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Posts Tagged ‘institutional church’

By Mike Edwards

National polls suggest the majority of people believe there is a God. I am not wanting to be judgmental, but I sense a large part of that majority don’t necessarily pursue a daily close relationship with God. I am not saying they don’t score higher on the moral scale than me, though I typically have daily silent conversations with God. I just am convinced an ongoing relationship with God can make us a better person and nation.   

Claims made about God keep some from pursuing God 

Many of us are into God but many of us left the institutional church because claims about God’s character was contrary to our deepest moral intuitions. Why believe in a God you can’t respect. It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Beliefs about God’s love that don’t match how you know you ought to love your neighbor may be amiss. Don’t believe everything you hear about God! See here.

Hidden agenda in relationships keep some from pursuing God

Conversations with God followers often feels like them trying to change your beliefs. That can stifle exploration. I hate to admit I use to have an agenda with those outside the institutional church. I was taught God’s good news was saving people from Hell so they could get into Heaven. I was wrong according to Jesus. See here.   The ship may have sailed others trusting us to have open conversations. All I know to do is to focus on a life where actions speak louder than words in case others want to pursue God. 

Some don’t want to give up stuff or change

I suppose many may believe there is a God but don’t pursue because it would may require they consider changing some habits. If you know what you are doing is harming others and you don’t care, that is on you. But if struggling with habits that you know are hurting you and others, God doesn’t have a list for you to conquer before getting to know God.

Bible, church, prayer, etc.

Christians may suggest if you aren’t reading your Bible, going to church, praying daily, etc. that you can’t be close to God. Don’t buy it. If the Bible isn’t fun to read or leading to positive changes, put it on the shelf. If interested read blogs or books that get you thinking about God.  Not interested in attending the institutional church for whatever reason. Okay! See if can find relationships that share your beliefs through other means. It isn’t easy but worth a try. God doesn’t have a list of traditions to adhere to. God is willing to have a relationship on your terms.

Other reasons to not pursue God

I wrote on this topic a few months ago. See here  I suggested additional challenges to pursuing God more intently:  

  • Maybe because you can’t reconcile why God doesn’t intervene more with evil and suffering in the world
  • Maybe because of some trauma in your life
  • Maybe because God-followers as a group are poor role models

Do you want to think more about God daily? 

Find something that works for you – reading, writing, a brief prayer daily, whatever. Discover what works for you that gets you more on the path you want to be. I am a better person than I would be because of God’s influence in my life. I don’t always return anger with anger, sometimes I forgive when asked, sometimes I hold doors, or go the extra mile to be nice. Don’t believe everything others claim about God. I am convinced seeking God’s help in loving others is a life worth living.

Why Do Many Believe In God But Don’t Pursue A Close Relationship?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

We are nearing another election season here in the USA. Each time election time comes around, I get aggravated seeing churches endorse candidates and allow politicians to come to their service and talk or be recognized. This is just another sign to me that the modern-day Christian church is off base and involved in things they should not be. There is separation of church and state for a reason.

I am not saying we as individuals should not be informed and that we should not vote. Each person should take the time to know what the candidates stand for, and then get out and vote for the ones they feel will do the best job. Yet, that does not mean churches need to be the ones to endorse candidates and issues.

The Church (“Church” meaning each individual believer) is here to love one another and show the love of God to all we come in contact with. The church (“church” meaning organized religion/building) is just another big business today. It is time the church stops allowing politicians to come in and be recognized as another way to get their name in front of voters. The “church” needs to stop being just another big corporation in America, and be there to encourage the “Church” to start being what God intended, a people sharing the love of God with everyone.

Another reason the church should not be involved with politics is, unfortunately, politics in general is a major divider between people. Most people who are Republican think the other party is a danger to our country, while those who are Democrat feel the same about the other party.

Rather than work together for the good of the country, there is more time spent on overcoming the power of the opposite party. I see more fights and arguments over political views. I see friends and even families separated because of their differing political ideas. Sadly, politics is certainly something that divides and brings out the worst in people.

