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John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

When Jesus said this to Peter he was talking about a specific person, yet I think this verse can also be talking about people today.

WhatisthetoYou

Many of us Christian people get caught up on what other people are doing, how other people live, what others think of us and how they interpret the bible. We will try our best to change the views of others to match our own never dreaming that we could be wrong or that there may be more than one way of seeing things.

We get mad, argue and name-call with the best of them when someone disagrees with our views or how we think we are to live. It does not take long on social media to read posts and replies and see all the different views and opinions.

It also does not take long to see the anger building up in responses as people argue their point and condemning those who see things differently.

My thought is why do we spend so much time in arguing, condemning, excluding and not accepting others?

Jesus came to earth to show us what the Father was truly like, a God of love and acceptance. A God who can speak to people in different ways, a God who created us as unique individuals who act, think and live different from one another.

When we say we should love and accept people as they are, many get upset thinking we are saying go along with anything and say everything is acceptable. What I am saying is rather then judge, condemn and point out where we think others are wrong, we should love them with the love the Spirit gives us from within. Being kind, respectful and loving to others does not mean we agree on everything or condone everything someone does.

For some reason, many christians feel it is their duty to point out where they feel others are wrong as a way to get people to change. People are not going to change because of condemnation and judgment. Love is what draws people and love is what we are called to be known by. None of us should force our views and opinions on others.

Rather than be so caught up on what everyone else is doing and how others live, we should hear Jesus say what is that to you? You follow me.

WearetobelikeChrist

We are to follow Jesus and do what we know is right for us. Let the other person have that same freedom to follow (or not follow) Jesus as they feel is right. The Spirit will convict where change is needed, the Spirit draws people to the Father. It is not our job to judge, condemn or convict others.

When we keep our eyes on Jesus and follow in the path he has for us we do not have to worry about what the other person is doing….what is that to you? That is between God and the other person. We are to follow Jesus by loving God and loving the other person even with the differences.

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Most of us who are Christians want to be known as followers of Christ. We want to be known as good Christian people, yet many of us seem to go about this in the wrong ways.

Many feel that if they can be a pastor, evangelist or missionary and tell others about the gospel message they will be known as good Christian people.

Others feel if they can give regularly to their church or to programs to help the poor and do good in society they will be known as good Christians.

Many will base their identity in Christ on their works and all the good things they can do to show that they are good Christians.

Others think they can show how good of a Christian they are by condemning those who are not Christians, by pointing out the mistakes of others or by standing their ground with those of different beliefs.

A-LoveOneAnother

The thing to remember is that we are saved by grace. It is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

The only way that Jesus says we are to be known as His disciples is by the love we have for God and for others. Jesus tells us to ‘believe on the one who God sent’ and ‘love others as you love yourself’ (1 John 3:23).

When we try mixing New Testament grace with Old Covenant law we get away from the true gospel of grace. We get caught up on works, doctrine and law rather than resting in the grace of Christ and loving others with the love of God.

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As a Christian growing up in the traditional church we always heard that atheists were our enemy. They deny the God we love and say he does not exist.

As time has gone on I have found that only part of that way of thought is correct. Atheists are not our enemies. In fact, they are no different than anyone else with the exception that they do deny that there is a God or any gods. I have several friends that are Atheists and believe it or not, they are normal people just like you and me.

AtheistsandChristiansAccording to statements made on atheists.org, “Atheism is one thing: a lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion”.

The idea that Christians and Atheists are enemies and cannot get along is the wrong way to think. So many Christians see things differently and interpret the bible in so many different ways, yet we are all part of the body of Christ. We all have our unique and individual thoughts, interpretations, ways of life and interests. In the same way, although Christians and Atheists see things differently there is no reason why we cannot get along and treat each other respectfully and with kindness.

Christians and Atheists are the same in the fact that, again quoting from atheists.org “All atheists are different. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints. Atheists exist across the political spectrum. We are members of every race. We are members of the LGBTQ community. There are atheists in urban, suburban, and rural communities and in every state of the nation”.

Christians come in all the same areas as mentioned above. We are all unique and, coming from a Christian perspective, we are all created in the image of God and are loved by God.

I understand that Atheists do not think this way, and that is OK. Rather than condemn one another and argue and name call, we should accept that we are different and we see things differently. Unfortunately, I see this happen from time to time from Atheists and Christians alike. I wish we could accept that we are different in this one area and treat each other with respect and decency.

AtheistsandChristians2

One last quote from atheists.org “Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re sure about every theological question, have answers to the way the world was created, or how evolution works. It just means that the assertion that gods exist has left you unconvinced. Wishing that there was an afterlife, or a creator god, or a specific god doesn’t mean you’re not an atheist. Being an atheist is about what you believe and don’t believe, not about what you wish to be true or would find comforting”.

Not much different from Christianity. We cannot prove anything spiritually or in regard to creation or evolution or if God is real or not. We certainly believe in God. We believe Jesus came to show us that God is love, yet we cannot prove it one way or another.

I am certainly not an expert on Atheism and as a Christian I do not think Atheism is the correct way of thinking. Yet Atheists think the same way about us Christians. The main point for me is to be accepting, loving, kind and respectful to all people no matter how they choose to believe, not believe or what they do not accept. Under all the labels such as Christian, Atheist, LGBT, Muslim and so forth we are human beings who have a variety of interests in life, we want to be happy and live a good life. There is no reason why we have to act as enemies due to a different perspective on God.

