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by Jim Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

Obviously, we look to our role model, Jesus, and see how he lived. He truly loved people. It did matter if they agreed with him, if they were despised by the general population, if they hated him, or if they put him to death. He loved mankind. He came with the purpose to show the love of God to a fallen world.

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

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

Thankfully the New Covenant took effect when Jesus died and rose again. The free gift of God’s grace cleansed us and renewed our fellowship with God. Now, because of Him, we can not only love those who treat us good, but also our enemies. We are now one with God and it is his Spirit that loves through us, just as Jesus did when he was in his earthly body.

Obviously, loving our enemies is something we are unable to do apart from the love and strength of the Spirit that lives within us. Yet with God, all things are possible.

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by Jim Gordon

We human beings all have opinions and personal views on how we think we and others should live. Christian people also have opinions and views plus the added interpretations of the bible.

Sad thing is that often times we want to force our views on others and expect them to see things the same way. When they do not do that, things can get quite ugly sometimes.

After a few days of watching my father-in-law deteriorate in his health, seeing him in the hospital and then going to rehab for a couple weeks, it really makes you think about life.

When your health is not good you seem to lose your thoughts about differences of opinions. You forget about who is right or wrong. You do not seem to think as much about standing your ground and trying to force your views on others.

He has nurses and aides who are male and female, black and white, LGBTQ and straight, along with other nationality backgrounds and you know what, it does not make any difference to him. These are normal people doing their job. He depends on them and they take care of him.

Why is it we human beings cannot act more like this every day, not just when something is going wrong with our health. People are people and there is no reason to be treating anyone with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

It seems many christian people feel it is our duty to point out the mistakes of others. We are to act on behalf of the Holy Spirit by convicting people who we think are sinning. Often what christian people view as sins are not sins at all, but an incorrect interpretation of bible verses that had different meanings and written to different people. Even when people are doing something that is sinful, it is not our job to take a self-righteous stand and convict them. We all have been there and done something that is sinful.

That fact is that no matter what, we are all loved by God. As christians we are only told to love God and love one another. People are free to live as they see is right. Any conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, not the people of God. We are only called to love.

Many will say that loving people will mean we sometimes have to show tough love. We have to point out their mistakes or they will go on sinning and their blood will be upon our hands. Again, the bible says the Spirit will draw people to God. We are not responsible for drawing people to God or changing their views of what is right or wrong. We are to love people, unconditionally just as God loves us.

How many people are drawn to God out of the hateful and condemning ways many people use to try and guilt them into coming to God? How many people are drawn because of fear? A few maybe, but is coming to God out of fear really love? Love draws and God says to love even your enemies.

Do not wait until some terrible event gets your mind off of your opinions and your interpretations. Follow the example of Jesus every day of your life by loving God and loving people.

You do not have to agree with everyone, none of us ever will anyway. Yet live your life doing what you feel God is leading you to do. Allow others the same freedom. Love them with godly love. God is able to draw people and change them in the areas that need changing. Even when the change does not happen, they are still loved by God and they should still be loved by us.

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by Jim Gordon

Discrimination is something that has gone on for a long time…too long. It is not just racial, which is bad enough. It is racial, sexual, gender, religious, political, national and probably other ways I am forgetting.

Any type of discrimination is wrong. It is not treating people as they should be treated. It causes division and causes people to be separated into class descriptions, and this should not be. There should be no second class citizens in our world.

I believe God created human beings and we are all created to be treated equally. We all should have the same rights and privileges, we should all have the same equality to be who we are, to be happy and live a full and complete life.

Discrimination happens to white and black, LGBTQ and straight, Christian, Atheist, Muslim and Jew, American and any other country. I see it as people saying those who are different from us are a lower class of people or not deserving of the same treatment and same rights as us. This is completely wrong and completely not Christ-like.

We are all human beings and no matter what label we wear, what color we are, where we live, what religion we are or what sexual identity we claim, we are all to be equally treated and loved.

God loves us all and as followers of Christ we are to love God and love one another. There is nothing in the way Jesus lived that says we are only to accept those who think the same as us. Jesus loved all people no matter who they were, where they were from or what they believed.

