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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

by Mike Edwards

It isn’t easy leaving the institutional church when you are still into God and church has been a part of your life for years. Leaving can be almost an impossible choice. Where else can you share your beliefs and love for God? Not all outside relationships share the same interests in God. If you voice differing opinions about God in the church building, you often face rejection or doubt from those who love the same Creator. You don’t want to be divisive, but you are sick of pretending. 

I got tired of being told to “not major on the minor”

What the hell is so minor about believing a loving God tortures those who don’t believe in God while a short time here on earth? What is minor of denying women use of their gifts who clearly can preach and teach better than some men? Not my damn wife and daughters! It’s a big deal to condemn gays in God’s name though they have no choice who they are attracted too. 

I got tired of being told to believe in the Bible or else

Sorry. I am not convinced all what the writers claims about God is true. It can’t be proven writers got God right or wrong. Interpretations are debatable though extremists never admit they could be wrong. But that’s not the point. One writer claims God supposedly ordered the murder of women, children, and infants in war (I Sam. 15:3). God supposedly approved a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut. 25:12). Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to killing infidels in God’s name and justifying wars throughout history. 

I got tired of a lot more things 

I got tired of the lack of open dialogue. If I opened my mouth about disagreements about leadership’s views of what a loving God is like, I felt I was being divisive and pulling others down. I don’t mind disagreeing. That is my nature. But I am not looking to force my views on others.

I got tired of being preached to where I couldn’t ask questions directly to leadership. Church morning fellowship works for some. Not me. It didn’t deepen my relationship with God. I need more discussion with those whose opinions everyone else is buying into.

I didn’t mind being challenged to help the less fortunate, but I got tired of the majority of the budget going for salaries, facilities, and great children’ programs. It is my responsibility to guide my children in their relationship with God.

I got tired of having a hidden agenda with those outside the church. Sinners, believe or go to Hell!

Okay, I love not having obligations on Sunday and not having to dress up 

Why shouldn’t I give up certain Sunday obligations when I am miserable? I rather cut the grass, play tennis, or whatever. I can try to find fellowship in others places. My relationship with God isn’t about an institution or day of the week. It’s a daily, hourly relationship. 

The last straw!

At the last church I attended, which was a megachurch with respectable leadership, I begin helping with a group involving newcomers that had questions about God. Perfect for me! I am a pretty open-minded guy. I enjoyed having open discussions about God but that wasn’t always comfortable for leadership. My co-leader believed exactly what church leadership did. I was treated nicely, but they didn’t think best I continue to help lead such groups. The truth was I was more qualified because of my readings and background leading groups than other leaders. But newcomers were attracted to the church because of the beliefs of the pastor and church leadership. I don’t feel called to create dissension for those seeking to have a relationship with their Creator for the first time often.

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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It May Be Better to be Known for What They are For

by Jim Gordon

It seems that many Christian people are more known for what they are against rather than the good things of God they are for.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be known as someone who is always against something. Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, this group or that group, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different ideas and subjects we can come up with that end up taking away our main focus, our love for Christ.

Be Known for Love

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong, yet we do not have to focus on those convictions or try to prove our reasoning to others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is the Spirit’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth, He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, despised, neglected, and sinners of the day. Those who the religious people would not want to be around.

Obviously, God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our interpretations of the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings, does not help promote showing the love of God to others.

The Grace of Christ

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ, and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day. We can show them the love of Christ by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

We do not need to worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Remember, do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for following Jesus daily by loving God and loving one another. Let Him be the central focus of your life and allow His love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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

Both the belief that God exist or doesn’t exist requires faith. Let’s not accuse those who put their faith in God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being in denial or immoral. Those of any faith or religion must in politics, business, or friendships respectful convey rights to not believe in God or supposed biblical truths.

One Christian nation can’t exist

A “Christian nation” implies or requires all believe the same. This is a violation of God’s very nature. God created freedom of beliefs for the possibility of authentic relationships. A parent guides their children to freely make future choices hopefully for their benefit as well as for others. God would be a terrible terrorist or extremist since opposed to forcing personal beliefs on others.

