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Posts Tagged ‘believers’

Why does the word inclusion make so many of us christian people cringe?

inclusion

We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If you think differently we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Sorry to say I used to feel the same way, but have thankfully changed my mind.

I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.

We see this so much within christianity, such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the bible. This is only mentioning fellow believers who believe that God is with us and loves us.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, it is even worse. African-American, White, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently. We think we should not associate with them or people will think we agree with them and are a part of their way of living.

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

inclusionbyjesus

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean agreement nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after together. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. Inclusion is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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Do you get tired of seeing such disagreement among fellow christians? We do not see a lot of unity and agreement at all today.

unityamongbrethren

Jesus said his followers were to be known for their love for one another. Yet today it is hard to find brothers and sisters in Christ being loving and kind.

Fortunately this is not the case in every situation, but it seems a lot more common than it should be.

I am not just talking about being accepting and kind toward those who are outside the christian faith, but it is hard to find true love and acceptance among brethren of different denominations within the faith.

If we go to the same church building and accept the same doctrines, you will usually find love and acceptance. I remember when I was in the church system the first thing I would ask someone was where they went to church. If they went to an organization I liked and agreed with, I would pretty much instantly like the person. If they went to a place that was different in their way of worship or interpretation of the bible, then I would immediately be on guard and almost dismiss them as someone to get to know. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

It is sad that we put such walls up with people who think differently. It is sad that we have made such importance out of buildings, doctrines, interpretations and bible versions that we forget God loves each of us no matter what we believe. We are to love God and love others just as God does no matter what they believe, especially among those who are also followers of Jesus.

Loving and accepting people does not mean we are always in agreement and that we always get along. Of course there will be disagreements and differences of opinions, probably even arguments and hurt feelings at times, but that is life. We can disagree and even argue at times and still respect and accept the other person.

By the power of the Spirit within us, we can accept, respect and be loving toward others. Not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but those who are not of the christian faith and belief. I think we can disagree and have different opinions and still act in a respectful and accepting way toward our fellow human beings.

loveoneanother

Jesus said that they will know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Love draws people, but condemnation, judgment and unloving behavior drives them away. Many times, when I say we are to love and accept others I get a lot of comments about being wrong because as christians we are to point out the sins and mistakes of others. They say our responsibility is to make sure others know what they are doing is wrong….at least by their way of thought.

I personally do not think we are to be the sin police. We are not told to do such things. We are told to love God and love others. As far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. That is between the Spirit and each individual as to what they do and how they respond. We are only to love others.

Love draws, God is love. Rather than judge, condemn, separate and argue, get out there among humanity and let the love of God flow out of you by the power of the Spirit. There is a whole world of hurting people, both christian and non-christian who can use the encouragement of an accepting person who cares and shows the love of God.

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Why is it we seem to enjoy pointing out the mistakes of others? Have you noticed when you see someone doing something wrong or making a mistake that you want to make sure to let them know about it? I notice when driving if I see someone make an illegal turn or run a stop sign, the first thing I want to do is blow my horn and let them know they made a mistake.

I think a lot of the time we do this because deep down it makes us feel better about ourselves. In the Christian world, many times we want to point out the sins of others just to make ourselves feel more holy. Most of the time when we act like this, it drives people further from the truth of God’s love because they feel attacked, condemned, unloved and unaccepted. They also do not understand that those of us who are saved by grace are forgiven and cleansed from our sinful nature, yet we still commit sins. So when we point out the sins of others, the first thing they see is a hypocrite who thinks they are a better person.

Jesus was Loving and Kind, Why Aren’t We?

When we read the gospels and the life of Jesus, we see him loving and accepting people that the religious people did not want to be near. Jesus was known as a friend to sinners, a rebel, a glutton and a drunkard. I think if he were here in the flesh today, most churches would not want him around. Read another article by my friend Chris Kirk on this topic at: https://notesfromthebridge.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/does-jesus-weep-3/

I have always said we should love everyone, accept them as they are, and do not judge. Then I hear other Christians say that is not the way to be. We have to tell them of their sins, let them know they are doing wrong and point them to Christ. That is our duty as believers to make sure everyone knows they are sinning and are in need of being saved.

Actually I think we can do both, we can love and accept everyone, and we can talk to them about mistakes and changes, but it is solely at the leading of the Spirit, and in love. One thing we need to remember, doing things in love does not always mean it will be easy.

Real Love in the Spirit

Most Christians today do not really know anything about real love in the Spirit. We are so busy wanting to point out the speck in the eye of another rather than deal with the beam in our own eye. This is not love. This is more selfishness and self-righteous thinking.

When we talk about loving others and accepting others, that does not mean we are saying everything goes. We are not saying there are no consequences to bad choices. Yet when we come to others in a self-righteous spirit, or even in the sense that it is our job to point out others faults, we are not coming to them in love.

SpeaktheTruth

I agree, real love for others will sometimes mean saying things that will not be popular or well received. The difference being, it is said and done in the love and power of the Holy Spirit, not in a holier-than-thou attitude. Loving others is wanting the best for them. Loving others is seeing them through the eyes of God. Sometimes people do things that are not in their own best interest. At times they need someone who sees things differently to let them know they may need to make changes or that there are other ways of doing things.

I personally feel that when we are led by the spirit to deal with people about something, most times it will not necessarily be in regard to sin in general. The word of God says the Holy Spirit will convict the world (non-believers) of sin. As believers in Christ, the sin issue has been dealt with at the cross. This means to me that dealing with non-believers and their sin issue is not our business. We are to love them and accept them, and let the Spirit do the work that needs to be done.

