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by Jim Gordon

Just a few verses from the bible that put emphasis on what we are called to do, and that is love one another. Does not mean we always agree, does not mean we do not have different views and opinions. Yet we can accept one another, grant the same equal rights, respect and human dignity to everyone through love.

Notice these verses do not say this pertains only to those who think the same, look the same, believe the same or worship the same. It applies to all human beings no matter what label they wear, such as man/woman, black/white, gay/straight, no matter what nationality, no matter what religion, gender or race. We are only called to love one another.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Mark 12:30,31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 15:12

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:17

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

1 Peter 1:22

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart

1 John 3:11

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 John 3:23

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us

1 John 4:7, 8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:19,20,21

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2 John 1:5

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

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by Jim Gordon

We human beings all have opinions and personal views on how we think we and others should live. Christian people also have opinions and views plus the added interpretations of the bible.

Sad thing is that often times we want to force our views on others and expect them to see things the same way. When they do not do that, things can get quite ugly sometimes.

After a few days of watching my father-in-law deteriorate in his health, seeing him in the hospital and then going to rehab for a couple weeks, it really makes you think about life.

When your health is not good you seem to lose your thoughts about differences of opinions. You forget about who is right or wrong. You do not seem to think as much about standing your ground and trying to force your views on others.

He has nurses and aides who are male and female, black and white, LGBTQ and straight, along with other nationality backgrounds and you know what, it does not make any difference to him. These are normal people doing their job. He depends on them and they take care of him.

Why is it we human beings cannot act more like this every day, not just when something is going wrong with our health. People are people and there is no reason to be treating anyone with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

It seems many christian people feel it is our duty to point out the mistakes of others. We are to act on behalf of the Holy Spirit by convicting people who we think are sinning. Often what christian people view as sins are not sins at all, but an incorrect interpretation of bible verses that had different meanings and written to different people. Even when people are doing something that is sinful, it is not our job to take a self-righteous stand and convict them. We all have been there and done something that is sinful.

That fact is that no matter what, we are all loved by God. As christians we are only told to love God and love one another. People are free to live as they see is right. Any conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, not the people of God. We are only called to love.

Many will say that loving people will mean we sometimes have to show tough love. We have to point out their mistakes or they will go on sinning and their blood will be upon our hands. Again, the bible says the Spirit will draw people to God. We are not responsible for drawing people to God or changing their views of what is right or wrong. We are to love people, unconditionally just as God loves us.

How many people are drawn to God out of the hateful and condemning ways many people use to try and guilt them into coming to God? How many people are drawn because of fear? A few maybe, but is coming to God out of fear really love? Love draws and God says to love even your enemies.

Do not wait until some terrible event gets your mind off of your opinions and your interpretations. Follow the example of Jesus every day of your life by loving God and loving people.

You do not have to agree with everyone, none of us ever will anyway. Yet live your life doing what you feel God is leading you to do. Allow others the same freedom. Love them with godly love. God is able to draw people and change them in the areas that need changing. Even when the change does not happen, they are still loved by God and they should still be loved by us.

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by Jim Gordon

We often talk about being like Jesus, or living a Christ-like life. What does that really entail?

My first thought is being like Jesus does not necessarily mean imitating Jesus. I think that is something that is close but a little different. Imitating, according to the dictionary means to mimic; impersonate; to make a copy of; to have or assume the appearance of. Some of this can be understood to be good, but I feel it takes away from our own identity and the way we were made as individuals.

I do not think being Christ-like means we are going to do everything we read in the gospels just like Jesus. It may mean we do things that are not popular or accepted by everyone, but we do them as the Spirit leads us, not because we are imitating exactly what Jesus did.

Most of us probably will not go to a Jewish synagogue and overturn tables. We may not walk all over the country healing people and raising the dead. We may never face being stoned and we may not have to deal directly with the spiritual or political leaders of our day.

What it might mean is, some of us may leave the church system because it is man-controlled with its doctrines and various interpretations of the bible. This will cause us to walk in the wilderness outside the walls of religion. It may mean being shunned by those still within the system. Yet we still have the Spirit living within us and who will never leave us.

Some of us may disassociate ourselves from politics. In the U.S.A. many people think being christian means being republican. Jesus did not seem to associate himself with any political party of his time. He respected them by saying give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Yet, Jesus goals and purposes were far beyond anything political.

Some may join an LGBTQ organization to show support, or work with race, gender or nationality relations. It may mean participating with and helping people that others would rather ignore. We want to help provide understanding and acceptance among people no matter what label they wear. Doing so may be misunderstood by others and may cause us to be cut off from friends or family who see things differently.

No matter how the Spirit leads us, I believe being like Jesus will be going about the Father’s business. That is to show love and not judgment and condemnation. It is encouraging, loving, building up and accepting people just as they are. Jesus came to our world to show us that God is not a God of hate, condemnation, murder and exclusiveness. God is love and a god of acceptance, inclusiveness and a god that walks side by side with us through everything we go through in this world.

We are all different. We each have our own personality, interests and special ways of living life. I think being like Jesus will be different as God works in the uniqueness of us. Being like Jesus will be different things to different people, but it will all be done by following the Spirit of Christ from within us. It will be a life of love for God and love for people each and every day.

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God 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 interpretation 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 were seemingly created to love others?

Common moral sense would never put men in authority over women.

Most would agree equalitarian rather than hierarchical relationships are less likely to lead to the mistreatment of women. Many husbands assume leadership means making final decisions in an impasse. Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. I have never had an issue in 37 years of marriage that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions.  Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

Isn’t it obvious the most qualified or gifted should be appointed CEO? Few would dare justify only allowing men in leadership roles in business; I doubt God feels any different who the preacher or priest is. Does God really not trust women to handle the Truth! Let’s stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations.