But, didn’t God choose one nation under God such as with Israel in the Old Testament? God choose Israel as a mouthpiece to introduce God in the beginning, but God wanted to have a relationship with all nations (i.e. Gen. 12:3). Other nations could look to Israel to compare God against their gods. Jesus didn’t try to turn the Roman Empire into a Christian nation. Jesus taught that serving was more important than gaining power.

A free society isn’t an immoral society 

We all have friends not into God that are moral, and we have Christians friends who seem closer to the devil than God. A society that doesn’t respect freedom to believe in God or not, seems destiny for tyranny. Most Christians think such freedom was given to us by our Creator.

So, everything goes! C’mon! Who doesn’t believe murder or physical or sexual abuse is wrong? We aren’t always certain how to best love, but most know that we ought to love others as we want to be loved. Different opinions on immigration, health care or taxes can stand side by side as we discuss the most loving approach.

Using the Bible as foundational truth

Christians give speeches or hold signs up at civil protests to argue we must follow “biblical truths” as a nation. This is a disregard for freedom of beliefs for all and ignores that differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. See here.  I can’t imagine Jesus holding up a sign. He simply spoke of and lived out caring for others. That is how you make policy.

Discussing what are biblical truths are more appropriate in a worship setting where all share the same beliefs about God. I am convinced though an open view as opposed to an inspired or inerrant view of Scriptures encourages more contemplating what a loving God is really like. And surely an inaudible Creator influences though our moral intuitions. Common, moral sense is not the enemy.

God and politics

The only way we can be a Christian nation is if all believe in God or at least forced to. We must not speak as if all must believe the same. We are fortunate to be able to freely to speak of influences in our life. When people ask what influences or motivates me, I talk about God’s presence in my life. That can be voiced in the public square as well. But our language must carefully respect the beliefs of others and not assume or insist on a belief in God. I believe as a God-follower that God can inspire unselfish motives but each must make that relational decision for themselves.

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 Mike Edwards

Researchers such as John Marriott and Josh Packard have written on why people are leaving the Christian faith or the institutional church but not always God. Believers must stop claiming people are leaving to justify lifestyle choices. Talk to them! Claiming that those that leave never believed in the first place is suspect as well. There are many more reasons than what I suggest, but perhaps some of the main reasons are true below.  Let’s listen rather than judge!

The Bible may be the biggest reason for wanting nothing to do with God

Christians sometimes argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God. The term is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. Certain supposed truths, such as the traditional understanding of Hell, may not be true. Also, the truth is we can’t prove God somehow magically controlled the biblical writers’ thoughts and pens. The writers may not have always understood God perfectly. Uncertainty though isn’t always a bad thing. See here.

Many feel compelled to choose science over God because a literal interpretation of Genesis demands God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better because surely a Creator influences us through our moral intuitions, consciences. Claims about God, other than evolution can’t be true, can lead to rejecting God.

Certain accusations about God can lead to atheism or leaving God

According to the Bible it has been claimed God approves of putting men over women in leaderships roles at home and in the church. This has encouraged historical dominance by men. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. But scholars who accept the Bible as authoritative defend the Bible not showing partiality to men over women and that God doesn’t condemn gays. See here. Since we can’t prove our interpretation is the right one, common, moral sense is not the enemy.

Why doesn’t God intervene more with evil in the world? 

A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Answers like “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t suffice for many of us. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and uncontrolling. Controlling love is a contradiction in terms. Freedom to love fully may have to include the freedom to hate fully. There may be plausible moral reasons as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. 

When Christians leaders and laypeople act ungodly 

Another obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by God. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, I doubt others want to discuss your relationship with God. Parents who don’t do as they say should be quiet. 

