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Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

By Mike Edwards

I grew up attending church often more than once a week. I referred to myself as a Christian because that was the common label used in the institutional church. I can remember not liking the label early on because people often associated it with being religious, and there is a lot of bad religion out there. I have grown uncomfortable with the label for myself for a long time now.

Christianity has become associated with beliefs about God I reject.

I don’t believe for a second Hell is real and God tortures forever those who don’t believe. This makes God terrorist-like – only God waits until life after death and keeps you alive forever to torture. I don’t believe women are second-class citizens. You can dress it up all you want in “loving leadership,” but I don’t want a man being my daughters’ go-between with God. I don’t believe God condemns gays for attractions they have no control over any more than straights do their attractions. There are many beliefs about God associated with Christianity that I reject. See here.

I don’t refer to myself as a Jesus follower.

I think many associate Jesus with the Bible which has been used to makes some claims I don’t accept what a loving God would be like. It’s okay to doubt claims made about Jesus. Jesus’ followers witnessed miracles by Jesus and still initially doubted He was coming back from the dead. It may be a little easier to believe once you are an eye-witness to a resurrection. Some can’t logically wrap their heads around how chromosomally Jesus can be both man and God. We can respectfully and openly discuss Jesus’ actions and claim made about God to discern if Jesus represented what a loving God is like.

Why I am a God-follower!

I don’t know all the reasons why some are inclined to believe there is Creator or God and why others aren’t. I know it isn’t because of moral superiority. I have my failures to prove that. Due to the complexities of the created world and humans, I just am convinced there is a God who created and loves each one of us like no other. A common Creator also explains best for me how humans seem to have an inborn feeling that we “ought” to treat others like we want to be treated. I have never met anyone who doesn’t want to be treated with love and kindness. I follow God because I am convinced God can turn bad people into good people and good people into better people.

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by Jim Gordon

My wife and I often discuss using the word Christian these days. We wonder whether we should describe ourselves by the word Christian or not. We think it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

So often the word means many things we are not. Say the word Christian and many people automatically stereotype you to basic beliefs and doctrines of the religion of Christianity and not necessarily to what we truly believe.

If being a Christian is being part of a religious organization that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on a particular denomination then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other people and religions and only accepts those who believe like we do then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with man-made religion, exclusion, hatred, following old covenant law then no, we are not Christians.

In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. I always heard that they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian then we are all in.

There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, followers of the way, and even Christians. Yet the term itself really does not matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, whatever word we use to describe our religious belief does not make any difference.

When people see us, they should see Christ. When people see Christ, they should see God who is love. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for the love we have for our fellow human beings. Do not worry so much about the label we use. Follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. Share the love of God with each and every person we meet. Be known for sharing the love of God rather than for what religious word we choose to use.

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s understanding of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we know we ought to love others? God surely isn’t bias toward any one religion.

A loving God wouldn’t ignore the realities of our world by insisting one can only come to God by believing in Jesus.

The majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, John Hick rightly acknowledges: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). A reason one may think a loving God judges people who have never heard about God or misunderstand God is because a Book supposedly says so.

Did you know many scholars believe the Bible teaches all people eventually get into Heaven? 

Those of us who grew up in church are familiar with Bible verses interpreted to mean the wages of sin is death/Hell if we don’t confess Jesus is Lord (Rom. 6:23; 10:9). Bible folks don’t even have to look up those verses. The Bible also says: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Bible scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret this and other verses to mean only those who have never died are excluded from heaven. Obviously, all have or will die. The Bible teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22), but is that not true of God after one’s last breath despite their circumstances here on earth? We can’t be certain, so we are free to imagine what a loving, merciful God would do.

The Bible doesn’t even rule out decisions after death regarding one’s eternal destination.

John 5:25 says that the dead will hear the voice of God and those who hear will live. Verse 29 says those who have done evil will be condemned but we do not know whether repentance will take place. Romans 14:11-12 says: “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God.” Why couldn’t some make a decision at Judgment? I Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to those in Noah’s day who were disobedient. Preaching is normally for the opportunity to respond.  I Peter 4:6 goes on to say that the dead can live according to God’s spirit. Eternal decisions after death doesn’t diminish the blessings of changing here on earth. A perfect, merciful God can best decide when enough chances are given.

Jesus didn’t refer to his followers as Christians.