Obviously, no specific politician or political party will be the answer to all our problems. It will take politicians and political parties working together for the common good of the people of this country. Finding such politicians will be up to the people who will get out and vote for politicians who are willing to do what is necessary for the good of us all, and not just a specific political party.

In all of this, I feel the job of the church is to focus on spreading the love of God to all people and not get bogged down in the game of politics which can cause further division among the people.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

One may expect since I am writing a blog with a spiritual slant, that I might suggest our greatest problem is lack of belief in God. I am not convinced. Belief in God didn’t keep many from endorsing slavery and other evils. Belief or lack of belief in God is no excuse for violating the inborn rights of others. I am convinced claiming “certainty” is what divides us as a people.

Certainty is comforting but an illusion 

The truth that humans can’t be all-knowing is under-appreciated. Universal immoralities are obvious (murder, sexual abuse), but some truth can be found in opposing views concerning climate concerns, immigration, pandemic responses, etc. Some argue for climate control measures without consideration how human flourishing and livability in the world as a whole may decline. Only one supposed certain interpretation of the Bible would suggest women cannot serve as priests or pastors. Diverse opinions in the pursuit of truth may lead to the most caring for the greater good.

Why might we fear uncertainty? 

Certainty rather than uncertainty comforts individuals psychologically. One may believe the seemingly certain narrative – vaccine benefits outweigh the risks – because unknowing can create anxiety. Disagreeing with the popular narrative may also lead to being ostracized. Disagreeing with church leadership can lead to isolation and loneliness. It doesn’t matter if those who proclaim certainty have good intentions or believe their ideas for best for society. They may be wrong! It should be inherently obvious that one must be allowed to form their own opinions when not harming others.

We must learn to disagree in pursing the most caring decision for all involved 

I left the institutional church, but not God, because others wouldn’t engage in non-dogmatic conversations. Certainty – we can’t even know if God exist – led to divisions. Few will engage in political discussions as a way to understand one another. It may not be due to close-mindedness but to avoid anxiety. We must be able to debate climate, immigration laws, and what a loving God would truly think about gays, women roles, and other matters that impact millions of lives. Let’s:

  • Have open discussions and avoid demanding “supposed truths”
  • Learn to respond not react over our differences
  • Seek areas to agree first
  • First understand before being understood
  • Stop demonizing by moralizing
  • Stop canceling others’ opinions when it comes to pursuing best decisions

What Is Destroying Us As A People?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Those of us who are living outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building seem to understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (Ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ and not with brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended and we became unsatisfied with the way things were going. Yet, we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body, yet no one is the head over anyone else. Each of us are functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church, not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother or sister hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its scheduled events as the main way of fellowship and learning. We are told in the Bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise, but how often does that actually happen within the institutional church? Being outside the walls, my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about who God is to them. It seems that sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

A vitally important thing to remember for those of us who have left the church organization is that we should not have a feeling of ‘us vs them’. We need to keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and feel they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all various parts of the Church that Jesus is building and we each need to follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength but by the power of the Spirit within us. Sadly, it often seems we have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and an even greater problem loving those who see things differently.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of God and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among those who follow God. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and the disrespect that is sadly, so familiar among Christians today.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Many are inclined to believe there is a Creator, but it’s understandable why many find it hard to believe in an invisible, inaudible God or Spirit. A major obstacle may be claims made about God, often according to one’s understanding or interpretation of the Bible. It is claimed God condemns gays, God is bias against women in roles in the institutional church or other settings, and that God has created a place such as Hell where unbelievers will suffer forever after their death here on earth. It is a hard sell to suggest God’s character is contrary to our deepest moral intuitions.

The Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God

Biblical scholars with a deep respect for Scriptures don’t interpret the Bible as opposing women priests or preachers or that God condemns gays. See here. See here.  Scholars don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. And we can’t prove God inspired thus controlled the thoughts of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is just as likely that the Bible is uncontrolled writings that encourage contemplating what a loving God is really like. See Rethinking The Bible

So how can we know what God is like? 

