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Archive for the ‘Jesus follower’ Category

by Jordan Hathcock

When we haven’t earned the right with our blood, sweat, tears, and time, truth-telling is most often received as judgment. Jared Byas

What a no holds barred match of viewpoints we find ourselves in, within our current culture climate. With so many voices being echoed through all available chambers—social media being the main sphere—how do we know truth? Beats me (haha). But I do believe there is something to an experiential encounter with a “quality or state of being true”, that holds more tangible weight than other voices. In other words, how does our experiences inform us about whether or not an specific idea or act is the actual essence of truth?

Maybe by “walking in another’s shoes”, we reach a firmer grasp on what is true or false? Look, I get the importance of doing your own research and the importance of peer reviewed articles. We read articles, try to have an open mind, listen to experts (a lot of conspiracy with this at the moment…good lord), and attempt to listen to both sides. This is good advice and has helped me tremendously. But I cannot help to hear the saying of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself” when trying to pursue *the* truth. Yes, we can’t forget the other saying of Jesus: “I am the truth”. Amen! But you know we are part of his body so we can’t dodge the responsibility of being part of that truth ourselves. To embody a reality of authentic truth, we get there by self-giving love. And to love is to put ourselves in other’s perspectives, which in turn, enable us to “see and hear” the truth that sets us ALL free.

Don’t get me wrong. Critical thinking skills are needed to get us to a place of factual analysis (Critical Theory for example). The point of any cognitive critique is to bring in a set of ideas and push them to the forefront of discovery. These are all good and much needed steps to find truth. What I am proposing is when we are pursuing the truth we must do it in love. Yes yes yes; love love love is all we need, blah blah blah. Listen (or read? hehe) here, alright?! The only love I am talking about is the love that “lays down her life for a friend”. Capeesh?

This love is a movement of action where all eyes can see. Or, how Dr. Cornel West puts it: “Justice is what love looks like in public”. Speaking truth to power is the gateway of experiencing healing and liberating truth. This is the gospel that Jesus preached. He was “living” this truth, no matter what the cost. It’s an inner truth that Jesus couldn’t deny. Folk rock band The Avett Brothers songTell the Truth say (sing?) it best:

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

I can make my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my lover, my neighbor, my friends all happy

Give of myself whatever they ask

But without this single truth it is only emptiness that I cast

A happiness that will not last

But I’m not here for that for what does happiness help without this single truth given to thyself

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

When we come to a point of a moment of truth, we must embrace the love of self and others to really accept it. Inner truth always will pour out onto others. Hear me out on this: This isn’t the same as weaponized truth, where we just have our weapon of choice—locked and loaded—ready to beat the shit out of any who dare not to comply to our truth claims. I believe we have come to a point in our current social dialogue that all we want to hear is our reasoning biases in the voice of the other. If it isn’t there, bombs away!

We all should be passionate and prophetic when we are looking to carry out our truths to implement change. A little anger helps but when it is the most thundering sound and drowns out love, that’s when we get nowhere. Yes, we need to hear the voices of the oppressed, the sick, and the poor at this current time of history (and all of history past). I mean, this is what Jesus did all day long during his ministry. But we cannot forget how he redeems, reconciles, and resurrects it all: By a cross of forgiveness and love. Author and podcaster Jared Byas says it like this:

We live our lives feeling that there is a tension between truth and love. But there’s only a tension if we believe truth and love are equals and opposites. They are not. Love is the bottom line. When we pursue a life of love, we will find truth along the way. When we pursue truth, we do not always find love along the way. When Jesus tells us the greatest commandment, it’s not truth-telling, it’s not fact-based, it’s not doctrinal. It’s love.

So, can we really know truth? Yes and no. But we definitely will never get there if we do not show the love, people! What if truth is not a belief to be held but an experience to be shared? I like that possibility. Let’s step into that realm of trusting love and see where The Truth leads…

As for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part. For love is the end. — 1 Corinthians 13:8-9,13

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by Jim Gordon

So many followers of Christ today live like they are under the old covenant. Most traditional churches seem to place more emphasis on the old covenant and rule following.

