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Archive for the ‘Kingdom of God’ Category

by Michael Donahoe

Growing up in church and the Christian world, I always felt I had some fairly important facts figured out about God. I always thought that what I was taught in church was the absolute truth and complete facts because, after all, the pastor was called by God and the pastor should know everything. Where God lived. Where I would go when I die.

Yet, as time goes by and I become more open to actually questioning some of what I was told in church, I have come to think of some of these things a little differently.

We are taught that the house of God was the church where we went to worship and learn about God. We were told that God was a man sitting on a throne somewhere out there in what we call heaven. We were told when we die, we would go to heaven to live with God forever.

I think we are missing some important truths in regard to these matters. We as Christians often take what we were told in church and think it is fact. We will fight and defend our views when people disagree, yet we really have no actual proof of some of the things we so quickly defend.

As I read more and think about things, it is clear we are missing some very important topics Jesus talked about. He said the Kingdom of God is within us, he said he was sending another comforter who would teach us and guide us. He said that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. We tend to skip over these statements and continue to look to outward expressions of where God lives and what life after death will be like.

I think we are missing the fact that God is not somewhere out there, sitting on a throne. God does not show up now and then in a building that we call church. God is spirit and God is not a man or woman with a physical body. Although God does have male and female attributes, God is neither. We need to remember the customs and ways of life during the time the bible was being written. Men were in charge and women were usually considered property. The writers would naturally use male terminology for the God they were writing about.

As spirit, God does not live in a specific physical place. We are the closest thing because we are the dwelling place of the Spirit, yet God is everywhere. Physically speaking, we are God’s body, hands and feet on this earth. We know God is with us because God said we would never be left alone or forsaken by God.

Again, we seem to be so sure of the things we know about God and the afterlife, yet we really have no proof. It is all by faith, and many of it is our personal interpretations of bible verses or which pastor we listened to and followed. Rather than take a stand and argue with people about things we really do not know for sure, accept the fact that others have different views and opinions and there is no need to fight and argue over things we really do not know as facts.

There is nothing wrong with saying we do not know, there is nothing wrong with uncertainty. There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts. God is able to handle them all. We take by faith that God has what is best for us planned. We take by faith that there is a spirit world and we will be with God once we leave this earth. Take comfort in those thoughts, but also do not force your beliefs on others. Allow them the freedom to make up their own mind and follow what they believe.

God has given us free will to choose for ourselves who we will serve and what we will believe. Let us remember to do the same for our fellow human beings. The only thing Jesus told us to do was to love God and love one another.

Let me close with a few words by my friend, Chris Kratzer on the matter:

“If we search for God’s heart in the Scriptures, we open up a world of personal opinion, conjecture, and unresolvable debate.

If we search for God’s heart in the annals of Christianity history, we open up a trail of inconsistency, human fallibility, and religious conquest.

If we search for God’s heart in church, we open up a door into unending interpretations, conditional relationships, and spiritual franchising.

Yet, if we search for God within us, we find Her mind, we find our rest, we find ourselves, and we find our purpose.

We cannot know God outside of ourselves until we discover Her within ourselves”.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

We can only speculate what happens after death, but it makes sense to explore if God gave the biblical writers special insights about the afterlife. That means talking about heaven and hell. One must admit Hell makes no moral sense – a loving God a sadistic torturer? Imperfect humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their enemies. A loving God couldn’t possibly torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. I am convinced the Bible agrees. 

The Old Testament says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell

Adam and Eve weren’t warned of Hell if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah warned of a global destructive flood, but he was silent on Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. So were the OT prophets. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament, translated into the English word Hell, described a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs – not a torture chamber for unbelievers (Job 10:18-22). Some Bibles translate Sheol as Sheol.

What does the New Testament say about Hell?

