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Posts Tagged ‘follower of Christ’

(Re-Post from September 3, 2014)

We all want to have friends. Have you ever heard the phrase to make a friend you have to be a friend? Obviously, everyone wants to be liked and have friends that are likeable and easy to be around.

I think it is important to also be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you and want to be friends. I have seen people work so hard to change and be someone they normally are not just to be friends with someone they think would be fun to be around.

Friendship

My thought is if you have to change who you are why do you need that kind of friend? This applies to any and all labels we place on one another whether it is black/white, gay/straight, religious/atheist and so on. The label should not make a difference when it comes to friendship.

There is another thing that bothers me about friendship. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they just seem so friendly and interested in you? I have been through this several times. I would run into someone in the store or out for a walk and they are smiling and so interested in getting to know a little about me. I get kind of anxious to get to know them and see if a new friendship was starting. Later I get a call or an email and get asked if we could meet for coffee and talk a while.

After the second time this happened, I started realizing that each time this has happened it was someone with an ulterior motive.

They really were not interested in me, they were interested in what I could do for them. Basically, they were selling something and looking for new people to join in under them doing the same thing.

I tell you this was so disappointing each time it happened. I was thinking, wow, what a nice person. I would like to get to know them and get to be friends. Then, wham, the rug was pulled out from under me by finding out they only wanted to make a sell or add me to their sales network.

True friends are hard to find. Even among people who are not selling something and do not have ulterior motives, it is hard to find a true friend.

Friends

Often it seems most of the friends we have are friends as long as we have the same interests or involved in the same activities. If we go to the same places, work together or involved in sporting events we talk and associate but if we leave that particular activity we usually do not see each other or talk.

True friends love us and accept us as just as we are. They are not waiting until we change and become more like them. They are actually interested in us. They want to see us succeed. They feel comfortable telling us things that are not popular or what we need to hear when they know we are getting into something that is not good for us.

A true friend will be there for you even when miles apart or when we have different interests and activities. A true friend is one of the hardest things to find in this world.

Now as followers of Christ, we have the best and most true friend possible in Jesus. But let’s be real, we need a flesh and blood person right in front of us to discuss things, do things together, encourage and support each other and cry with one another.

Jesus will never leave us, he will never forsake us. He is closer than a brother and the best friend we will ever have in life. Yet in this life we need human friends. And those human friends, if you think about it, are almost like having Jesus right in front of you. Since we are now the temple of the Spirit, God living in us, we are in a sense Jesus to each other. I am not saying we are God but His Spirit lives within us and we can love and accept each other through that common truth more than anything.

So, for those shallow people who are only looking for someone to use and get things from I would rather not even start a friendship. We still love everyone through Christ but we do not have to be friends with everyone. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit to lead you to true friends in your life and see Christ in the brother and sisters he brings along.

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If we could only accept one another in all the different views and opinions that are out there, what a different place this world would be.

We all have an opinion. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with stating our opinion. What is bad is when we expect everyone else to go along with our opinion.

DifferentOpinions

That is when all kinds of arguing and hard feelings happen.

We all are free to have our opinion yet we should accept the fact that not everyone will agree. Keep in mind our opinion may not be right and our opinion may change over time.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and being free to state their opinion, but remember it is only one opinion. We should not expect everyone to go along and we should not get mad when others have differing opinions.

Accept one another and the unique ways God created us. Love and accept those who see things differently. That does not always mean we agree or condone what others do but we are not going to always agree on everything anyway.

We are to love God and love one another, and as the bible mentions to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, attend to your own business and work with your hands.

DifferentOpinions3

We should not worry that others see things differently. We should not get mad and fight and argue trying to convince people to see things our way.

If you are a follower of Christ then follow him the way you feel he is leading you. If you are not a follower of Christ or do not believe in gods at all, follow your heart and do not try to force your views on others.

I believe God is big enough to work in each of us as he sees best. Rather than worry about forcing our opinions and views on others, accept the fact that we are all different. Love others and respect one another despite the differences.

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So often when we talk about leaving church, people usually misunderstand why we made such a decision.

