Stand on Your Preferences
This is my central calling to the non-believer, to not hide behind imagined absolute statements of “truth,” but to stand on your preferences.
For the non-believer, I have declared that my core preference is to be able to take action with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible. To this end, I see the coercive enterprise, coercive associations, as being an impediment to pursuing more fully, much more deeply that core preference.
This core preference is the deepest standard I believe I can share with the non-believer. One who shares this core preference must, I believe, surely be led to understand that a world filled with neighbors who lack the power to pursue the same core preference, or reject the core preference altogether, are fundamentally untrustworthy neighbors. These people are no better than informants in a police state, or would-be-informants seeking after a police state to empower them.
If you wish to have the power to act with the least bit of threat or application of physical force as possible, there are only a few routes you can take. These, I believe, are the three routes possible.
The first route is to be so powerful physically that no entity around you dare oppose you. For me, there is only presence with that level of power, and that is God Himself. All others are vulnerable to the physical force of human beings, either individuals or as associations.
The second route is to eschew all of the “comforts” of “civilization” and drive yourself deep into isolation, wherever that might be, with the hope that you will not be discovered by coercive association members who might not want you living where you dwell. This route is open to those who not only prefer to have the power to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible, but also have a core preference to be outside of associations altogether, and have no great preference for the “comforts” of “civilization.”
This group, while I have no fundamental issue with them, is not a group that I could walk very deeply with in daily pursuit of my own core preference because the issues that confront me are no issue for them. Their lives would surely be involved in learning the skills required to live off the land and in finding the land where they might hope to not be discovered.
The third route is to be part of free associations that offer protection from and alternative services to coercive associations. To be part of a free association requires demonstrating to that association that you are trustworthy, reliable and offer no direct threat to the members’ mutual core preferences to have the power to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible.
This last group I have great opportunity to walk deeply with in the pursuit of satisfying one of my core preferences, the preference that brings a non-believer as close as possible to my core preferences, to have the power to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible.
This group I can afford and extend a measure of trust to. This group makes a ‘safe’ neighbor for me, a potential member of any community I might belong to.
I have many friends that fit into this category, and some of them I love deeply, some of them are valuable members of the disbursed community of self-acting people I belong to. They have also significantly contributed to my understanding of the pursuit of that shared core preference.
But, with these friends, there is a barrier between us that comes through the gulf that cannot be avoided, the gulf between one who pursues Christ and one who does not.
My core of core preferences is to know God, to walk in His love, to be His arms and feet. I come to pursue that love NOT because of a threat of Hell, as many seem to suppose is the way Christians come to follow God (though, to be sure, many people who proclaim to follow Christ do come to Him in that way, whether they are fully aware of this or not), but because I have experienced His love in my life.
If you have proclaimed to be a follower of Christ and your focus is on the fear of Hell, remember that fear is the BEGINNING of wisdom, it is not the wholeness of wisdom, to know God, such as we can.
When Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was, He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. Love is FREELY given, not coerced. A relationship with God framed around the threat of punishment is not love, but only fear. And, as Christ says, even the demons fear God.
The paradoxical truth, such as I understand it, is this; to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, you must freely, voluntarily love God.
Fear of Hell is not the key that unlocks the gate to heaven. It is only the love of God and your love for Him that unlocks that gate, and it is a love that, though it unlocks the gate, is not born from what it creates, the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, but in experientially walking in His love, right here on earth, right now.
The end goal of this love is to experience that love, right here, right now.
It is a gift you do not seek. It is the fruit of a relationship to be enjoyed right now. It is a relationship I have enjoyed right here on earth. In that experience, what I have discovered is that in surrendering my life to His will, my life has moved me towards a greater fulfilment of my own core preferences, even to have the power to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible.
For I do not follow God for fear of Hell, but for the power His love gives me right here, right now, on the earth while I walk, to fulfill my own core preferences.
It seems paradoxical to say that surrendering your life to one being empowers you to more fully satisfy your own self-interest. How can you be a slave and yet be free? The master I follow has created me to glorify His name. He satisfies His own self-interest, to be glorified. But in so doing, I believe He creates humankind in a way that what fulfills them, what satisfies their self-interest is best reached by glorifying God.
The self-interested being who is ALSO self-aware has come to understand how that self-interest cannot be fully realized unless that being is in community with others who have the same power to pursue their own self-interest, so long as those beings are also self-aware.