We have been brought up in the religious system that seems more like a corporation rather than a community where the priesthood of all believers should be the norm. The church has a pastor, elders and deacons just like a corporation has a CEO, board of directors and operating committee.

We still have the mind-set that we are living in the old way of doing things. A lot of us still think the church is a building we gather in and listen to a ‘chosen few’ tell us what God is saying.

We tell each other to ‘have a good Lord’s day’, thinking Sunday is the chosen day to set aside to worship God and to rest.

We look to the bible like it is part of the trinity and we worship it and use it for all kinds of rule keeping, judging and condemning others.

We tithe ten percent to the church, thinking God requires it from us and if we do not give the tithe we are robbing God.

Jesus completed the old covenant and brought it to an end. He made a new covenant with his creation, which we are now living under.

Jesus is building his Church, which is made up of people not brick and mortar. It is a community of believers with Christ as the head and each of us are equal, participating members. Now that may happen anywhere and anytime, in a building, in a house, in a park, a restaurant and so on. The fact is that Church is not an organized meeting in a set place at a set time, but it is a fellowship and relationship among fellow believers, no matter if there are only two or three.

Each and every day is the day the Lord has made. Every day is holy and for resting in the work God has already done. The idea that the seventh day is holy is just not true in the New Covenant.

The bible is the inspired by God. Although God inspired men to write, it is still a book written by men. It is the Spirit that gives life and meaning to those words. If the Spirit is not enlightening us and teaching us the words do not have life.  Jesus is the living, all powerful, inerrant Word of God and he lives within us by his Spirit.

Tithing was a law given to the Jews in the old covenant. It is no longer part of the new covenant. Giving out of love as the Spirit leads is the way we now live. God does not need our money, but giving to those who do, out of love is a way that is pleasing to God and a help to others.

It is disappointing that many continue to teach the old covenant way to believers today, although it is understandable. All of us alive today do not know anything different since this has been taught for hundreds of years. Not until the Spirit opens our eyes and leads us in His truth do we see this new way of living by his grace.

Seek God’s truth, ask the Spirit for guidance. Do not be condemning and argumentative towards fellow believers who see things differently, but be open to what God shows you. Do not be close-minded and continue to do things just because that is the way we have always done them.

The Spirit is within us and he is our guide into all truth. Be open to hear his voice and follow in the way he leads you. Do not be condemning towards your brothers and sisters in Christ who follow a different path. It is the same spirit that leads us, and we are all called to love one another.

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by Jim Gordon

Did Jesus teach from the Old Covenant? Was not the birth of Christ the beginning of the New Covenant? When does the Old Covenant end and the New Covenant begin? We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

Even though Jesus came to fulfill the old agreement through grace, the first thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth He lived under the Old Covenant. He was required to follow all its rules and regulations. He even taught from those rules, yet those rules are no longer intended for us. ‘But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons’. Galatians 4:4,5

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When He said ‘It is finished’ He was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon His resurrection the New Covenant began and we are no longer required to try and live under the Law and the way of the Old Covenant. It is finished!

The old agreement was made with the Jewish people because they desired to have a set of rules to show God they could please him by their obedience. It turned out to be a way God used to show them they were unable to live a perfect life on our own. Jesus came to show us the true love of the Father and to restore our fellowship with him. Jesus came and fulfilled the old agreement and upon his resurrection made a new agreement of grace. ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’. Matthew 5:17

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant. So often we seem to forget that because of grace we now live by faith in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just a poor sinner saved by grace although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves but He calls us Sons. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want, right or wrong. We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but there are consequences if we choose things that God has warned us to stay away from.

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love, not due to obligation by a set of rules. Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law. We love God, we love others and we have been made righteous through Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and we are now the temple of God. It is the Spirit who guides us, teaches us and gives us strength. We do not love or please God out of obligation. We do not love him because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not live up to anyway. We do what is pleasing to God because we choose to do so because of our love for Him.

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by Jim Gordon

We have talked about discrimination in regards to racism and women’s rights. Today we finish up by talking about another form of discrimination. The violation of LGBTQ rights and the hateful way many are treated.