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him. Jesus seemed more concerned with the benefits of living a loving life than beliefs. God used the human means available to reveal themselves through the life of Jesus, but the Bible was never meant to be God’s only communication. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints God’s spirit has always existed.  Jesus’ message has been exemplified by many great leaders such as Gandhi. Scriptures speak of all having an internal awareness that someone bigger and better than ourselves exist. We can know in our heart Jesus’ main message – love others like we want to be loved.

Hell’s non-existence requires rethinking the afterlife for all.  

Hell’s supposed existence is why many insist one must believe in Jesus to avoid such a destination. It turns out Jesus or the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, never once warned this dire fate. Why did Noah or the OT say nothing about tragic consequences for evil? Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem used by Jesus to illustrate kinds of lives here on earth that lead to hellish living, not what happens to people in the afterlife.

Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Besides, delayed torture is still torture. Humans wouldn’t even create a place like Hell for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of one’s interpretation of a Book. God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer. The word hell is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words and seems invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

We must avoid all appearances that a good God is like a terrorist or extremist.  

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why haven’t they controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways. A loving God knows true love and lasting convictions are obtained when chosen freely than forced. 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. We must allow personal views to be challenged without declaring “The Bible says…”  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.  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.

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by Rocky Glenn

I’ve always had a fondness for Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang.  I can remember feeling heart broken over the “little red-haired girl” on Valentine’s, being spooked over the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, waiting for Snoopy to float down the street in the Macy’s parade, sitting in silence as Linus told the meaning of Christmas, reading the comics in papaw’s Sunday paper . . . Peanuts were and are a huge part of me.

Winnie the Pooh was not truly introduced to me until Geoffrey was born.  He fell in love with the willy, nilly, silly, old bear.  Because of this, as you can imagine, the movie was replayed countless times.  All of us familiar with the story can name all the guys . . . Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Owl, Christopher Robin, and, of course, the resident pessimist, Eeyore.

Insert Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  I memorized this verse as a growing “churchboy,” but never really grasped the true meaning of it.  Of course, being the true churchboy I was, I had to memorize it in the King James Version as it was the only Bible and all other versions were just trash. One day, I discovered The Message, a paraphrase of scripture written to read like a novel.  This is what I discovered in Romans 8: “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.”  What???  Let’s go back and read that again.  So I did . . . again and again and again.  Suddenly, images of Charlie Brown and Eeyore filled my mind . . .

That’s the way I had lived my Christian life, always expecting the worst knowing that if something bad did happen it was because I had done something to cause it.  When I read that, a light bulb popped on for the first time.  We are not meant to live under a cloud of condemnation, guilt, and hopeless.  We have been set free.

It has taken several years, and is still an ongoing process, but since that time, God has revealed a number of clouds that I have let hang over me in my life . . . guilt, low self-esteem, approval of others, and the biggest of all (and the true reason for the creation of this blog to begin with) the laws, rules, and man-made expectations of religion that God never intended or ever created us to live under to begin with.

What are your clouds?  Romans 8 says you don’t have live under them any longer.  It’s my prayer and hope that all reading this will learn to live out from under the clouds we have either placed or allowed to be placed over us by others.  We have been set free.  Galatians 5 form The Message says it this way: “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you,” or, just in case you prefer to read the King James Version, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

So, take your stand, be free, and live outside the rain clouds!

Rocky

(This post originally written April 2, 2016.)

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by Rocky Glenn

Fish out of water, bull in a china shop, square peg in a round hole . . . these idioms sum up my wife’s words in 2012 as we left our church home of ten years, “We just don’t fit.”  Although we fully believed those words applied to the church we were being called out of to find  a new place to spend our Sundays, neither of us knew the full meaning of those words would lead us down the path we’re at today best described by yet another idiom, sticking out like a sore thumb.  Refusing to buy into systems you once supported which tell you you’re required to dress a certain way, give a fixed percentage of your income, attend a certain amount of events per week, or insist you do or do not behave a certain way because “Christians don’t act that way,” is not readily accepted.  The moment you start questioning it and insisting it is all meaningless and not required, you have become the proverbial sore thumb.  How ironic a journey we chose to begin because we didn’t fit in has brought us to a place where fitting in is not as important as it once was.

