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Archive for the ‘love of God’ Category

After many years of growing up in the traditional institutional church many things have changed over the past few years.

Of course, while in the religious system I was ‘set apart’ from the supposedly wrong kind of people. We had our friends within our particular brand of religion and tried to stay away from people who saw things differently.

We were told it was best to associate with like-minded people and fellow believers who agreed with our doctrines and interpretations, but beware of people who have different beliefs or who came from difference faiths or, worse yet, no faith at all.

After over fifty years in organized religion my wife and I came to a point where we felt it best to leave the system and follow a life with God outside of organized religion.

I would not tell anyone to do this or try to draw anyone out of church if that is where they are happy and satisfied. I personally believe the system is flawed and for those who choose to do so, it is better outside the walls than in. But that is a decision I would leave to each person to make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I can say for us, after leaving we have been happy with the life we have found. We have freedom to follow the Spirit as he guides us. We rely on him rather than putting our faith and trust in a pastor or some spiritual leader. We have found more meaningful fellowship as God brings people into our lives to actually talk rather than sitting quietly in a service looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

After going through the process of leaving and starting to write on Done with Religion, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people from various walks of life, various faiths and religious beliefs. I have met many nice people that are LGBT and atheists as well and I am so glad to have done so.

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It seems to me being open to being friends with all people is so much better and interesting than feeling we are some kind of holy people who should stay away from others. It does not take long to realize that the labels that are placed on others do not completely described the person behind it.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on many subjects yet we can look past those differences and find many things we do share in common. We all want to have a meaningful, purposeful life. We all want love and friendship. We all want to get our bills paid, enjoy life and be happy. We all have causes and interests we want to promote and be successful at doing.

So rather than thinking you have to stand your ground on certain topics and separate yourself from others, look past those things and see the fellow human being in each person you meet. It seems much better to enjoy the friendships of all kinds of people in this life rather than let the differences separate us.

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For those of us who have left the traditional church system, there can be times of discouragement, questioning and just plain not knowing what to do. Do not feel guilty for having such feelings.

I know that my wife and myself became fed up with the religious church system after spending over fifty years in it. Week after week we went to a pre-planned service, sat and watched only a few select people participate and listened to one person talk and tell us about God.

If was obvious there was a divide, a group of people who participated and a group of people who sat and listened. I remember thinking how spiritual the leaders of the church must be and how knowledgeable they were to hold positions in the church. I always thought I had nothing to say that would be important or helpful and I was so thankful for the pastor and the elders who seemed to have it all together.

As time went on I began wondering about certain verses in the bible that talked about each person having a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Or what about verses talking about us as living stones being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. To me this says that all Christians are a holy priesthood and can offer spiritual sacrifices to God. All have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ our High Priest.

We are told that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

All these verses and many others sure sounded to me that we were all capable, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, to be equals with all others who followed Christ. All can serve and fulfill a purpose in the Kingdom of God.

My wife and I came to believe that the divide we see in the Christian church was really very unbiblical. There are no first and second-class citizens of the Kingdom. There should not be a clergy-laity divide within the true Church that God is building through Christ.

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We were always taught that the church, the brick and mortar building people attend once a week, was the house of God. Yet the bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Finally making the choice to leave the church system, we decided to walk with God outside the walls of religion. This of course is a very unpopular decision in the Christian world. People have lost friends and fellowship with other believers because of this choice because those who are in the system feel leaving it is wrong.

I have heard of many people after leaving became known as back-sliders, people fallen from their faith and who have lost their relationship with God. When people find out we no longer attend a church they do their best to reason with us and try to get us back in line and back in the church system.

After three years being out of the institutional church, neither of us want to go back. We have found a freedom to live with God apart from the denominational requirements, various doctrines, the many man-made ways of following God and the thousands of interpretations of the bible that differ from church to church.

Over time God has brought people into our lives in ways we never expected. We are finding many new relationships online with people who have also left the church system. Fellowship is needed among us followers of Christ but that does not have to be done in a building on a set day and being face to face. In fact, we have had more meaningful relationships being outside of church then we did in it including online and face-to-face fellowship.

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If we believe the Holy Spirit lives within us, that we have the mind of Christ, and that the kingdom of God is within us then we need no man to teach us. The Spirit will guide each of us in the way he has for us to go. We are not going to all agree and walk in perfect agreement, but God leads each of us on separate paths yet leads us all into a close fellowship with Him.