How to avoid being a hinderance to those seeking God 

Don’t accuse those who have no inclination to include God in their lives being less moral. If we judge others at all, let’s challenge one another to love others as we want to be loved. What can we say to those wanting to talk about God or spirituality? Suffering and a loving God co-existing often makes no sense. Have an open discussion. Discuss worrisome claims made about God that seem unlikely. Our intuitions aren’t the enemy. Finally, if you want others to consider your God because God has made a big difference in your life, walk the talk. Seek forgiveness when wrong.

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 Mike Edwards

Honestly, I don’t know all the reasons one may be more inclined to want a relationship with God. A belief or unbelief in God is hardly a personality flaw or makes one more or less moral. I grew up believing there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I now hate. I have no idea why I didn’t rebel against the whole idea of a God as many understandably have.

We can’t prove God exists or doesn’t exist. Either belief requires faith. If a perfect, loving Creator does indeed exist, it seems intuitive that understanding perfect human love is how to understand God’s love. Are misunderstandings about God a hinderance to those inclined and wanting to feel closer to God? Since God doesn’t speak to most people, we can only discern what God is like by examining our moral intuitions, our consciences. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but most of us would agree we ought to love others as we want to be loved.

Understandings of God can shape attitudes 

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 don’t discover the right beliefs before death. Many claims about God just can’t be true if God is good. See here.

Why doesn’t God intervene more in suffering? 

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate why they don’t believe in a good God or can’t get close to God. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Answers like “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t suffice for many of us. Maybe even an all-powerful God can’t prevent evil that leads to so much suffering. If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much. Does God hate God?

Controlling love is a contradiction in terms. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and other-empowering. God cannot fail to give freedom to others, including those who do horrific things to others. Absolute freedom is necessary for authenticity in relationships. We could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world, if God wasn’t uncontrolling. There may be plausible moral reasons as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. 

Pursuing God despite challenges

Do you want to believe more in God? I am not sure there is anything to lose in beginning a journey of faith if the desire is to live life with fewer regrets. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement I sense in striving to be a better human being. If God is real, they should be able to make their case with each individual. Do examine if claims you believe about God are true. God must be a perfect lover, or they are a God not worth following. I am convinced the world is dependent on partnerships with God for a better future and world.

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

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with our Father. I think we often miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. So many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31,32 states, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church’. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who are one in Christ. It is not a weekly meeting, it is a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace. I also believe that just because husband and wife are used by the writer in this verse, it also means any two people who love one another and commit to one another because of that love.

I find it amazing that we are considered to be one with God. It is hard to imagine that the Spirit of God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth that he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

In John 17:21 Jesus is making a request of the Father about us, asking 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’. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

Now this is not saying we are God, but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together, the bible says the two are joined together as one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals, yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person He created, yet because God loves us and we love him, he has made his home with us and His spirit lives within us. We are one with God.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go and meet Him and live with Him forever.

The thing is, that is not what His written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. His Spirit dwells within us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are living as one with Him in His Kingdom right now because the Kingdom of God is within us. We are his temple, his dwelling place and each of us are equally important parts of his body.

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 am not suggesting God-folks become “judge” freaks. I am reacting to the claims of many that the Bible was written so that people must have certain beliefs to avoid Hell and God’s wrath. Many scholars now recognize that the Bible’s main message is expressing God’s desire to have a relationship with each and every individual in this world to face inevitable challenges. See here.

If judgment is necessary, shouldn’t we judge one by their character rather than their color, gender, religion, or beliefs in God? It’s hard to know why some believe in a God and not others. Neither is hardly a personality flaw. I doubt a loving God plays favorites, giving some the feeling to believe and not others. If God is real, they are big enough to make their case with each individual. But it is a universal principle, except for the selfish, that we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.

It is a myth that those who don’t believe in God are rebellious or in denial

It just isn’t true that those who aren’t into God deny reality to justify their immorality. Not my friends! Some Christians’ morality is suspect! Let’s not accuse those who put their faith in God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as desiring to excuse their actions. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if they doubt God in tough times.

