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Posts Tagged ‘christian living’

by Jim Gordon

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 — And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

These verses clearly state that Jesus is the true, living, inerrant Word of God. It is not a book, but a living part of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we followers of Christ can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than they worship Christ. Yet it is Christ who is the true Word of God. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them. So often, we seem to do the very same thing.

The words written in the Bible are stories of men and women from only a certain recorded period of time. They wrote according to what they saw, what they believed, how they related to God and sometimes what they wished God would do. I also believe that many stories written were parables used to show a spiritual truth.

Over time the various translations certainly lost the original meaning due to custom change, word meaning change and even translators missing the mark on what was actually written.

This certainly does not mean we do not need to read the Bible, but we do need to keep it in its proper place. Apart from the guidance and enlightenment of the Spirit, the words of the Bible are nothing more than words in a book.

Rather than think of the trinity as the Father, Son and Holy Bible, we need to remember the Bible does not even record that it is the word of God. It certainly is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, but it is not perfect or inerrant in itself. The most important part the Bible plays is that it does lead us to the inerrant, living Word of God who is Jesus.

Jesus is who we are to look to for everything. He is the Word. He is our all in all and his Spirit lives within us as our teacher and guide.

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

The truth is we can’t prove God somehow controlled the views of the writers to be correct about God. Some may define God’s inspiration only as motivating writers to share their experiences with God, but God didn’t necessarily control or approved all written about God. Anyway, one is either convinced God controlled the words of the Bible to accurately portray God, or the Bible is uncontrolled writings which encourages openly contemplating what a loving God is really like.

Even if you believe God inspired every word of the Bible, it is complicated.

We don’t possess the original manuscripts but only what was copied from the original. Did God’s inspiration control that process? The many translations/versions of the Bible we have today suggest copying is not an exact process. Even if we had the original autographs, interpretation is still required. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, Hell, etc. Interpretations are not infallible, but many don’t begin a discussion with “I may be wrong?”

What may be the main reason many believe the Bible is inspired? 

It is suggested if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God for sure.” This implies interpretations are infallible which of course they aren’t. We aren’t totally clueless! Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs unless a supposed infallible Book supposedly speaks for God? We just know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.

Uncertainty doesn’t mean anything goes. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes especially if it contradicts your moral sense of a loving God.

Not questioning the Bible can lead to violence’s in God’s name.

When you regard the Bible as the revealed Word of God, this can lead to not questioning actions contributed to God. Does God really approved all actions contributed to God in the Bible? Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to justifying killing infidels in the name of God. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the Old Testament have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted that God possibly didn’t approve of actions they interpret as denying freedom of beliefs!

Many reject God for the wrong reasons because of claims made about God. 

An inspired Bible has led to claims about God that don’t make moral sense to many. Supposed “inspired interpretations” has led to putting men in leadership positions over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. When God is portrayed as less than perfectly loving, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

Didn’t Jesus though say the Bible was inspired?

Does John 5:45-46 claim that Jesus said believing in Jesus is believing what Moses wrote? This doesn’t confirm that Moses or any OT writer always wrote perfectly about God. Jesus seemed to correct OT laws that didn’t fully or correctly convey God’s ways (Mt 5). Some scholars suggest Jesus was simply expanding or interpreting correctly OT laws. The OT and the Bible is valuable because it gets us talking about what a loving God is really like. Regardless, we must use common moral sense because ancient literature requires interpretation.

Aren’t we better off with a fallible than infallible Bible?

A universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator could communicate what is good versus evil. Choose the claim or interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations. We will disagree but civil discussions are possible. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to challenge God than not question God and be wrong. A different view of God, than claimed by many Bible folks, may be the help our world needs in loving others like we want to be loved.

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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(What Exactly Does that Mean?)

by Jim Gordon

Over the past short period of time, we have heard of several “high profile christian leaders” say that they have left Christianity.

We have heard such comments from Joshua Harris, Paul Maxwell, Marty Sampson and I am sure several others.