For those with young kids it can be even more troubling because you are not sure what to do with the kids. Yet I believe that God will guide you and bring ways of showing the love of God to your kids whether it be in a group or in your family at home. I do not want to give out ideas for you to try because I believe the Spirit of God will guide and direct you in the way you are to go in teaching your children.

I do believe that God is big enough and personal enough to guide us outside the traditional church and the clergy system we have all know all our lives. It is a difficult road to go but it certainly seems to me a much better way to follow God and live for Him.

What decision you make in regard to attending church or walking outside the walls, remember both groups are children of God and trying to follow Him the way they feel is best. In church or out of church we all make up The Church, each of us equally important and equally able to let God love through us.

Focus of following God in the way he leads you, love others equally, do not think more highly of yourself than of others. Be open to let God lead you on the path he has for you whether it is in traditional religious ways or the unpopular way of living outside the walls of church and religion. Love and accept others as they are and let the love of God touch everyone you meet along the way.

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What would you tell someone who asked you what a Christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe, we must obey the ten commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we Christians are hung up on good works and doing things in our own effort to be pleasing to God. If we are not attending church we are backsliding or if we do not tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we feel we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

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I think many Christian’s forget that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Old Covenant. He said “it is finished” meaning the old covenant had come to an end. We could not live up to the requirements of the law so Jesus did it for us.

I think the real answer to the question what must a Christian do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We do not have to do anything because God provided Grace through Christ. We have become the righteousness of God because after salvation, our fellowship with God has been restored. It is not based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We no longer have to try to keep the ten commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day and anywhere. Christ lives in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. We do not need to look to others for guidance and knowledge. We do not have to tithe our money because the old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We do not have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to the Father and since He lives in us, we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many Christians today do not realize the freedom we have in Christ. They do not understand Grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We do not have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. We will still do good works but they are no longer done out of obligation, rule keeping or to earn our salvation. Good works will be a result of our love for God and for one another.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we feel we have not done enough for God. We feel we do not measure up because we cannot do something someone else does, or we cannot preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us the way we are for a reason. The Church is the people who make up the body of Christ and we are all equal and have equally important qualities that God can use. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under one leader, Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you are not pleasing to God because of something you do or something you do not do. Christ has provided Grace for all of us and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

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We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop depending on others who we think are on a higher level than us or who we think are closer to God. God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit who is within us. We do not have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him or serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself and trust God. Let Him teach you, guide you and live through you day by day. We are new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the worldly ways and the rules and regulations of religion. Love God, love others and follow Him each and every day.

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We know when the word church is used most of the time we are talking about the modern-day, organized religious organization that people attend on Saturday or Sunday. The traditional organized church with its many programs, leaders, pastors, rules and regulations.

We forget that the Church is not a building or an institution but a community of people who love God and love one another. Whether in church or out we are all one body with Christ as the head.

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I think an issue today among those of us who have left the organized church is to feel those who are still involved in church and those who think differently than us are our enemies. This is not the correct way of thinking.

People attend church for various reasons such as out of obligation, guilt, social purposes or because they have always gone to church. Yet there are many people attending church that truly love God and want to follow Him and show his love to others.

Many outside of church start thinking they are more righteous or further along in their walk with God than those who still attend church. This is a bad attitude to have and we should be loving and accepting of those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter if they attend church or not. Just as those who faithfully attend church should not look down on those who have left the organized system looking at them as if they are backsliders or have lost their faith. Our Father will lead each of us in the way he has for us in his timing.

The important thing is our love for God and for one another. No matter what we do on Sunday mornings, whether we attend a church building or love God from outside the walls, our goal is to decrease to self, our desires and plans and allow Him to increase and love others through us.

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Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.

This sounds like an impossibility in our world today, to be at peace with all men including non-believers and believers. Sometimes it seems harder to be at peace with other christians due to the various differences in beliefs and interpretations.

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Thinking of all the different thoughts and ideas, different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and different religions how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

I think this is what God is saying, that we are to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all we still have the common bond of being one in Christ. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God works differently in each of us.

loveandpeaceIn regard to non-believers, we do not need to condemn them or force our beliefs on them. They do not need someone judging and condemning them or trying to force them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in their lives.