What Are You Against?

We are so busy pointing out the sins of non-believers and condemning them, in the hope of leading them to Christ. As Christians, we have come to be known more by what we are against, rather than showing the love of God. Due to this, people do not see the love of God, all they see is people telling them how bad they are. It is God’s love that draws them, not our guilt-ridden words. See our article What are You Against at: https://donewithreligion.com/2012/07/26/what-are-you-against/

Let the love of God flow out by the power of the Holy Spirit and stop being unloving, unaccepting, condemning and judgmental of people. The Spirit will convict the non-believer of their sin and draw them to the Father through love. We are to be listening to the Spirit within us and allow him to speak in love to others as he leads, not in our own strength or religious way of thinking.

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Here is an interesting related article from our friends at Jesus Without Baggage, which deals more with speaking the truth in love with other believers:
https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/matthew-18-and-sin-in-the-church/

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I can remember growing up in the organized church being told all the things I needed to do to be a good Christian.

I think most of us who were part of the church were taught we needed to do certainly things to be pleasing to God.

We were all told that we are saved by grace, but after that we have to do, do, do to be good Christians.

What are We to Do

Usually the first thing we are told after coming to Christ is to find a Bible believing church, read your Bible, and witness to your friends. As we got involved in church we were again told to be at church whenever the doors are open, tithe your ten percent, get involved in a small group, do visitation, go on a mission trip, and on and on it went.

To be a good Christian, you can forget about grace because it all depends on how much you can do for God, at least that is the way it seems if you listen to others.

Always being told how to be a good Christian also brings up the thought that if you do not do all the things you are told you should do, then maybe you will be considered a bad Christian, and none of us want to be known as a bad Christian.

So what do we do? We try even harder to do all the things we were told to do to be a good Christian.

I think there are so many people who love God, yet feel so guilty because they just cannot measure up to being a good Christian, at least in the way that we have been told.

Grace

It is time we reprogram our minds from what the church told us and focus again on what God has told us. We are saved by grace, NOT OF WORKS. Ephesians 2:8-9 reads .. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

No More Guilt

We can stop feeling guilty about not doing enough. We need to stop listening to the do, do, do message and realize God has already done it all. God has done all that is needed to have a relationship and fellowship with Him. It is a gift from Him to us.

Good works will naturally flow from us through the love and power of the Spirit, not by our own effort trying to measure up and do things to earn God’s acceptance.

In Christ, we can relax and rest in Him. We do not have to worry about being a good Christian or a bad Christian. We can know that we are loved and accepted by our Father just as we are.

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What would it be like to sit down and have a one-on-one talk with your favorite pastor or evangelist? How would you feel having some time of personal fellowship with Billy Graham or any one of thousands of leaders you could think of who you feel is really on fire and in touch with God.

First off, this is never going to happen. These big name pastors and teachers are so unapproachable that most people will never even speak to them. The thought of having true fellowship is basically an impossibility. By true fellowship, I’m not talking about sitting in their service for an hour looking at the back of someone’s head and listening to what this person is telling you they think God is saying. No, I mean actually spending time together, talking together, discussing, and getting to know one another.

I guess the main point is why do we Christians think like this? Why do we think it would be so great if we could talk to these religious superstars.

Jesus is building His Church out of living stones, namely us, who are saved by His grace. We are His Church, and we are told we are all kings and priests. There is no one who should be over us other than Christ, who is the Head of the body, His Church.

Why is it we think so much about talking with people who are really no different than us, no higher in the Kingdom, no better in God’s eyes, when we can talk directly to our Father Himself. Anytime, anywhere, we can speak to and have fellowship with our Father.

Why is it we are more impressed talking with another human being when we can talk with Him?

Obviously, we need fellowship with one another, and fellowship is talking and spending time getting to know one another, caring for one another and encouraging one another. But we need to get past this idea of looking up to fellow believers. We need to look to Christ, who is our head. Don’t look so much to people when we can go directly to our Father.

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A good friend of mine wrote the following paragraph. There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help thru the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I was also saved in church but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”. There are times when we are alone with no Christian fellowship and maybe we can’t make it to church for some reason. We have to be able to stand as mature Christians and rely on our relationship with Christ. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is only where we learn about Him. I guess what I am saying is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength if we call upon Him in truth. I personally am going thru the desert in life and I have to depend on Him. He has proved His love and care for me and in reality, He is the “Son of the Living God”. Bottom line, let’s be careful to put our dependence on Him. All other ground is sinking sand….

This goes along with some of my posts about modern-day church. The organized church today is a place for believers to get together, but it is not the goal. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas and interpretations from others of the Bible, a place to meet other believers, a place to reach out and help others. Basically it is a Christian social organization.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. He is who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd, the rest of us are the sheep. There are no co-shepherds, no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church, but don’t put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or don’t go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Don’t worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but a people who love and follow Christ.

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

This almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including non-believers and especially believers.

With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

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

I think 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 doesn’t interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or doesn’t go to church at all, we need to realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to please our Father and do what He wants us to do. We need to accept one another in love, and respect the fact that God is working different ways in people and just because it isn’t what we are used to, doesn’t mean it isn’t of God.

In regard to non-believers, we don’t need to condemn them, or force our beliefs on them. We need to let them see the love of God. They don’t need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in their lives.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We aren’t responsible to live the way others do or think we 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 their lives. Living in this manner would accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ.

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