Worst off, even if we see someone as an enemy we are still told to love our enemies. There is no excuse for anyone to treat another person or group of people with discrimination. Everyone should be loved and even though we may not agree, we all should be accepted and treated with respect and kindness.

I certainly have seen more discrimination and hateful acts recently coming from those who claim to follow Christ. They seem to think it is OK to treat others with malice and contempt. For some reason they think this will make people see their mistake and come to a Christian way of thinking. Personally, I do not believe that is the way to draw others to the love of God. I also do not believe we need to have an ulterior motive of treating people in a way that we think will show them they need to come to our way of thinking. We are all free to believe as we choose and should not have any particular view shoved down our throat.

In a perfect world, we could all live our lives as we see is right for us and everyone would accept one another in those differences. Unfortunately, in our world that is never going to happen. Yet that does not mean we stop striving for a better world or for more acceptance and understanding among all people.

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by Jim Gordon

It is easy to see that people can quickly take a stand on one side or the other of an issue to which they feel strongly.

Many are pro-life and anti-abortion; pro-American and anti-refugee; pro-Christian and anti-Muslim; pro-marriage and anti-LGBTQ, and on and on it goes. Whichever side is taken it can often be very intense.

We all have a right to our opinion and to express our opinion. Yet I do not feel we have the right to express our opinions with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

Many groups of people have suffered judgment and condemnation from those of the Christian belief. It is sad that some who claim to follow the example of Jesus can be so hateful towards people they think are doing life wrong.

My personal belief is that Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never told us to condemn and hate people. Even when we disagree on the topics, we are still to be respectful and loving to everyone.

Love, kindness, respect and accepting people for who they are is the way of Jesus. He never condemned, never hated, never sought revenge. Sure, he often said go and sin no more, yet he never made the person feel terrible and he never followed up making sure that person actually did not sin again.

I feel Jesus said to sin no more because he knew what the effects of sin were on the person. He did not want them to go through the guilt and shame, but wanted them to be free to share his love with others.

Today there are many topics on which people take sides. Many that stir people up to do some very unkind and unloving things. As followers of Jesus we are to go a different route. We are to show his love and acceptance to everyone. We do not need to point out what we feel are sins of others. Not everything is a sin just because some people think it is. God can work in the life of each person to deal with what needs done without us throwing in our two cents. We are only told to love God and love people.

So, go ahead and take a stand on the issues that are important to you. Vote for who you feel will do the best job and give equal rights and fair treatment to all people. Yet do these things with kindness and respect for those who see things differently. Show the love of God to everyone no matter if you agree or not. Love is the way of God and it is to be the way of those who are followers of God.

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by Jim Gordon

After forty-eight years of work, retirement came as something I had looked forward to for many years. Yet once it happened the first thought was who am I now? What is my purpose? What is my identity?

All those years my identity was in what I did for a career. Now that it is over there were issues about who is the real me? Not the part that pertains to a job title but the real me. What makes up Jim Gordon apart from a job? What are my beliefs and what are the things that make me tick?

I have found that I am truly not my job title. There is more to me than a title at work. It is the same for all of us, once the title of our job is gone, it is time to re-familiarize ourselves with the real us, the one that has been there all along but hidden behind the job title.

I started thinking about who I am and what I believe and came up with a few thoughts. Just because I no longer have a job title does not mean I do not have something to offer. I believe we are all created in the image of God and we all have something we can contribute to show love and encourage others.

My first thoughts were more on things I am not: I am not into organized church, denominations or any particular doctrine. I am not into politics. I do not belong to any political party. I do vote, but I vote for who I feel will do the best job no matter what party they belong too. I am not into exclusion, separation or treating others with contempt. I do not want to judge others or try to force my views on anyone.

I have come to realize that we all have so many different views and opinions that I am not going to be able to please everyone. No matter what I believe, what I say, what my opinions are there are going to be people who totally disagree. I have come to accept that and to go on being me without the worry of what others think.  I am not sure why we fight and argue amongst ourselves so much.

I feel the person I am now is to live a quiet life, working with my own hands, loving God and loving others without the worry of what others think. We are each free to believe what we feel is right. I want to live a life pleasing to God, be responsible for hearing from the Spirit and doing what I feel is right for me.

