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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Growing up in the organized church, I was taught over time that we actually had enemies within the religious world and that certain groups of people were to be avoided.

I do not think this was done openly but very subliminally, it was just something that you picked up over the years in the christian religion.

I can say this because I spent well over fifty years in the organized christian church and I know how I used to feel. Fortunately, not everyone in the church system feels this way but it does seem to be a pretty normal way of thought for those of us who grew up in it.

acceptoneanother2

Let me be clear, I no longer think this way. I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone.

Yet in the church system I found that things such as, if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations do not quite measure up.

If you are a christian then those outside of christianity are to be avoided. Of course acting like a friend so you can witness to them and try to convert them to christianity was OK. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.

I found that inside the christian religion atheists are considered to be our enemy. They deny that God exists and it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.

Inside the church system the gay community is to be condemned and shunned. Anyone openly admitting they are gay is an abomination to God and thus to us also. After all, people choose to be gay and that means they are choosing to go against God. Wait, I do not remember choosing to be straight, it is just the way I am. Is that not the case with people who are gay?

People of other religions such as hinduism, buddhism. confucianism, gnosticism, judaism, islam or a host of other religions were considered to be confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except christianity. Still, christianity is a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the christian religion.

Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people. I have come to know several people of all beliefs and ways of life and have found them to be good friends. We all have our different backgrounds and beliefs but we are all basically the same.

equals

No matter what label the world or religion puts on people, that does not completely describe who they are. Each of us is a person who basically wants the same things and same goals in life. We all want to be happy, to be loved and accepted and to live a good life. We all go about it in different ways but the basics are the same.

Rather than judge and condemn others who do not see things the way we do, it is time we do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love others. We are not here to judge, condemn and try to force people into accepting things the way we see them. The Holy Spirit will draw, convict and change people if that is what is needed. We are only called to be loving and kind to all we meet. Being loving does not mean we always agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences.

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Whether you are part of an organized church or not, we as followers of Christ are the Church. It is not a building or an organization but a community of believers loving God and loving others.

We should be able to get past our differences in doctrine and interpretation, get past what church we attend or if we attend at all and focus on our love for God and our love for one another.

We are not going to agree with one another and we are not going to come in contact with every person in the world. Yet we are to be ready each day to allow the Spirit of Christ, who is within us, to reach out to those individuals we do meet along the way to share the love of God with them.

All our organized services and plans to get people to a church building so the pastor can get the good word out will never make a huge difference. It is our job to go out into the world and live a life of love. That does not mean all of us have to become missionaries and go to some far-off land. The people we come in contact with each day during our regular routine are the people we are to show God’s love.

This is the way we will make a difference in our world, when people see the love of God within us for each other and for God.

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In our world today unity and agreement are things that are almost unheard of happening.

There are different areas where groups of people will unit in a common cause or belief, but even then complete agreement among members is hard to attain.

Look at Christianity. Those of us who claim to be christians are divided up into thousands of groups, denominations, doctrines and beliefs. We usually find a common group within a particular church or denomination, yet complete agreement is rarely found even there.

DividedChristianity

Seems our whole world is based on division. Just look within the church not to mention other religions. Do you think christians and atheist will ever agree? How about those who believe in marriage between a man and a woman and the gay community.  What about blacks and whites, or americans and those from other countries. Will republicans and democrats ever work together?

The thing is that unity and agreement is probably not going to happen in the world as we know it. There are so many different personalities, beliefs and lifestyles for all of us to agree. Yet that does not mean that we cannot accept one another, respect one another and live together in peace even in our differences.

In a world like ours we probably will not see the acceptance and respect for one another that we should. But does that mean we stop striving for such a world? Do we just stop thinking of others and do only what is best for us? Do we really think our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong?

Especially as those who claim to follow the way of Jesus, we should be known for our love of others. Each of us has the right to follow what we feel is right and live according to our convictions. That does not mean everyone is right or wrong, but everyone should be accepted and treated respectfully whether we all agree or not.

LoveOneAnotherAsIHaveLovedYou

Jesus said to love God and love others. He did not say we all have to agree or live the same way. Jesus lived and walked among all kinds of people, many of those the religious people would not associate. Rather than look at all the labels we place upon people and groups, look at the human being and see a person that God created and loves.

If we see things differently, if we cannot agree or come into unity together, at least respect each other and treat people like you would like to be treated.

