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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Why does the word inclusion make so many of us christian people cringe?

inclusion

We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If you think differently we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Sorry to say I used to feel the same way, but have thankfully changed my mind.

I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.

We see this so much within christianity, such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the bible. This is only mentioning fellow believers who believe that God is with us and loves us.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, it is even worse. African-American, White, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently. We think we should not associate with them or people will think we agree with them and are a part of their way of living.

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

inclusionbyjesus

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean agreement nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after together. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. Inclusion is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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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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When we talk about loving others and accepting others, many times people think that means we agree on everything. If we accept them then we give up all our personal views and convictions and do whatever it takes to get along and live in harmony.

The truth is, that is not what is meant at all. We all know we are not going to get people to agree on everything. We are not going to get people to accept the differences among us, yet we know we can accept people even in the differences.

When we love, accept and respect people the way they are we will not always agree or condone their actions, yet we can treat each other with compassion and kindness.

It seems that many christian people forget that no matter what label we put on others, there is a human being behind that label who was created by God.

Rather than condemning or judging others based on our interpretation of the bible or based on our doctrines or personal morals, we should remember that we are all God’s creation and accept one another for that reason.

acceptothers1-11-17

When we say love and accept one another we understand that none of us are going to completely agree and live happily ever after. There will be many times we do not agree with the other person’s opinion or way of doing things. There are times we may not even like what the other person is doing, yet we can love them with a godly love that comes from the Spirit within.

 

Just because we do not agree or see things the same way, we can still accept and respect the other person. We will never live in a world where we all agree and give up our personal convictions just to get along. Yet with the power of the Spirit within us we can accept, respect and be kind to everyone realizing we are all fellow human beings wanting to live a good and happy life.

When we read about the life of Jesus we see him loving all kinds of people, treating them with respect and compassion. If we claim to be his followers, should we not do the same? Christ loved people who most religious people of the day did not want to be around. The only people he actually had problems with were the religious leaders who thought they were so much better than everyone else. Unfortunately we still see this among people today.

Christian people seem to pick out gay people to be the worst sinners around and we make atheists our enemy rather than a fellow human being. Many whites and blacks cannot get along nor can people of different religions. We have women who hate men and men who want to demean and dominate women. We seem to divide ourselves up based on the label we apply rather than seeing another human being who many times wants the same things in life we all do.

godlovesus1-11-17

When it comes to pointing out sin, I do not believe it is our job to do so. Sin is sin and God will convict people if there is sin to be dealt with through the Holy Spirit, not us. We are called to love God, which means we will live for Him and let Him work in us. We are also called to love one another, which means we pass on the unconditional love of God to all we meet along the way.

 

Rather than fighting, arguing and trying to prove our way of thinking we should follow the leading of the Spirit within for ourselves and let the other person be responsible for living their own life.

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Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation or to point out where you think they are wrong?

Quite frankly I disagree with all of the above. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest under the guidance of the Spirit. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.

As Christians we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love.

actionswords1

Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins but words themselves have no strength. It is daily living in the power of the Spirit and letting the love of God touch others that makes a difference. When we consistently live in the love of God and the guidance of the Spirit it has more impact than thousands of words.

 

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to the Father. It is not our job to be condemning people and trying to prove to them that they are sinning against God.

God’s word says that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and being ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 – Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business and do your own work as we have already told you. If you do, then people who are not believers will respect you, and you will not have to depend on others for what you need. (New Century Version).

1 Peter 3:15 – Through thick and thin keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you are living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy (The Message).

alwaysspeakwhenasked

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine, minding your business, living a peaceful life, but be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks, and always in love and without judgment and condemnation. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity and the words will it make an impact on the person anyway.

By living this lifestyle and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are wondering about the hope that is within us.

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I am becoming more and more angered over the religious freedom talk and the laws being signed in various states across our country.

I know it sounds good and I do believe everyone should have religious freedom. Yet a lot of these bills sound more like discrimination to me.

When we sign into law a bill that forces one groups views on everyone, or when the religious beliefs of one group are forced on another group that is not standing up for your faith…that is discrimination.

Whether it is discrimination against Muslims, Gays, Atheist, Black, Christian or whatever group we could mention, forcing the views of one group on everyone else is not right.

loveyourneighbor1

It is also hard to believe that people want laws passed saying that if you have a certain religious belief you expect everyone to adhere to that belief and you do not have to give the same rights and consideration to other groups of people.

What happened to the teaching of Jesus to love our neighbors and do not judge? Do we not remember that Jesus spent time with the non-religious people and those who the religious crowd would not spend time?