Selfishness, to me, is different from self-interest in that it is serving the self with no understanding of the self. In other words, the person who acts in selfishness is one who is not self-aware, for they have not come to understand that deeper, more sustained power to satisfy the self comes through community with others, and that to act in ways that fundamentally create untrustworthiness, that deprive others the same power you yourself wish to possess will significantly undermine and put to risk your own ability to satisfy your own self-interest.
This notion of a community of trust and reliability, a community of others empowered to act in their own self-interest, and to do so with self-awareness, is one of the reasons why the God of my Faith, the God who is a community of one, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit aligns perfectly with that core preference, to have the power to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible.
This is a God who knows community, who IS Community. Each part of Him is a whole representation of Himself, though they contain their own unique attributes. They are all equally empowered to serve their self-interest, and they are all fully self-aware. Yet, who they are is community, a community that fulfills the unique qualities of the parts, even as the whole lifts up all parts as one.
In pursuing His self-interest, Christ also fulfilled the will of His Father who sent Him. Christ Himself was fulfilled through fulfilling the will of the Father. There was no discord between the two. In fulfilling His self-interest, the Holy Spirit fulfills the purpose of Christ who brought Him into the World through the cross. There was no discord between the two.
And so I am a member of that community, even as I am one with it. In this community, I find my self-interest fulfilled, even as I fulfill the will of that community, the community of God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.
When I have found myself outside of that community, I have found myself less able, less equipped to fulfill my own self-interests, and I have found little satisfaction in pursuing interest outside of that community. Rather, my pursuit of interest outside of that community has been a deep hole always hungry, never close to satiation.
For my non-believing friends, let me say that yes, my experience is not proof of His truth, but my experience has, at the very least, revealed to me that operating within a framework of a certain belief has, for reasons that need not be fully understood to me, equipped me far better to pursue my self-interest than operating outside of that framework of this certain belief, a belief in the God who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has done.
My belief in the limits of my own mind to understand “truth,” such as that is, allows me to operate within frameworks of belief that has no absolute proofs, even as I pursue, to some degree, a deeper understanding to draw closer to confirmation or to reject a belief I once held.
My belief in the God of the books we call scripture (from Genesis to Revelation), the God I have experienced supernaturally, the God I have seen reflected in nature around me, aligns beautifully, wholly, completely with the core preferences I have within me.
My self-interest, my self-awareness (such as I can possess, such as I possess today) is in harmony with my Faith and pursuit in the truth of God’s ways, such as I can know them, such as I know them today.
I started off saying, this is my central calling to the non-believer, to not hide behind imagined absolute statements of “truth,” but to stand on your preferences.
I claim no absolute understand of truth. I claim no absolute understanding of the nature of God, the God who is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. I claim no absolute proof of His existence, nor, frankly, do I even seek absolute proof of His existence, as I believe that path is not possible, both because of my understanding of scripture and my understanding of the limits of human perception.
I claim, to the non-believer, harmony with a belief in the God who is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the pursuit of my own core preferences. My alignment is first and foremost with this God.
My core of all core preferences, a preference I can never share with the non-believer, is to pursue and be led by the love of God in my life, with full faith, as full as I can hold on to anything in my life, that in so doing, though I may be, to you, a mere vessel, a slave to the will of another, I am coming closer to the fulfilment of my own self-interest, right here, right now, on earth, than I have ever come in any other way I have ever pursued.
My slavery in Christ is my liberty from the vagaries of the earth, right here, right now, not in the promise of what is to come, but in the promise of what is, right here, right now, here on earth.
And so, here I stand, on my preferences, not hiding behind absolute statements of ‘truth,’ but unabashedly declaring my preference to pursue the love of a God who fits the nature of the God who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is in that pursuit that all of my other core preferences are more fully fulfilled, to grow in self-awareness, to walk in peace while welcoming the conflicts that are required for growth, to pursue the power to act as I desire, with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible, and to extend that power to others, for in so doing I am empowering myself.
I seek to pursue power that enables me to act with the least amount of threat or application of physical force as possible. I understand that this pursuit of power requires becoming a part of and helping to build communities of people who share that same core preference, yet also have levels of self-awareness that help them understand the necessity of being trustworthy, reliable, non-threatening members of that community.
I seek the love of God, through whom I gain greater understanding of the nature of community that is based not on the threat of physical force but of voluntary cooperation, for the sake of serving your own self-interest, a self-interest that is more fully met as you lift up the community as a whole.