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Recently my wife and I were talking about some of our past church experiences. We also talked about some of our friends and some of the articles we have read online and the experiences others have had in the organized church.

We talked about how it seems many people mentioned being hurt or abused in the system. It is so sad that this happens in an organization that is supposed to represent the love of God. Yet many times people are abused and hurt and taken advantage of in the church.

church attendance

For myself and my wife our experience was pretty basic. We grew up attending a traditional denominational church every Sunday thinking that was the way God intended. We went to Sunday School and Junior church when we were young, then to regular service as we got older. We had friends we looked forward to seeing and we attended activities outside the Sunday morning service.

Through all the years we were involved neither of us were ever abused or hurt. We know things were not perfect yet there was never a reason for us to leave the church due to someone treating us bad or some event happening that made us mad.

That is why at this point in our lives we feel our choice to leave the organized church two years ago was because the Spirit has guided us along this path. We have come to feel the organized church is not what God intended when he said he would build his Church.

We were not chased away, we did not get hurt, abused or feel the need to get away. We were not over worked in the system or told to leave for any reason.

We came to a point where we were so unsatisfied with the same planned out service every week. We were seeing so much division within Christianity with all the denominations and interpretations. We saw judgment and condemnation placed on people rather than love and acceptance.

We know that christians are to be known for their love for one another, yet we saw so much arguing, fighting and disagreeing.

We read that when you come together each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. Yet each week one person got up and did all the talking while all the rest of us sat quietly looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

We read that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, so why did people call a building the house of God? The Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit fell upon those gathered together. So why do people tell us to come to church because God was going to show up and the Spirit was going to fall upon the place.

We finally came to the conclusion that the organized church, even though many good things happen there and there are many people there who truly love God, was not what God intended.

people are the church

God now lives within us. The Holy Spirit has come upon us and we are his temple. We go about each and every day with the Spirit of God within us and we do not have to wait for a specific day in a specific building with one person doing all the talking.

Church is a people who show the love of God to all people, all nationalities, all faiths, all religions, atheists, gay, straight, black, white and any other label we can think of to put on people.

Church is us. It is a community of people living in the love and power of the Spirit serving one another and encouraging one another.

In the eyes of God there is no denominations, no buildings, no office of spiritual leader, there is neither jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

No, we were not hurt or abused. We were not upset or mad at the pastor or anyone in the church system. We just came to the conclusion that there is a better way. God is building his Church and it is us, not a building or an organization. It is a living organism made up of his people with the Spirit living within them.

We decided that going to a building once a week was no longer for us. The idea of separating ourselves from other denominations and from those who do not attend a church or those who do not accept God was not the way we wanted to continue.

Living each day as part of the body of Christ with the Spirit leading and teaching us, accepting all people and letting the love of God flow out to others makes more sense to us rather than sitting in a building with like-minded people and then going our separate ways until the next week.

We certainly do not tell others to do as we do. Each of us has to follow the leading of the Spirit and do what we feel is right. There are many people within the organized church who love God and seek to do what is right. Yet for us we are happy to be outside the walls of religion living each and every day as equally functioning parts of the body with Jesus as the head.

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Originally Posted on February 1, 2011

As I become more inclined to follow my feeling that the church of today is way off base of what God intended, the organized, man-made denomination, the ‘religious’ church, I continue to come across books and websites that confirm my thoughts.

Take for instance the teaching of the church on tithing. We are constantly told we need to give our 10% to the church or we are robbing God. Wait a minute, that was in the Old Testament. Jesus came to fulfill the law and provide grace for us. Follow the following links and read a different thought on tithing:
http://freebelievers.com/article/tithing-is-not-a-christian-doctrine
and
http://freebelievers.com/article/rethinking-the-tithe

Tithing

Am I saying it is wrong to tithe? No. If you attend an organized church and you feel they are doing what God wants for them, yes, support it. But do not feel you ‘have’ to tithe. Do not let a pastor guilt you into giving because he uses some Old Testament verse to tell you that you are robbing from God. Give because you love God and want to give. Give 1%, 5%, 10%, 50%, whatever you determine in your heart to give. We are free to give the amount we determine and are no longer under law and required to tithe.

Why get so caught up on being in a building each week listening to one man (or woman) telling us what God is saying or what the bible says. Is it not written in the bible that we now have the Holy Spirit to teach us?

