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Posts Tagged ‘christian living’

by Jim Gordon

In the bible we are told to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). In our day it seems almost impossible to be at peace with all men, which includes believers and non-believers. When we think about all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and the 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. We can easily see that without the Spirit we certainly cannot do this.

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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 does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all we should remember that all believers want to please our Father. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God is working differently in people. Just because it is not the way we believe does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers we are not to condemn them, force our beliefs on them or treat them like second-class citizens. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live and treat others. They do not 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 the lives of others.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live the way others think we should, and we are not responsible to make others live the way we think they 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 the lives of others as he works within us. Living in this manner will accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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by Jim Gordon

I have watched with displeasure at times the discussions and comments on Social Media. This is a common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be much bolder and argumentative than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. I think there is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

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To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face to face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it we cannot seem to see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence the things we say and the way we react has an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking for love and acceptance.

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Growing up in church we were all told the story of Noah and the ark. A way that God saved the one family he found to be righteous in a world of sinners and terrible people. Supposedly things were so bad that God wondered why he created mankind and came up with a plan to destroy all his creation other than Noah and his family.

 

I accepted this story without question for many years. Yet when I actually sat and thought about the whole story I had questions and doubts, wondering if it was really a true and if so, why God would choose to do this terrible thing.

 

I have come to find that many stories in the bible are just that, stories. I relate many of the old testament stories to the parables of Jesus in the new testament. Nothing wrong with stories, and just because they are stories in no way negates the truth and importance of the meaning behind the story. Stories and parables are used to make real life truths easier to understand.

 

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I have come to see the story of Noah and the ark as a shadow of things to come. It was a parable about Jesus coming to save the world and restore fellowship with the Creator.

 

When we read in the bible that God is love, it is hard to make sense out of a story that the God of love would destroy people that he loves. We also know that our works are not what brings us into fellowship with the Father and whether we produce good works or bad works, our Father still loves us. So, to say God destroyed the earth because of evil works goes against the whole principle of salvation through grace.

 

Many people will point to the story of the flood and use it to discredit God or to say there is no God at all. Others will say the story is in the bible and the bible is inerrant, so it happened just the way it is written. For me, I have come to terms that the written word is not inerrant. It is a collection of writings by human beings over many years, telling how they view God, how they try to live for God and how God deals with his creation.

 

I have come to believe that the only inerrant Word of God is not a book but a person. Jesus is the Word of God and his Spirit lives within us. Rather than have a completely closed mind as to any other interpretation other than what we have been taught by religious institutions, we can let the Spirit of God within us teach us and we can learn to be open to new things under his guidance.

 

Did the flood really happen? Was the earth completely covered with water and all life destroyed? I personally do not think so. God loves us and created us for fellowship with Him. Our works do not earn us anything with God because he loves us and accepts us unconditionally.

 

Yet the flood did have real meaning. The sinful nature we had was washed away with the flood waters of his grace. Our unrighteous deeds were destroyed by the flood of his love. Jesus our ark made a way of escape so that we might live in his Kingdom for the rest of our existence, enjoying his presence and his love within us.

 

This post was part of the September 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of the flood. Here are the other contributors to this month’s topic. Go and read them all!

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By Jim Gordon

Those of us who are outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building will understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ not brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended, yet we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body yet no one is the head or over anyone else. Each of us are kings, priests and functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church service are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

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We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its events and happenings as the main way of fellowship and learning. Although we are told in the bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise. How often does that happen within the institutional church? Yet being outside the walls my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about what God is to them. Sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

We should remember that rather than having a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality those of us who used to be part of the institutional church should also keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and think they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all parts of the Church that Jesus is building.

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and is not what God intended for His people. After all, this is all we have known all our lives. We have been taught all along that this is God’s plan for us, to assemble together in a building, pay our tithes and look to the pastor as God’s spokesperson. I know I believed this for many years while within the system.

As people of God we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength it is by the power of the Spirit within us. The sad thing is we should not have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet sometimes it seems we have more trouble loving those who are part of a tradition that we no longer feel is right, but are still followers of the same God we love.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of the Father and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among His children. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and disrespect that is so familiar among Christians today.