Irony, by definition, is a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.  As I’ve shared previously (A Secret No Longer), I’ve been a fan of the Incredible Hulk as long as I can remember.  The fact a well-mannered, normally reserved, and appearance-driven churchboy is enamored by a rage-filled, uncontrollable, growling, larger than life, angry green monster who leaves destruction in his wake, yep, I would call that irony.  It may be considered not only ironic by some but also hypocritical and, yet, it is one of many confessions this recovering churchboy is relieved to admit as I am admitting who I am.  In fact, I would like to share one of my favorite Hulk scenes below. (SPOILER ALERT: If you are a fan of the MCU and have not yet seen Thor: Ragnarok, you may want to skip the few paragraphs.)

In 2017, Marvel studios released the third installment in the Thor movies series, Thor: Ragnarok.  In this film, we learned the whereabouts of Hulk during the cinematic universe’s Civil War.  As Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar and forced to compete in the gladiator arena, he finds his opponent is none other than the big green guy.  The fight itself is quite a spectacle as the god of thunder is convinced he does not need to participate in a battle against his former Avenger cohort:

Thor: Yes! Hey! Hey! [referring to Hulk] We know each other. He’s a friend from work.  [to Hulk] Where have you been? Everybody thought you were dead. But so much has happened since I last saw you . . . Oh, Banner, I never thought I would say this, but I…I’m happy to see you.

Hulk: No Banner. Only Hulk.

Thor: What are you doing? It’s me. It’s Thor! Banner, we’re friends. This is crazy. I don’t want to hurt you!

Thor: All right. Screw it. I know you’re in there, Banner. I’ll get you out! What’s the matter with you? You’re embarrassing me! I told them we were friends!

The contest ends with no real winner ever fully decided, and the dialogue continues in the scenes following the battle, as Thor and Hulk both recover in the same quarters:

Thor: So how long have you been like that?

Hulk: Like what?

Thor: Like this. Big, and green, and stupid.

Hulk: Hulk always Hulk.

Thor: How’d you get here?

Hulk: Quinjet.

Thor: Yes! Yes! I’m getting us out of here. This terrible, awful place. You’re gonna love Asgard. It’s big. It’s golden. Shiny.

Hulk: Hulk stay.

Thor: No, no, no. My people need me to get back to Asgard. We must prevent Ragnarok.

Hulk: Ragnarok?

Thor: The prophesied death of my home world. The end of days, it’s the end of… If you help me get back to Asgard, I can help you get back to Earth.

Hulk: Earth hate Hulk.

Thor: Earth loves Hulk. They love you. You’re one of the Avengers. One of the team, one of our friends. This is what friends do. They support each other.

Hulk: You’re Banner’s friend.

Thor: I’m not Banner’s friend. I prefer you.

Hulk: Banner’s friend.

The Ragnarok film presented viewers with not only a talking Hulk we had not yet seen to that point, but a Hulk who is confident, competent, and fully embracing being the Hulk.  He has learned to live as he really is.  Hulk has become so comfortable in his massive, green skin he dismisses any thought of returning to his human counterpart, Bruce Banner.  Earth hates Hulk for the destruction and chaos he causes and Thor is Banner’s friend for what Banner has to offer not for who he is. Banner in his human form is much like a churchboy.  He is not comfortable being himself.  He lives in near constant fear and anxiety of his nasty, ugly side slipping out and people catching a glimpse of who he really is.  Banner goes to great lengths to maintain control.  On the planet Sakaar, Hulk has found freedom to be himself and has learned, “Hulk always Hulk.”  It is on Sakaar irony once again takes center stage as Hulk is no longer just an angry, irrational monster but has learned to live peacfully as himself.

My life as a churchboy was a life of not being who I really was.  Much like Bruce Banner is on constant guard lest the Hulk reveal himself, I lived life striving to maintain an image of who I thought I should be, who I thought others expected me to be, and, more importantly and frightening, who I thought God expected me to be.  I allowed myself to be convinced pleasing God came only through following church customs and traditions I accepted without questioning.  Condemnation is overwhelming when you fall short of reading the prescribed amount of scripture per day, if you skip a church meeting, if church members discover the television shows or movies you like to watch or realize you listen to music which is not only not played on the local Christian radio stations, but does not mention God or Jesus at all and simply describes the ups and downs, joys and heartaches of life.  Life as a churchboy, described more fully here, is a life of shame hiding who you really are believing no one would truly accept who you really are just as Hulk is convinced Thor is only Banner’s friend.  The churchboy doesn’t realize, “Hulk always Hulk.”  He isn’t aware his true self is always there and the uncontrollable beast within can only be tamed so long before it erupts.