It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Beliefs about God’s love that don’t match how we know we ought to love our neighbor may be amiss. Even the Bible implies perfect human love and God’s love are one and the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like through our moral consciences. Don’t believe everything you hear about God! See here.

Why would a relational God be a total mystery? 

The universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Even those who claim God is a mystery judge God according to moral human intuitions. They claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (Crazy talk to suggest God can do bad but then call it good). Christians speak of the Holy Spirit guiding them. Unless the Spirit talks to us audibly or visibly, we must discern the Spirit’s guidance by examining our intuitions.

How can we have a relationship with God if we can’t be certain?

God’s plan isn’t a detailed blueprint, to let us in on future secrets, but a general one to set us free to love. A free future can’t be known. God doesn’t have to speak directly about moral decisions. Some decisions are clearly immoral – murder, stealing, adultery. Many decisions aren’t clearly moral. God joins us in an unknown future to take risks to change the world.

So what? Our mental images of God can make a difference in our relationship with God and how we treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the greater their influence. God’s influence is the only way I know to explain my constant desires to be a better husband, father, and friend. I don’t fail as often as I think I might on my own. Why is God so hidden? God may communicate in less demonstrative ways to allow for non-coerced decisions that lead to lasting convictions. God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

How Can We Know What God Is Really Like? So What?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Chris Kratzer Guest Blogger
www.chriskratzer.com/

That’s right, you don’t need it. At all.

You can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.”

In fact, often better.

With a steeple on nearly every corner, if churches are making such a positive difference in the world for Jesus, why do we see an increasingly far less positive world and why do we see increasingly far less of Jesus?

“Church” doesn’t work, that’s why. Not with a “gospel” of belief-dependent salvation from a torturous god-designed hell. Not to mention, sin-management, conditional love, a codependent god, reaching the so-called “lost,” and converting and colonizing the so-called “world.” That’s a gospel that is no Gospel at all. It makes people worse, not better; more fearful, not at peace; more self-centered, not humanity-serving. In fact, it’s evil. Anti-Christ to the core.

95 percent of Christianity… anti-Christ.

There, I said it.

Church was never the invention of Jesus, you are the invention of Jesus. You are the church. Each one of us, individually. The mind of Christ is within you. Enough Love to change the planet is within you. Everything of the Universe is within you. Yet, so often, “church” blinds, poisons, restricts, distorts, and kills this Light that is within all humanity. A blackhole to all that is good, holy, and right. It exchanges individual, spiritual freedom for communal conformity; divine affirmation for organizational condemnation; and hope and peace for tribal shame, fear, control, and human abuse. More often than not, “church” is the disease, not the cure. And we wonder why the world doesn’t get any better, especially Christians.

You don’t need “church” to find “like-minded” people.

You don’t need “church” to validate or authenticate your faith.

You don’t need “church” for spiritual growth and maturity.

You don’t need “church” to maximize your impact through a “team.”

You don’t need “church” for accountability or support.

You don’t need “church” to find and live your life with joy, significance, and purpose.

If church is a place you go, a service you attend, a creed you follow, or a people you gather with, you’ll never get there, you’ll never find it, and you’ll never have it.

Instead, church is you; you loving neighbor, selflessly serving the world, feeding the hungry, freeing the captive, welcoming the stranger, mending the brokenhearted, defending the least-of-these, and proclaiming the unconditional divine favor, affirmation, equality, and inclusion of all into All.

It’s you taking care of the needs in front of you. It’s you resisting and undoing systems of injustice, violence, greed, and oppression. It’s you being you in ways that honor Love and authenticity. It’s you disconnecting from a self-esteem that’s shackled to personal performance and production. It’s you closing the Bible searching for a perfect thread, answer, defense, meaning, truth, or justification and, instead, opening the Light within you revealing the perfect One, Mind, Spirit, and Universe.

That’s the Church we need.

