Are we walking together with God?There are certain indicators that believers use to gauge the status of their spiritual relationship with God:
- The levels of peace, calm, happiness, and love attained in life.
- The levels of physical health and financial stability.
- The levels of commitment to their faith and involvement in religious duties.
- The number of people whom they bring closer to God and the extent of that closeness.
- The amount of time spent performing God-centred activities.
- The magnitude of blessings conferred on themselves and others by God.
To assess levels of success, believers look for signs of God’s pleasure or disapproval in the world around them and in events that unfold. We rely on intuition, and largely trust that God will provide us with an internal moral compass to guide our conscience and actions.
The degree to which we're satisfied with our actions depends on how well we think our conduct matches that which we believe is expected of us. If we’re confident of having obeyed God’s commands to the best of their abilities, then we may pride themselves on a job well done.
If, however, we’re doubtful about the quality of our performance, or were unsure of what God’s mandates were in the first place, then we may experience uncertainty or regret.
Believers conduct this assessment of their behaviour using standards that are believed to originate from God. Information is garnered from religious texts, teachings, and advice from fellow believers, and shaped by personal beliefs, feelings, and intuitions.
Each individual synthesises and maintains a code of ideal conduct to which they adhere, based on personal experience and judgment, and influenced by feedback from numerous sources.
This moral code varies somewhat from person to person, but each individual generally believes that it reflects commandments that God has ordained for everyone.
How is this assessment carried out?
Each believer has a working definition of the goals that constitute one’s ‘purpose of life’ and criteria that describe whether or not that purpose is being fulfilled.
All that’s required for the active pursuit of these goals is the belief that God exists, that God’s plans and priorities are all-important, and that one should strive to please God at all times.
Note that the actual existence of God is not integral to the picture. Religion provides a list of human attributes that are purportedly pleasing to God. Believers act on the assumption that God exists. This belief in God provides followers with a powerful psychological incentive to act in ways that are considered compatible with God’s will.
Regardless of the particulars of the situation at hand, the faithful believe that:
- God is primarily responsible for the current state of affairs.
- For each situation, there exist outcomes that will please God, as well as ones that evoke His displeasure.
- Believers possess the ability to influence the course of events, and their actions may contribute to the occurrence of a God-favoured outcome, or a disfavoured one.