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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how people like to look up toward the sky when they think of God? I recently watched several football players giving God praise by looking up and pointing toward the sky. Many of us who are Christians seem to think of God as being up in the sky somewhere looking down on us. We are taught in our churches that God is up there and someday we will go to meet him and be with him.

 

We tend to forget that the Kingdom of God is within us. We are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God makes his home within us. The fact is that we really do not act like we believe this truth.

 

If we could only get it in our head and down in our spirit that God is not somewhere up there, far away in heaven. He lives within us by his Spirit. We have the Spirit within us to teach and guide us. The bible says we have the mind of Christ. That is because his Spirit lives within us.

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We are living in the Kingdom right now. Yes, we are constrained by our human body but our spirit is one with his Spirit and we are spiritually living with him in his Kingdom.

 

It would be nice to begin hearing more about the presence of God within us right now rather than a God who is far away and who may show up from time to time to bless us in some special way if we attend the right meeting at the right place.

 

God is here now, living within us. He goes with us each and every day through whatever we go through in our daily life. He loves us and is concerned about us and is there for our good. It can be a hard thing to get the old teachings of the church out of our heads and accept the fact that God lives within us now. It reminds me of the old saying ‘you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy’. You can take the boy out of religion but you can’t take religion out of the boy, or it is really hard to do so.

 

Religion is man’s way of making his way to God. Yet we find out that man cannot come to God by his efforts and good works. Grace is the only way man comes to God, and it is all by the good works of the Father through Jesus.

 

Once Jesus left this earth he sent us a comforter, his Spirit who now dwells within his Church. His Church is not a religious organization and is not a building. It is his followers no matter what church they attend or if they do not attend a religious organization at all.

 

God lives within us. He makes his home within us and is with us spiritually just as much now as he will be when this earthly body passes away and we live in our glorified, spiritual bodies.

 

Start making the effort to see things as God says they are, not as we have been taught within religion. God is not up in the sky, he lives within us. We are his temple and each of us collectively form his kingdom body now.

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Growing up in church we were all told the story of Noah and the ark. A way that God saved the one family he found to be righteous in a world of sinners and terrible people. Supposedly things were so bad that God wondered why he created mankind and came up with a plan to destroy all his creation other than Noah and his family.

 

I accepted this story without question for many years. Yet when I actually sat and thought about the whole story I had questions and doubts, wondering if it was really a true and if so, why God would choose to do this terrible thing.

 

I have come to find that many stories in the bible are just that, stories. I relate many of the old testament stories to the parables of Jesus in the new testament. Nothing wrong with stories, and just because they are stories in no way negates the truth and importance of the meaning behind the story. Stories and parables are used to make real life truths easier to understand.

 

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I have come to see the story of Noah and the ark as a shadow of things to come. It was a parable about Jesus coming to save the world and restore fellowship with the Creator.

 

When we read in the bible that God is love, it is hard to make sense out of a story that the God of love would destroy people that he loves. We also know that our works are not what brings us into fellowship with the Father and whether we produce good works or bad works, our Father still loves us. So, to say God destroyed the earth because of evil works goes against the whole principle of salvation through grace.

 

Many people will point to the story of the flood and use it to discredit God or to say there is no God at all. Others will say the story is in the bible and the bible is inerrant, so it happened just the way it is written. For me, I have come to terms that the written word is not inerrant. It is a collection of writings by human beings over many years, telling how they view God, how they try to live for God and how God deals with his creation.

 

I have come to believe that the only inerrant Word of God is not a book but a person. Jesus is the Word of God and his Spirit lives within us. Rather than have a completely closed mind as to any other interpretation other than what we have been taught by religious institutions, we can let the Spirit of God within us teach us and we can learn to be open to new things under his guidance.

 

Did the flood really happen? Was the earth completely covered with water and all life destroyed? I personally do not think so. God loves us and created us for fellowship with Him. Our works do not earn us anything with God because he loves us and accepts us unconditionally.

 

Yet the flood did have real meaning. The sinful nature we had was washed away with the flood waters of his grace. Our unrighteous deeds were destroyed by the flood of his love. Jesus our ark made a way of escape so that we might live in his Kingdom for the rest of our existence, enjoying his presence and his love within us.

 

This post was part of the September 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of the flood. Here are the other contributors to this month’s topic. Go and read them all!