Growing up in the church, I was always taught that the bible clearly stated that homosexuality was a sin. The thing with this was that I never questioned it or did any further study into it on my own. I just accepted what the pastor said, as I did most of what I was taught.

Over time I began thinking about the love of God. The bible said that God is love. Jesus told us to love God, love one another and love our enemies.

Throughout the gospels I read of the way Jesus lived on earth. He loved people. He never condemned, never judged, never played favorites. He treated people with respect and was inclusive of all. That made me begin to question why so many of his followers today act with such hatred and malice toward those they see as different than themselves.

I began reading books and listening to other views and realized there were other interpretations of the few verses I was always told condemned those who are LGBTQ. Such books as ‘Torn’ by Justin Lee, ‘God and the Gay Christian’ by Matthew Vines, ‘Unashamed’ by Amber Cantorna, ‘Is God a Gay Basher’ by Jan Liebegott and ‘Unclobber’ by Colby Martin. I read blog post by James Finn, Susan Cottrell and others who know what they are talking about and offered other explanations and interpretations of difficult bible verses.

Keith Giles published an article I found interesting entitled The word “Homosexual” does not appear In the Bible [Pre-1946]. Thus insinuating that there was another word and meaning in regard to homosexuality up until 1946 when the term was added.

Interpretations and beliefs aside, just reading about the nature of God as presented by Jesus, I could not understand nor believe that those who were born as LGBTQ were not loved or accepted by God. And if God accepts those who are LGBTQ, the rest of us should also.

After all, we are all human beings. The labels are added by groups of people and not God, labels which cause division, exclusion and people being treated as second-class citizens.

It is hard to believe that still today, LGBTQ people are so often discriminated against just because of who they love or how they feel they were created. Now, I am against lust and open sex just because it feels good whether it be between straight or LGBTQ people. I believe in committed, loving relationships between two people either straight or gay. I believe all the different gender identities covered as LGBTQ+ are people just wanting to be happy and accepted for being who they were created to be.

To be treated with hatred, to be looked down upon as sub-human beings, to not receive the same equal treatment and basic human rights as every other human being is just wrong. To be denied health care, housing, jobs, cakes, adoption privileges and being able to serve in the military just because of their gender is a terrible disservice to people that are loved by God. People who are loving, smart and capable of fulfilling their desires but are unable to do so because of all the unloving discrimination in our world.

What really gets me is that many times, not always, the most discriminatory actions and hate filled treatment comes from those who claim to be christians. Those who claim to represent God, who is love. They seem to show more hate and unacceptance than others. Those of us who follow the example of Jesus and who love God should be the biggest supporters, showing the love of God and being inclusive of all. Yet due to the mistranslation of some bible verses and due to taking what we were told or what we read without further study and follow-up, many choose to judge and condemn those who are LGBTQ without any further question.

As mentioned in my previous articles, those who are black/brown, female, and those with various religious and nationality backgrounds all deserve the same treatment and opportunities as anyone else. God did not make any mistakes or second-class human beings. All deserve the same human rights and equal treatment no matter what they believe, what they look like, who they love or how God created them.

It is time to forget the labels and see people as human beings. It is time we love God and love all people without the judgment, condemnation and hateful treatment we so often see in our world. It is time to follow the words of Jesus by loving God and loving one another.

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by Jim Gordon

We talked about discrimination in the form of racism in my last article. This article talks about another form of discrimination, the unfair treatment of women. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote or hold certain jobs.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries women are treated as property rather than a human being.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as unequal’s with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home or only work certain kind of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing but there is a long way to go yet.

I remember growing up and getting my first job. I was amazed when I learned that I got paid a certain amount for my job yet later on found out that a woman doing the same job got less pay. I could not figure out why that was the case.

As I mentioned in my previous article, working as a firefighter I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as equal as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything that anyone else can. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned in part that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings just as I pray we come to fully accept brown and black human beings as equals. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of others comes to an end. It is time we are all accepted as human beings who are loved and accepted by God and by one another.

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by Jim Gordon

Recently, my fellow blogger Mike Edwards made a statement that I think is so true. He said it is not enough to say I am not a racist. It is easy to say I am not a racist, but saying and doing sometimes are two different things. I have never thought of myself as a racist. I felt I always believed all people were equal and loved by God.