Am I saying it is wrong to go to church? Of course not. I do believe the modern-day organized church is not in line with what God intended, and I do believe we do not have to attend any organized church. Some will say the bible says do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. That is true but it does not say you have to assemble together anywhere in particular. Meet up with other believers in a restaurant, or invite them to your home for a meal and a time of fellowship. That is what I feel the bible is talking about. Check this article to see what I mean:
http://freebelievers.com/article/the-flabby-body-of-christ-why-is-church-so-dull

In our day and age it is time to get over man-made religion and the church building being the center of our Christian life and realize there is more. Most churches today are more of a social meeting place or a big business than anything. We should focus on Jesus and build our relationship with him and realize that WE are the Church and the Holy Spirit lives within us, making us the dwelling place of God. We are the temple of God. We need to build our fellowship with God and with one another. This does not need to be done in a building with an organized service, but in spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping one another and talking about God and His love for us. Others should be able to know that we are Christians because of the love we have for one another.

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It is sad that Christianity is divided into so many different groups. We all have a little different interpretation of the bible and a little different understanding of doctrine. Obviously, we are not going to agree on everything but we certainly should be able to love one another and accept each other even when we differ on these things.

DenominationsandDoctrines

It is hard to understand why this is when God tells us we are to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Yet, we understand that we are human and it is easy to lose sight of our first love. If we could only stay focused on Christ, listening for his voice and the guidance of the Spirit, loving God and loving others as God intended, then we could begin to look past our differences.

The problem seems to be that we are unwilling to see any other viewpoint other than our own. There are those such as my wife and I that do not attend an organized church. There are those who attend a church every time the doors are open. Some attend a house church, some meet with fellow believers at cafe’s, parks or restaurants and others meet in their homes over dinner. We should accept these differences and love one another rather than argue over who is right and who is wrong.

There really is not a right or wrong way to assemble together and we need to stop expecting everyone to do things exactly the same way. We should respect others viewpoints and focus on loving them rather than expecting them to see things our way.

ChurchisWhoWeAre

Things will not change until we start focusing on what is common in our lives rather than the differences. The common focus should be on Christ, the head of the body. After that we should focus on loving others rather than arguing about the differences in interpretation and doctrine.

We also need to keep in mind that we are all constantly changing as God brings new truth to us. We are all learning and changing as we are ready to accept new truths. The interpretations I had five years ago are completely different from some of the interpretations I have now. I am sure in another five years they will change again as God leads me into more truth.

Sometimes we are afraid to accept others interpretations because we feel if we do not hold to our way of thinking we are compromising and not standing up for what we believe. We do not have to give up how we interpret the bible, but neither should we think everyone else is wrong. Besides, we really are not responsible for convicting people of sin or leading them into truth or even saving them. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. We are told to love God and love others.

When we realize we are each equally important functioning parts of the body and Christ is the head, we can start to change how we feel about those who do not see things exactly the way we do. We can begin to accept the differences in our brothers and sisters in Christ as we realize we are all following after our Father and our goal is to show His love to all people.

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It is amazing to me the variety of voices and views there are in the christian world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own views and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking or just realizing we do not agree with what we hear and it bolsters our own faith.

The problem is that everyone has an opinion. That does not mean everyone is right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways and what may be right for one person is not right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, listen for his voice and ask that He will lead us into truth. God will speak and lead us through the Spirit, through the bible and through words spoken from fellow believers. The bible says his sheep know his voice so we need to be sure we are hearing from him, yet we can be assured we can know his voice.

Our relationship with the Father is a day by day experience. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek the guidance of God through the Spirit and seek His truth. To many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist or pastor. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others views and opinions but when we focus on people we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject. Putting our trust in people and their opinions often leads to fighting and arguing. Many times, when we have been shown something or led in a particular way we expect everyone to see it our way and to believe the same thing.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That is not to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways and as followers of Jesus there are many different paths we will walk throughout this life.

We need to remember that the Spirit speaks from within us, he speaks to us from the written word and he can speak to us through other people. We need to be sure we are hearing his voice and know he does not always speak the same way and does not always have the same life experiences for everyone.

It is time we become followers of Jesus and stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing the views of others, but take it as that. It is their view and opinion. Only Jesus is the one to follow and to be our everything.

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