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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

By Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly or God controlled their thoughts.

Why would a Creator or parent create unless wanting a relationship?

The idea of a relational God wanting to be mysterious may only come from a Book. The mystery card is often played when one’s interpretation of God’s character is incompatible with most people’s idea of a loving God. Some rationalization is needed for their interpretation, since they believe God gives us our mind and conscience. The mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character. A mysterious God suggests God doesn’t prioritize a relationship.

Even the Bible doesn’t necessarily claim God is a mystery

God isn’t a mystery just because we can’t comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can coexist. Isaiah 55:8-9 is frequently used to claim God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we cannot understand God. God exhorts us to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways and thoughts (vs. 8-9). Mystery in the NT often concerns the unknown about Jesus in the OT until NT times. Jesus only spoke in parables, when directness went in one ear and out the other, so one might consider the message in time. 

God surely can’t be hypocritical 

Only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. Is love ever hypocritical? God can’t possibly be hypocritical. We don’t always know what perfect loves is, but hypocritical love is contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. The mystery card – aka as God can act however hypocritical God wants – is played because of one’s interpretation. It is nonsensical to claim God is good but good is sometimes evil. If a trait claimed about God seem hypocritical – reconsider!

God can’t possibly be a mysterious, moral hypocrite!

Many condemn gays because of their understanding of a Book. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals what sexual lusts they struggle with. Please don’t judge when you can’t be certain. I can’t imagine one would think – except because one deems their interpretation of a Book inspired – that a woman shouldn’t be the CEO, priest, pastor, etc. if more qualified than the man. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! True relational love cannot be mysterious or hypocritical. Neither can God!

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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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in church was a fun time learning about God and meeting people who usually had pretty similar beliefs. Yet, it seems the more we learn about the grace of God and the freedom it brings, Christian life can be a little frustrating.

Is it just me, or do you find it frustrating to realize that some of the teachings we have grown up with in church may be wrong? Do you get confused with all the different doctrines and Bible interpretations, and hearing all the different opinions of others? Do you get tired of all the fighting and disagreements over different beliefs?

It can get pretty discouraging seeing all the postings on social media and all the arguments and disagreements, sometimes heatedly, about personal views and interpretations. Many are basic views we have grown up with, yet now we question whether they are from God or are they man’s wrong interpretation.

No matter how you interpret the scriptures, no matter how much you believe your way of thinking on spiritual matters, someone else will have a completely different view. No matter what church you attend, what doctrine you follow or if you have stopped attending a church at all, we know that Christians are not going to agree on everything. We all have a different view of biblical interpretations. Depending on which church or denomination you belong or grew up in, or which pastor you listen to, our views are usually slanted in that particular way.

I often wonder why we cannot accept each other, no matter what our interpretation. Truthfully, none of us can prove most of what we believe, be it faith in God, heaven, hell and a vast array of other topics. Our beliefs are all by faith. We cannot prove, or disprove, anything.

I think we should ask the Spirit daily for guidance into truth. Hold to what you believe, but be open enough to change when God gives a clearer view of the truth. When someone has a different way of looking at things, accept them as a fellow Christian. You do not have to agree with them, but who knows, they might be right.

I do not think any of us can say without a doubt who is completely right or wrong in our interpretations. We should seek for truth through the Spirit, and let everyone have their right to do the same. Quit fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong. God never said ‘by this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you agree with one another’. No, it is by love. We are to love God and love one another even in our disagreements.

One thought comes to mind in all this, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. The most basic and simple thing we learned long ago, yet seems to be one of the most consistent things of which we can all agree.

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

I don’t wish to be critical of those who feel a need to praise/thank/worship God frequently. I do want to encourage those who may feel as I do. I am extremely grateful for the relationship I have with my Creator, but the emphasis on we are obligated to constantly tell God how great they are doesn’t seem natural or relational. I am convinced God doesn’t like to appear egotistical.

So how can we know what God really wants from us? 

It is only intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we were seemingly created to love each other, or how we wished to be loved by our parents. And only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves.

How parents desire love surely compares to how God seeks loves!

You may not be a parent, but all have a sense of true love because they had parents that were either loving or we wished they were. Genuine parent love must be similar to Godly parenting love. Personally, I don’t seek or desired to be praised all the time by my children or others. An occasional attitude of gratitude does rock my boat, but I’m not convinced God is always seeking constant praise of how great God is.

Does singing how undeserving, filthy we are draw us closer to God? 

Okay, I am wretched sometimes but not all the time – depends on the day and who is in front of me. The biblical doctrine of original sin suggests we are condemned before birth because of Adam’s sin in the garden.  God can’t stand us unless God has their Jesus glasses on. I disagree. We are born in sin not with sin. See here.  God doesn’t view those who aren’t persuaded about God as filthy. My kids aren’t always buying what I am selling, but I am always aware of their good times. I prefer songs that reveal God’s acceptance and desire to help when I fail others. I want my kids to seek my help when needed. I am not so much worried if they are always praising me. 

