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Only My View

My last post about ‘LGBT and the church’ received several comments that obviously disagreed with my views. That is fine and only to be expected because this is a public site and others are free to share their views.

Although it seems to me that sometimes people spend more time trying to prove their views and point out why they think other people are wrong rather than accept the fact that everyone sees things differently and no one is going to agree on everything.

I post my articles based on the fact they are only my opinion and the way I see things at this point in my walk with God. I am not going to change the opinion of any one else and I do not try to do so. No one is going to change my opinion either as I know each of us has a different view and I am not going to change my views for any person. I know as time goes on and as the Spirit teaches me my views will probably be different on some things than they are now as new truth is opened up by the Spirit.

As a follower of Christ I refuse to be judgmental and condemning. Even when other christians say I am wrong for not pointing out what they think are sins of others, I refuse to do so. I feel that being an example of Christ means to love people without condemnation and without ulterior motives.

LovelikeJesus1

It’s funny how christians are called to love people yet many spend more time judging each other and condemning those who have different views.

For me I will continue to love and accept all people whether male, female, white, black, gay, straight, transgender, christian, jew, hindu, atheist, etc without judgment or condemnation.

The thing many forget is that loving and accepting people does not mean we always agree or condone the actions of one another but we can respect each other and treat one another with kindness.

Recently I read an article that I enjoyed reading yet I had some reservation with it because it had an undertone that seemed to make sure to say that being gay is a sin. Basically the article was on LGBT issues and the church. I thought the article was good but there were a few things in the article that made me think it was stating that we should accept gay people but still needed to point out that being gay is a sin, or that acting upon those feelings was sinful.

Obviously I may have misinterpreted what the author was saying and I am not sure if the author meant to make it sound that way, yet there are many Christian writers that definitely feel the need to make a point of saying that being gay is sinful. My thought is why do we christians feel the need to point out what we think are faults and sins of others. Why do we have the sense that we can play God and say what is and what is not a sin and who deserves our love and who does not?

First off, no matter who we are or what we think I do not believe any of us as followers of Christ are to be the sin police. We are called to love God and love others, not to point out what we think is sinful behavior in others. The law shows that we cannot live a perfect life and the Spirit convicts the world of sin, so by pointing out what we think is sin in other people is going beyond what God has called us to do.

Second, I am not one to say that being gay is a sin. I do not think that is the job of followers of Christ. There are certainly many different ideas and interpretations of biblical verses that shed a different light on the subject than what we grew up with in the church and to make a judgment on what is and what is not a sin in this area is not for us to do.

What about gay and transgender people who are Christians, are we to completely discount their faith and experience just because we think they are living sinful lives?

If we want to talk about sin then we have to point out that we all have sinned in one way or another, yet because of Christ the sinful nature has been crucified with Christ and the spirit within us is holy and righteous. Of course in the world we still commit sins but we are cleansed and forgiven of our sinful nature through grace. This is not narrowed down to only certain groups of people, grace has been made available to human beings as a whole.

John 3-16

To start separating people into different groups because of sin is wrong. We are not called to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and we are to love and accept everyone in this world just as Jesus did, showing the love of God to everyone.

What has always bothered me is that we are so quick to make being gay a sin that is worse than anything else. Even those who accept the LGBT community still make a point of saying that gay life is sinful. They use such comments as hate the sin love the sinner or being gay is OK as long as you do not act on your feelings, yet statements such as these can be very hurtful.

What about in the bible where it says God hates divorce? Why don’t we separate those who have divorced into a lower class group of people like we do gay and transgender people? Based on statistics published in the online version of Charisma Magazine a report from a few years ago by the Barna Research Group revealed that 32 percent of those identified as born-again Christians have experienced at least one divorce. A related study also conducted by Barna Research found that among Protestant senior pastors, 15 percent have experienced divorce. Why is it that we Christians want to overlook such happenings among the Church yet make gay and transgender people the worst of sinners?

Obviously we all have our personal convictions of right and wrong and we want to live our lives in a pleasing way to God, but we are not to force our convictions and views on others. Just because others have different convictions and interpretations than we do does not mean we are right and they are wrong. We are not called to finger point, judge and condemn. We are called to love.

Love is the way of God and love does not include separation, judgment, condemnation or exclusion. Love is what we are called to show as followers of Christ and that includes everyone not just those who act, live and believe like we do.

Godloveseveryone

Whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, atheist, male, female, black, white or whatever religious belief you follow, apart from the labels we put on each other we are all human beings. Coming from a Christian perspective I believe we were all created in the likeness of God and loved by God. As followers of Christ we are to love our neighbor and respect each other no matter if we agree or not.

