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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

by Jim Gordon

Have you ever passed a church building and saw a sign out front that says ‘Everyone is Welcome’? When I see one, I always wonder if they really mean what they say. I have seen so many congregations over the years get set in their ways and enjoy the people who are regulars, but what would happen if everyone did come to their church?

What would the thoughts and feelings be if a gay couple walked in, or if a group of homeless people came to hear the Sunday morning sermon? What if an atheist or muslim group decided to stop by and join the service? Would everyone be truly welcome?

We know that Jesus literally welcomed everyone and mostly those who the religious world did not want to have any association. Jesus met with and cared for the people who probably would not go to a church, either because they would not be truly welcome or because they just did not think they would fit in.

everyoneiswelcome

Maybe that says something about our organized church of today. Maybe we have become so involved with religion and the denominations way of doing things that we have lost our first love. Could we be so caught up in the trends of modern religion that we forget our relationship with God?

Maybe we need to concentrate more on living in fellowship with Christ on a daily basis. More of loving Him and loving others and less about what building we go to on Sunday morning, if we go at all. The true Church is not a building and it does not matter which day we meet or where we meet. The Church is a community of believers. Those who live for Him each and every day. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should not be focused on a building but on a daily walk with Him.

To love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves fulfills the law. We no longer need to worry about obeying the old covenant law. Jesus has fulfill the law and we now live under a new covenant of grace. This covenant went into effect at the death and resurrection of Jesus. We now have the Living Word with us through the Holy Spirit. We no longer need any man to teach us the ways of God, because the Spirit lives within us as our guide.

It is time to put our focus back on our first love, Jesus. It is time to live out our relationship with God on a daily basis, not just on one day we call the sabbath. As followers of Christ we walk with him daily, loving God, loving others and being prepared to give an answer of the hope that is within us to those who ask us. I pray we all let the love of God show through us so that others will be drawn to Him.

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No matter what your lifestyle, what you choose to believe, how you accept things none of us will ever completely agree with anyone else. As believers, we would not expect those who do not follow the christian faith to agree with everything we think and say. Yet, we also know that other christian people will not agree with everything either. We have so many denominations in the christian world and none of them can agree completely. But this is all OK, we are all individuals who see things differently. The last thing I want is to make people feel I expect everyone to see things my way.

I think those of us trying to follow Christ should be able to accept one another, believer and non-believer alike, talk with each other about how we see things and still be respectful and kind. We are to be known by our love, but unfortunately, that just is not the case most of the time.

No matter if we are gay, straight, christian, muslim, jew, hindu, atheist, asexual, baptist, methodist, charismatic or whatever label people put on us the underlying fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. We each should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on another.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of name calling and disrespect among different groups of people over time. Christian people saying God hates gays, and atheists are of the devil, people being afraid of muslims, one denomination wants nothing to do with another denomination…this is all sad and wrong.

If we could look past the labels and see each other as people who overall want the same thing, to be happy, to be loved, be healthy, get our bills paid and enjoy life I think things would be better even with our differences. This is not to say we have to agree with everyone and associate with everyone and be happy together, that just is not going to happen. There are too many different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, ways of life and personalities for us to agree on everything and be totally comfortable with everyone, yet accepting each other and respecting each other in spite of our differences certainly is a possibility.

Equals2

When you read about the life of Christ in the gospels, you see someone who loved people. He did not disassociate himself from any particular group, nor did he turn away anyone or think he was better than others. Jesus showed the love of the Father by caring for people, talking with people, eating together, healing people and not condemning them. The only crowd he had a problem with was the religious leaders of the day who thought they were so much better than everyone else because, in their view, they kept the rules. Their reasoning was they did not do the ‘wrong’ things and they did the ‘right’ things. They did not associate with the type of people they thought were less religious and unworthy of God’s love. Jesus was always getting on their case for being so religious they were of no earthly good to the Kingdom of God.

Speaking of all the different views and ways of life, I can remember when I was young and growing up in the organized church how I always stayed with people of similar belief. I do not know for sure if I was actually taught this or it was just a common belief I picked up, but I felt I needed to stay away from people of different views and ways of life. I thought it would be great to work in the church system or for a christian bookstore as a job, then spend my off-time in church services and doing church work. That way I would always being around someone who saw things pretty much the same as I did.  This way I would not have to be around ‘those’ people, whoever ‘they’ were. I still see this in the church today, a separatist mindset.

