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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

I had a conversation several years ago with a friend and we got on the subject of Jesus and how he showed the love of God to the world. I told him I had a simple analogy to explain why Jesus came to our world, but my friend told me it was pretty silly. I got to thinking maybe he was right, but the thought keeps coming to mind every now and then so here is my silly thought.

When I was young I would watch my mom enjoy the birds. She had bird feeders and bird baths and she always kept food and water ready for them. She enjoyed watching the birds fly down and eat and clean themselves in the bird bath.

I know she would have loved to go out back and sit with the birds, but every time she went out they would fly away and not come down for food and water.

I thought, if only she could become a bird for a few days she could relate to them and they would not be afraid because she would be like one of them.

birds

That got me to thinking about God. We have always been told about the wrath of God and that makes many people afraid of him. I believe the bible was inspired by God but it was written by men and my personal thought is that men added a lot of their own interpretations and thoughts making God look like a mean, revengeful being.

If only God could come to earth as a man and relate to us in a way we could understand and accept. He could spend some time with us and let us know that he loves us and wants fellowship with us.

To me that is a simple story but explains Jesus and why he came to earth. Jesus was God in human form. He came to show us that God is not a mean, revengeful being just waiting to smash us to bits. God watches us as we go about our daily lives just wanting to spend time with us and enjoy our company.

Yet because we have been told that God is mean, hateful, condemning and judgmental we are afraid of Him. We run and stay away because we have been told wrong things about him.

Truth is that God is love and Jesus came to show us that truth. As we read about the life of Jesus in the gospels we see a person who was loving, kind, accepting and who generally cared for people. Jesus said he who has seen me has seen the Father. By Jesus example we can be assured that God loves us and wants fellowship with us.

When we come to know that God loves us, we can know that he has our best interest in mind. We no longer have to be afraid of messing up and have the judgment of God fall upon us. The old covenant law no longer binds us to the ‘do this/do not do that’ performance mentality. When we know God loves us and we love him no law or rules are needed. Love naturally does what no law can do, which is love one another and be pleasing to the one we love.

The more I think about it, I notice that birds seem to be mentioned several times in the bible such as Matthew 6:26, 8:20, 10:29 and 13:32 and in Luke 12:24 talking about how they are valued, cared and provided for by God. Maybe there is something to this analogy of us and the birds.

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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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Many times in the christian world we find people who are acting and responding in ways that are very judgmental and condemning.

Especially when it comes to the gay community, atheists and those of various religious groups and denominations that differ in doctrine from what we think is right. Many of us christians have a hard time accepting people who think differently.

We would rather fight and defend our interpretation and doctrine and prove our christian moral way of living rather than show the love of Christ and accept people the way they were made.

I do not understand why we feel the need to try to prove our point and why we feel it is required to make sure everyone knows that the way we follow God is the only right way.

bibleversions

A lot of us cannot even accept and associate with other believers from a different denomination. So many people say their version of the bible is the only true version or their type of church is the only true church.

I get so fed up with the pride and arrogance of some (not all) groups of christians who think they have it all figured out and their way is right and you had better believe like they do or they want nothing to do with you.

Even some christians in the same church, those who have been good friends for years will turn on you if you leave their church. How many times have you been involved in a church and think it is great and the people are loving and kind only to find once you leave the group you never hear from any of them again?

Though no longer within the institutional church, I had been in the system for well over 50 years so I know what I am talking about. I am not out to bash the church but it does aggravate me to see people who are supposed to show the love of God to all people, yet act so unloving and judgmental to people who think differently. Fortunately not every church or christian group is like this but certainly it is the norm for a lot of them.

jesusseeninyou

Why is it that so many christian people are so mean and condemning to gay people? Why is it we see atheist as our mortal enemy? Why do we reject the interpretations and beliefs of other christians who attend a different denomination, or worse yet who do not go to church at all? Jesus, who is our example, was not like that yet many people did not grow up in church and did not read the bible. Because of this they do not know what Jesus was like. They only know that we who claim to follow Christ act in such a mean and unloving way.

We need to remember that behind every label we put on people there is a human being. No matter who we are, what we believe, no matter what our lifestyle or our feelings about God, we all are deserving of love and acceptance. Just like each of us who are now christians were loved and accepted by God even before we knew anything about Him, we should be loving and accepting to everyone we meet because we may be the only Jesus they see.

 

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When we speak of Christianity with all its different denominations, interpretations, doctrines and various versions of the Bible it seems there are always times when we run into conflict with other believers.

Each of us as brothers or sisters in Christ seem to want it our way. Our church, our interpretation, our version of the Bible. We each feel that we are right and sometimes feel the need to distance ourselves from those who feel differently.

notarguing

Have you noticed how religion seems to set the rules to described what it takes to be a ‘good’ Christian? Do this, don’t do that, stay away from this and make sure you participate in that. Attend every service and be active with this group or that group. If you are not reading a particular version of the Bible you are just wasting your time. If you are not part of a church you must be backslidden, at least that is the way some fellow Christians make you feel. Rules, rules, rules.