How can we express thanks to God?

Each must decide how they think best to have a relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good praise song about God from time to time. It helps reminds me how grateful I am for the positive influence that God has had in my life. But I don’t go around worrying that I have to thank God all the time. Sometimes, constant exhortations to praise God or tell God how great they are turns me off. Spontaneous thoughts or expressions, rather than feelings of obligations, seems more natural and relational-building with my Creator.

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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by Jim Gordon

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

This almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including believers and non-believers. With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I think what God is saying is that we are to live in harmony with our fellow human beings; 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 need to realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to please our Father and share his love with others. We need to accept one another in love, and respect the fact that God is working in different ways in people. Just because it is different from the way he is working in us does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers, we should not be condemning or forcing our beliefs on others. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live, love and respect them. We need to be kind and caring without any ulterior motives. They do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get 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 we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live in a way that others think we should, nor are we responsible for converting others to our beliefs. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love others. Accept them for who they are, and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and living in peace with others.

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

My wife and I have lived in our house for fifteen years now. As far as we are concerned, it is finished and complete. Other than the basic upkeep, we have no plans for remodeling or adding on.

The other night I had a dream about what I thought was our house, but it turned out being something different.

In my dream I was walking through the house and came to one of the rooms. I looked in and noticed there was a remodeling job in progress. There were tools sitting around and it was obvious the room that was going through a change.

I moved on to another side of the house and saw what looked like a big piece of plywood with a round hole where a door knob would go. I decided to pull on it and see if it would move. To my surprise, the plywood pulled back revealing a complete other room I had no idea was there. It was under construction, having bare wood floors and walls, cut-outs and several tools and a ladder sitting there.

When I woke up, I was thinking about this dream and it hit me that the house was not our house, but it was me. I was seeing that God is not finished with me, but constantly working in my life.

We are His Dwelling

All of us as followers of Christ are his dwelling place. God lives within us and even though we sometimes think we are mature and complete in Christ, God is busy working and changing us into His glory. Most of the time we do not even realize God is doing something in our lives.

You may have followed Christ for a long time and think you know all the answers. You may have been following Him for many, many years and think there is no more God can do with you. The truth is, God is continually working on His house (which is us), modifying, changing, remodeling and changing things throughout our life.

God’s dwelling place will not be finished or complete during our lifetime. He is constantly remodeling and changing us, conforming us into His image. Through His presence within us, we will display His love to a world that is in need of Him.

Do not give up and think God is finished with you. Do not think there is no more to know, or that God can no longer use you. Keep listening for the quiet leading of the Holy Spirit within you and know that God is busy in your life, changing you little by little to be more like Him.

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 short answer to my question is no one can know for sure. There may be as many reasons as individuals why some believe there is a God and others don’t. I suppose some may avoid believing in God because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. What I do know is that those who are convinced a Creator exists aren’t necessarily more moral than those who don’t believe. Faith is required for either belief.

There are good reasons to not be into God or be on the fence

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. We may not pursue God more because we assume certain claims made about God are true, or God is like the poor role models we have had who claim to represent God. The God often portrayed by others condemns gay people, shows partiality toward men over women despite the history of men abusing power, and God supposedly created Hell to torture people after death if they believe while here on earth. Don’t make possible false claims the reason to not believe.

What is God really like? 

It is intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we are created to love each other. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves. Misunderstanding God often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our interpretation from an inspired Book. 

Reasons to believe if on the fence 

If walking on a dark street and approached by a group of tough looking men, would you be more or less scared if you knew they just attended a bible study? Good religion, as opposed to bad religion, always encourages the golden rule. We have nothing to lose by living by the golden rule, and we will probably experience fewer regrets on our death bed. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement from God to be a better human being.

Believing in an afterlife can be a good thing. Should we tell 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, especially if there has been a recent tragedy. We can’t be sure if danger is around the corner. Belief in a possible God helps to not fear death and to look forward to be reunited with loved ones. And I have no reason to believe a forgiving God stops forgiving after death.

Is God Real? 

Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or being delusional, or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God of being rebellious or not knowing their feelings. Just because you believe in the possibility of God doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts at times whether God really exist. Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t question how good God really is because of all the evil in the world. If so inclined imagine what a loving God would be like. You may be right!

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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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the institutional church and modern Christianity, my wife and I were taught that we are saved by grace but live by law. This seems to be a fairly common belief for the modern-day believer.

Over the past few years, we have come to see that the Bible mentions that those of us who are saved by grace are now free from the old covenant law. If we still try to live by the commands of the old covenant, we are actually living under a curse. ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’. (Galatians 3:10 KJV).

Why is it that we cannot accept the free gift provided through Christ and forget the performance-based way of trying to please God? ‘For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from God’s grace’. (Galatians 5:4  NLT).

We now live for God because of love, not out of obligation nor trying to do more and earn our salvation.