Yet there were times I would find myself thinking about different situations and then realize I am coming from a racist perspective. When I catch myself doing that I get upset with myself and realize I am wrong.

I believe God created us all equally, but we all are not equal in regard to our opportunities or the way we were raised. I certainly do not believe any particular group is dumb or second class citizens, but due to some of our upbringing and the areas we lived or the financial situation we were in, some do not have the opportunity or chances that others have.

What I feel is needed more now than ever is not just a listening ear but a speaking mouth. I think a lot of people over the years listened….for a while, but never put any action into what they heard or what they felt should be done.

It is not enough to just say I am not a racist. It is time for action, for listening, learning, speaking out and standing up for equality for all.

I think the black community wants us white people to listen, to take a stand, to speak out and to promote and demand change. I like this quote by the late John Lewis: “We need someone who will stand up and speak up and speak out for the people who need help, for people who are being discriminated against. And it doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian, or Jews”.

I always enjoyed my job with the fire department and felt it was more like all jobs should be, equally fair to all people. It was not perfect, but at least everyone was tested with the same test, everyone was given the same pay, everyone was given the same tests for advancement. Women were paid the same as men, blacks were paid the same as whites and each were respected in the community. All citizens were treated the same and offered the same help when in a time of trouble.

I can only imagine how a young black man would feel being pulled over by the police. Or how a mom and dad of a black child would worry about their child when they go out. I cannot explain why things we have been hearing happen. It does not make sense to me. I know several police officers and they are not even close to being like some of the police we have heard about recently. It is sad and terrible that there are some bad people in every walk of life which unfortunately includes the police.

All I know is that everyone, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, christian, muslim, atheist etc. should be treated respectfully and given the same rights as anyone else. Each should have the same opportunities to enjoy life, love their families, pay their bills and be treated kindly no matter who they are.

I do not know all the answers but I do hope this time will be the time things start to change for the good. Maybe this time people will listen and stand up to take action and make this country a better place for all people.

It is time to stop just listening, time to stop just saying I am not a racist and begin to do what is necessary to make the changes that will make a difference. I certainly pray that is the case.

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by Jordan Hathcock

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.—Dr. Cornel West

How are we (I.e., American “Christians”) supposed to *act* in our current climate where the pandemic reigns, systemic racism runs rapid and the economic state is at its worse sense the Great Depression. 2020 has been a mix of 1918, 1930s, and 1960s all wrapped up in one “apocalyptic” year and it seems to be no end in sight. The unveiling of the principalities and powers (corrupt institutions) are now in the forefront for all citizens to witness. The term “viewer discretion advise” has never been more relevant.

We are hearing from both world views (conservative and liberal) advice and warnings in what the “right” strategy is when it comes to the current world crises. The polarization has come to a boiling point and you better take cover! Masks vs. no masks, black lives matter vs. all lives matter, all coming to a dualistic head, about to explode. The American political landscape has been experiencing a tug of war (no pun attended) regarding ideals which in-turn is hindering an actual plan of action. Thus, we have the never-ending cycle of us vs. them that only brings violent unrest.

This is not a denial of the actual current damaged systemic realities (white supremacy, racism, pandemic health crisis, police brutality, etc.) that this country is experiencing. I understand that some are living in denial of these issues (and it is not getting us anywhere). Alas, what I am trying to manifest is Christ-participants response to all of this? It cannot only be a conservative view of just letting the old ways be preserved no matter how many lives are harmed and oppressed along the way. It also cannot be a regulated liberal view, espousing a non-stop shame culture in where people are ostracized and scapegoated, no matter what the price. Is this American binary platform, in which we have two sides to choose from, all there is? The issues with our two-party system, plurality voting rules, winner take all voting, gerrymandering, (to name a few) is not helping when it comes to a more just (love in action) social system.

