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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

Growing up in church we have always been told that God was a god of love. In fact, it is stated in the bible that God IS love. Yet so often we have seen more of a judgmental and condemning God by the actions of many christian people over the years.

Take for instance a popular song I remember singing while growing up in the church. Onward christian soldiers, marching as to war. Now I know the intent was to show we are in a battle, but the battle is a spiritual one. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but so often we fight people rather than spiritual forces and principalities. We turn people into enemies rather than the spiritual forces of evil.

SpiritualWarfare

To often these days we seem to live in a spirit of war rather than love. We spend more time arguing over doctrine and interpretation with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We argue so much over sin that we become judgmental and condemning toward those who see things differently or are not of faith or belief in God.

Over the years many churches have taught that although God is a god of love, he was also judgmental, mean and condemning. We are told that we better do our best to please him or we will be in danger of judgment.

Yet Jesus came to show us what the Father was really like. He showed love, compassion, acceptance and forgiveness to everyone, especially to those most of the religious world would have no contact.

Even though Jesus showed us that God loves us, we still turn the cross of Jesus into a weapon for our personal cause or belief rather than a symbol of love and good news.

If we are going to be christian soldiers let it be against spiritual forces and not against our fellow human beings. Rather than fight and argue, let the love of God touch everyone you meet throughout each day.

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(This article originally appeared on christianpost.com on February 16, 2018
( https://www.christianpost.com/voice/progressives-and-evangelicals-is-it-really-us-versus-them.html )

There are hundreds of various denominations within the christian faith and thousands of various interpretations and doctrines based on the bible. To me it seems we hear much about two of these groups, evangelicals and progressives that appear to be on the opposite ends of the christian belief spectrum. Should we really make the differences out to be an us versus them way of life? My reply to this comes in James 3:10 of the NIV, my brothers and sisters, this should not be.

 

I grew up as an evangelical and spent nearly fifty years living with that belief. After many years of questioning my beliefs and what I was taught over the years, I have become less evangelical and more of a progressive in my thinking. That certainly does not mean I have all of a sudden become anti evangelical nor am I an enemy to my brothers and sisters who follow the traditional evangelical way.

AmericanChristianity

Unfortunately, many times we get an us verses them attitude and fight and argue amongst ourselves over doctrine and interpretation of scriptures. Again I say, brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be. We are not enemies. We are not against each other. We are brothers and sisters in Christ with two different views of belief. As Romans 12:4-5 of the NLT puts is, ‘just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other’.

We are to be a people that make up the one true Church which has many members, each with an equally important part to play with Jesus as the head over us all. Just because we interpret scripture differently, just because we have a little different view on what the bible says does not mean we are enemies.

Rather than fight and argue over who is right or who is wrong, remember we are in this together as a family with God as our Father. We are one community of believers who want to serve our Father by showing his love to a hurting world. There are many ways of following the example of Jesus and living for him.

There are many people out there who are hurting, questioning and lost who do not know that God loves them. All they see is people who claim to know God that are fighting amongst themselves. Because of this they figure what is the use, there is no reason to become a part of this group of people. They are no different than anyone else.

Yet we who are followers of Christ are to show the world that God loves them. We are to do this by loving one another, encouraging one another and lifting one another up. We are to show the love of God to those who are hurting and who do not know that God loves them. We are to let the love of the Spirit of Christ flow from within us to touch those who need to know they are loved and accepted.

Rather than fight and argue amongst ourselves over doctrine, denominations and interpretations, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us and love all people with the love of God. We can agree to disagree on things and live a life loving others even in our differences.

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Why do we christian people feel the need to point out what we think are sinful behaviors of others? Why do we seem to think certain things are more sinful than others, if sinful at all.

Often times what we consider to be sinful boils down to wrong interpretation of scripture. Many times we do not dig into scripture to find out for ourselves what it is actually saying. We have heard certain things preached all our lives and figure that is just the way it is.

TheNakedJesus

I am sure we are all the same when it comes to having someone tell us they think we are sinning. Most of the time it is not even done in love. You can feel the judgment and condemnation coming from the other person. Whether it is actually a sin or not is not the issue to them, it is that they think it is, they do not like it and they are sure to point out to you what they think.

Jesus told us as his followers we are to love God and love others. He also said that the Holy Spirit would do the convicting and disciplining when and where needed. I do agree that sometimes the Spirit will work through us to bring to light something in the life of another that they need to deal with. I do not think in those few cases it will be done in a judgmental or condemning way.

I personally feel that we are to live our lives following the Spirit and being open to his leading and teaching for ourselves. After all, the Spirit of Christ lives within us and he will teach us and guide us in our walk with him. We are to forget about judgment and condemnation of others and leave the job of changing others to the Spirit.

We are to love God and love our neighbor, which is all our fellow human beings. We may not always agree with them, we may not always like what they do or how they do it, but we should always be kind and respectful even in the differences. To convict others of sin is beyond the calling Jesus gave to us. Live from love and let the Spirit work in the lives of others.