A good God surely doesn’t judge one according to their religion

God isn’t a God of chance! John Hick wrote: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family, they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). Some misunderstand God due to certain claims made by Christians. See here.

God-folks and Christians please…….

Let’s stop judging others who don’t share our same beliefs in God. I was taught as a child there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I now hate. I have no idea why I didn’t rebel against the whole idea of a God. Let’s encourage others to consider what kind of person they want to be deep down or wish their parents or friends were. One’s belief and desire for help is between God and each person. My story is I am a better husband, father, and friend than I normally would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from 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

There is a very common saying used in regard to the violence and killings that have been making 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, but unfortunately that is the problem, it only sounds good yet does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

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

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 the person in need, and what good 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 put that love in action 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 shows love and concern to those who are hurting.

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 write to push God on others. I am convinced God is big enough to make their own case with those seeking more of a connection with their Creator. I just know God has made me a better husband, father, and friend by their influence. I enjoy discussing my journey with those so inclined. Even if it turns out God doesn’t exist, what have I lost by living a life with fewer regrets.

One might argue the biggest obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by the God I know. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, good luck discussing your relationship with God with others.

Claims I consider false, made by Christians about God, may be the greatest problem. It is said:

  • Evolution can’t be true and God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process
  • Women can’t be pastors or priests and wives should be more submissive to husbands than husbands should be to their wives
  • God condemns gays who are naturally attracted to those of their same sex and God forbid they get married
  • God is going to burn in hell forever those who deny God here on earth Most humans wouldn’t even justify such torture for their worst enemies. To Hell with those who grew up in a family of another religion that believed in the golden rule
  • God before creation elected some to be God’s children and the rest can freely go to Hell
  • God can control evil, despite creating freedom, thus in reality God controls how much each suffers
  • God can magically answer your prayers and if God doesn’t, you must have some hidden sin or not praying the right words
  • God can tell you to love your enemies but supposedly God can command the killing of women and children as in the Old Testament. Maybe the writers didn’t understand God fully at the time
  • If you are an atheist or not all-in about God, you are simply being rebellious to justify living selfishly
  • You don’t really love God if you don’t attend the institutional church on a regular basis

It is claimed the Bible is all about avoiding Hell rather than God desiring to have a relationship with you here on earth to face challenges inevitable in an imperfect world.

Do you doubt any of the above claims? Most if not all of the above beliefs come from one’s understanding of a Book. It is seldom admitted Christians disagree in good conscience about the above claims in the Bible about God.

Besides, many act as if it can be proven that God controlled or approved all that is claimed about God in the Bible, that God somehow magically download their thoughts and words into the writer’s brain.

Do you wish you could get more into God but certain claims are a problem? Don’t believe everything you hear. God surely gave us a brain and moral conscience to decide evil from good. If God is evil in any way, that is a God not worth believing in!

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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(And We All See Things Differently)

by Jim Gordon

It has always amazed me how some Christians can be so argumentative. They just do not know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we cannot agree and accept one another.

People will argue and defend their doctrines and interpretations, and then get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when they partly agree, they feel the need to point out where each other differs because they think that their way is right and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that people are not going to agree on everything, and that each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things. The problem is that many go too far when they let these differences separate them. They want to keep in their own particular group, which they usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and do not want to associate with others. This should not be. Each of us can have our differences and still not separate ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a sense, we are all people of faith. No one can prove beyond a doubt that their way is right. People have faith there is a God, or faith there is not a God; faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith there is no hell; faith in reincarnation, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. None of us can prove or disprove any of it, yet many are ready to fight and argue amongst themselves trying to defend their viewpoint and interpretations even when they cannot prove anything.

No matter what we believe about God and spiritual life, none of us can prove our beliefs. It is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith not by sight. For me, I choose to put my faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from sin and who has come to make a home within me so that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I do not think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit who draws others to God. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be available for God to show godly love through me.

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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