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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Voices of Faith: What part of your faith experience is most meaningful?


McClatchy Newspapers

We know that we are saved

The Rev. R.L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Kan.: Mankind has many reasons for what is of great value. When we find the one thing that moves us, we do everything in our power to extend its worth. Most of us have found that salvation is the greatest gift to humankind. The teachings of the Scripture have shown us the great redemptive love of God and his unending pursuit to bring men and women into a harmonious relationship with him that is most beneficial.

As a result of our salvation, we are placed in the position to receive all the benefits of a rich and rewarding life. One who is saved is able to experience the joy of walking with God. Yes, sometimes that walk may be difficult and soul-wrenching, but our trust and faith will help us persevere.

The more we embrace the idea of our salvation, we discover the ability to interact with others who are seeking the same desires. Salvation also allows us to seek purity of life and the right relationship with our neighbor. We are saved and being saved each day of our life. It is a wonderful experience to know that Christ has died for our sins and puts us back in the right relationship with God. Therefore, I worship God!

Compassion for others

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: We can let experiences in life harden us so we become increasingly angry and resentful, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. The choice is always ours. In Buddhism there is a Sanskrit term called bodhichitta. Translated, bodhi means “awake” and chitta means “mind.” Therefore bodhichitta means “awakened mind.” Some think this is about loving-kindness, others think it is about compassion, but it is about both of these and more. Bodhichitta is the essence of all Buddhist spiritual practice. It is the desire to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings without exception. We exclude no one. We include even those people who are mean and nasty to us. Even those that we might give the label “enemy” are included.

The great Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chodron said, “An analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic; sometimes to anger, resentment and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved.”

So, the most important aspect of Buddhist faith experience is developing bodhichitta. This unlimited compassion for all beings awakens us and softens our heart. It means cultivating bravery and kindness to open to the uncertainty of life.

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