When leave social restorative justice (it cannot be an eye for eye kind of justice here, peeps) in the hands of the elite, what we get is an Empire. If we are living in the 21st century United States, we are living in an Empire (bold statement I know but stay with me). There are a few interpretations of Empire (hey, is post modernity baby haha), but I find this one fitting when it comes to defining Empire with our current state in Murica:

Conglomerates of power that are aimed at controlling all aspects of our lives, from macropolitics to our innermost desires.― Joerg Rieger, Christ and Empire

What does Empire involve? All types of “power over” institutions from education, to government and religion. When our systems become an economy of exchange where the mighty dollar reigns, the result is imprisonment. From a Christ-participant perspective, what we have seen since the fourth century is Civil Religion: the Christendom of Empire, reigning down with an oligarchy thumb. Since that time, the supposedly Jesus Community has been entangled with the State. This might be the deadliest mixture when it comes to corrupt power. Christians have become the Roman occupiers―plundering and destroying all that gets in their way―instead of Jesus followers being eaten by lions and burned at the stake. When we became more about geo-political dominance and less about serving “the least of these”, the distinction between the Jesus-Way and Empire are unrecognizable. Palestinian Christian, author, and Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb puts it this way:

Empires create their own theologies to justify their occupation. [Just as the early American empires chose to overlook its mistreatment of the Native tribes who already lived here and then justified a slave holder form of Christianity in much of the Americas. —RR] Such oppression generates a number of important questions among the occupied: “Where are you, God?” and “Why doesn’t God interfere to rescue [God’s] people?” When, under various regimes, diverse identities emerge in different parts of Palestine, the question arises, “Who is my neighbor?” And finally, “How can liberation be achieved?” is a constant question.

I think this is what we have in our current state of affairs. Are we (I.e., White American Christians) as claimed participants in the Jesus way, going to see ourselves as the Roman occupiers? Are we finally go to repent (change our way of thinking) and really set out to be a people who wash feet, serve the poor, and set the captives free? That is it, really. Breaking free to liberate others. This is what privilege is all about. We cannot let the ways of Empire cloud our minds with this “America first” attitude. Its movements that change things, not rusted-out institutions. It is power under not power over that brings about resurrection (Jesus on the cross, anyone?).  So, regardless if you see masks as not needed, or black lives as a neo-Marxist communist organization, what do you do for the least of these? For your enemies?

I think it’s time that we truly see that “our citizenship is in heaven- Philippians 3:20 “ which includes “every nation, tribe, people and language-Revelation 7:9”. It’s time to let go of our egos and be humbled. We need to listen and educate ourselves through and by the voices of the marginalized in order to bring about the liberation and healing that sets all of God’s creation free…

Only the oppressed can receive liberating visions in wretched places. Only those thinking emerges in the context of the struggle against injustice can see God’s freedom breaking into unfree conditions and thus granting power to the powerless to fight here and now for the freedom they know to be theirs in Jesus’ cross and resurrection.― James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed

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by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs and doctrines. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him. I am not so sure this is the best way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving rather than showing the love of God to others.

Many of us go to a church building on Sunday and sing and smile and listen to a sermon and think we have fulfilled our duties for the week. All day we are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and we go grudgingly off to work with a frown on our face and feeling down. We should be ready to show the love of God to those we are around but often due to being in a bad mood we snap at fellow employees and try to make them feel as bad as we do.

It seems we often forget that Christianity is not a religion or a one day a week event. As followers of Christ we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout the day.

Rather than trying to prove our faith by pointing out what we think are the mistakes and shortcomings of others, rather than condemning them and making them feel like outsiders we should be allowing the love of Christ to touch them. We should be accepting and treat all people like we want to be treated without any ulterior motives.

While Jesus lived on earth he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way to live.

Jesus accepted people for who they were, just the way they were and did not show condemnation toward them. As followers of Christ we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others. We are not to be pointing out what we do not like or disagree with and treating people like second class citizens. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. We do not need to do the job of the Holy Spirit, we are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

Rather than fighting, arguing and trying to prove our way of thinking, we should follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves. Let each person make the decision that is right for them based on their walk with God. Live your life in love and under the guidance of the Spirit, letting your life be a witness to the love of God.

We are called to love God, live for Him and let Him work in us. We are also called to love one another, which means we pass on the unconditional love of God to all we meet along the way.

