Lately I've been reading the books written by Mark Rashid. He has spent his life working with horses and has written 5 books on the subject. Now you might wonder what could be so interesting to most people about a bunch of books written on horsemanship? The answer to this question is the whole point of what I want to share. You see, there is so much about working with horses that can teach you about life. In fact Mark’s second to last book is entitled Horsemanship Through Life.
When Mark reached the end of where he had gotten in his life and where he no longer wanted to be, a man showed up at one of his horse training clinics. After seeing the way Mark worked, he mentioned to him that the way he worked with horses was based on similar principles as those taught in the martial art of aikido--"the way of harmony." He invited Mark to the dojo he attended. At first Mark didn’t think anything about it, but as time went on he thought going might help him to be a better horseman. As a result of taking up this martial art, his health, his personal life as well as his ability to work with horses underwent amazing changes.
The ideas of being present, awareness, stillness, patience, working together, positive conflict, communication, and balance are all in Mark Rashid's books. But they're not presented in a religious way. They're presented as a way of living with ourselves, with others, with horses and with all of God's creation in a healing way.
Reading this started me thinking of how I dislike reading religious material because, most of the time, I find myself resisting what I read. And there I was, reading these horse books and soaking in all these spiritual truths that came from books that weren‘t at all religious! The thought came to me that the same spiritual message I received from these books is out there, told over and over again in all kinds of ways to all kinds of people, if they're at a place where they're willing to listen. God teaches us in myriads of ways-- even through things and events one might never consider “spiritual.”
The message I received from this unlikely source was one of community, not separation. In comparison, “religion” promotes the belief, sometimes very subtlely, that we must remain separate from all spiritual teaching and ideas that do not agree with the teachings and ideas of “Christianity.” But separateness is not the way of the Spirit of Christ. Jesus was in the world to walk in it, to heal, to enlighten, to teach, and to love--not just with words but with his life. And I believe he is still doing these things today through others who have that same Spirit, regardless of whether or not they are "Christian" in the way we believe a Christian to should be.
True Christianity is about walking as Christ walked--not in a religious way, but in a healing way. Today the Spirit of Christ is showing the way, to anyone seeking truth, whether or not that person is considered "religious" or "spiritual" according to our standards. Not everyone finds God in “religion.” God and the spiritual principles for a good, productive life are everywhere.
One of the biggest lies ever told is that God can only be found in a Christian church or in only a Christian belief system. Christianity no more has a monopoly on God than does any other philosophy or religion. And knowing Christ, following his leading, and serving him has nothing to do with the Christian “church.”
The problem is, people adopt these creeds associated with religions and they label themselves as being part of that rather than allowing themselves to seek truth and God in other places as well. They need to listen from their heart, not from a place of ideology and doctrine, which shuts the door to considering another point of view that may or may not bring you closer to understanding an important truth.
The earth, the people in it, and all that God has created speak of Him. It is not in God’s plan that we should join some group and shut ourselves off from the rest of what’s out there? How many times have Christians either thought or said, "I must maintain my Christian principles" as a reaction to doing something different or considering a different way of thinking from an unfamiliar source? The thing is, "Christian principals" have been around a lot longer than Christianity. Christianity doesn't own Christian principals! And yet Christians just assume, without giving it another thought, that it does. This concept is not something that even comes into question in the mind of a Christian. He has no idea that these “principles” that he’s holding on to so tightly are really the principles of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God belongs to all mankind and it's principles are found in the heart of any person who seeks truth and a more loving way of living. Ironically, when Jesus was on earth he came to preach the Kingdom, not Christianity. The things he taught had to do with the Kingdom, not himself. Most Christians make everything about Jesus to the exclusion of all else. Their worship of him has many times become much like worshiping the idols, physical or mental, that men have worshiped from the beginning of time. Jesus has become their "All in All" belonging only to them, and his Kingdom is viewed as only for those who feel the same way about Jesus as they do.
This is not what Jesus wanted. He was the messenger of the Kingdom, not his own ideas. He wanted to turn people's hearts to the Kingdom, not himself. The Kingdom is for and includes all mankind. There are billions of people who are living now or have lived in times past who have died without “knowing” Jesus. Are they not part of mankind that Christ came to save? And yet Christians are taught the fate of these people is either eternity in a burning hell or alienation from God. For them, “Christianity,” as we know it today, is only for those who worship Jesus in their lifetime. This belief is not what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of the Kingdom.
Considering these ideas, doesn’t take away from the belief that Jesus is the King of the God's Kingdom, that he is the mediator between God and men, that his Spirit is our teacher or that he died then men might have everlasting life. It doesn’t it take away from the knowledge that he died so the Kingdom could come forth or the validity of belief that those who know him, recognize him as their King, and honor him and love him have. No. It just means being able to see, in a deeper way, why Jesus came to earth. He did not die for Christians only, he died for all mankind. His vision was global, not local.
The Bible tells us to consider ALL things (all things are in all places) and to hold on to what is fine. To "consider" means to seek value, truth, enlightenment if you will, in all things. You may not find it in all things, but if you're not looking for it, you will miss what is there.
The earth is our community and God speaks to us through everything--men, animals, all of earth’s creatures, even the earth itself. Our teachers are everywhere. When we come to appreciate this truth we will give respect, attention and value to our world community and what it has to teach us as well as what we, in turn, can give back.
In this world, we are all “brothers“--humans as well as all other living creatures. To wall ourselves off into groups where only in them can we learn and grow is a great ignorance. Whether we know it or not, we are all in this together and we need one another. God created an earth with humans and animals and all kinds of living things. We were all created, each one, to work together for the good of all.
The world today is all broken up into separate territories, governments, religions, philosophies, loyalties, and beliefs. We grow up in a world that assumes these divisions are natural and beneficial. As a species, we have no concept or what it is to have respect for the earth and all the creatures in it. Unfortunately, man has been completely incapable of caring for it or even caring for himself. Although we live in this world as it is, and we can not institute any major changes in the way things are, we can, as individuals, understand and live in a way that is in line with the truth that we are one world community and every one and every thing in it is to be respected and considered. When we get to that place, who knows what effect we can have.
As I said in the beginning, many of these thoughts weren't in any of the books I read-- they were a result of what I came to after reading them. And this is an important point --there is more that one way to learn. When we consider all things, and we’re trusting God to teach us, we may learn directly from what is presented, or we may learn by the conclusions or insights such knowledge has brought to us, thereby putting us in a place where we come out of the experience with something new!