Sound familiar? So much of the traditional church setting is based on separation from those who think differently. This usually brings a feeling of superiority, being separated from those who need to see God’s love in action and living a Pharisee-type lifestyle. (Pharisee: strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, one who adheres to laws and traditions, self-righteous or hypocritical person).

Compare that to the life of Jesus we read about in the gospels, a person who loved people, was not condemning or unkind, hung out with those who the religious crowd did not want anything to do with, spent time eating and drinking with the non-religious crowd and truly cared for others.

I know we all see things differently. We will not all agree on things and we have no way of proving our point in regard to spiritual matters. Yet I think it is time the christian ‘religion’ comes to an end and Christ-like people begin to daily show the unconditional love and acceptance of God to everyone.

Jesus said to love God and love one another. He did not say love only those who live in a way you think is right or with who you completely agree. Love people the way God loves them and agree to disagree rather than judge and condemn.

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by Jim Gordon

It is hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. We have been taught that if we live our lives trying to follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with God face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne way up in heaven and here we are, far, far away down on earth.

We talk about going to a meeting and the Spirit showing up, or being at a specific place because God is there. We pray and talk with God, yet we wonder if our prayers are even getting to Him.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are now living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and the Spirit of God now lives within us.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God just as he and the Father are one.

oneinchrist

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die to go to heaven and enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is our teacher and guide.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him. We need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely be different a little further down the road. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit. We should not put all hope in others and those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated or paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but the people.

This is not saying we are God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we were taught that it is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize.

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by Jim Gordon

When it comes to accepting others most of us Christian people are quick to say yes, we are accepting. But we find many times we are accepting of only those who believe the same way we do.

If someone comes from a different faith, no faith or different way of life, we would rather argue with them and defend our way of thinking trying to prove they are wrong or unworthy.

When looking at the way Jesus lived, we see a life of loving others and accepting those who the religious crowd did not like. He was kind, loving, forgiving and caring to all he came in contact. It seemed his main conflicts came from the religious self-righteous leaders.

Jesus walked with the prostitutes, the demon possessed, the heathen, tax collectors and people who the religious crowd felt they should stay away from. Today we seem to think we have to stay away from those who are different or doing things we disapprove of to prove how righteous we are.  Yet we never see Jesus doing such things. He enjoyed spending time with people from all walks of life. He got in trouble with the religious people of his day for living this way, and we find this still happens today when we accept people just the way they are.

Acceptingthosewhoaredifferent

Fact is, each and every one of us could have a label or something that someone else would think is wrong. Rather than being judgmental and pointing out to others what we think is wrong, we should seek what God has for us and then show the love of God to everyone we meet. After all, we are not called to point out the sins of others and say what is and what is not sin. We are called to love God and love one another.

Jesus never said to separate from people. He said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We do this by living a life of love, acceptance and allowing the love of God to touch people right where they are.

It seems to me rather than fight and argue over doctrine, interpretation and belief we would do better to love, accept and show compassion. This certainly does not mean we have to agree with everyone but we do not have to fight and defend our way of thinking.

Many of us think we have it all figured out and our way of faith is the only way. We think we have to persuade others to come to our way of thinking or they are doomed to hell. As we grow in the Spirit over time, we come to realize we were wrong many times in interpretation or belief, so why should we be telling others what is right and wrong and how they should believe? This should be something between the individual and the Spirit within.

I am not sure any of us have it all figured out, in fact I know none of us do. We all have room to question, learn and change. I know my wife and I are doing more questioning than we ever did and we are finding new truths as we walk daily in the Spirit.

When it comes down to it, we should be open to accept others no matter what their way of thinking. People want to be loved and accepted, they want to be happy and get along with others. When we get all religious and defend our point of view it does more harm and drives people apart more than anything.

My wife and I have been asking God for strength to accept and love everyone. No matter what they believe, what their faith or doctrine is, no matter their religion, nationality, sexual preference or color we want to see them as Jesus sees them. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us. We want to love, accept and care for people. Naturally we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas and love them in Christ.

LoveisfromGod

We feel this is the way that others will come to see the love of God, not through condemning and bashing them. Not in trying to prove we are right and they are wrong, not trying to change them or trick them into coming to our way of thinking.

Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or always like some of the things people do, but it does mean we look past the differences and love them as Christ loves them. We see them as human beings equally deserving of love, respect and acceptance.

Let’s try to look past the labels and see people who have feelings, who want love and friendship, people we can get to know, learn from, share thoughts and ideas and accept as human beings who were created in the image of God.

Acceptance does not mean total agreement. It is showing love to people, respecting them and accepting them for who they are without an ulterior motive of trying to change them.

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by Jim Gordon

We all know people who are the ‘in-your-face’ type people. You know, loud, sometimes obnoxious, they do everything they can verbally, physically and any other way to let you know where they stand. The dictionary describes it as blatantly aggressive or provocative; impossible to ignore or avoid.

InYourFace

There are people in all walks of life like this. Political, christian, atheist, gay, straight, black, white, there are extremists in everyone group. They do whatever they can to let you know where they stand, to prove their point, and to let you know you had better accept them or you can go to you know where.

For me, I would rather have a calmer, even keel way of getting to know someone over time. That way we would each get to know one another and what we think about things without the in-your-face aggressiveness. No matter what each of us believe I feel we should accept, respect and treat everyone the same. We all deserve the same treatment and rights as anyone else.

Rather than try to force our views on others, I think it best to accept one another as is, even in our differences and various ways of living and be respectful and accepting of one another.

Coming from the christian world, I remember having the attitude that I was right in my belief and if you thought differently you just did not measure up. I still treated people right, but it was my attitude toward them that was wrong. It always seemed like it was me versus them in our views about life.

Jesus came into our world to show us that God is love. Jesus loved and accepted everyone. That does not mean he agreed with everything they did, but he loved them and showed that love. Now days we christians would rather point out the mistakes of others, choose what is and what is not sin, judge and condemn. Many christian people feel they should separate themselves from those who do not believe the same and use any ulterior motive to get them to “see the light”.

Jesus is our example and he loved people unconditionally. All of us have committed sin in one way or another, but Jesus set us free from our sin and condemnation. None of us are worthy because of the way we live, but we are all worthy because of the way Jesus lived.

Rather than be an in-your-face type person, let us allow the love of God that lives within us show others the unconditional love and acceptance of the Father and treat one another with kindness, acceptance and respect.

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by Jim Gordon

We often think about events in the old testament and wonder why God seems so mean and destructive. How can a God who created us be willing to destroy so many human beings?

Many times it is written that God told the Israelites to completely wipe out and destroy a certain group of people due to the way they acted or believed.

In our world today, we still see so much hatred and treating certain groups of people as unworthy. Many religious people think so highly of themselves and the way they live yet they want nothing to do with those they feel are unworthy, unlovable and unacceptable.

Groups of people are killed, tortured, treated with contempt and meanness, all in the name of various religions who are representing the God of the universe. Love and acceptance are only saved for those who are like-minded and with similar beliefs. If you see things differently you are not accepted into the group.

LoveGodLoveOthers

Yet we see Jesus come into the world for the purpose of showing us what God is really like. It seems like such a contradiction. Jesus showed us that God is love. Jesus loved and accepted people who many in the religious world condemned, would not associate with and found completely unworthy to be loved.

I personally think God is highly misrepresented in the bible, especially the old testament. I think many times when men wrote that God said this or that, it was more of what they thought was the thing to do rather than God actually telling them to do such horrible acts.

So often the religious world says to hate those who are different. Do not associate or accept those who they think do not measure up. Stay away from those they feel are unworthy. Yet God says to love your neighbor and to love your enemy.

In a world where hatred and unacceptance seems the norm, it is time we who are representatives of God start putting differences and personal prejudices aside and let his love flow to all we meet along the way.

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by Jim Gordon

In the bible we are told to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). In our day it seems almost impossible to be at peace with all men, which includes believers and non-believers. When we think about all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and the 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. We can easily see that without the Spirit we certainly cannot do this.

LiveinPeace

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 should remember that all believers want to please our Father. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God is working differently in people. Just because it is not the way we believe does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers we are not to condemn them, force our beliefs on them or treat them like second-class citizens. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live and treat others. 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 the lives of others.

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 the way others think we should, and we are not responsible to make others live the way we think they should. 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 everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in the lives of others as he works within us. Living in this manner will accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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