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I remember growing up as a Baha’i and being told by Christian adults that if I just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I would go to heaven.
They insisted that this one act was the will of God, and would make my life whole and complete.
For the longest time, I assumed that the Christian perspective was that it didn’t really matter if I was a good person or a bad person, but so long as I believed in Christ I would be “saved.”
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No one mentioned that the Bible advised that to be able to “discern the will of God” I needed to “present my body as a living sacrifice.” Or that the will of God required me to “give thanks in all circumstances,” “do good” deeds, “abstain from sexual immorality,” or “reach repentance” – all of these Biblical exhortations for salvation.
No one cited Mathew chapter 5, either – which says that the will of God for me was to practice the “Beatitudes.” Nobody even mentioned Christ’s two foremost commandments of “loving the Lord with all thy heart” and “loving thy neighbor as thyself” as part of the will of God. What I understood was that mere accepting Christ as Lord was the beginning – and the end – of a Christian journey.
As I matured, I did realize that accepting Christ was necessary – but insufficient. To be “saved” – so to speak, would also require that I become a moral person. This concept is made abundantly clear in Mathew 7:21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As I read this passage, it connected with my Baha’i beliefs. It says that the Christian perspective is more than just accepting Christ – instead, it also requires living a life as free of iniquity as possible, in obedience to the will of God.
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good …
But then he went on to state:
It behooveth everyone who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other.
So there it was – I would have to both accept the Daysprings of God’s revelations, including Christ and Baha’u’llah, and I would need to obey their laws – which means obeying the will of God.
O ye peoples of the world! Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures. Thus hath it been sent down from the heaven of the Will of your Lord, the Lord of Revelation.
The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the Will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom.
Verily I say, whatever is sent down from the heaven of the Will of God is the means for the establishment of order in the world and the instrument for promoting unity and fellowship among its peoples.
Now that I knew the foundation of the will of God, I was ready to make every attempt to align my life with it. But where would I start? How could I make a life that is directed by the will of God? I had already accepted Christ and Baha’u’llah, but how could I put their teachings and laws into practice? But how was I supposed to “observe every ordinance” when I wasn’t even sure where to find those ordinances?
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That’s when I found a section in The Most Holy Book of Baha’u’llah titled Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations. This was the roadmap, I realized – my instruction book to guide my journey. As an attorney, I could appreciate it. The part that was really instructive for me and continues to be, is this section of Baha’u’llah’s laws, titled “To distinguish one’s self through good deeds:”
i. To be truthful
ii. To be trustworthy
iii. To be faithful
iv. To be righteous and fear God
v. To be just and fair
vi. To be tactful and wise
vii To be courteous
viii. To be hospitable
ix. To be persevering
x. To be detached
xi. To be absolutely submissive to the Will of God
xii. Not to stir up mischief
xiii. Not to be hypocritical
xiv. Not to be proud
xv. Not to be fanatical
xvi. Not to prefer one’s self to one’s neighbor
xvii. Not to contend with one’s neighbor
xviii. Not to indulge one’s passions
xix. Not to lament in adversity
xx. Not to contend with those in authority
xxi. Not to lose one’s temper
xxii. Not to anger one’s neighbor
Now that I had my rulebook, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
But it goes without saying that aligning my life with the rulebook requires daily prayer, meditation and effort. These spiritual laws are not easy to follow, especially when we find ourselves falling short and restarting the journey the following day. But as long as I knew I was making the effort, I felt content. I resolved that I would keep at it until my last breath, continually working towards the goal of distinguishing myself through good deeds.
I hope that we all find time to reflect on the will of God for our lives.