How do you develop a personal relationship with Jesus and still embrace logic and rationality thinking? That was 28-year-old James Lewis’ burning question.
James Lewis was born the middle of three boys; he was the musician, the artist. He was the one doodling cartoons, playing guitar or listening to rap and blues. James also went to church every Sunday with his family, and for a while, he was content. But in his early teens, James began to feel turned off by the church he was growing up in. Countless hours of sitting in the pews, being forced to follow certain rituals, and listening to dogmatic ideas, these all began to take a toll on him. The worst was when he was told he couldn’t listen to the music he loved – the hard-hitting rap and soulful blues.
Using the Bible in this way didn’t sit well at all with James. He believed the Bible was about love, promoted love, and should never be used to beat others down. It got to a point where James turned his back on anything with Jesus on it. He remembers his grandmother handing him a pamphlet and as soon as he saw a picture of Jesus on it, he immediately felt repelled and turned away.
It wasn’t until he was 17 or so that James started to realize that his “beef” was not with Jesus, but with the dogma.
Since he’d always believed that the physical and spiritual worlds are “two parts of the same,” he began looking for a religion that embraced science. “I looked into Christian Science but it was not for me. I tried Unitarianism but that was too radical. I was shocked because they didn’t mention Jesus.” Finally, about a month ago, James found an article that resonated. It was called “Theistic Science.” This article opened up to him the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. He thought, “Finally, I found someone who thinks the way I do.”
James bought Divine Love and Wisdom, Secrets of Heaven, Divine Providence and some other earlier miscellaneous works. He says, “I’ve been reading like crazy. I read about one hundred pages a day. I’ve been reading and studying and every day trying to learn a little bit more.”
One of the things that James most appreciates is Swedenborg’s explanation of God. James said, “I like the whole idea that God is love. That was a big thing for me. And Swedenborg talks about how love is supposed to be reciprocal. It’s not about the self.”
James has found that the ideas he is reading stay in his mind and positively affect his actions toward others. For example, he is learning how to deal with customers at work. Although some of the people who come into the 7-11 where he manages can be pretty rough, even violent, James is learning how to diffuse the situations without getting angry.