Far to often christian people who remain in the traditional church system automatically think we have left our faith, gave up on God or are in a back-slidden condition spiritually.

Rather than listen to our reasons and trying to understand, many are more interested in proving why our decision to leave was wrong. They try their best to encourage us to come back to God by going to church. Unfortunately many just write us off as someone to avoid and forget.

If they would only watch and listen a while they would see that we have not left God. We have only left a system that we feel is flawed and not what God intended. We have left the man-made system to follow God in what we feel is a more natural way by putting our dependence on the guidance of the Spirit alone without the middle-man known as a pastor.

We feel we no longer get much out of the weekly organized service with one person doing all the talking. A building where only a select few have anything to do with the pre-planned service.

Churchislifestyle

We feel that when we gather with others each of us should have a voice, some word of teaching or encouragement.

For those who are followers of Jesus, most of us grew up in the church system. That is all most of us have known. Yet it seems the Spirit is drawing many out of the system and into a more organic way of gathering. Church no longer is seen as a building or an organization based on traditions and doctrines of men.

Church is community, it is people living daily under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. It is coming along-side other believers for fellowship, encouragement and building one another up in Christ. This can happen anywhere and any day, in homes, restaurants, parks, pubs……even in buildings when all can participate and be used by the Spirit to encourage others.

For those still in the traditional system, please do not worry about those of us who have left. We have not left God. There is no reason why we cannot all accept one another and the choices we make in regard to attending a religious organization or following Jesus outside the walls of religion and traditional ways of gathering. Whether in or out of the institutional church, each of us in our own way are trying to follow Jesus in the way we feel he is leading us.

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Do you get tired of seeing such disagreement among fellow christians? We do not see a lot of unity and agreement at all today.

unityamongbrethren

Jesus said his followers were to be known for their love for one another. Yet today it is hard to find brothers and sisters in Christ being loving and kind.

Fortunately this is not the case in every situation, but it seems a lot more common than it should be.

I am not just talking about being accepting and kind toward those who are outside the christian faith, but it is hard to find true love and acceptance among brethren of different denominations within the faith.

If we go to the same church building and accept the same doctrines, you will usually find love and acceptance. I remember when I was in the church system the first thing I would ask someone was where they went to church. If they went to an organization I liked and agreed with, I would pretty much instantly like the person. If they went to a place that was different in their way of worship or interpretation of the bible, then I would immediately be on guard and almost dismiss them as someone to get to know. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

It is sad that we put such walls up with people who think differently. It is sad that we have made such importance out of buildings, doctrines, interpretations and bible versions that we forget God loves each of us no matter what we believe. We are to love God and love others just as God does no matter what they believe, especially among those who are also followers of Jesus.

Loving and accepting people does not mean we are always in agreement and that we always get along. Of course there will be disagreements and differences of opinions, probably even arguments and hurt feelings at times, but that is life. We can disagree and even argue at times and still respect and accept the other person.

By the power of the Spirit within us, we can accept, respect and be loving toward others. Not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but those who are not of the christian faith and belief. I think we can disagree and have different opinions and still act in a respectful and accepting way toward our fellow human beings.

loveoneanother

Jesus said that they will know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Love draws people, but condemnation, judgment and unloving behavior drives them away. Many times, when I say we are to love and accept others I get a lot of comments about being wrong because as christians we are to point out the sins and mistakes of others. They say our responsibility is to make sure others know what they are doing is wrong….at least by their way of thought.

I personally do not think we are to be the sin police. We are not told to do such things. We are told to love God and love others. As far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. That is between the Spirit and each individual as to what they do and how they respond. We are only to love others.

Love draws, God is love. Rather than judge, condemn, separate and argue, get out there among humanity and let the love of God flow out of you by the power of the Spirit. There is a whole world of hurting people, both christian and non-christian who can use the encouragement of an accepting person who cares and shows the love of God.

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It is sad but I am seeing more and more how a lot of us have an Us versus Them mentality….and that is just among Christians.

For those of us who are followers of Christ we are to love and accept others in the name of Christ. Yet many of us cannot even accept other believers.

We get upset when someone has a different interpretation, a different doctrine, or they go to a different church or no church at all.