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by Jim Gordon

You may have noticed that many christian people seem very quick to judge and condemn others. If you are not a traditional, church attending christian or not a believer at all you probably notice it more than others.

When reading the bible we find that christian people are to be known for their love for God and their love for one another. Not only fellow believers but those who do not believe or see things the same way.

Unfortunately, we do not always see such actions. We see more backbiting, judging, condemning and anything but love. So much that many times those outside of Christianity see no reason to pursue it any further.

Over the centuries God has often been misrepresented by many of his followers causing a lot of questions and problems with people having any interest in being his follower.

Jesus is the representation of God the Father. When we read about Jesus in the gospels we see that he treated people, not by judgment and condemnation but with love, healing and forgiveness. He taught about the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and many other parables about God being loving and accepting.

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Rather than listening to other people tell us what God is like and what Christianity should be, we need to start asking questions, seeking answers with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and realize that God is a God of love.

Today we seem to spend more time worrying about which denomination to belong to, which bible version to read, what doctrine to follow and which political party is the one to support. Once we make a choice we will fight to the end to defend our point of view no matter who we hurt in the process. We seem to be concerned with everything else rather than following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving others.

It is a known fact that we will not always agree with one another, but there is no reason to be spiteful, condemning and judgmental when we should be loving, kind and accepting.

Loving others, respecting others and being accepting does not always mean we always agree but we can show the love of God to everyone no matter if we see things the same or not.

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

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Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I am letting all those questions come out and seeking truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works and reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting, I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in His likeness and are loved by Him.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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by Jim Gordon

War in our world has been a constant companion to mankind. It becomes more and more the way of life but the effects seem to be worse and worse.

Growing up in church we were taught that God is love and that we should love our enemies, yet we heard all the stories about God telling the Israelites to go to war against their enemies and kill them all. That always confused me as it seems so contradictory.

It seems like you can find wars going on anywhere in our world today, many of them are over matters that seem so unimportant. Kind of like the fighting and arguing that goes on within the organized churches. People fight over such insignificant reasons, over difference in doctrine or bible interpretation. Yet we are supposed to be known for our love for one another. Something seems odd about that to me.

I personally believe the best way to calm a hostile situation is with a loving, calm and peaceful attitude. I also know we live in a world that is not under God’s command. We live in a very hateful, stress-filled world where people are only concerned with their own goals and interests and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals.

In a perfect world we would have no need for war because we would all being loving one another, caring for one another and be more interested in the needs of others. Obviously, we do not live in a perfect world and war is going to be an issue.

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I feel that most wars are needless and so many people fight and die over issues that are really not important. Most of it boils down to money and power, just like everything else in a world without God.

Yet there are times when I believe war may be necessary. It is still terrible and still not the first or best choice but there will be times when wars will need to be fought. In our world where money, power, hate and selfishness rule, there will be times when people, ideals or causes will need to be stopped. Unfortunately, that means sometimes there will be wars or else the innocent will be walked over, taken over, tortured and killed.

This is not the plan of God. This is human nature running rampant in a godless world. War is mankind at its worst even when there is a necessary reason to fight. Those necessary times when the ideals and goals of the Hitler’s and bin Laden’s of our world need to be stopped.

I honestly believe that many of the stories in the bible about God commanding war and killing of people is a misinterpretation of God. We know that Jesus displayed what God is really like. He said that God is love and that we are to love our enemies and love our neighbors. I do not believe God ever caused the killing of people because God never changes. It was people of the time telling about life as they saw it and they attributed their actions to their God. Actions and killings that really were not ordained by God in the first place.

As followers of Jesus, our allegiance belongs to Christ. He is the head of the Kingdom of God in which we live. We are citizens of heaven and we live by a different code than the world. Yet we still live in this world which is under a different ruler, a ruler of hate, power, money and selfishness. Although war is not our first choice and not what we feel is right, there are going to be times when it is necessary to stop the evil being done towards the innocent.

I pray for wisdom for our leaders that wars and fighting will not be started over issues that are not about the safety and concern of the innocent. I pray that more diplomatic ways of love and acceptance can prevail and we can live together in this world without all the hatred, wars and killing of innocent people.

 

This post was part of the July 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of Just War and Pacifism. Here are links to others who contributed this month. Go read them all!

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