In Psalm 139:14, David makes a statement I could never admit as a churchboy:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

He acknowledges he was created and made by God and based on that acknowledgement confidently admits God’s work is wonderful.  Known as a man after God’s own heart, David did not live life as a churchboy.  The Message shares David’s confession (along with verses 13 – 16) with poetic beauty:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

David was convinced of not only God’s love for him but also God’s intimate knowledge and involvement of every detail of his life.

To stick out like a sore thumb means to be obviously different from surrounding people or things.  When you have a sore thumb, it’s not something you have to announce or proclaim.  The thumb is obvious either by the bandage it wears or simply by protruding from its normal location.  In recent conversations, my voice broke and I was shocked to hear myself say aloud, “For the first time in my life, I know who I really am and I am at peace with that.”  I am finally comfortable in my own skin and I pray it displays with a joy and peace that is so obviously different from those around me their curiosity is piqued enough to ask.

Churchboys believe God is just Banner’s friend, but, much like my beloved big, green monster, the love and grace of God is wild, ravaging, and uncontrollable.  The wake of destruction left in Hulk’s path pales in comparison to what truly remains as the tidal wave of grace destroys false traditions, thoughts, and ideas we once believed.  There may be some who, like Earth, hate Hulk and are truly only Banner’s friend seeking only what Banner has to offer but true grace is comfortable sticking out like a sore thumb and isn’t just Banner’s friend.

Rocky

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Christianity can mean a couple different things and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all for being called a Christian.

Religions

Usually these days the word Christian means more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion controlled by men. It is divided up into many various denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations. Contrary to popular belief Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. The good thing in this country is that we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside the faith are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

BeLikeJesus

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines or following rules of do’s and don’ts. It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not to lead by power or a position of authority.

True Christianity is a daily life following the leading of the Spirit. It is meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine and showing the love of Christ. It is eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It is time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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Many people today think of Jesus as being the founder of Christianity, especially here in the USA. Most people think of Christianity as a religion, one of many different religions in our world. In bible times people started calling those who followed Jesus Christians because they were following the example of Jesus, or acting like Christ. Today it seems Christianity is thought more of as a religion than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus. Jesus did not come to start a religion.

jesusisnotchristian

Jesus does not belong to any particular religion. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe or where they are from. He came to show the love of the Father to the human race, not to start a new religion for people to obey and follow.

If we mean Christian as being a follower of Jesus or living a life following his example, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use Christian as a sense of belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine and set of rules, then I would rather not be called by that term.

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. He does not see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. He loves people. He sees people who need the love and acceptance of God. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Christ…not Christianity. Just as Adam sinned and sin entered into the world, Christ came into the world and through his actions grace entered into the world.

It is time we stop looking to the organized world of religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way to God, it is only by the work and grace of God. We are to look to Christ and allow Him to live through us and let Him love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let God work in them the way He sees fit.

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true sense of the meaning of Christian, someone who is following the example of Jesus and letting his love touch all people no matter if we agree on things or not.

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What do you think of when you hear the word atheist, gay, transgender, muslim, jew, christian, black, white or a host of other labels we put on people?

Usually we think of something specific and usually something we have been taught or heard over the years. It depends on where you heard it or who taught you but a lot of times what we think is negative in one way or another.

With all the prejudices, fear, hate and misunderstanding among people it is sad that we forget behind each one of these labels there is a human being.

labelsonpeople

I know that not all people believe there is a God or they believe in different gods and I do not want to argue on that point. None of us can actually prove one way or another as to what we believe about God or life after death. It is basically a matter of belief or faith or scientific understanding. Yet as a christian I personally believe there is a God and He created each person in His image. He loves each and every one of us no matter what label humanity has put upon us.

Each of us deserves love, respect, acceptance and the basic human rights we all should enjoy.

Just because we accept one another and respect each other does not mean we always agree or always condone the actions of another, but we should be able to treat each other in kindness and respect even in our disagreements.

Rather than profile people into a particular group based on the label we use, we should remember the individual person behind the label. Even if there are a few bad apples in each particular group it does not mean everyone is the same.

As human beings each of us wants to live a happy, satisfying life. Each of us has worries, bills and every day obligations. Each of us wants to love and be loved, each of us wants to be accepted and happy.

We will not all see things the same way. Each of us has our own personality, belief system, lifestyle, desires and things we enjoy and that make us happy. We cannot expect everyone to be the same or believe the same or interpret things the same. We are each uniquely made and we each have our own path to walk throughout this life.