I want to love people, accept others and show them the love of God no matter what. I will stick to the views, interpretations and opinions I feel are right and let others have the same freedom.

I will accept others just as they are and will not judge, condemn or hate anyone for any reason. I believe that God loves all of us just as we are. I will do my best to do the same. I really think if we all took that view on life, we would all get along much better.

I certainly have more time now than when I worked, but that does not mean it is time to sit around and do nothing. There are plenty of opportunities to do good, to show the love of God and to serve a positive purpose in life. No matter what stage of life you are in, God has a purpose for you to show his love and encourage others each day. Seek the guidance of the Spirit from within and be ready for God to bring others across your path to love and encourage.

If you are retired or no longer working for some reason, do not give up and think that things are over. You still have purpose. You still have good you can do. As long as you have love to give, a smile to lend or a voice of encouragement to share, your purpose and potential are just as valuable and important as ever.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how often people get offended and feel they need to prove their point on so many topics and posts online? It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between christian and atheist, one christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions. We can argue about whether there is or there is not a God, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get mad and defensive when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our view is right.

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual existence. This life is a life of faith and belief. As christians, we have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in the guidance of the Spirit within us.

On the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not always going to agree with one another. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK. Jesus did not tell us to judge and condemn others for what they believe. He did not say to force our views and beliefs on others. He did say to love one another.

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and live the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just as they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, and we do not have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance do not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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by Jordan Hathcock

“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”– Alan Watts

When exploring the comedic landscape, be it stand-up or just laughing with buddies, what we discover is total-unsaturated freedom. I mean, come on! You know you cannot deny when a good joke hits your soul, you become overpowered with joy and bliss. The endorphins hit an all-time high, and you bask in the comfort of hilariousness. When swimming in the Christian tradition, I think “busting-up” is a vital prophetic practice to have if we ever want to see restorative justice and mercy flow through our current social landscape.

How do we experience this through the Christian tradition? Well, unfortunately we don’t see to many preachers at the pulpit preaching “go out and watch some comedy”, but this does not mean that from the broad scope of things, the Christ-trajectory hasn’t journeyed out to this particular new endeavor. Yes, I get it. When we see how uncomfortable someone’s sense of humors can make us feel, its hard not to react in disdained. I find it interesting that a sermon kind of has the same kind of effect on us. Comedian Pete Homes says it best:

“The skill set of pastor and comedian are incredibly similar. You want to affect people. You’re good at reading rooms. You’re persuasive, and you’re likable.”

Now, I am not saying that we are just to be entertained in our seats while watching the “pastor” make us laugh. That is not the point. The point, I think, is we might have to find ourselves in uncomfortable spaces to be able to stretch us to encounter different perspectives. We are seeing some truth spoken to power being projected out of the stand-up scene, which if we listen closely and take some pointers, it might just help us over here in the Christian world.

The prophetic is used not to just expose the injustices, but also to bring about liberation. We must see that when we laugh, it is a way for us to heal towards a better way of living for ourselves and the community we relate to. Likewise, as the medical research shows:

“There is growing evidence that laughter as a physical activity can additionally produce small but quantifiable positive physiological benefits.”

The physiological also plays a huge part in the spiritual. When we step into the realm of expressed humor, we find ourselves in a place of peace. It is peacemaking that brings us into the “reign of God”. There is hope for this Jesus tradition and it is finding our sense of humor! Yes, the current divide and injustices that is currently happening within our current American culture is ramped.

It’s easy to get to serious with ourselves with all the bullshit running amok! Believe me, I am guilty of it! Please understand, we are not to ignore the racism that is happening within the police force across the county, school shootings, the Trump impeachment scandal, etc. The list can go on and on.

But we must admit, when things to get a little out of hand, the only medicine is to laugh that shit off! Like good old Sarah reminds us in her time of utter disbelief in the insanity: “So, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” (Gen 18:12) Pleasure? In all this mess? Is it possible? Don’t know (like always) but I do trust in the gift of laughter. From this ancient tradition, its time to let go of the long faces and step into the vibrant space of comedy…

“When I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” – Soren Kierkegaard

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