Tips, Videos, Handouts

Light of God in Every Person

From an 1829 Quaker Meetinghouse, I explain the practical benefits of believing that God is in every person.

Even if you don’t believe what Quakers believe, just pretending to believe in this principle results in better group ideas and more peaceful group decisions. If every group member were to truly believe that God is in every person, it would be hard NOT to make good group decisions.

I get that many people disdain religion. I get that many people reject the idea of a judgmental God who sits on high and rewards good people and punishes bad people, and that some people claim to have special access to such a God.

But what if God was inside you? Directly accessible? And in me? And in every person you meet along your way?

Are you open minded enough to watch the video or read the script?

 

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here, in a Quaker meeting house, because I want to talk a little bit about a Quaker belief.

This particular belief is probably the most fundamental of all Quaker beliefs, that there is that of God in every person. Another way to say it is that there is the light of God in every person.

This means that no one person has more special access to God than anyone else. We each have direct access to the God within ourselves. It also means that no one’s God is more right than any other God. Who am I to say that the God in me knows better than the God in you? It also allows for each and every person to define and experience God in their own way. It doesn’t say that one particular view of God is right and one is wrong. Because again, who am I to say how the God in you should be defined?

This way of thinking is at the core of Quaker tolerance for all people and respect for all people. It’s also at the core of the Quaker belief in peace. I would never raise arms against another person or go to war against a group of people because that would be like fighting against God.

Now I know that a lot of you are freaked out by just the whole idea of God and religion no matter how it’s defined. And I get that, because so many mean terrible things have been done in the name of God. Many people — many religions — have decided they know what God wants and have used that to oppress other people.

This way of thinking about God is…..it’s just not like that. In fact, this way of thinking about God — that there is the light of God in every person — is really really useful for good group decisions. Whether you believe in God or not, or whether you believe that this particular way of thinking of God is true, if you even act as though it might be true it will really help your group make good decisions.

There are five, at least five I am going to talk about, practical benefits to thinking of God in this way.

One is that it lets me give up the fight. I can chill out a little bit and be more peaceful. I don’t have to be so concerned with being better than you. The ego in me doesn’t have to beat the ego in you. It’s just that the God in me needs to get along with the God in you. And I can lighten up.

Second thing, it opens me up to the possibility that the next best idea might come from anywhere. When I truly believe that there is that of God in each and every member of my group, I want to listen to what each person has to say and as a group we are going to get a whole lot more ideas out on the table and better ideas out on the table.

The third thing, you know, it’s just fun! It’s more fun to be part of a group where there is tolerance and mutual respect then it is to be part of a group where there’s competition and backstabbing and oneupmanship. It’s cool to be among a group of people who lighten up.

Fourth benefit: if I believe that there is that of God in every person it must mean that there is that of God within me. It gives me self-esteem. Look what I’m carrying around here! It gives me a sense of self worth. I don’t play the victim or the martyr. I stand tall and I speak my truth, if I’m connected with that inner light. And if every member of a group stands tall and speaks the truth of the God within, oh my gosh, that group is going to be able to achieve great things.

The last of practical benefit, at least that I’m going to talk about, is that it gives me religious freedom. You know, I don’t have to worry about what the Bible is trying to get me to do or what this religious doctrine is trying to get me to do or what this political leader is trying to get me to do. The right thing for me to do is what I discern from the God with in me. And that is a perfectly good guide for my morality as long as I believe that the God in me is the same God that is in you and in every other person.

I know that there are some of you who are still freaked out that I am talking about God and that I’m in kind of a church. But look, I’m just trying to say that this way of thinking has some really practical benefits for good group decisions.

I guess I’m just trying to say, lighten up. Thanks for listening.

One thought on “Light of God in Every Person

  1. Quakers,
    Have I got it right? Please add, clarify, revise.

    Everyone else,
    Is this a useful principle for effective collaboration?
    Can you name practical benefits other than the 5 that I named?
    Are there downsides to this way of thinking?

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