I know many in the christian world will not agree on this outlook on life. Many feel it is our job to point out the mistakes and sins of others as a way to witness to the love of God. I do not see it that way. In the bible we are told the Spirit will convict the world of sin, so I do not believe it is our job to convict others of sin. Besides, what is sin to one person may not be to another. It is not our job to be judging others. We are called to love one another even in our differences.

donotcondemn

Jesus came as the Son of God to show us what the Father is like and Jesus was not a condemning person. He loved and associated with many people who the religious crowd wanted nothing to do with. Sure Jesus said go and sin no more but he never condemned. He could say the same thing to each of us because we all sin. Jesus was perfect and never sinned so he had the right to condemn people and tell them how bad their mistakes were yet he never did.

The bible says Jesus came to proclaim the good news, yet when we only condemn and point out the mistakes of others that does not seem like very good news. Sure there are times when love needs to be tough and things need to be done that are hard. At the moment these actions may not seem very loving. We all know that we can be tough when needed because we do care for the other person and we are doing what we feel is the best for them, but we still love them even when things are not going so good.

As a christian I believe that God loves each of us and wants each of us to follow him by the Spirit. Even when we do not always make the best choices he still loves us and wants to have fellowship with us. As his followers I feel that is the same we should be doing to everyone we have contact with each day. Love God, love others and seek God’s leading each day. Look past the labels society has placed on people and see the human being that God created and loves.

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Recently I read an article that I enjoyed reading yet I had some reservation with it because it had an undertone that seemed to make sure to say that being gay is a sin. Basically the article was on LGBT issues and the church. I thought the article was good but there were a few things in the article that made me think it was stating that we should accept gay people but still needed to point out that being gay is a sin, or that acting upon those feelings was sinful.

Obviously I may have misinterpreted what the author was saying and I am not sure if the author meant to make it sound that way, yet there are many Christian writers that definitely feel the need to make a point of saying that being gay is sinful. My thought is why do we christians feel the need to point out what we think are faults and sins of others. Why do we have the sense that we can play God and say what is and what is not a sin and who deserves our love and who does not?

First off, no matter who we are or what we think I do not believe any of us as followers of Christ are to be the sin police. We are called to love God and love others, not to point out what we think is sinful behavior in others. The law shows that we cannot live a perfect life and the Spirit convicts the world of sin, so by pointing out what we think is sin in other people is going beyond what God has called us to do.

Second, I am not one to say that being gay is a sin. I do not think that is the job of followers of Christ. There are certainly many different ideas and interpretations of biblical verses that shed a different light on the subject than what we grew up with in the church and to make a judgment on what is and what is not a sin in this area is not for us to do.

What about gay and transgender people who are Christians, are we to completely discount their faith and experience just because we think they are living sinful lives?

If we want to talk about sin then we have to point out that we all have sinned in one way or another, yet because of Christ the sinful nature has been crucified with Christ and the spirit within us is holy and righteous. Of course in the world we still commit sins but we are cleansed and forgiven of our sinful nature through grace. This is not narrowed down to only certain groups of people, grace has been made available to human beings as a whole.

John 3-16

To start separating people into different groups because of sin is wrong. We are not called to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and we are to love and accept everyone in this world just as Jesus did, showing the love of God to everyone.

What has always bothered me is that we are so quick to make being gay a sin that is worse than anything else. Even those who accept the LGBT community still make a point of saying that gay life is sinful. They use such comments as hate the sin love the sinner or being gay is OK as long as you do not act on your feelings, yet statements such as these can be very hurtful.

What about in the bible where it says God hates divorce? Why don’t we separate those who have divorced into a lower class group of people like we do gay and transgender people? Based on statistics published in the online version of Charisma Magazine a report from a few years ago by the Barna Research Group revealed that 32 percent of those identified as born-again Christians have experienced at least one divorce. A related study also conducted by Barna Research found that among Protestant senior pastors, 15 percent have experienced divorce. Why is it that we Christians want to overlook such happenings among the Church yet make gay and transgender people the worst of sinners?

Obviously we all have our personal convictions of right and wrong and we want to live our lives in a pleasing way to God, but we are not to force our convictions and views on others. Just because others have different convictions and interpretations than we do does not mean we are right and they are wrong. We are not called to finger point, judge and condemn. We are called to love.