Maybe it is time we stop arguing over versions, interpretations, doctrines, church attendance and such and start focusing on Christ who is to be our first love. If we can focus on Him and loving others, we should be able to agree to disagree on other topics and accept one another even in our differences.

When we find common ground in our faith in Christ, when we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, we should be able to look past the differences we have in our various denominations, Bible versions and interpretations.

loveall

Let’s stop fighting against each other and begin to love one another as Christ loves us. Do not let the various differences come between the love we can have for one another and the things we can share and learn through fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Those outside of Christianity should be seeing the love we have for God and for one another. There is enough hate and disagreement in our world today. What makes a difference is seeing brotherly love for one another and sharing God’s love with everyone we meet.

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For those of you who have left the institutional church you will probably relate to what I am saying.

After being out of organized religion for nearly three years now, some of the traditional and normal terms of the christianese language really bother me. I guess it should not do so because I certainly understand why people say them and I used to say them myself at one time or another. Even after being away from the traditional church for three years some of the terms of speech are still hard to quit saying.

christianese

Now days my wife and I see things a little differently. This is my viewpoint and I certainly do not mean to say it is wrong to use certain terms or that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is just one of those things that make me cringe when I hear certain terms.

Such as ‘this is the Lord’s day’ when people talk about Sunday. Many Christians use the term the Lord’s Day when talking about the Sabbath or the day of rest. To them it is the day we go to church and worship God. Personally, I believe every day is the Lord’s Day as the Bible says in Psalms 118:24 this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It does not mention a particular day.

Or the term ‘we are on our way to the house of God’, like God lives in a house. People are talking about going to church but God does not live in buildings or houses, He lives in us. Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? (I Corinthians 6:19)

We will hear people talk about ‘the Word of God’ and know they are talking about the Bible. I think the Word of God is a person, not a book. The Bible talks about God and it leads us to Jesus but the Bible is a book written by men who were inspired by God but not controlled by God. The Word of God who is living, all powerful, inerrant and perfect, sharper than any two-edged sword is Jesus. As the Bible states in John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We mention God as a male Father, yet God really is not male or female. God is spirit and I believe has both male and female attributes. I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with saying Father or Him or Her, but it is a mindset we have that God is a man with all the attributes of a male. We picture God as a huge blank-faced man sitting up in heaven looking down on us, but God is spirit, God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Pastors will talk about special services by telling the people to be sure and come tonight because ‘God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on those who are here’. That one gets me because God lives within us and is everywhere so how is He going to show up up now and then at special times and places? And didn’t the Spirit come upon humans on the day of Pentecost? Why would he fall upon us again when he is already living within us?

god is here

I realize a lot of the time we use these terms out of habit even when our beliefs and interpretations have changed. We seem to be so indoctrinated by the teaching of the institutional church and the denominations we grew up in that these terms just come out. I know this is probably a minor thing and whether we use such terms or not we are talking about the same God and we all love God. Yet I wonder if by using these terms are we reacting to a mindset of old covenant thinking rather than the new covenant day of grace.

My wife and I are certainly finding out that when leaving the institutional church and the many traditions, doctrines, interpretations and terms of speech we were taught over the years, it is much harder to break free from the institutional way of thinking than it is physically leaving the building.

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I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be someone who is always against something. Seems so many christian people today speak out more about what they are against and who they are against.

Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, against particular lifestyles, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different subjects we Christians can think of that end up taking away our main focus….loving God and loving others. We will take the bible and twist interpretations and meanings or use verses out of context trying to prove our point.

WhatAreYouAgainst

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 and we are not going to agree on every one of them. We do not have to focus on those convictions or try to push our views on others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is God’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, poor, the neglected, and those the religious people did not want to be around.

I know I did it for a long time. I thought I was better than others because I went to church. I felt I had to stay away from those who did not believe because their sins would rub off on me. I would always hang out with my church friends and stay away from the “worldly” people.

I would spend more time trying to prove my points and my beliefs, telling people what was wrong and what to stay away from, rather than spend time with God and others.

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 views on the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings does not do anything except turn people away from us.

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 even in our differences. We can show the love of Christ to all by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

Do not worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for others. Follow Jesus and let him love through you. Let him be the central focus of your life and allow his love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…….

We Christians sometime spend our time trying to obey the Ten Commandments when in actuality we do not need to be trying to keep the law at all.

GraceandLaw

We will go to church every time the door is open, tithe our ten percent, we do not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we look down on and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we have been told is ‘right’ to do as Christians.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. It is not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and church attendance, not Jesus and tithing, we are saved through faith in Christ and his grace. It is Jesus plus nothing. We have been restored to fellowship with God through Christ by his death and resurrection. That does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want, but we live out of love and in the freedom we have through grace. We do things because we love God and love others and no longer out of obligation or trying to follow the law.

Let’s stop laying all the rules and regulations on ourselves and others thinking that will make us better people. Let’s live in the power of His grace through the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving others, letting God lead us in the way He wants us to go and enjoying the right standing we have with our Father.

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