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Grace. It is not something we say before a meal. It is a life-changing event that was provided for us by a loving God. We are saved by grace. A one-time event of Christ dying on the cross provided all we needed to be restored to fellowship and right standing with our Father.

But grace itself is an ongoing, daily event. We are not saved and then just sit around and do nothing. Jesus told us to follow Him. Love others, do good to others and follow his example.

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By grace our sinful nature is crucified, dead and buried. By grace we are resurrected in the power of Christ and it is His spirit that now lives within us. By grace we are now hidden in Christ and seated at the right hand of God (Colossian 3:1-3). We do not just wait until we die our natural life to enter His Kingdom, we now live in the Kingdom of God.

When we realize that only by dying (spiritually speaking) and allowing the life of Christ to dwell within us is when we can truly follow Him. It has been said that a dead man has no worries. When we are dead to self and alive to Christ, it is His life that is within us by the power of the Spirit. His desires become our desires. His thoughts become our thoughts.

We are saved by grace, we cannot buy it, cannot earn it, cannot do anything to pay God back for it. Each day we can commit ourselves to God, acknowledge that the Spirit of Christ lives within us and daily deny the human nature and selfish desires that separate us from true fellowship with the Father.

Grace is an ongoing, daily lifestyle. It is our choice to commit to Him. When we do, we will continue to grow in grace and knowledge of Him, and we will enjoy fellowship with our Father every day.

As I was reading over a few articles recently, I came across one that was about the eight most controversial topics in the church today.

I read through the article and had to agree, these are eight things that can be very controversial. And as we all know we can basically take verses from the bible and show why we believe the way we do in regard to each topic.

I am not going to go into my views on these topics, but just for information here are the topics the article listed as most controversial: gay marriage; abortion; women in leadership; type of worship music; spiritual gifts; baptism; politics from the pulpit; and alcohol.

Obviously, there are many more topics in the church today that can be very controversial. We as Christians are never going to agree on any of the listed topics yet we are entitled to our views and interpretations.

The problem comes in when we decide to stand and defend our view by judging others, condemning others and fighting amongst ourselves to prove our point.

John1721

What bothers me is the way we divide up the body of Christ based on our personal views on various issues. I personally do not believe that the body of Christ was meant to be divided. Jesus prayed in John 17:21 that they may all be one, even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Yet today we seem to be divided against one another according to denomination, doctrine and various other topics in our world. We divide over LGBT issues, race, gender identity, equality for women, inerrancy of the bible, politics, universal salvation or eternal hell. Come up with a topic and we will find a way to disagree over it.

The bible mentions in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is the way it should be today. We are all one in Christ Jesus no matter what our personal beliefs and interpretations.

Jesus said, by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. He was talking about a godly love for fellow believers. Jesus also said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds to me like he is saying to love all people.

We are not going to agree on everything. We are not going to be in complete harmony on all issues, yet we can love, respect and treat each other with a godly love that comes from the Spirit that lives within us. Rather than judging and condemning others who see things differently, accept them with their differences and let of love of God flow out to touch those around you.

Have you ever sat down and asked yourself the question who am I? Not necessarily the who am I, why am I here question, but who is the real me.

A couple friends and I were talking about this and we were asking each other who truly knows us, the real us. Most of us are not known by those whom we have a casual relationship, and really, most of us are not deeply and truly known by the few people we consider close, intimate friends.

WhoAreYou

We are good at putting on the proper mask to hide the real us when we are around others. I do it, you do it, pretty much all of us do it. There is something down within us that makes us feel if people knew the real us, they would not like us or accept us.

Fortunately, our Father is not like that. He truly loves us. Even if we are not completely open with Him, He knows more about us than we know ourselves and He still loves us.

If we could get to where we did not worry about what everyone else thinks about us, and accept that we are loved by God, I think our relationships with each other would actually improve. We could be ourselves, open and honest, and not store up all the frustrations, questions, lonely feelings and some of the junk we all have.

If we could follow the example of Jesus and love and accept each other no matter what, our fellowship with one another would be real and meaningful. No more putting on masks, no more trying to be someone we are not.

Now truthfully, if that will ever happen this side of heaven I do not know but it certainly is a goal to shoot for. I am so thankful we have a Father who loves us no matter what. He knows us and loves us just as we are. Now, if we could just do the same for each other.

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.

A friend and Christian brother of mine recently passed away unexpectedly. It was quite a shock and something that is just now starting to sink in.

This got me to thinking even more about all the arguing we Christians do with each other.

We are so quick to defend our personal views and interpretations, we will argue, judge and even condemn one another because we see things differently.

Yet in moments like this I cannot understand why we have such a problem accepting one another in a spirit of Christian love. This life passes all to quickly to spend so much time arguing and defending our views.

Jesus said we are to love God and we are to love one another. He did not say we are to fight, argue and condemn one another. We are not to force our way of thinking on others. We are to share the good news that God loves them, but we need not argue over personal views and interpretations.

If only we could get that down inside us and start treating people with the love of God, knowing that we all see things differently. We all have our views, interpretations and beliefs and they are going to vary from person to person. We will not always agree and accept one another’s views.

Obviously, we cannot prove very much when it comes to spiritual matters. Most is a matter of faith and how we personally interpret scripture or how we view what makes sense to us. Rather than continually defending our way of thinking and trying to get others to see things our way, it would be much better if we could love others and accept them for who they are and how God made them.

We will have differences of opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. The Spirit is our guide and teacher and we need to allow each person to hear from the Spirit and follow the way they feel they are being guided.

We also need to accept that not everyone will believe like us, not everyone will believe there is a God and not everyone will interpret the bible like everyone else. I do not believe it is our job to force anything on anyone. God is able to work in the life of each individual the way he sees best. The Spirit will work and draw people to the Father. Even God leaves the decision up to each person as to how they will respond. Even those who do not believe and want nothing to do with him are stilled loved. God wants us to do the same.

Life is to short for all the arguing, judging and condemning. Love God, love your neighbor, love your brothers and sisters in Christ and let the Spirit work in the life of each person. Enjoy one another, enjoy fellowship, have a laugh, be concerned for one another and do what you can to show the love of God to everyone you meet.

(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.

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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