If we believers could just understand that God speaks to each of us in his own special way. We do not have to live the way others live or based on what others think. We do not have to force our beliefs on others or argue with people who see things differently. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives and follow Him on the path He has for us.

Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to all of those we meet.

 

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Recently I have been reading articles where people believe hell, as eternal torment, was not mentioned in the bible. Some believe that all people will be saved through God’s love and no person will be left apart from our Father even though they do not choose him or believe he exists.

Love is the main theme of God. God is love. I am not sure I am ready to say that hell does not exist or that God saves everyone apart from their choice but I do know that no matter what, God loves us all.

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True love is how Christians should be known. God loves everyone and has made a way for everyone to receive the gift of salvation. Yet I personally do not believe God will force this gift on anyone and those who choose not to take it may one day have to accept the consequences whether it be eternal torment, temporary punishment or a complete act of forgiveness.

Now, is hell a real place of eternal torment or was it a dumping ground near Jerusalem that has nothing to do with punishment? There is a very real debate over this issue and I certainly do not have the answer. The thing is, trying to get people saved with the threat of spending eternity in hell is not the way to do it. People are truly changed by God’s love and by God’s people living out that love to everyone they meet.

God does not want anyone to spend eternity in a place of torment. He has provided the way of escape if there is a hell. But we want to focus on the fact the God loves us all and we want to accept and enjoy his love, not just escape the thought of eternal punishment.

When we love someone, we want to do things that please that person and make them happy. Same with God, we want to be pleasing to Him and do things for Him. We do not do these things out of obligation or because of rules and regulations. That is law. We do them out of love and that is the way we should help lead others to Christ, through love.

As it mentions in Colossians 3:12-14 as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Rather than being so quick to judge and condemn people for what they do, who they are, and what they believe we need to stop and re-read what God has said on the matter.

We are not called to be God, we are to be people who allow God to live in and through us. We are in Christ. Our lives should be in the process of being transformed into the life of Christ. Basically, we are to be Christ’s body on earth today. We are The Church, not a building we go to once a week but His body living in love day by day.

Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. God is the judge, we are called to love others.

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Romans 13:8-10 spells it out pretty clear, owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

To love others is to fulfill the law, wow, seems so simple yet so hard to do.

The Old Testament law was given as a guide to show people that they could not measure up to pleasing God. If anyone could keep all of the law then they were perfect. Unfortunately, we humans cannot live a perfect life. The law showed us that we could not do it.

When Christ came in bodily form and lived on earth he lived a perfect life. He became the perfect sacrifice that would once and for all make a way for us to be considered perfect in God’s eyes and to be restored to fellowship with him.

When we live in love we are fulfilling the law. We no longer do things out of obligation or out of a need to earn God’s love and favor. We no longer have to keep the ten commandments to earn our salvation. Salvation is now a gift given to us. When we love others with the love of God our lifestyle will be one that actually fulfills the law by the way we live and love.

Am I saying that we should not try to live by the 10 commandments? In a way yes. We cannot do so. When we live in love we will be living a life that is pleasing to God without trying to live by laws and regulations. If we are depending on the law, regulations or doing things to earn God’s love we are wasting our time. Only by living in love for Christ and our fellow human beings will any difference be made.

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If we could only accept one another in all the different views and opinions that are out there, what a different place this world would be.

We all have an opinion. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with stating our opinion. What is bad is when we expect everyone else to go along with our opinion.

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That is when all kinds of arguing and hard feelings happen.

We all are free to have our opinion yet we should accept the fact that not everyone will agree. Keep in mind our opinion may not be right and our opinion may change over time.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and being free to state their opinion, but remember it is only one opinion. We should not expect everyone to go along and we should not get mad when others have differing opinions.

Accept one another and the unique ways God created us. Love and accept those who see things differently. That does not always mean we agree or condone what others do but we are not going to always agree on everything anyway.

We are to love God and love one another, and as the bible mentions to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, attend to your own business and work with your hands.

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We should not worry that others see things differently. We should not get mad and fight and argue trying to convince people to see things our way.

If you are a follower of Christ then follow him the way you feel he is leading you. If you are not a follower of Christ or do not believe in gods at all, follow your heart and do not try to force your views on others.

I believe God is big enough to work in each of us as he sees best. Rather than worry about forcing our opinions and views on others, accept the fact that we are all different. Love others and respect one another despite the differences.

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