When we hear this, many of us think that they have walked away from their faith and belief in God. Yet to rush into this way of thinking, we need to determine what exactly does the person mean by leaving Christianity.

I know first hand for my wife and I what it means, and it has nothing to do with leaving my faith or love for God.

The way I see it, Christianity is known more as a religion, just as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism or any of the many other religions out there. Christianity is a religion based on Christ but certainly not started by nor endorsed by Jesus.

When reading the gospels we read how the disciples came to know and follow Jesus. At that time they did so apart from any religion, especially Christianity since the word was not even known at that time. In Acts 11:26 people were first called Christians, which was after Jesus had returned to the Father.

Christianity, in my opinion, is generally stereotyped into people who go to church each week, they follow a particular doctrine, regularly read their bible, tithe their money to the church and often think their way is the only way. In the United States they tend to be republican, are against abortion and believe those who are LGBTQ are the worst of sinners.

When I say I have left Christianity, I mean I am walking away from this stereotyped religion. In no way have I left my faith in God or turned from following Jesus, who said to love God and love one another. This can certainly be done apart from Christianity.

So, no longer being Christian, I can honestly say I love God, follow Jesus and love people. I do not attend a church organization, I do not put trust into any particular religious doctrine, I read the bible but I do not believe it is a rule book or an inerrant document. The Spirit lives within us and the Spirit leads and guides us. Apart from the Spirit bringing to life passages written in the bible, the book itself is a document written by men about their belief and experiences with God. I do not tithe but I give to help others. I am an independent voter and fully affirm and support those who are LGBTQ. On the matter of abortion, I certainly understand a woman wanting the freedom to make choices about her body. I also understand for those who believe life begins at conception, they would have a hard time believing abortion is the right choice. I believe rather than fighting about whether abortion is right or wrong, it would be much better to come up with alternatives on how to support women no matter which decision they make ( read more here ).

There are so many views and opinions within Christianity. We will all never completely agree. Yet our commonality is in our love for God, love for Jesus and love for our fellow human beings. As John 13:34-35 reads, ‘a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’. Nothing here mentions Christianity or any religion. One does not need to follow a religion to love one another.

So, for my wife and I, we have left the religion of Christianity and are enjoying walking outside the box of religion and doctrinally controlled ideas. We are free to love, live and give as the Spirit leads us and for us, it is a much more meaningful way of walking with God.

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

Did you know biblical scholars disagree whether Hell is a literal place according to the Bible? Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. The truth is biblical truths are debatable! 

What might a loving God be like?

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us.

Hell or Hell No! 

Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna which is translated into our word Hell. Many, many scholars believe Gehenna is a metaphor to describe what evil can lead to here on earth, not a place in the afterlife where God acts as a sadistic torturer. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. God’s supposed justification of violence to be appeased has led to excusing our own violent solutions in the name of justice. People are rejecting God because Hell makes no moral sense.  Since there is doubt, shouldn’t we stop preaching Hell?

Women leaders or not?   

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I doubt most Christians or Muslims would deny women equality unless they believe they should in the name of God according to some Book. Women can obviously feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Putting men in leadership position over women can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful interpretation of a Book? 

Gay or straight? 

It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straights can. Ask them! Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? Parents often only condemn their gay children because of their supposed correct interpretation of a Book. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? 

Which view to take?

Shouldn’t we choose views of God with fewer negative physical and psychological costs? Shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I was in their shoes? Err on the side that portrays God as the most loving to the human mind. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and be wrong! Can you imagine meeting God one day and God saying “why did you decide on the view that made the most loving, moral sense to you? To Hell with you!”

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

It is disappointing that Christianity is divided into so many different groups. We all have a little different interpretation of the bible and a little different understanding on 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 such things.

There are many that do not attend a church. There are those who attend a church every time the doors are open. Some attend a mega church and others a very small church, some meet with fellow believers at cafe’s, parks and 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 arguing and expecting them to see things our way.

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 loving God, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit within us and loving others, we could look past our differences.

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.