We need to remember just because people are different, just because we have different views and different faiths or no faith at all, as christians we believe God created us all and He loves us all. We as his followers are to do the same.

We are not going to legislate christian morality. We are not going to convert anyone to our way of thinking by passing laws, especially those that discriminate against anyone.

Remember, as christians we are to love God, love our neighbor, love our enemies, and love those who hate and mistreat us. The Holy Spirit is the one who will convict the world of sin where convicting is needed.

Obviously, this does not mean we are all going to agree. We can have our individual beliefs and ways of life and still respect and care for each other.

We should stop trying to do the job of the Spirit and love one another in spite of our differences.

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We hear a lot of talk about thinking outside the box or doing things outside the box. Many of us as christians these days think of the box in a different way.

Many of us when we hear something about the box or outside the box we think about the modern-day church. We think of a building where like-minded believers gather once a week to worship and learn about God.

The traditional church today is basically known as a box or four walls of brick, mortar and wood where people come in and separate themselves from the world and from believers of different interpretation and beliefs.

outofthebox

When we talk about outside the box we are talking about living outside the walls of modern-day religion and the traditional institutional church. We talk about no longer participating in the weekly service, listening to one person do all the talking while we sit there silently looking at the back of head of the person in front of us.

Fellowship to us is not sitting silently. Fellowship is communicating and associating with fellow believers as a regular way of life each and every day. Meeting together as God brings about the opportunity, getting together for a meal or in our homes to talk and get to know one another.

To us church is not a building or an organization with its doctrines and interpretations, meetings and such. Church is the people who are following Jesus on a day to day basis, loving God and loving others. It is living outside the walls of a building and accepting people who not only believe like us but people who see things differently than we do.

Does that mean that being in the box and worshipping inside a building is wrong? Does it mean those within the box are not trying to follow Jesus? Of course not! God works within the building and outside the building. Many good things happen within the organization, but for some of us we feel there is a better way.

For my wife and me, along with thousands of others, we have moved outside the box. We have become very unsatisfied with the man-ordained organization and of separating ourselves according to denomination, doctrine and interpretation. We feel that when Jesus said he would build his Church he was not talking about any type organization, denomination or man-led system.

For us Church is people who daily live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is daily depending on God and His Spirit for guidance, learning and understanding. We love God and want to show that love to others by loving our neighbor, whoever that may be. We want to be loving, kind and accepting to everyone, not just to those of our particular group or belief.

acceptandlove

If you are inside the walls of a traditional church organization and you are happy there, stay there and serve God as He leads. If you are in a church and are unsatisfied, or if you have left the organization and are questioning your decision please do not feel guilty. Put you trust in God and seek the guidance of the Spirit.

Realize that the Church is the people of God. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves with your brothers and sisters, which means we need one another for fellowship and encouragement but we do not have to be in a building or organization sitting and listening to one person do all the talking. Feel free to walk outside the box and love each and every one of those God brings into your life day by day.

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If you grew up in church and the religious organization, have you ever thought about the idea that maybe we were told some wrong things and taught some wrong interpretations?

Most of us who have been in the church for any length of time knows how the system works and it is really all we know. We listen to a pastor and figure they know what they are talking about because they were called by God. They went to a college institution to be taught everything about God by another human.

For my wife and me, the longer we were in the institution the more we felt uncomfortable and began questioning some things that just did not seem to fit together. I remember having several questions over time about doctrine or interpretation that did not make sense to me, or did make sense but not in the traditional teaching of the church. I knew if I asked the pastor or others in the church they would think I was wrong or falling away from my faith.

I think as time goes on being outside the walls of religion we have come to find that some of what we were taught all these years just might not be the way God intended. Man might have taught some wrong doctrines all based on human interpretation apart from the Spirit.

questions

We have found that asking questions usually leads to more questions. I think it is time we stop relying on a pastor or so-called spiritual leader to tell us all about God and start thinking for ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit within us who was sent to teach us. We have the mind of Christ so why do we still think we need another human being to tell us all about God.

There is nothing wrong with discussing thoughts and ideas with other people. It is not wrong to hear different views and interpretations, but in the end follow the leading of the Spirit and do not rely on the opinions of others.

Ask the Spirit to lead you into His truth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask God for guidance. Remember we are all kings and priests, we are all equally functioning parts of the body and Christ is our head. We do not need to rely on another human being to teach us about God. Listen for the quiet and calm voice of the Spirit and seek His guidance.

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