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“If our religion is based on salvation…”

“If our religion is based on salvation…” October 3, 2021

I posted something on Faith on the Fringe this week that appeared to resonate with people. The post reached 120,000 people, and still counting.

This is the post:

“If our religion is based on salvation, our chief emotions will be fear and trembling. If our religion is based on wonder, our chief emotion will be gratitude.” – Carl Jung

Carl Jung was a well-known psychiatrist. But he also wrote about spiritual subjects, as well.

Here are a few more Carl Jung quotes.

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
“We cannot change anything until we accept it.”
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

But this is the quote that resonates with people this week: “If our religion is based on salvation, our chief emotions will be fear and trembling. If our religion is based on wonder, our chief emotion will be gratitude.”

I recently saw a street preacher, standing on a corner with a PA system talking about God and the Bible.
“God loves us,” the street preacher said, “But that’s only half the story.” He then went on to talk about judgement, and being saved from God’s wrathful judgement.

The problem with his reasoning— one of many problems— is that people don’t worry about being punished by a God they don’t believe in.

If you’re following Jesus because you want to stay out of hell, you’re missing half the story. If you’re following Jesus because you’re afraid of God’s wrathful judgement, you’re missing half the story.

“If our religion is based on salvation,” Carl Jung says, “our chief emotions will be fear and trembling.”
If you believe God is judging you, then you will respond with fear and trembling.

You’re like the man who says “My kids may not love me, but they respect me.”

No they don’t, your kids fear you, they don’t respect you. Fearing God is not the same thing as loving God. Fear is fear and love is love, and seldom do the two meet.

If your religion is based on salvation, then you fear God. Fear and trembling.

Carl Jung says the opposite of this is true, as well.

“If our religion is based on wonder,” Jung says, “our chief emotion will be gratitude.”

Wonder means amazement. Awe. Astonishment. Basking in the glory of God’s creation. When we look at a sunrise of beauty, when we look into the face of a child, when we see a colorful sunset and we take time to notice it… this is living in wonder, and our chief emotion is gratitude.

“Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful world that you have made, and everything that’s in it.”

When our religion is based on wonder, we respond like little children.

Which brings me to today’s scripture. “13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” — Mark 10:13-16

Which sort of child will we be? One responding with fear and trembling, or one responding with wonder?
I want to tell the street preacher he had it half way right.

God loves him.

Jesus loves him. Jesus will take him into his arms, place his hands on him, and bless him. Jesus is waiting to bless each one of us, and all we have to do is receive the kingdom of God like a little child. Receive it with love and wonder.

There are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t understand. There are even more things in the world I don’t understand, and never will. But the one thing I take from the Bible is that Jesus was real. Jesus died. Jesus was resurrected and Jesus will come again.


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