People who believe that our Creator cares about goodness, and has clarified for us what goodness is (even beyond our subjective experience of it), don’t merely do righteousness out of fear or love for the Source of existence. Obviously that is at the heart of it, but for us it is all mixed in together with reality. Our experience of aspects of reality is what points us to hold onto the belief that as created beings we don’t belong just to ourselves. And in the big picture, for us, reality isn’t divorced from the way that we seek to do goodness in obedience. As humans we have an ability to sense and seek truth and an innate desire to seek goodness that is actually true, not false.
As humans, we also feel compassion, even though at times it can be dulled by self-absorption; we are sickened by the pain and injustice, but we feel the beauty and reward of mercy and shared love. These aren’t just externally dictated to us by a fantasy text. Anyway, whether or not the text or tradition of any religion is true is a broader topic than this. But basically, we sense the reality of our dependent existence, we sense justice, we sense compassion, we sense beauty and goodness, we are confused by pain and injustice and hatred and how those things are inescapably meaningful in comparison to what is good, and we owe and give ourselves relationally with our Creator. The desire to do compassion is also made in us as an innate thing. It’s all part of the same picture of what we see around and within ourselves. As to people who for some reasons don’t believe that the power bringing existence into motion is inherently linked with goodness rather than badness, or is personally involved in our lives in a meaningful way, or revealed Himself to humanity through a covenant and deserves our hearts, I still firmly believe that when they act within goodness and justice they are acting in relationship with Him. This is true for each of us in the same way.
The big question that rises out of this perspective is the question of why people in a religion are willing to suspend their own feelings about what is kind, or beautiful, etc., in favour of an external code. In reality, it’s true that people hold onto their religions for all kinds of reasons. But a part of it is that we have evaluated the claims at hand, not just on this little level but on a larger level, including the very harsh and difficult questions. A lot of which we can’t answer. And at this moment we humbly hold the opinion that the Source of goodness has made goodness more objectively known here. So we merge the heavier weight of what does feel and reasonably seem right to us in with the smaller weight of questions that confuse us.
And in our commitment to goodness and truth and kindness (which is part of our relationship with the maker of us, we believe, and a deep part of who we are as humans), we are committed to integrity in front of these incredibly important questions, and other ones as well. We aren’t committed to any idea if we find that it is in fact false. We need to keep on asking how we should best ask the questions, and what factors are relevant to consider and to follow, in loyalty to goodness and truth and the relationship we have therewith.