The Greek word Gehenna is translated into the English world Hell. In ancient times children were sacrificed in fire at Gehenna, a valley outside Jerusalem. Many scholars consider Gehenna a metaphor used by Jesus to describe how an evil life leads to destruction, not a fiery place where sinners go for never-ending punishment. Also, it is odd that the main writer of the NT, the Apostle Paul, never mentioned Hell. Finally, the Lake of Fire in the Book of Revelation is likely figurative, unless dragons with seven heads and ten horns really exist (Rev. 12:3).

What did Jesus say about heaven or eternal life?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life. He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37) – loving God is loving your neighbor. Jesus didn’t speak on quantity of life after death but about the quality of life living here on earth – kingdom living.

How might God handle justice after death?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is understanding your victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every unrepented action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. We can have less concerns about justice in the future by accepting God’s influence in our life here on earth. 

What would a good God promise? 

The Bible suggests God seeks to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Make sense if a good God exists. Isn’t such a legacy your deep-down desire? Belief in an invisible God takes faith. The advantage of a relationship with a loving God is that there is a voice outside imperfect beings – a God who inspires, forgives, encourages. I have faith that a God who can create can provide life after death.

Does God Promise Heaven Or Hell Or What?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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but not Necessarily Religious

by Jim Gordon

There actually is a difference between being spiritual and being religious, although many people think of the two as being the same thing.

Being religious is basically following the rules and doctrines of a specific organization or denomination, or what we usually call church.

Being spiritual can bring to mind all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. Yet, when I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us, apart from the doctrines and teachings of any specific religious organization.

My wife and I are no longer religious. We left the weekly meeting at a local building and no longer follow any particular doctrine. Yet being outside the walls of religion, we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life of following the example of Jesus.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or when we are in a certain building, or when we have been extremely good over the past week.

God is spirit and He is with us constantly. As a quote by Michael Beckwith states “God is a presence that’s never in absence. This presence is everywhere, so, you would never pray for God to come here, because the presence of God is infinite.”

Or as it reads in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I am not sure why it is we have always been taught that God is way up there somewhere. Jesus says that we are one with God in John 17:21 ‘that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’. God is not somewhere off in Heaven waiting on us. He lives within us and will never leave us.

We seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this is also a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date. That is what Jesus spent so much time teaching about, the Kingdom of God.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. Rather than see religious people who fight and argue over their differences in doctrine and interpretation, they could see spiritual people living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, all in the power of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion to rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. We go from Sunday to Sunday, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God. We argue amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and by doing so, people see we really do not have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like.

We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us, guide us and give us power to love all people.

Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

God views you as scum and is pissed

I only know what a loving God may be like according to how a parent should love their child. I figure God didn’t create us to be better lovers than God. My kids weren’t always saints but I hated their behavior, not them. Participating in bullying activities disgusted me. Does one passage in particular really claim we are born evil in God’s eyes? See here.

God hates gay people and is bias against women 

Those who read my blogs often are probably sick of me ranting against those who condemn gays or women in God’s name according to the Bible. Biblical scholars who have a deep respect for Scriptures don’t agree what the Bible says about these and other moral issues. Let’s stop being dogmatic. Since interpretations aren’t infallible, we can use our moral intuitions as well to understand what God is really like.  See here. See here.  

God demands we bow the knee or burn in Hell 

Biblical scholars also don’t agree a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. See here.  Terrorists demand belief in their God or they don’t even wait to kill you in the afterlife like the God of the Bible supposedly does. The God I believe isn’t a terroristic God. My God gave me a brain to imagine what a loving God does to those who don’t believe while living a short time here on earth.

God only lets Christians into heaven

The majority of people born into the world didn’t have a Bible or know of Jesus. Most people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God who is most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring their eternal destination be based on circumstances out of one’s control. A loving God can’t be a God of chance!

God thinks you are ape-stupid if you believe in evolution 

No one was there in the beginning. I don’t have to believe those who insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis, that Adam was a literal than representative of the first human. I don’t have to believe Christian scientists who believe that there is overwhelming genetic evidence that the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of some thousands of individuals. See https://biologos.org/ I can believe God didn’t or did use evolution in the creative process. We can examine all the evidence for ourselves, without imposing our beliefs on others.