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 views and opinions I had five years ago are completely different from some of the views and opinions I have now. I am sure in another five years they will change again as God leads me into more truth.

When we realize that each of us are necessary and 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 our brothers and sisters in Christ as they are, as we come to realize we actually are one with God.

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

Jesus-followers in the first century had a radical impact in their world and centuries to come. They were driven by the belief according to eye witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead days after being horrifically crucified on the Cross. Today we must personally decide on such an event based on historical reliability. Other than this belief, it would seem their impact was due to the way they lived out Jesus’ message to love one another as they wished to be loved. I am convinced changes in at least the below beliefs thus actions by all God-followers would make a difference in Christianity’s influence!  

Bible

Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14), whose Spirit now lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17). A supposed, inspired Bible or Quran has led to claims that we best can know God according to “biblical truths.” The term “biblical truths” is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Such views of a Book has led to much violence justified in the name of God. See here.

All agree an imperfect unloving God is not worth believing in. It’s intuitive to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God’s image is surely a perfect, loving Parent! Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. hint that moral knowledge isn’t hidden. We must be careful though claiming matters important to us are moral such as immigration, taxes, etc. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. Openness encourages evaluating with others what a loving God would truly be like.

Gays 

What would you believe about God and gays if you didn’t have a Bible? It is a fair question. The majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible or even heard of Jesus. I doubt a Creator would only communicate through such means. Besides, many may not be aware that biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures don’t condemn gay monogamous relationships. See here.

Could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex, but if you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, would why we judge rather than love? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives.

Women

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. I doubt Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, was a bias against women. See here. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? Men in authority over women whether in public or private life is conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile!

Religion exclusion

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Besides, one’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why hasn’t God controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways? An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name.  It is true bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.

Focus on life here on earth rather than after death

Even the Bible records that when Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Loving God is loving others to the fullest. Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jesus sought to save us from destructive decisions here on earth. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world.

A focus on the present than future makes even more sense when realizing that the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist. A loving God wouldn’t torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their enemies. Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. God couldn’t be a hellish/sadistic torturer! See here.

Your image of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right.

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

It is amazing to me how many different voices there are in the ‘Christian’ world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own thoughts 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 heard and it bolsters our own view.

Since everyone has an opinion, how do we know who is right and who is wrong? I really do not believe we can narrow it down to one way of 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, and ask for the Spirit’s guidance into truth. We need to remember that that truth can be seen in different ways as the Spirit relates it to our individual life and personalities.

Our relationship with the Father is a day-by-day lifestyle. 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 God’s guidance through the Spirit, and seek His truth. We need to focus on Christ. So many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist, a pastor, a politician or political party. 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.

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. The problem is when we are shown something or led in a particular way, we expect everyone to see it our way and believe the same thing.

It is time we become what we say we are, followers of Christ. Stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing others views, but take it as that. It is their opinion. Only Christ is the one to follow. Only Christ is to be our everything. Listen to the Spirit within and live accordingly, but do not force your view on everyone else. The Spirit can lead and guide each one of us in the way that is best.

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

If Christians were more united or at least more open in some very important beliefs that impacts billions of lives, many may be less hesitant to reject God. Sometimes one’s understanding of a Book influences them to go against their moral intuitions. The truth is opposing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Remember over half the people born never had a Bible, so they had to lean into their intuitions. I will end by suggesting what we might believe about God.

Gays

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. See here.

The main non-biblical objection by straights is that it just isn’t natural. But why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Straights don’t wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex. Gays neither of the same sex.

Women

It is a big deal! Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted should lead the company or the church? Men in authority over women in public or private life is conducive for violence toward women. Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, is often interpreted to suggest hierarchical roles. I doubt it. See here.

Hell

Many of us were raise to love God or fear Hell as our destiny. Does a Creator not know fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having? It makes no sense why a loving God would torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I doubt God is a hellish, sadistic torturer according to the Bible. See here.

 Non-Christians

One’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? I doubt a loving Creator is an excluder according to one’s religion in the afterlife. See here.

What can we believe about God?