In our world today with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of religion and the church, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to love others through us. Let them know they are accepted and cared for and that they are loved beyond measure by God. Love is the way of God because God is love. Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted just for being themselves.

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the world of Christianity and the church, I have memories of a time when all seemed well within the system. I thought we all loved one another and we could share the love of God with everyone we met. I felt if I stayed in the system and listened to the pastor, I would learn all I needed to know to be a Christian who could handle anything.

After many years within Christianity and the organized church, I began having feelings of not being satisfied. I saw people who wanted to have things their way or else. I saw people looked down upon or ignored enough to leave. I saw people outside the church service who acted just like everyone else and treated people who they disagreed with in a very unloving way.

I began to question if Christianity was truly what God intended and if the church was what Jesus talked about when he said he would build his Church. Jesus said he would build his church, which is his people. It is also said that God does not live in houses made by human hands. The bible makes it plain that we, his people are now the temple and the Holy Spirit lives within us. We no longer need anyone to teach us. We have the Word of God living in us teaching and guiding us throughout our lives.

It finally began to hit me that Christianity was just another religion like all the others. It was organized and controlled by human beings. It was an organization of power, control, disagreement and exclusion. I wondered what happened to the Christianity I knew growing up. I truthfully do not think it changed, I think I changed. I think the change was due to learning and following the guidance of the Spirit who is within me.

Have you ever felt frustrated with the Christian world today? Obviously, the church today is not what God intended and in America the church has become a big corporation more than anything.

It finally got to a point where my wife and I were frustrated enough with Christianity that we decided to leave the church. The more we read, prayed, meditated and thought about things we also got frustrated enough to leave Christianity.

Now before you have that common reaction to call us heretics, back-slidden Christians, or fallen from grace let me say we have not left God. I know many people believe if you leave the church or the Christian organization you have left God, but that is not the case.

Believe it or not, Jesus was not a Christian. He did not start the organized, religious church. He did not favor one group of people over another. He loved people, all people. He asks us to do the same and that was not something I was seeing within the organization.

I will say that if you are satisfied with the church system and enjoy meeting together with other like-minded people, that is OK. My only thought is that you remember church is not a place nor an organization. The pastor is not the middleman between you and God. One denomination or church doctrine is not the true church or only way of interpreting the ways of God.

The fact is that God loves us. There is nothing we have to do or stop doing to receive God’s love. We are saved and restored to fellowship with God through faith in Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living within us and we do not have to listen to this group or that group, this speaker or that preacher. We follow God in the way He wants us to go and we no longer have to worry about our reputations or what others think. We no longer have to look to religion or man-led organizations to live for God.

I really believe if we accept God’s love, follow Him and listen to the guiding of the Holy Spirit within us we will be pleasing to God no matter what others say. We no longer have to be tossed to and fro by listening to all the different voices in Christianity today. We listen and trust God and enjoy the fellowship we have with Him through Christ.

Looking at things in this way, it has become a life of following the example of Jesus and doing what is pleasing to God. We no longer worry about following the religion of Christianity, but we go by the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The religious organization we so commonly call Christianity has become something we no longer need. We now live life by following the Spirit, loving God and loving all people. For us, this daily way of living has replaced the man-made organization with a more meaningful way of life.

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by Jim Gordon

My wife and I often discuss using the word Christian these days. We wonder whether we should describe ourselves by the word Christian or not. We think it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

So often the word means many things we are not. Say the word Christian and many people automatically stereotype you to basic beliefs and doctrines of the religion of Christianity and not necessarily to what we truly believe.

If being a Christian is being part of a religious organization that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on a particular denomination then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other people and religions and only accepts those who believe like we do then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with man-made religion, exclusion, hatred, following old covenant law then no, we are not Christians.

In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. I always heard that they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian then we are all in.

There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, followers of the way, and even Christians. Yet the term itself really does not matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, whatever word we use to describe our religious belief does not make any difference.

When people see us, they should see Christ. When people see Christ, they should see God who is love. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for the love we have for our fellow human beings. Do not worry so much about the label we use. Follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. Share the love of God with each and every person we meet. Be known for sharing the love of God rather than for what religious word we choose to use.

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