God is all-knowing and all-powerful so stand down 

It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes. But to say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future which makes freedom nonsensical. God’s plan can’t be a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. God joins us in all the pains and joys of an unknown future to risk changing the world for good.

God allows evil and suffering so pray up

Is everything that happens really a part of God’s plan? A good God’s love must be uncontrolling. Love cannot insist on its own way. (I Cor 13:5) A God who allows evil but doesn’t do anything to intervene is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child suffer. Evil and suffering in the world may be because God can only intervene when there is human cooperation, both by evildoers and non-evildoers. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord. 

God is only known through the Bible so leave your brain at the door 

The Bible can’t be the only guide about God because we disagree what it says about many moral issues including Hell, gays, women’s roles, etc. And even if our interpretations were infallible, we can’t be sure the biblical writers always knew or portrayed God accurately. Those who insist the Bible is infallible also advise we are made in God’s image. Perfect human love must be the same as God’s love, or how can we know God? Our moral intuitions about a good God aren’t the enemy. 

God can answer any prayer so behave

Let’s stop pretending God can wave a magic wand and always heal in a free world. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to; it’s that God can’t. Divine love limits divine power. Are healings really arbitrary? Various biological and environmental factors are involved such as cells, organs, etc. God may have to account for both human and natural freedom. Healing can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known. A truly loving God is doing all they can before asked.

God is going nuclear so up-up we go 

Literal rather than metaphorical readings of the Book of Revelation lead to claims that God is going to end in world with Bruce Willis in the Battle of Armageddon. Descriptions of dragons with seven heads may be a hint. I admit I wasn’t too excited as a believer going up in the air toward heavens not in a plane. That is the Rapture for non-Bible readers. Anyways, another reading of the Bible suggest God wants to help us make this a better world, not look to escape it. See here.

What Are Some Of The Worse Beliefs About God?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Those of us who were brought up in church were taught from an early age that God is up there in heaven somewhere, looking down on us who live here on earth.

When we would have a special meeting or a revival service, I can remember the pastor telling us that God was going to show up and the spirit would fall.

Why is it we are told that God is up there and we are down here? Why are we told God may show up now and then when the conditions are right? Why would God only show up at certain buildings and certain times?

The Bible states that God sent his Spirit to live within us all the time. The Kingdom of God is within us. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one as he and the father are one. God now lives within us since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are merged together with Him. We are one with God as Jesus is one with God.

When two people marry, God says they become one. It is the same 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, but we are one with God. That does not mean we are God, but we are merged together as one. We are the temple or house of God. The Spirit lives within us.

We have to get the religious thinking out of us and begin living the truth. God is not up there somewhere, separated from us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is within us. There is no separation, no waiting on God to come down. We do not have to follow Christ, we walk with him because he is within us.

We do not have to wait until Sunday to go to a building for God to show up, that is not his house. We are the body of Christ, each of us are equally important parts. We are his dwelling place, each and every day. We are one with God.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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But Do We Force It On Others

by Jim Gordon

As followers of Jesus, we have a hope within us that is positive. We have a hope of living in fellowship with God, living within the Kingdom of God now and in the future. Because we have this hope, we are often times told we have to share this with others. Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about sin and forgiveness? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

Quite frankly, I disagree that we are required to force any conversation or any friendship into a time of evangelism. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest, all under the guidance of the Spirit. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.

As Christians, we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love, much more than any words we can speak out.

Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe, it has more impact than thousands of words.

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to be condemning people and trying to prove to them that they are sinning against God.

It is written in the Bible that we should live a quiet life, work with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 – Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you. If you do, then people who are not believers will respect you, and you will not have to depend on others for what you need. (New Century Version).

1 Peter 3:15 – Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you are living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy (The Message).

