In the mid 1990’s I experienced a spiritual tragedy. Being born and raised in the south USA, like most families, we were members of one of the myriads of Christian denominations, actually I was the fourth generation of my family in this particular denomination. Until that fateful day, the day when my wife and I arrived at church to only be turned around and told to leave by one of our Elders. At that time an explanation was not given. A few days passed and then we were contacted, we were told that the church my wife and I had grown up in had ceased exist as we knew it.
In the blink of an eye, my spiritual rug had just been yanked out from under me, the church I had grown up in and dedicated my life to was gone. I had just become a spiritual orphan.
I thought I knew God and what He wanted. At the moment all I had was a large spiritual question mark. For the first time in my life, I had to seek out my own spiritual path, the one I was born on was gone. I would no longer be spoon fed my beliefs or faith, it would become my responsibility.
A New Path
One Sunday morning I walked through the doors of a Pentecostal church.
I had never known that praise and worship like Pentecostal worship had ever existed before, it released something me I did not know I was there, it made God exiting and alive to me.
During this time I had come across a book that I thought had given me some answers and clarity of my new path, it was The God Chasers by Tommy Tenney. Yes, yes, that explains it, I was now a God chaser – I was on a path to chase down God and catch Him.
I was hot on the trail to catch God. In a short period of time, doors began to open up for me. One Sunday morning I was approached by the Pastor about getting involved with our call-in prayer line for the telecast of our weekly church service. About a year later I was asked if I wanted to teach Sunday School, I just kept following where the path was taking me. After teaching 2nd and 5th grade Sunday school for some time, another opportunity presented itself, my Pastor approached me again, this time, to do a weekly Sunday morning class at an assisted living center in town.
The harder I chased and drew close, a new door would open. The time I spent at the assisted living center became my one of my favorite times in the chase. I had gained five grandmothers, we became close. We spent time together sharing life and God with each other, a time I will never forget. Then it happened again, the path took another turn, my Pastor came to me and asked my wife and I if we would like to enter into ministerial training and become credentialed in our denomination as a license minister.
We said yes and I just kept chasing after God.
The path I was on would lead me to the opportunity to serve as an Associate Pastor for over three years. More doors would continue to open for me, each with its own uniqueness. I kept on digging, learning and chasing, I was getting close. I could feel it.
Then it happened, just as quick as the spiritual rug I was standing on that got yanked out from under me – the chase was over.
All those years I spent walking through one door after another, I thought I was chasing God, to only find out that what I was really chasing, was religion.
For many years I exchanged one religious coat for another.
God, my Creator, my Father did not have to be chased, He has always been there. He was waiting on me.
What was He waiting on?
For me to come to the truth that I was created as a human being in His image not in the image of any religion, and that there are only two ways that a human being lives.
The Two Choices
The Creator gave humanity a gift, the gift of free will, the ability and opportunity to make a choice.
The two ways of human life that we are free to choose, are those of wickedness or righteousness.
During the time of my chasing after God, I began my first steps into the study of the Hebrew Scriptures. Needless to say that after twenty some years, there has been a lot of water that has flowed under that bridge.
The study of the Hebrew Scripture has taught me that the Creator placed within them a code for human behavior, not religion. I am now entering my seventh year of studying this code, it will be a life long adventure. The code is very simple, there are seven categorical behavioral disciplines that we have the choice to voluntarily take them on and live or we can reject them. Life is that simple.
What now seems to have become as quick as the spiritual rug that got yanked out from under me so many years ago, the understanding of the humanity that my Creator desires of me has exploded upon the scene.
Let me explain, the truth of the issue is, that humanity only has only two branches. One is Israel and the other is the rest of us i.e. the nations. One word that is used for the nations in Scripture is ‘Gentile’ it denotes those who are non-Jewish or not from the nation of Israel.
Israel was made by God to be the Priestly Nation, it was they in whom He gave His Torah. Part of their duties is to teach us, the nations these seven categorical human disciplines that are encoded within it.
Out of this comes a term given to those of the nations that have accepted upon their selves to live by these disciplines. Their spiritual status is one that is called a ‘Righteous Gentile or Righteous of the Nations’.
A few weeks ago during my studies I came to halt, I sat there and looked at the term Righteous Gentile for a long time. I turned it over and over in my mind. Then I saw it for the first time.
The seven human disciplines or as they are called today ‘The Seven Noahide Laws’ are not a religion, they do not make us religious in any way. When they are observed as they are designed to, they strip away our wickedness and make us righteous – their outcome in a persons life is to change that person from a wicked human to a righteous human.
That is all – there is no need to chase God or religion – just take on and live His code of human behavior and you become the human He desires you to be.
No religion needed.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: SwapnIl Dwivedi and Simone Secci on Unsplash
P.S. Teaching the seven human behavioral disciplines, their categorical details and their application for everyday life is the goal of the Emuna Trek blog.