We can’t make God in the Bible’s image. Biblical scholars and laypeople who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree on moral issues such as gays, women, hell, and other religions. It is only intuitive to think a Creator would believe and love others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection is surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is surely how God loves us. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but it seems we ought to continually search beliefs that lead to loving others how we wished to be loved if in their shoes. It is better to question than be 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 Jim Gordon

As a follower of Christ, I feel a great importance in treating all people kindly, fairly and with respect. We are told that as his followers we will be known by our love, not only for one another but for all people.

Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of this sentiment in our christian world today. So many of us would rather condemn, argue and stand our ground for our particular doctrine, interpretation or denomination.

When reading about the life of Jesus while on earth, I see a person who loved his Father and loved people. He went about treating all people with love and respect. When people were brought to him doing something questionable, he told them to go and sin no more, but he never condemned or made anyone feel like a person of lower degree. He never said because you have done this or that I want nothing to do with you. He loved them no matter what.

As I mentioned in my last article, my chosen profession was firefighting. As I think about this line of work I see it as more like true Christianity should be.

Firefighterpledge

As firefighters we treat all people the same. It makes no difference whether we are treating male or female, rich or poor, white or black, religious or atheist, gay or straight. We do not differentiate between Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Taoism or Christian. It makes no difference if you are American, European, African, Middle Eastern or Asian. All people are treated the same no matter who they are, what they believe or how they live.

To me this is the way we Christian people should live each day. Treating others with equality, respect, kindness and with the love of God. We will not always agree on things but living this way will have more of an impact on others and will show the love of God in action.

I always wonder how the church world can be so mean, how it can separate itself so much from those who see things differently. How can we, who profess to follow a loving God treat people with such disrespect? Why is it that most of the time, christian people are known more for what they are against rather than for the love they are to show to all people.

I feel it is time that we Christian people take on a firefighter mentality in the way we treat others, showing love and respect to all people. Rather than fight and argue it is time we help lift up, encourage and be respectful to everyone we meet along this journey through life.

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

Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. The amount of evil in the world suggests God doesn’t intervene most of the time. Many answered prayers could simply be humans taking action. God didn’t make your partner stop drinking; they finally hit bottom and got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Supposed miracle workers don’t go into hospitals. I bet hospital folks have as much faith as those healed at their rallies. Many are rightly disheartened about God when claims about prayers don’t match up with reality.

Wouldn’t a truly loving God be doing all they can before we ask?

Do we really think God is waiting to help others until we ask God to do something? Prayer must be more than manipulating God to act. God may wait for our invitation for personal help to be more the person we deep down desire to be, but God is tireless in doing all they can for others and desperately seeks our help to change the world.

Love can’t be controlling or arbitrary.

Your view of God determines your perspective and how you pray. I experienced as a child and learned as a parent controlling love is an oxymoron. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t change people or circumstances without them freely cooperating. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless seen and unseen factors including human and organic agents.  

But the Bible says….

The truth is for almost every passage on prayer, there are opposing interpretations. Mathew 7:7 is used to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always want to give good gifts? First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a genie! 

Prayer reminds us to offer help. 

God is an omnipresent Spirit. God already knows needs before spoken. It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take cooperative actions with God. This is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s partner stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their partner. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others. 

Praying keeps us connected to God.

We could replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Talking to God can influence us to be more loving like God toward others. 

Freedom and evil! 

Pretending God can simply wave a magic wand, without accounting for freedom, can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. While God always loves to the greatest extent possible, God is not in control of everything and everybody. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to, it is that God could not. Divine love limits divine power. Simply put, God’s love is uncontrolling.

So, why pray?

God is always listening. God has endless mercy and forgiveness so we don’t give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. God is always available in times of loneliness. Friends can’t always be available in the middle of the night, or we may feel that we are overburdening our friends by constantly going to them. God speaks to us mostly through self-reflection as God wants us to feel free to make decisions based on our gifts and aspirations. God only has moral biases for our best interests. We know God is speaking to when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; I always have your and others’ best interests in mind.   

 

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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