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine, minding your business, living a peaceful life, but be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity and the words will it make an impact on people.

By living in this way, and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are curious enough to ask what the hope is that we have within us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

We Christians seem to think that we can make everything better by voting in the right politicians and passing the right laws. We seem to think that we can actually legislate morality. We have our pet doctrines and think with the right people into office or the right laws passed, the world would be a better place.

We think if we can get the democrats out and the republicans in, or the other way around, things will improve. If we can just get Roe v Wade overturned, get the ten commandments posted on the courthouse wall, put prayer back in school, or keep ‘In God We Trust’ on our money, things will be better.

The trouble with this way of thinking is, it does not work. We cannot legislate “Christian” values based on what we think is morally right. One, here in the USA we have freedom of religion. This means everyone is free to practice the religion they want to follow, and no one can force their particular religion on others. Second, rules and laws do not change the inner person. Only a life changed by God will make a lasting difference.

There is no political party that is going to make everything OK. It is so aggravating at times to listen to people condemn one political party or the other, when neither party is going to have the answers that makes everything better. If one political party was replaced by another political party, the only thing that would change would be the people who are complaining.

We get so caught up on what ‘man’ can supposedly do, when no human is going to come up with the answer to solve all our problems. Only by trusting God and allowing Him to work in each of us, will anything change in our world. Nothing will change until we come to realize that Christ is within us, and it is by his power that we live and love others. We are not of this world, but of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is where we as followers of Christ actually live, and we are living in the Kingdom now. It is not something in the future after we die. The Kingdom of God is within us, and it is for the here and now. I think we miss a lot of the Gospel message when we only focus on the salvation part of it and forget the Kingdom of God aspect. We need to forget the allegiance we seem to think we need to political parties and seek first God’s Kingdom.

We should be praying for our leaders, no matter which party they belong too. Although we pray for them and respect their position, we should not be placing our hope in any political party. Political parties are made up of human beings who are imperfect. Truthfully, most often they are only looking out for their political agenda and financial well-being.

Seek first the Kingdom of God. Realize the Spirit of God lives within us and we are actually living in the Kingdom right now. Listen for the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and love others no matter who they are or what they think. We are not going to change people by voting in politicians and making new laws. Only by loving people, accepting them as they are, and showing them the love of God by our actions will we make any real impact on our world.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The term Gospel is the translation of the Greek word “good news.” It seems only natural to look to the four Gospels in the Bible to see what is proclaimed as the good news or God’s main message. We could also point to our relational experience with God as to what is the main thing.  Many born never had a Bible. What have you heard is the Good News according to the Bible?

The Good News isn’t . . .

Many of us who grew up and attended the institutional church heard that God mainly wanted to save us from hell so we could go to heaven after death here on earth. All we had to do was say a prayer and mean it: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live for you.”  You may think that is a bible verse. I can find no place in the Bible where Jesus advised followers of such a prayer or declared this the Good News. Jesus didn’t require confessions initially but simply asked people to follow Him.

Also, the Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. See here.

What do the Gospels claim the Good News about God is?

Mark 1:14,15 says “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” Repent refers to a changing of your mind, not dropping to your knees and never sinning again, or we are all screwed! The Good News throughout the Gospels refers to a Kingdom here on earth now. The kingdom of God “has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and “is in your midst” (Lk 17:21).  God’s Spirit is available now, as it was back in the first century, to influence godly living here on earth.

But what about Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins 

It is said that the Apostle Paul claimed the Good News is to “believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rm 10:9) Paul recognized Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Jesus’ sacrifice was to draw attention to the Good News already proclaimed – God’s desire to empower unselfish living. Paul also preached about the Kingdom of God being here (Acts). The disciples were skeptical of any resurrection until witnessing Jesus alive again. The disciples aren’t going to preach as Good News what they didn’t believe in initially.   