Doesn’t the Bible though argue for loving authority?

It is said that the Apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, teaches men have spiritual authorities women don’t. Some may be unaware the Bible can be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. See here. Paul affirmed and didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Paul mentions in practically the same breath that roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). Romans 16 is only one of many chapters in the Bible that speaks of women in leadership roles, similar to both Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Passages like this presuppose that women can teach men.

Did Paul really use the example of Adam and Eve to suggest a universal model for leadership to avoid women leading men astray (I Tim. 2:12-15)? It is just as likely Paul used the first couple as an example of what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. But, if such a sin keeps women from preaching for eternity, maybe men shouldn’t preach either. Besides, Paul says Adam was responsible for what happened in the garden (Rom. 5:12). Paul in this same Timothy passage advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but seldom do churches make the same prohibitions as they do women teaching.

God can’t be bias toward gender or skin color.

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same leadership roles as men in the spiritual or work realm unless believing a Book teaches this is God’s will for humankind. Most would agree not allowing equal roles because of the color of your skin born with is immoral. I would suggest denying women equal roles, because of the gender born, is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. A good God surely doesn’t advocate racism or favoritism. I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. 

Even in the Old Testament female leadership isn’t condemned.  

OT times, where patriarchal and female concubines were rampant, would likely be an era to speak against female leaders. The role of a prophet was clearly a mouthpiece for the very words and council of God. Miriam, the sister of Aaron, was a prophet (Ex 15:20) who help lead Israel (Mic. 6:4). Huldad also was a prophet (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22). Queen Esther had great influence and clear authority (Esther 7-10). Deborah was a prophet (Judg. 4:4) who also served as a Judge of Israel, which was the highest leader position in Israel at this time. Such an authoritative role by a woman may not have been common in a patriarchal world but the text offers no condemnation. The OT recognizes a place for women in roles of civil authority and as spokespersons for God. Saying “a woman’s place is only in the home” is not a biblical one.

What about God’s gender and Jesus’?

But Jesus was a male and God is our heavenly Father! If people already didn’t listen to Jesus in the first century do you think they would listen to a female Jesus? Jesus encouraged equality between the sexes against culture norms. The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female. By contrast, the Jews did not speculate about the “masculinity” of God, and God is never ever referred to as male. We must be careful to not assume God is more male simply because our English translations use male pronouns when referring to God. God was also described both like a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), a mother who does not forget the child she nurses (Isaiah 49:14-15). Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). A reason for more male references by the biblical writers is likely because of the patriarchal cultures the writers lived in. 

There are so many reasons to not encourage men having authority over women.  

One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions? Religious extremists would rather be dead than advise husbands to love their wives as their own bodies as the Apostle Paul did (Eph. 5:28). In any religion justification of the different treatment of women from men is usually because of a Holy Book that speaks for God. Common moral sense is assumed to be the enemy.  I haven’t only argued my view according to the Bible. Literature always requires interpretation, so we must use common moral sense as well. Appointing men in authority over women can be conducive for domestic abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men.

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By Mike Edwards

The Bible because of certain views espoused from it about God may be a main reason people stay away from God. Women, gays, etc. are discriminated against or condemned because of what the Bible supposedly teaches. The truth is scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative disagree what God thinks about gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. The problem is many don’t openly admit their interpretations may be wrong thus implying their interpretations are infallible.

Is the Bible inspired word-for word by God or did writers grow in understanding God?

My personal conviction is God did not inspire every word recorded in the Bible. How could God possibly approve of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12). I’m convinced writers were influenced by surrounding cultures and grew in their understandings of a loving God over time. Others may disagree.

It is suggested that despite the hideous law above, it was a step up from other cultures that advocated even further mutilations such as gouging out eyes or breasts (See William Webb who doesn’t necessarily support the rationalization but reveals ancient near eastern practices, Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic For Troubling Texts, Chapter 4). Such a rationalization is hard for many to stomach, so those who believe all Scriptures is inspired might recognize they often go beyond/above Scriptures.

Many who believe the Bible is inspired already teach progressive revelation.

William Webb demonstrates those who advocate for corporal punishment of children according to the Bible go beyond what the Bible implies for the good of the child. Advocates typical suggest spanking be limited to young children but this isn’t found in the Bible. The two-swat method is suggested to avoid bruising, but the Bible suggests bruises serve a good purpose (Prov. 20:30). Biblical defenders of corporal punishment suggest hitting the buttocks but the Bible suggests the rod is intended for the back (Prov. 26:3). I am opposed to any kind of corporal punishment but bible-believing Christians often go beyond the Bible because it makes common moral sense.

How can Christians represent the Bible with an open-mind?

I am convinced God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling a biblical writer’s impression of God. But, if you believe every thought is inspired by God you can at least consider if God intended us to grow in our understanding of God, even from what is recorded in Scriptures. For example if you think the Bible teaches wives should be submissive to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives, one could still consider if mutual submission is less conducive to atrocities women face at the hands of men.

How can God guide us?

Even the Bible suggests when Jesus left this earth that we aren’t guided by a Book but by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. We may need one another to arrive at what is wisest or most loving. Can’t we tell others who have issues with the Bible, no matter our view of Scriptures, that it is possible God would encourage us to continue to grow in our understanding of God even beyond views of biblical writers. God may turn out to be like what you imagine a perfect, good God should be like.

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