Also check out this article of similar topic by John Casimir O’Keefe:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thenakedjesus/2016/08/why-we-shouldnt-judge-others/

(Photo used by Permission from The Naked Jesus by John Casimir O’Keefe @johncasimirokeefe)

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I get so tired of seeing arguing and disagreeing among fellow christians. We certainly do not see a lot of unity and agreement. We are so divided and exclusive in the christian world today.

Jesus said his followers were to be known for their love for one another. Yet today it is hard to find brothers and sisters in Christ being loving and kind.

Fortunately, this is not the case in every situation, but it seems a lot more common than it should be.

Not only is it hard to find acceptance toward those who are outside the christian faith, but it is hard to find true love and acceptance among brethren of different denominations within the faith.

AcceptandRespect

If we go to the same church building and accept the same doctrines, you will usually find love and acceptance. I remember when I was in the church system the first thing I would ask someone was where they went to church. If they went to an organization I liked and agreed with, I would pretty much instantly like the person. If they went to a place that was different in their way of worship or interpretation of the bible, then I would immediately be on guard and almost dismiss the thought of getting to know them. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

It is sad that we put walls up with people who think differently. It is sad that we have made such importance out of buildings, doctrines, interpretations and bible versions that we forget God loves each of us. We are to love God and love others no matter what they believe, especially among those who are his followers.

Loving and accepting people does not mean we are always in agreement and that we always get along. Of course, there will be disagreements and differences of opinions, probably even arguments and hurt feelings at times, but that is life. We can disagree and even argue at times and still respect and accept the other person.

By the power of the Spirit within us, we can accept, respect and be loving toward others. Not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but those who are not of the christian faith. I think we can disagree and have different opinions and still act in a respectful and accepting way toward our fellow human beings.

Jesus said that they will know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Love draws people, but condemnation, judgment and unloving behavior drives them away. Many times, when I say we are to love and accept others I get a lot of comments about being wrong because as christians we are to point out the sins and mistakes of others. They say our responsibility is to make sure others know what they are doing is wrong….at least by our way of interpretation.

AcceptMeJustAsIAm

I personally do not think we are to act in such judgmental ways. We are told to love God and love others. As far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. That is between the Spirit and each individual as to what they do and how they respond. We are only to love others.

God is love and love draws people. Rather than judge, condemn, exclude and argue, get out there among humanity and let the love of God flow out of you by the power of the Spirit. There is a whole world of hurting people, both believers and non-believers who can use the encouragement of an accepting person who cares and shows the love of God.

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I have noticed a very common saying recently in regard to the violence and killings that have made the headlines. It is heard on TV, online and in the newspapers. The saying is ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’.

It actually sounds really nice and many times it is the only thing people can come up with when they do not know what else to say.

Unfortunately, it only sounds good and does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

Thoughts and Prayers WordPress

So often people say this because they do not know what else to do. I certainly believe in prayer to ask God for peace and comfort for the people involved. I also believe in prayer seeking guidance from God for things to do that will help make a change.

Yet many people use this saying because they do not think they are able to do anything to make a change, and often they do not want to make the effort to make changes. So, they make themselves feel better by saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

In James 2:16 we have a similar situation when people would say “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet they did not give what was necessary for their body, and what use was that? This falls right in line with James 2:26 which says, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Obviously good works do not earn our salvation, but good works will be a result of our salvation. To put it another way we can say that love without works is dead. Saying you love someone but doing nothing to show that love is not real love.

Using good sounding words usually only makes the one saying it feel better. But putting action to our words can make a difference and truly show love and concern to those who are hurting.

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As I look over various postings on social media, it does not take long to realize there are a wide variety of opinions in the christian world. Various biblical interpretations and views on christian doctrine, gun control and a wide variety of issues of our day.

The sad thing is that so often I see the opinions expressed get turned into arguments, name calling and sometimes what seems to be down-right hatred toward one another.

ArguingoverDoctrine

It is sad that we who are christians and supposed to be known for our love for one another get so caught up on arguing over doctrine and interpretation. Why is it we cannot accept that we all have a different view and opinion. We all have a different way of seeing things and interpreting the bible.

As I was in a waiting room the other day, a lady walked in and I heard her tell the receptionist that she was recently widowed. That got me to thinking how a major change in our lives can change our priorities.

When a person hears that they have a serious health condition, or they lose a loved one all the differences of opinion, biblical interpretation and doctrine seem to become less important. The arguing over our views and opinions all of a sudden lose their meaning.

It is times like this that many people come together and encourage and support those who are going through a rough time. It is great that this happens and it is the way it should be.

Yet it is disappointing that it takes a bad situation to bring people together. Why is it we cannot express our views and opinions and accept there are going to be differences of opinion? Why is it we cannot accept one another in our differences and treat one another with respect?

LoveOneAnother

There is certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion. Having different interpretations of the bible and various views on doctrine is normal and good. We can learn from one another when we reasonably discuss these differences. But when we get offended, when we get mad and feel we have to prove our point, that is where the problems begin.

We need to get to a place in our lives that we can discuss our views, listen to the views of others and accept one another in our differences. People need to see that christian people are a family who can love and accept one another whether we completely agree or not.

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Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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