It’s you. You, and only you.

You are the renewal God is bringing to the earth.

The church we need can’t be contained in a building.

The church we need can’t be confined to a creed.

The church we need can’t be conformed by fear.

The church we need can’t be caged into the Bible.

The church we need can’t be compromised by racism, greed, power, and hate.

The church we need can’t be coerced into judgment, pride, supremacy, and ignorance.

The church we need can’t be controlled by leaders.

The church we need can’t be chaperoned by patriarchy.

The church we need can’t be converted through guilt.

The church we need can’t be calculated in numbers.

The church we need can’t be commissioned by vision.

It needs no defense.

It needs no pastor.

It needs no committee.

It needs no membership covenant.

It needs no budget.

It needs no conferences, books, or celebrity.

It needs no light systems, branding, or worship choruses.

It needs no gathering of the like-minded.

It needs no team-work to make the dream-work.

The church we need is… you.

Everything else is the “church” we don’t need. Everything else is the “church” that isn’t Church at all.

In fact, for far too many, “church” is the crutch and disguise that keeps them from actually following Jesus. It’s the spiritual pacifier of the spiritually restricted and resistant.

For what does most every church and church leader hate and fear the most?

The revelation and reality that you don’t need “church” at all. That you can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.” In fact, often better. And very likely, not until you’ve walked away from all of it.

It’s true. You don’t need “church,” and God doesn’t either.

Your move.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we are satisfied no longer being part of it and we are happy with the decision we made to leave. Yet, that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who are satisfied with the church system and want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church we have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left, we noticed the struggle many people have to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ who is to walk alongside us to encourage and build one another up. We have the Holy Spirit within us who is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give from love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s Day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no particular day is more important than another.

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. It is supporting and encouraging one another on our daily walk with God and one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in heaven waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church, we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

So, do not look down upon those who have left the organization as backsliders or who have walked away from God. Do not look at those who still attend church as stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. As it reads in John 13:35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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and Everyone Else is Confused

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who attended church for any amount of time, we find that there are often people who are acting and responding in ways that are very judgmental and condemning.

Especially when it comes to the gay community, atheists and those of various religious groups and denominations that differ in doctrine from what we think is right. Many of us Christians have a hard time accepting people who think differently.

We would rather fight and defend our interpretation and doctrine and prove our Christian moral way of living rather than show the love of Christ and accept people the way they were made.

I do not understand why we feel the need to try to prove our point and why we have to make sure everyone knows that the way we follow God is the only right way.

One Another: Accept One Another” Romans 15:5-7 – 8:00 and 11:00 Services –  Hanover First Church of God

A lot of us cannot even accept and associate with other believers from a different denomination. So many people say their version of the bible is the only true version or their type of church is the only true church.

I get so fed up with the pride and arrogance of some (not all) groups of Christians who think they have it all figured out and their way is right. They seem to think that you had better believe like they do or they want nothing to do with you.

Even some Christians in the same church, those who have been good friends for years will turn on you if you leave their church. How many times have you been involved in a church you really enjoy and the people are loving and kind only to find once you leave the group you never hear from any of them again?

Though no longer within the institutional church, I had been in the system for well over 50 years so I know what I am talking about. I am not out to bash the church but it does aggravate me to see people who are supposed to show the love of God to all people, yet act so unloving and judgmental to people who think differently. Fortunately, not every church or Christian group is like this but certainly it is the norm for a lot of them.

Why is it that so many Christian people are so mean and condemning to gay people? Why is it we see atheist as our mortal enemy? Why do we reject the interpretations and beliefs of other Christians who attend a different denomination, or, God forbid, who do not go to church at all? Jesus, who is our example, was not like that yet many people did not grow up in church and did not read the bible. Due to this they do not know what Jesus was like. They only know that we who claim to follow Jesus act in such a mean, unaccepting and unloving way.