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. God seeks to empower such a life. Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) 

Challenge God to become real in your life

God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways here on earth. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the good news Jesus was willing to die for, rather than save Himself, to inspire us to seek God’s help in loving others. Jesus sought changes of the heart, with God’s help, for the good of the world. If I am right, then God should be able to make God real to you.

*See Podcast: Second Cup with Keith. November 15, 2021

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Some are into God. Others aren’t. Some may not want to be constrained by a good God’s morals. That isn’t most that I encountered that don’t have the same passions about God that I do. I could be accused of needing a crutch, but I am convinced following God can be a good thing even if on the fence.

Psychological benefits 

A 2018 Harvard study involving 5,000 people examined how being raised in a family with religious beliefs affects the mental health of children. Belief in a loving God can provide meaning and purpose in life. The God I believe in is concerned for my well-being and how I treat others. Self-centeredness may lead to short-term benefits but not long-term benefits. Some studies suggest the belief in nothing is a rich fertilizer for anxiety and depression. A belief in a God who loves us can be a valuable source for support and comfort.

God may be the God you hoped for

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. Certain claims made about God according to one’s understanding of the Bible can hinder pursuing God. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they were created to love one another. It isn’t natural to oppose women priests or preachers. See here. It isn’t natural to condemn gays who can no more choose who they are attracted to than straight people can. See here.   Why would God create a place such as Hell to torture our enemies after their death? Maybe God doesn’t. See here.

Belief in the afterlife can be a good thing

When I share that I don’t believe the Bible reveals there is a literal hell, some come back that I can’t then believe in a heaven. It is a fair argument. I am not so sure the Bible speaks of a heaven of harps and angels but a “kingdom of heaven” to teaches how to be joyful here on earth. I have no reason to not believe a heavenly life after death is possible. Such a belief helps to not fear death and to look forward to be reunited with loved ones.

What to tell children if an atheist

What is the harm in telling our children there is a heaven after death when we can’t know for sure? We promise our kids all the time we will keep them safe. When ask if their house will burn down, you say it won’t happen to us. You don’t know that. Such a belief isn’t a false belief. As children are older parents can share more if they question God and an afterlife.

God as an influencer

I am convinced one has nothing to lose by giving God the benefit of the doubt. Besides, that puts the onus on God to reveal themselves to you that they are real. The God I know seeks to influence to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Such a plan leads to true individual and worldly happiness in the long-run. God through their influence has made me a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. I have experienced God’s encouragement to continually strive to be better.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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Right Here, Right Now

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who grew up in the church, we always thought of God as being a far-off, super human who sat on a giant throne up there somewhere. The general idea was that God was separate from us.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it is not what Jesus taught. Jesus always talked about the Kingdom of God being near or at hand, and the Kingdom of God is within you.

When we hear someone talk about the Kingdom of God, usually our first thought is a place in the distant future. A place we go when we die and leave this earth. It is where God lives somewhere way up in the sky. It is a place where we will live with Him forever.

Yet, when reading about the Kingdom of God in the bible, it sounds to me it is not some far away, future place. It is right now, and right here. A place where we live daily with God. Jesus said in John 14:23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”. To me, if God has made his home with us, then we are certainly living in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us. He said that we were to ask that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. So then, we see that the expression “Kingdom of God” does not refer to heaven, or the church, or to moral reform or to a future realm. Rather it refers to the active, dynamic exercise of God’s rule, authority, dominion, and power in our life right now.

When John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he meant that God’s rule was just about to break into the world through the Messiah. When Jesus Christ himself preached and proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God, he meant that through him, God was exercising his power and authority in a redemptive way against all the evil in the world, and then allowing us to live a Kingdom life by loving God and loving others.

In short, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God manifested in Christ to bring redemption to the earth. Romans 14:17 reads, for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. No wonder the Kingdom of God is the central theme of the New Testament!

I have come to believe more and more that the Kingdom of God is not necessarily talking about the coming heavenly kingdom, but it is our life with God right here and now. We are living with him in his kingdom every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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