UsvsThem

Why is it when we are to be known for our love for one another that we can be so condemning and mean to each other?

I feel being a Christian is being in community with others, not necessarily with others with the same doctrine or interpretation, but someone to communicate with, fellowship with, have discussions and be ourselves without judgment and condemnation.

For those who do not see eye to eye on church attendance, there is no reason why we have to argue with each other. So many people who still attend an organized religious organization are quick to say those of us who have left the organization are wrong or disobeying the bible by not assembling together.

Yet those who are outside the walls of religion can easily argue with those who still attend, saying they are wrong and disobeying God by staying within the man-run organization.

Acceptance

We should be able to understand that we all have different ways of seeing things, different ways of worship and different paths in our walk with Christ. Whether we are in or out of the organization we are seeking to serve and follow the same Father.

Rather than fight and argue amongst ourselves, we should realize we are all seeking the same purpose in living for God and showing others that He loves them. Those in the organized church love God and want to serve Him just as much as those outside the walls of religion and traditional church.

When we realize we are the Church no matter if we attend an organized service or if we never walk into a church building we will do much better at showing the love of God to a hurting world. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and he lives within us. We are all equally functioning parts of the body of Christ, who is the head of the body.

They will know we are Christians (followers of Christ) by the love we have for one another. We need to stop fighting and arguing over our doctrinal differences and various interpretations and love God and one another. Our goal is to be loving and kind and have a servant spirit to all we meet along the way.

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John 13:35 – By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another….

This verse is one of the main points of Christianity, next to loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. The way we are to be noticed as being Christ followers is by the love we have for other Christ followers. I think this is an area where we modern-day believers have gotten off track.

The early followers of Christ were of one mind and one purpose, loving God, loving others and spreading the Good News. They took care of each other, supplied for each other and were generally concerned for the well-being of each other. Today we are divided up into so many different groups and denominations because we can’t agree and get along on basic points of our Christian faith. Non-believers watch us and see all the arguing and back-biting among Christians, and they don’t want anything to do with us.

It is time for the body of believers to get past their differences and start truly acting in love and concern for each other. This is the way that those outside the Christian faith are going to see a real difference and start asking what it is that we have. It is then that we will have a real impact for our faith in God.

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Have you ever passed a ‘church’ building and saw a sign out front that says ‘Everyone Welcome’?

When I see one I always wonder if they really mean what they say. I’ve seen so many congregations over the years get set in their ways and enjoy the people who are “regular’s”, but what would happen if ‘everyone’ did come to their church?

What would the thoughts and feelings be if a gay couple walked in, or a few prostitutes decided to come in for a service. What if a group of homeless people walked in to hear the Sunday morning sermon? Would everyone be truly welcome?

We know that Jesus welcomed everyone, literally, and mostly those who the ‘religious world’ didn’t want to have any association. Jesus met with and cared for the people who probably wouldn’t go to church, either because they wouldn’t be welcome or because they just didn’t think they would fit in.

Maybe that says something about our ‘organized church’ of today. Maybe we’ve become so involved with religion and the proper way of doing things that we’ve lost our first love. Could we be so caught up in the trends of modern religion that we forget our relationship with the God of the universe?

Maybe we need to concentrate more on living in fellowship with Christ on a daily basis, loving Him and loving others, and not worry so much about what building we go to on Sunday morning….if we go at all. The true Church is not a building, and it does not matter which day we meet or where we meet. The Church is a community of believers who live for Him each and every day. We should not be focused on a building, but on a daily walk with Him.

To love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves fulfills the law. We no longer need to worry about obeying the law and the rules and regulations. We now live under a new covenant which went into effect at the death and resurrection of Jesus. We now have the Living Word within us through the Holy Spirit. We no longer need any man to teach us the ways of God, because now the Spirit is our guide.

It is time to put our focus back on our first love, Jesus. It is time to live out our relationship with God on a daily basis, not only on one day. If you are a follower of Christ, it is a daily way of live of loving God, loving others, and being prepared to give an answer of the hope that is within us to those who ask us. I pray we are all letting the love of God show through us so that others will be drawn to Him.

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