Love is the way of God and love does not include separation, judgment, condemnation or exclusion. Love is what we are called to show as followers of Christ and that includes everyone not just those who act, live and believe like we do.

Godloveseveryone

Whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, atheist, male, female, black, white or whatever religious belief you follow, apart from the labels we put on each other we are all human beings. Coming from a Christian perspective I believe we were all created in the likeness of God and loved by God. As followers of Christ we are to love our neighbor and respect each other no matter if we agree or not.

We are all entitled to live and believe in a way we feel is right. None of us should be pushing our beliefs on others and we should not have the attitude we are right and everyone else is wrong. We all have things to learn and we all should be willing to love others no matter what we believe. Our personal beliefs are basically all a matter of faith because none of us can prove beyond a doubt if our beliefs are right or wrong.

Speaking of people who see things differently than we Christians, whether you believe there is a God or not does not make a difference in how you should be treated. Unfortunately many times atheists are considered to be the archenemy of our Christian faith, yet we forget that atheist is just a label and there is a human being behind that label who deserves to be treated like anyone else. All of us are entitled to have our personal way of thinking and believing without condemnation and judgment from others.

As followers of Christ we are to live in the way Jesus lived which is the way of love and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree and live in complete harmony with one another. It does mean we can accept one another even in our differences knowing that in the eyes of God we are all loved and we can all respect one another and treat each other with kindness.

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In our modern world of blogging and posting comments online about our beliefs and way of life, I have seen many cold, mean things said. All the arguments and fighting, many times just among other Christians, but who have different interpretations and doctrines. To me, this just does not seem right. The bible says we will be known by our love for one another, but so many times I do not see love in the comments posted, even among brothers.

We each have our own system of living, whether it be by faith, belief or no belief, proof or no proof, gay, straight, asexual, christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, atheist. Each of us choose what we feel is right and live that way until something changes our mind and we make a shift. Each of us should have the right to choose how we will live and what we believe, or what facts or lack thereof we accept.

I see so much fighting and arguing over all these things, but we really cannot prove anything in regard to spiritual life, God, after-life, heaven, hell and such. The thing is, no matter what we believe, which path we follow, how we relate to others who feel differently, it can all change in a moment.

Words from the doctor

My wife recently heard from her doctor about a medical condition that could possibly become a serious issue. Aortic root dilation was the term used, and until we talk with the doctor more, we seem to understand that this is, or is the beginning of an aneurysm around the base of the aorta.

doctor-calling

Now, we have not talked in-depth with the doctor about this situation. Like a lot of doctors, she called on Friday just before going home for the weekend, leaving us to wonder what is going on. We looked up information on the internet and of course, most of it is worst case scenario. Hopefully once we can talk more about the situation we will find out it is not as bad as it could be.

It seems when you get news like this, all the other things like arguing our belief system or doctrine, trying to defend our point of view or pointing out where we think others are wrong, just seem to fade in importance. Loving, caring and being with that person becomes so much more important. Not that those things were not important before, it just seems even more so.

It would be nice if we could let these things be less important and accept others as they are without some medical situation being the thing the brings it about. Although it is typical of us humans that until something wakes us up, we go on putting our ways ahead of others.

Praying for Guidance

For my wife and me, as believers, we pray for guidance on what to do and how to proceed. We pray for health, and that things will not progress into a needed surgery. For those who see things differently, that is OK too because we all understand how we feel about those we love. All of us, no matter what, want to be loved, be happy and enjoy those people we love in our lives.

acceptance-of-others

Let me say this, I honestly believe we should accept one another, no matter what life choices we make, no matter what we believe, what we accept or deny, what doctrines we follow, what denomination we belong to, what faith we follow, or if we follow none of these. We can accept one another, love each other as fellow human beings, and yet realize we do not have to agree. We can talk and learn, and treat each other with respect even though we see things differently.

I certainly appreciate each one who reads this and your concern in this situation. I know we all see things differently, but in one sense we are all the same. We all want to be loved and accepted, to be happy and healthy, and to enjoy those in our lives that we love.

*******

An update to this article about my wife’s condition. After talking face to face with the doctor today, we were told that this is an enlargement of the aorta, but is NOT an aneurysm! She was referred to a cardiologist so he could explain things better, but the only treatment is keeping blood pressure under control and having echocardiogram done every year to make sure the enlargement does not grow. This is great news to us. Thanks so much for the concern each of you showed.

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