We are all entitled to live and believe in a way we feel is right. None of us should be pushing our beliefs on others and we should not have the attitude we are right and everyone else is wrong. We all have things to learn and we all should be willing to love others no matter what we believe. Our personal beliefs are basically all a matter of faith because none of us can prove beyond a doubt if our beliefs are right or wrong.

Speaking of people who see things differently than we Christians, whether you believe there is a God or not does not make a difference in how you should be treated. Unfortunately many times atheists are considered to be the archenemy of our Christian faith, yet we forget that atheist is just a label and there is a human being behind that label who deserves to be treated like anyone else. All of us are entitled to have our personal way of thinking and believing without condemnation and judgment from others.

As followers of Christ we are to live in the way Jesus lived which is the way of love and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree and live in complete harmony with one another. It does mean we can accept one another even in our differences knowing that in the eyes of God we are all loved and we can all respect one another and treat each other with kindness.

In our world the love of money is the driving force. Obviously money is important in our way of life and we all have to work to make money to live. Money itself is not evil and can be used for good things yet the love of money and the importance the world puts on it is a completely different thing.

Money pays our bills, buys us our daily needs and things we want for our enjoyment. Money can be used to help others, pay for education, helps us live comfortable lives and a host of other things. Money in itself is not the problem.

LoveofMoneyThe love of money is the issue and many people will stop at nothing to get it. The love of money is a driving force and many will spend their entire life working, doing what it takes to make all the money they can. Some will cheat and step on toes and whatever they can to make more money. They will give up time with their families and loved ones, give up all relaxation and things they enjoy doing and spend all their waking hours doing whatever it takes to make more money.

In the Kingdom of God the driving force is love. This is very unnatural to us humans and without the Spirit within us we cannot love with the love of Christ. Yet love is the name of the game when living for God.

Loving like Jesus loves means thinking of others more than ourselves, doing for others more than doing for ourselves, giving to others more than trying to gather more for ourselves.

Loving like Christ is a life of serving others and living an unselfish life. It is not allowing personal feelings, doctrines, interpretations, lifestyles or anything else to cause division and hatred among us.

Love is accepting others no matter what they look like, what they believe or how they act. Love does not see the labels we so easily put on others. Love sees beyond the outer layer and sees a human being, someone who was created in the image of God.

LovelikeJesus1

Obviously this type of love is a spiritual, godly type of love. We are not going to love everyone is a natural worldly way. There are too many personality types that just will not do well together. We are not going to like and agree with everyone, but we can respect and accept all we come in contact with during our lives. Loving others like Christ loves them is showing love in a godly way, respecting them and treating them as fellow human beings. Being mean, judgmental, condemning and showing hatred and non-acceptance is certainly not being loving in any way.

When it comes down to it there are two types of love. The love of money which leads to selfishness and greed, and the love of God which leads to loving and accepting others, kindness, peace, joy and a life of serving our fellow man.

A good friend of mine wrote the following paragraph. There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help thru the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I was also saved in church but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”. There are times when we are alone with no Christian fellowship and maybe we can’t make it to church for some reason. We have to be able to stand as mature Christians and rely on our relationship with Christ. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is only where we learn about Him. I guess what I am saying is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength if we call upon Him in truth. I personally am going thru the desert in life and I have to depend on Him. He has proved His love and care for me and in reality, He is the “Son of the Living God”. Bottom line, let’s be careful to put our dependence on Him. All other ground is sinking sand….

Christ the solid rock

This goes along with some of my posts about modern-day church. The institutional church is a place for believers to get together but it is not the goal. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not necessarily make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas and interpretations from others about God, a place to meet other believers, a place to reach out and help others and be encouraged.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. He is who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd the rest of us are the sheep. There are no co-shepherds, no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church but don’t put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or don’t go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Don’t worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but a people who love and follow Christ.

For those of you who have left the institutional church you will probably relate to what I am saying.

After being out of organized religion for nearly three years now, some of the traditional and normal terms of the christianese language really bother me. I guess it should not do so because I certainly understand why people say them and I used to say them myself at one time or another. Even after being away from the traditional church for three years some of the terms of speech are still hard to quit saying.

christianese

Now days my wife and I see things a little differently. This is my viewpoint and I certainly do not mean to say it is wrong to use certain terms or that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is just one of those things that make me cringe when I hear certain terms.

Such as ‘this is the Lord’s day’ when people talk about Sunday. Many Christians use the term the Lord’s Day when talking about the Sabbath or the day of rest. To them it is the day we go to church and worship God. Personally, I believe every day is the Lord’s Day as the Bible says in Psalms 118:24 this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It does not mention a particular day.

