. Altruism teaches us the value of self-sacrifice and the certain knowledge that we’ve done something truly worthwhile.
Think about it. Would regular participation in a religious organization be supportive to you and your partner? Participation not just attendance is the key.
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