From my viewpoint, God is able to take care of himself. We can talk until we are blue in the face but that will not change most people. It is the Spirit that leads people to the Father. He will convict people of what needs to be changed in their lives, it is not our job. Until God makes himself known in a way that Atheists come to know there is a God, we should accept the differences and continue to love God and love others just as they are.

(Quotes taken from atheists.org About page at https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/)

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Kindness is something you do not find very often in our world today.

The Bible speaks about kindness many times. Kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The dictionary says kindness is being considerate or helpful. I think the world would be a better place if everyone treated each other with kindness. Being kind and accepting others does not mean we are always going to agree, yet we can be kind and respect each other in our differences.

It usually does not take a lot to be kind. Sometimes I think we make it too hard, especially when something so simple and easy as a genuine smile can brighten someone’s day. Being polite and kind to others can sometimes be just what they need to make their day. Holding the door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in line, smiling and saying hello, you never know.

kindness1a

The little everyday things we can do to show others kindness can be an encouragement to them and a way of living out the love of Christ.

These days it seems we even have a hard time with Christians treating each other with kindness. We want to fight and argue over our views and interpretations and forget that as Christians, we all have the common ground of faith in Christ.

A friend of mine recently talked about relationships and how they seem to come to an end. He said it is based on what the relationship is about. If it is based on some thing or some activity, once we get tired of that particular thing and move on, the relationships based on that activity willl usually come to an end. Only the common ground of faith in Christ and His grace is what does not change and the one thing that can hold together a friendship.

Let’s see if we can make a point to do one act of kindness each day. You never know where it may lead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Love in the Spirit

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

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

SpeaktheTruth

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

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

What Are You Against?

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

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

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

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If you are like my wife and me, you can remember from your first day in church being taught that the Bible was God’s holy word. The Bible was perfect and without mistake or any contradictions.

We felt the Bible was personally written by the hand of God through chosen men, and all the answers were contained therein. I truthfully think a lot of us Christian people have come to see the Bible as the fourth member of the God-head.

In fact, to even question if the Bible is inerrant was sacrilegious. It was like the familiar quote in the court system when being sworn in, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have come to believe the Bible is the truth, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. Everything is contained within the written word, and God can do nothing outside of the written word.

Swear-In

Of course that way of thinking really limits the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and is our teacher and guide. If the Spirit teaches us something or shows us something, we immediately want to look it up in the Bible, and if we cannot find it there, then we think the voice of the Spirit certainly must be wrong.

Also like my wife and me, many of you have come to a point where you began to wonder if this inerrancy of the written word of God is really the case. I remember reading a section in one of my Bibles between the Old and New Testament that was about how we got our Bible. I remember thinking about how certain books were chosen, by men, as divinely inspired and others were not, which books to put into what we call the Bible and which books to leave out. It sure made me think about how this can be a perfect, inerrant group of writings. Of course at that time, I quickly dismissed my questions and moved on, lest I made God mad at me for questioning his perfect book. Or maybe I was more worried about making the pastor and other members mad.

Of course a lot of us were taught that the King James Version of the Bible was the true word of God and any other translation was wrong, and some translations were even an insult to God. My thought on that is how can any translation be considered the true word of God? They are all translations, even the King James. Truthfully, some of the stories I have heard about King James and his instructions on interpreting the manuscripts would make me want to stay away from the King James Version anyway. This is why we depend on the Spirit within us to bring the truth to light and not depend on any particular translation.

When we read John 1:1 and many other verses within the Bible, we come to realize that when we hear that the Word of God is living, perfect, powerful, inerrant and so forth, what is being described is Jesus, not a book.

The Bible was definitely inspired by God, and that inspiration was through men. We all know if mankind has a hand in anything it is going to be flawed. Being inspired to write does not mean you write word for word through dictation. I can be inspired to write a book about a topic, but it is still going to be me writing, and have my thoughts, feelings, and flare to it.

Just because the written word of God is not perfect, that does not negate anything about God. I always heard people say that if the Bible has errors in it or contradicts itself, then the whole idea of God must not be true either. I really do not understand that logic, especially since we know that Jesus is the Word of God. The written word, when viewed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say the written word is perfect.

In fact, when Christ walked on the earth, and the early days of Christianity, there was not even a written word like what we call the Bible available to the believers. There was the Word of God though, because Jesus has always been around.

My wife and I believe the Bible to be very valuable for learning and a means of hearing from God. We also believe the Holy Spirit within us and His still, small voice is even more valuable. We believe godly friends and wise people of God can be a help and guidance to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through them.

Jesus word of GodSo many of us want to fight and defend the written word we call the Bible. We divide ourselves into groups and denominations, we separate ourselves from the world, we fight, condemn and alienate ourselves over the written word because we think it is the inerrant words and ways of God, yet the true Word of God, Jesus, is standing right in front of us and we miss Him. Just like when Jesus was talking with the Jews and said in John 5:39 and 40 … ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life’.

We see that life is in Christ. Jesus is not telling them to come to the Bible or accept the Bible, but to come to Him. Jesus is the true, powerful, inerrant, living Word of God. Read your Bible, let the Holy Spirit bring life to the words, learn and be encouraged from them, but realize the written word is not perfect. Look to the living, perfect Word who is Jesus, and listen for His voice through the Spirit.

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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we 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 we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, 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.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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