It is time we realize God, out of His love for us has provided all we need. He has done away with our old sinful nature. We are forgiven of all our sins, past, present and future by His grace. We can now enter into his rest and rely on what He has done. We no longer have to strive to keep all the rules and constantly try to do more to earn a relationship with Him. ‘We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code’. (Romans 7:6).

Rest in Him, rely on the Spirit to teach you and guide you by love. There are plenty of things to do, but we do them because of love and by the strength and guidance of the Spirit.

Now, am I saying because we are free of the law that we can just do whatever we want? Eat, drink and be merry? No, not at all. Even though we are free from the law, we are still living in a fallen world. There will be times when we take our eyes off Christ and commit sins. Yet, in Christ our sins are already forgiven and there is no longer punishment for them, although there are still consequences in this world when we do wrong.

The fact is, that by trying to keep the law we are led into death. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law’. (I Corinthians 15:56 NASB). The old way of doing things was only a temporary thing. The law showed us that we were completely powerless to live up to God’s standards. It was a tutor for us until Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the old covenant. ‘Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:24-26 NASB).

We have been told for so long that we needed to do more for God. We were taught we needed to keep the commandments and strive to be good Christians. Fortunately, the Spirit guides us to the reality that we cannot keep the commands and in ourselves, we are powerless to do so. Christ came to fulfill the law and provide freedom to all of us.

We are now free to live by love for Him and we are free from trying to live by the law. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’, he was saying the old covenant, the old way of trying to live by the law was finished. He accomplished what we could not do. When he was resurrected, a new covenant began, one of living by grace. As children of God, He has now put His spirit within us to walk with us daily.

When we are in love with God, we do not need rules to tell us what to do. We do what is pleasing to Him because we love Him. The old covenant law cannot make us holy, but the new covenant of grace is one of loving God and doing what pleases Him because of that love.

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

Partnering With God  is a book full of essays that explores possibilities that God desires an open friendship with us all, the same kind of relationship that adult children dream of having with their parents. I will share my essay in time. See two of the essays below that can lead to the kind of relationship with God you have always dreamed of but maybe never heard about:

“God desires a special form of partnership with us; namely, a friendship.” – Wm. Curtis Holtzen, “Friends with Benefits” 

“A tragic teen suicide became a source of radical repentance and new life for a church in Manchester, England.” – Nicholas Bundock, “A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction”

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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by Jim Gordon

John 15:5 – I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

We have read this verse many times, but it is so easy to pass over how important this verse is. Jesus is our life source. It is in Him that we live, and move and have our being. He supplies all we need. He provides us daily with the requirements for life and what we need to truly live a life of sharing his love with others.

Jesus has done all that is needed for us to be forgiven, made new and have a loving relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is by his grace we are free, and all the spiritual things we think we need to do to put us in right standing are so unnecessary.

Jesus is the one who has done everything needed to restore our right standing with God.  It is Jesus who takes our burdens, frees us from guilt and guides us daily as we follow him. All we need to do is accept his work and rest in Him.

Our main focus should be on Christ, not on things about Him. He is our life. He is our all in all. We are to give Christ the preeminence in all things. He is the Vine, we are the branches; apart from Him we can do nothing. Rest in him and enjoy the peace he gives knowing we are in him and he is in 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

After being in the organized church for well over 50 years, and seeing all the different denominations, beliefs, interpretations and opinions, there is one thing that makes me sad. That is to see so many followers of Christ fight and argue over the different paths we take in our Christian walk.

I am not saying all-roads lead to God, but while trusting in God and following Christ we are going to take many different paths during our life here on earth. They are going to be different from other followers of Christ, but we are following the same Christ.

Those of us outside the institutional church should not divide and separate ourselves into the ‘in church’ and ‘out of church’ groups. In the same manner, those who are part of the modern-day church should not look down on and separate from those outside the institution. We need to accept that we both love God and are following Christ along the path he has for us.

I think this is what working out our salvation means. Not that we have to work to earn our salvation, but we continually learn as we follow Christ in our salvation. We, as Christ followers, will take different paths in our walk with God. We should not expect everyone to walk the same path. By using the term Christ follower, I mean that Christ is living within us, and we walk with him and let him live through us. We are following him and the example he set that we read about in the gospels.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to love one another, encourage and build up one another. We are not to be continually expecting everyone to act like us and walk in the same way we do. We are to be accepting, loving and kind to all we have contact with each day, and especially to those who are fellow believers.

It seems we are more concerned about every Christian believing and acting the exact same way and when they act differently, we want to fight, argue and separate ourselves rather than accept that God works in each of us in different ways. He made each of us differently, and he leads us along different paths as we walk toward a common destination.

Rather than expect everyone to be just like us, we are to love one another the way Christ loved people while he walked the earth. Different interpretations and ways of walking with God should not be a stumbling block to a loving fellowship with one another.

Besides, we are not going to lead anyone to Christ when all they see is arguing and disagreements among brothers. We are not going to draw people insisting they conform to our way of thinking and following our rules and interpretations. The only way people will know we have something worth checking out is when they see brothers and sisters in Christ caring for one another and building one another other up in love.

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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