Or the term ‘we are on our way to the house of God’, like God lives in a house. People are talking about going to church but God does not live in buildings or houses, He lives in us. Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? (I Corinthians 6:19)

We will hear people talk about ‘the Word of God’ and know they are talking about the Bible. I think the Word of God is a person, not a book. The Bible talks about God and it leads us to Jesus but the Bible is a book written by men who were inspired by God but not controlled by God. The Word of God who is living, all powerful, inerrant and perfect, sharper than any two-edged sword is Jesus. As the Bible states in John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We mention God as a male Father, yet God really is not male or female. God is spirit and I believe has both male and female attributes. I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with saying Father or Him or Her, but it is a mindset we have that God is a man with all the attributes of a male. We picture God as a huge blank-faced man sitting up in heaven looking down on us, but God is spirit, God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Pastors will talk about special services by telling the people to be sure and come tonight because ‘God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on those who are here’. That one gets me because God lives within us and is everywhere so how is He going to show up up now and then at special times and places? And didn’t the Spirit come upon humans on the day of Pentecost? Why would he fall upon us again when he is already living within us?

god is here

I realize a lot of the time we use these terms out of habit even when our beliefs and interpretations have changed. We seem to be so indoctrinated by the teaching of the institutional church and the denominations we grew up in that these terms just come out. I know this is probably a minor thing and whether we use such terms or not we are talking about the same God and we all love God. Yet I wonder if by using these terms are we reacting to a mindset of old covenant thinking rather than the new covenant day of grace.

My wife and I are certainly finding out that when leaving the institutional church and the many traditions, doctrines, interpretations and terms of speech we were taught over the years, it is much harder to break free from the institutional way of thinking than it is physically leaving the building.

Here in the United States we recently celebrated our national independence. We all enjoy the sense of pride we feel at this time of year and we celebrate the freedoms we have. We enjoy watching fireworks and the many ways of celebrating with friends and family.

I, along with most Americans, love my country. I certainly do not agree with everything that goes on and we are not even close to being a perfect country. I also cannot agree that we are a Christian country or one nation under God, yet in my opinion that this is a great country and I am very happy living here. So many opportunities, so many good things and so much abundance for a lot of us. So many people served our country and gave their lives for it and we are all very appreciative.

We have a democracy and freedom that a lot of people do not have although as time goes by it seems we are losing more and more of them. Yet I would not want to live anywhere else.

The political system that has been set up in our country gives everyone the right, freedom and opportunity to vote and/or run for office. I do have a problem with the fact that so many people think that being a Christian means being a Republican. Truthfully these days I think our political system is one where neither party is totally moral or completely trust-worthy, so I certainly do not put my hope or trust in any political group.

As followers of Christ we know that our true citizenship is in heaven and our true leader is Jesus. When it comes right down to it our all-out allegiance is to God and not to any country or political system.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

I do not think there is anything wrong with loving and respecting your country. Like Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. No matter which country you live in you have grown up there and love your country.

Although we are separated by countries and political systems those who are followers of Christ are united in being citizens of the Kingdom of God.

We need to remember that our loyalty is not to be to any country or political system. Our true loyalty is to the Kingdom of God. Our true allegiance is to God and living as one with our Father.

As followers of Christ feel free to celebrate the good things we have in this country. Respect the people who have given so much for the freedom we enjoy. But keep in mind that this is not our home. Our home is with God, we live in the Kingdom of God and no matter what country you live in God is within you through the Spirit.

We also can celebrate our independence from the old sin nature through Christ each and every day in any country or political system. We can rest in our freedom in Christ and live for him daily. Let His life flow out of you to show others the love and freedom He has given to us by grace through Christ.

Ephesians 1:22,23 — And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

What stands out most to me is the description of what true church is, which is His body. It is not a building. It is not a place we go on a certain day. Christ is the head of all of us who are saved by grace. We are the church.

I do not see separation in this statement. I do not see denominations, buildings, programs and formal services trying to get people to come to us. I do not see separated groups based on doctrine.

I see a living, active group of people going out into the world day by day in the love and strength of the Spirit. I see a united effort seeking to show the love of God to all we meet each day.

Body of Christ

I see people looking to Jesus through the Holy Spirit for truth and guidance. No more looking to a man, woman or a group of elders for teaching and guidance. Christ is our head and the Spirit is our teacher. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, bishops, elders and any such leader mentioned are not positions of authority but are fellow believers who help encourage and build up their brothers and sisters through servant-hood example.

This leads me to think it is time to stop arguing over doctrines and interpretations. It is time to stop looking to other brothers and sisters whom we elevate into a higher position. We need to realize we are all kings and priests and able to teach and give a word to uplift one another. We need to allow God to live through us daily as we go out into the world and show His love to people who are hurting, who are outcasts and who need to be uplifted and encouraged. It is time to look past the labels we put on one another and see human beings who were created in the image of God and who need love, acceptance and fellowship with the Spirit and with one another just as much as the rest of us.

We are the Church, we are the people of God who are filled with the power and love of the Holy Spirit going out into our world showing that God loves them.

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