We need to remember that behind every label we put on people there is a human being. No matter who we are, what we believe, no matter what our lifestyle or our feelings about God, we all are deserving of love and acceptance. Just like each of us who are now Christians were loved and accepted by God even before we knew anything about Him, we should be loving and accepting to everyone we meet because we may be the only Jesus they see.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The term Gospel is the translation of the Greek word “good news.” It seems only natural to look to the four Gospels in the Bible to see what is proclaimed as the good news or God’s main message. We could also point to our relational experience with God as to what is the main thing.  Many born never had a Bible. What have you heard is the Good News according to the Bible?

The Good News isn’t . . .

Many of us who grew up and attended the institutional church heard that God mainly wanted to save us from hell so we could go to heaven after death here on earth. All we had to do was say a prayer and mean it: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live for you.”  You may think that is a bible verse. I can find no place in the Bible where Jesus advised followers of such a prayer or declared this the Good News. Jesus didn’t require confessions initially but simply asked people to follow Him.

Also, the Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. See here.

What do the Gospels claim the Good News about God is?

Mark 1:14,15 says “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” Repent refers to a changing of your mind, not dropping to your knees and never sinning again, or we are all screwed! The Good News throughout the Gospels refers to a Kingdom here on earth now. The kingdom of God “has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and “is in your midst” (Lk 17:21).  God’s Spirit is available now, as it was back in the first century, to influence godly living here on earth.

But what about Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins 

It is said that the Apostle Paul claimed the Good News is to “believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rm 10:9) Paul recognized Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Jesus’ sacrifice was to draw attention to the Good News already proclaimed – God’s desire to empower unselfish living. Paul also preached about the Kingdom of God being here (Acts). The disciples were skeptical of any resurrection until witnessing Jesus alive again. The disciples aren’t going to preach as Good News what they didn’t believe in initially.   

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. God seeks to empower such a life. Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) 

Challenge God to become real in your life

God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways here on earth. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the good news Jesus was willing to die for, rather than save Himself, to inspire us to seek God’s help in loving others. Jesus sought changes of the heart, with God’s help, for the good of the world. If I am right, then God should be able to make God real to you.

*See Podcast: Second Cup with Keith. November 15, 2021

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

After being in the organized church for well over 50 years, and seeing all the different denominations, beliefs, interpretations and opinions, there is one thing that makes me sad. That is to see so many followers of Christ fight and argue over the different paths we take in our Christian walk.

I am not saying all-roads lead to God, but while trusting in God and following Christ we are going to take many different paths during our life here on earth. They are going to be different from other followers of Christ, but we are following the same Christ.

Those of us outside the institutional church should not divide and separate ourselves into the ‘in church’ and ‘out of church’ groups. In the same manner, those who are part of the modern-day church should not look down on and separate from those outside the institution. We need to accept that we both love God and are following Christ along the path he has for us.

I think this is what working out our salvation means. Not that we have to work to earn our salvation, but we continually learn as we follow Christ in our salvation. We, as Christ followers, will take different paths in our walk with God. We should not expect everyone to walk the same path. By using the term Christ follower, I mean that Christ is living within us, and we walk with him and let him live through us. We are following him and the example he set that we read about in the gospels.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to love one another, encourage and build up one another. We are not to be continually expecting everyone to act like us and walk in the same way we do. We are to be accepting, loving and kind to all we have contact with each day, and especially to those who are fellow believers.

It seems we are more concerned about every Christian believing and acting the exact same way and when they act differently, we want to fight, argue and separate ourselves rather than accept that God works in each of us in different ways. He made each of us differently, and he leads us along different paths as we walk toward a common destination.

Rather than expect everyone to be just like us, we are to love one another the way Christ loved people while he walked the earth. Different interpretations and ways of walking with God should not be a stumbling block to a loving fellowship with one another.

Besides, we are not going to lead anyone to Christ when all they see is arguing and disagreements among brothers. We are not going to draw people insisting they conform to our way of thinking and following our rules and interpretations. The only way people will know we have something worth checking out is when they see brothers and sisters in Christ caring for one another and building one another other up in love.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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