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Archive for February, 2014

Love your Enemies…Really?

As christian people, we’ve always heard that we are to love our enemies. Do good to those who use you. Turn the other cheek.

The dictionary describes an enemy as a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against; or an adversary or opponent.

So an enemy can go from someone who rubs you the wrong way all the way to someone who wants to literally kill you. How is it possible that we can love our enemies when we think about the more extreme sense of the word?

In all honesty, we can’t. In our own human ways, we are incapable of loving people like this. We have a hard enough time loving people who are different from us and not really even an enemy as described above.

In some cases we can make up our mind to look past someone who treats us bad. We can make sure to treat them in a kind way, help them when they have a problem, support them any way we can. We can walk away rather than argue. We can smile and be pleasant rather than give them a dirty look or flip them off. Sometimes it is within our human power to make a choice to treat others as we would like to be treated. There are other times when, in our own strength, it is just impossible to be loving.

Obviously we look to our role model, Jesus, and see how he lived. He truly loved people. It didn’t matter if they agreed with him, if they were despised by the general population, if they hated him, or if they put him to death. He loved mankind. He came with the purpose to show the love of the Father to a fallen world.

Without the love of the Father living within us, and with us staying out-of-the-way and allowing that love to come through, we will not be able to truly love our enemies. But, the power of the Spirit living within us is more than able to do what we can’t.

We have to come to an end of ourselves, just as in the case of grace. We are totally unable to keep the commandments and live a perfect life that God commands. The ten commandments are a tutor that leads us to the fact that we are incapable of fulfilling this requirement.

Thankfully the New Covenant took effect when Jesus died and rose again. The free gift of God’s grace cleansed us from our sinful nature and made us new creatures in Christ. Now, because of Him, we can love our enemies. We are now one with God and it is his spirit that loves through us, just as Jesus did when he was in his earthly body.

So, loving our enemies is mostly something we are unable to do apart from the love and strength of the Spirit that lives within us.

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Below is the link list for the February 2014 Sychroblog on “Loving Our Enemies.”

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One with God

A ​reader​ ​recently ​posted a reply to one of my articles, and it got me to thinking. We are taught from an early age in the christian religion that God is up there in heaven somewhere, looking down on us who live here on earth.

I can remember hearing so many times the pastor saying during a special service, God is going to show up and the spirit ​will fall, and we will have a special time of fellowship together.

So why is it we are told that God is up there and we are down here and he may show up now and then when the conditions are right? It just didn’t make sense.​

After some time ​of thinking about this​, it just didn’t feel right to think that God is going to show up only at certain buildings where people meet at set times, with set programs. God sent his Spirit to live within us all the time​.

Jesus prayed in John 17 that we are to be one as he and the father are one. The Spirit lives within us, which to me says God lives within us. We are merged together with Him. We are one with God as Jesus is one with God.

​W​hen​ a man and woman marry​, God says they become one. So it is with God and us. When we put our faith in him and accept his free gift of grace, we become one. We are no longer separate individuals, we are one with God. We aren’t God, but we are merged together as one. We are the temple,​ or house of God.

I wanted a better way of saying what I felt, so I started saying I was a Christ follower. But as it ​was pointed out​ to me​, this still ​suggested​ a separation between God and us​.

​We have to get the religious thinking out of us and begin living the truth, that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is within us. There is no separation, no waiting on God to come down. We don’t have to follow and keep up with Christ. He is within us.​

We don’t have to wait until Sunday to go to a building for God to show up, that isn’t his house. We are the body of Christ, each of us are equally important parts. We are his dwelling place, each and every day.​

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For those of us who have left organized religion, it seems most of us go through similar steps in the process.

There are the months or, in our case, years of dissatisfaction and questioning. My wife and I knew for a long time something wasn’t right, but kept thinking it was just us or the church we were attending. We would try different churches and find our feelings were the same.

Once we got to the point that the option to stop attending church is very much part of our thinking, the next step was to really question ourselves. Thoughts like, are we really Christians, are we backsliding, are we losing our religion (losing your religion is a good thing). We began to feel something was wrong with us and wondered what others were going to think.

Next was the decision to stop attending something we felt was way off base from what true Church should be. Then there were feelings of keeping this to ourselves. Don’t tell anyone, just stop attending and keep it to yourself. In our case that was easy. We had been a part of an organized fellowship for a few years, but never got involved in other activities. It was a larger group of people and we didn’t do anything outside the normal Sunday morning show….service. This made it much easier not having to explain our actions to anyone else. To those of you who have made this decision and were active members, even pastors or so-called leaders in the church, we applaud you for making such a stand.

Next came the ‘us vs. them’ mentality. We wanted to look at the organized church almost as an enemy. We wanted to point out where they were wrong and why they were wrong. We wanted to associate only with those who felt the same as we did and didn’t want to hang around with those still stuck in the religious game. Obviously this isn’t the way to feel or treat people.

The next step was realizing God loves all people. Not just those outside the walls of the organized church. He loves us all, no matter what line of thought, doctrine, religion or lifestyle we choose. Jesus came to love people and show each of us the love of God. Finally we came to love and accept everyone. We no longer care what people think of our decision, we just want to love and accept each of them.

We are sure this isn’t a complete list of steps, but it is as far as we are for now. We are thankful for the years we had in the church as we learned a lot and made a lot of friends. We are equally thankful for the decision we made to leave the church with walls and focus more on the Church (ecclesia) made not by hands, but by God. A group of people who are saved by grace, following Christ, equally a part of the body and equally important to the body, and touching others day by day with the love of God.

We are all on different steps in life and fellowship, but we know that God is with us and leading us each step of the way. Keep the faith, keep your eyes on Jesus and be the Church each day of your life.

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