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A friend and Christian brother of mine recently passed away unexpectedly. It was quite a shock and something that is just now starting to sink in.

This got me to thinking even more about all the arguing we Christians do with each other.

We are so quick to defend our personal views and interpretations, we will argue, judge and even condemn one another because we see things differently.

Yet in moments like this I cannot understand why we have such a problem accepting one another in a spirit of Christian love. This life passes all to quickly to spend so much time arguing and defending our views.

Jesus said we are to love God and we are to love one another. He did not say we are to fight, argue and condemn one another. We are not to force our way of thinking on others. We are to share the good news that God loves them, but we need not argue over personal views and interpretations.

If only we could get that down inside us and start treating people with the love of God, knowing that we all see things differently. We all have our views, interpretations and beliefs and they are going to vary from person to person. We will not always agree and accept one another’s views.

Obviously, we cannot prove very much when it comes to spiritual matters. Most is a matter of faith and how we personally interpret scripture or how we view what makes sense to us. Rather than continually defending our way of thinking and trying to get others to see things our way, it would be much better if we could love others and accept them for who they are and how God made them.

We will have differences of opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. The Spirit is our guide and teacher and we need to allow each person to hear from the Spirit and follow the way they feel they are being guided.

We also need to accept that not everyone will believe like us, not everyone will believe there is a God and not everyone will interpret the bible like everyone else. I do not believe it is our job to force anything on anyone. God is able to work in the life of each individual the way he sees best. The Spirit will work and draw people to the Father. Even God leaves the decision up to each person as to how they will respond. Even those who do not believe and want nothing to do with him are stilled loved. God wants us to do the same.

Life is to short for all the arguing, judging and condemning. Love God, love your neighbor, love your brothers and sisters in Christ and let the Spirit work in the life of each person. Enjoy one another, enjoy fellowship, have a laugh, be concerned for one another and do what you can to show the love of God to everyone you meet.

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Why do we christian people feel the need to point out what we think are sinful behaviors of others? Why do we seem to think certain things are more sinful than others, if sinful at all.

Often times what we consider to be sinful boils down to wrong interpretation of scripture. Many times we do not dig into scripture to find out for ourselves what it is actually saying. We have heard certain things preached all our lives and figure that is just the way it is.

TheNakedJesus

I am sure we are all the same when it comes to having someone tell us they think we are sinning. Most of the time it is not even done in love. You can feel the judgment and condemnation coming from the other person. Whether it is actually a sin or not is not the issue to them, it is that they think it is, they do not like it and they are sure to point out to you what they think.

Jesus told us as his followers we are to love God and love others. He also said that the Holy Spirit would do the convicting and disciplining when and where needed. I do agree that sometimes the Spirit will work through us to bring to light something in the life of another that they need to deal with. I do not think in those few cases it will be done in a judgmental or condemning way.

I personally feel that we are to live our lives following the Spirit and being open to his leading and teaching for ourselves. After all, the Spirit of Christ lives within us and he will teach us and guide us in our walk with him. We are to forget about judgment and condemnation of others and leave the job of changing others to the Spirit.

We are to love God and love our neighbor, which is all our fellow human beings. We may not always agree with them, we may not always like what they do or how they do it, but we should always be kind and respectful even in the differences. To convict others of sin is beyond the calling Jesus gave to us. Live from love and let the Spirit work in the lives of others.

Also check out this article of similar topic by John Casimir O’Keefe:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thenakedjesus/2016/08/why-we-shouldnt-judge-others/

(Photo used by Permission from The Naked Jesus by John Casimir O’Keefe @johncasimirokeefe)

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Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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As I sit here thinking about two tragedies that have happened in the last few days, I find my heart aching for the people and families involved.

WestervillePD

On Saturday November 10, two local police officers from Westerville, Ohio were ambushed, shot and killed. It is so sad to see two people trying to do their job and protect the citizens lose their lives, especially in such a senseless way.

Both had families who are now going through the worst time of their lives. I cannot imagine how they feel but I am sure the worst has not even hit them yet. They are probably in such shock that they cannot comprehend the whole situation.

Then on Wednesday November 14 the terrible school shooting in Parkland, Florida with multiple lives lost, many injuries and hundreds having their lives changed for years to come.

As a parent, it is easy to understand the fear and horror of parents wondering if their child is safe. Yet not actually being in the situation there is absolutely no way to really know what those parents are going through.

FloridaHighSchool

The shooting was at a high school that had grades nine through twelve and roughly three thousand students. Needless to say, these kids are going to be scarred for life because of the terrible events they have gone through.

It is so sad to hear of situations like these, and very upsetting that things like this are becoming more common. I wish there was an answer as to what to do to curb tragedies such as these, but I as one person do not have an answer. As people come together and work together there are things we can do as a group. I pray that we will come up with ways that will help stop such terrible things from happening. I pray that we will unite together and work toward answers to this terrible problem.

I ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for all people involved and ask for the peace and comfort of God to be upon each one. For those who are not of the christian belief I would ask you to also, in your own way remember the victims of these tragedies.

I would also ask that we will come together and do what we can to cause change and bring an end to such horrible and senseless acts.

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Here in the United States we are always talking about freedom of speech. I have to say I am in favor of it, yet many times the practice of it seems to be done in the wrong manner.

Freedom to say what we think, how we feel and what we believe should be the right of every individual. Done in the right way it should not be a problem for anyone. There are questions as to how far we go with this and what is beyond freedom in regard to the rights of others and disrespect towards others, but that is for another discussion.

The trouble starts when one group thinks they should be able to say what they think but the other group should not. Or one person is very judgmental and condemning in what they say and are very rude in their presentation. Or the person or group speaking thinks everyone should conform to their way of thinking.

Freedom of speech should be done in a respectful way. Make your point and speak your mind but do it in a way that is not mean and judgmental.

FreedomofSpeech

Also remember that we will all have different views and opinions and just because we are free to speak them out, we should be accepting and respectful towards others whose views are going to be different.

Most of the time we would rather fight and argue over opinions, trying to prove ourselves right and the other person wrong. Name calling gets started and it ends up in a mean free-for-all and nothing gets accomplished.

Just because we have the right to say what we think, we have to realize that it is only our opinion. Not everyone will agree with what we say and we should be respectful of others opinions.

It would be best if we could say what we think in a kind and respectful manner, yet I know that does not happen most of the time. By being mean and condescending towards others we usually cause people to be defensive and respond in the same rude manner.

Enjoy your freedom of speech. Express yourself, give your views and opinions in a respectful way but allow the other person to have the same freedom. If we could express ourselves in this manner I think we would make more of an impact and we could actually have meaningful discussions with one another.

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Several of my past articles have mentioned modern day church and how it is off base from what it was intended. I want to make clear that I am not against church, but I also want to make clear what I mean when I say church.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we think of a building we go to on a certain day to learn about and worship God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

Church

I think we need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings. It is another place to enjoy christian fellowship. Rather than see church as a place we go, we are to be the Church daily living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and showing the love of God to all people.

Another area where we confuse the meaning of words is in regard to the word of God. When we talk about the word of God we usually think of the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God, but the true living Word of God is Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word of God.

WordofGod1

Far to often we christians put too much emphasis on the Bible, sometimes even thinking of it as part of the trinity. Remember it is not Father, Son and Holy Bible. Again, the Bible is written by men but is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It is certainly profitable to read the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but we need to focus on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us as followers of Christ.

Although it may seem unimportant on how we think of church or the Bible, I think it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us.

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Here we are into a new year already. This is the time many of us have a sense of excitement for new beginnings. We make resolutions to do better at various things in life, whether it is exercise, our spiritual life, eating or treating people better.

Resolutions

My wife and I have stopped making resolutions since we usually, like many, forget about them within the month.

On the other hand, we would like to continue on our walk outside the walls of religion and the many religious rules it puts upon us.

We are going to continue making new friends and get to know people who we were told to stay away from when we were in the organization. We were supposed to associate with people who believed in God and people who mostly believed like the denomination we were part of at the time.

We feel that Jesus came to show us that God loves people. Jesus associated with all kinds of people from all walks of life. They were not all godly people or people the religious leaders of the day would even dream of being seen spending time.

What we have found over the last few years is that people are basically the same. We all have our own beliefs, interests and ways of life. Yet behind the labels that are placed on us we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, fellowship with others and a fulfilled life.

We all go about finding those things in different ways. Just because we see things differently is no reason to separate ourselves from one another. There is no reason we cannot respect one another, accept one another and treat each other as equals.

Many christian people think this view is very wrong and we should only associate with other believers. They feel christians should judge and condemn those who do not believe as they do and stay away from them until they come to Christ. They seem to think that if we accept people as they are we are condoning what the other person is doing.

My wife and I just do not see things that way. Obviously none of us are going to agree or condone everything other people do, yet we can accept others as human beings, treat them with respect and enjoy time talking and learning about their views. We believe we are all loved by God just as we are, and we believe we are to show that same love to others.

BeKindtoOneAnother

Many times we read in the bible how God treats the righteous and unrighteous equally. We read how God loves all people whether they love him or hate him. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those who treat us bad.

In the New Testament we are told to love God and love our neighbor. Of course our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door but any and all that we come in contact with during the day.

So, we are anxious each day to meet another one of God’s creation. Maybe it will be someone that believes like us, maybe it will be someone who is completely opposite from our views. We just pray that no matter who we meet or what they believe, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to show love and acceptance, and to enjoy our time together.

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