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By Jim Gordon

Those of us who are outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building will understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ not brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended, yet we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body yet no one is the head or over anyone else. Each of us are kings, priests and functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church service are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

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We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its events and happenings as the main way of fellowship and learning. Although we are told in the bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise. How often does that happen within the institutional church? Yet being outside the walls my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about what God is to them. Sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

We should remember that rather than having a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality those of us who used to be part of the institutional church should also keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and think they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all parts of the Church that Jesus is building.

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and is not what God intended for His people. After all, this is all we have known all our lives. We have been taught all along that this is God’s plan for us, to assemble together in a building, pay our tithes and look to the pastor as God’s spokesperson. I know I believed this for many years while within the system.

As people of God we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength it is by the power of the Spirit within us. The sad thing is we should not have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet sometimes it seems we have more trouble loving those who are part of a tradition that we no longer feel is right, but are still followers of the same God we love.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of the Father and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among His children. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and disrespect that is so familiar among Christians today.

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by Jim Gordon

I would like to take a minute and announce that we now have an additional author for Done with Religion.

Mike Edwards and I have been communicating and talking about things and we seem to have quite similar views.

I have asked Mike to be an author and to contribute some of his writings to Done with Religion. I think you will find his writing to be enjoyable and informative.

Mike also has his own blog site which you can check out at https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/  You can learn more what about what Mike believes/enjoys to write about here and how to best navigate his site here. 

We are certainly glad to add his interesting articles to Done with Religion.

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by Jim Gordon

You may have noticed that many christian people seem very quick to judge and condemn others. If you are not a traditional, church attending christian or not a believer at all you probably notice it more than others.

When reading the bible we find that christian people are to be known for their love for God and their love for one another. Not only fellow believers but those who do not believe or see things the same way.

Unfortunately, we do not always see such actions. We see more backbiting, judging, condemning and anything but love. So much that many times those outside of Christianity see no reason to pursue it any further.

Over the centuries God has often been misrepresented by many of his followers causing a lot of questions and problems with people having any interest in being his follower.

Jesus is the representation of God the Father. When we read about Jesus in the gospels we see that he treated people, not by judgment and condemnation but with love, healing and forgiveness. He taught about the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and many other parables about God being loving and accepting.

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Rather than listening to other people tell us what God is like and what Christianity should be, we need to start asking questions, seeking answers with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and realize that God is a God of love.

Today we seem to spend more time worrying about which denomination to belong to, which bible version to read, what doctrine to follow and which political party is the one to support. Once we make a choice we will fight to the end to defend our point of view no matter who we hurt in the process. We seem to be concerned with everything else rather than following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving others.

It is a known fact that we will not always agree with one another, but there is no reason to be spiteful, condemning and judgmental when we should be loving, kind and accepting.

Loving others, respecting others and being accepting does not always mean we always agree but we can show the love of God to everyone no matter if we see things the same or not.

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by Jim Gordon

Is it our job as Christians to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God? My answer would be no.

We are to follow Christ and love others. We are to let the Holy Spirit convict and lead people to the Father.

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We cannot convert others. We cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

So often we are taught we need to use every opportunity to preach salvation to everyone we meet. We end up using sneaky methods to force conversations trying to convert others. We are told their blood with be on our hands if we do not tell them about Christ. I feel loving others with ulterior motives is wrong and does more harm than good.

Jesus said to love God and love others. Apart from that we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us. If we are talking with someone or enjoying their company, there is no need to force the topic into trying to convert them. If the Spirit so chooses to use us, we are to be available but we are not to force the issue.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as ‘a professed follower of Christ’. We are to be there to encourage and build one another up to grow into maturity in Christ.

The good news is that God loves us. He has provided freedom from the effects of sin and has restored fellowship between God and his creation. By being judgmental, pointing fingers, threatening and using other means to force others to accept Christ, we end up driving people away rather than draw them by love.

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When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ easier than through condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences. Yet we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him and we should do the same. If there is any changing that needs to be done, that will be between God and the individual through the guidance of the Spirit.

In love, share the good news to those you meet when led by the Spirit. Encourage and make disciples of those who know Christ. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers through ‘holier than thou’ attitudes, guilt and condemnation. Love is the answer, and God is love.

 

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

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Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I am letting all those questions come out and seeking truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works and reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting, I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in His likeness and are loved by Him.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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