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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

By Mike Edwards

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There is so much violence throughout the world. Evil is alive and well even in churches, synagogues, and mosques. Must God-followers always lay down their arms according to Jesus’ words and example? Would non-violent reactions end wars and evil, or does evil end when all individuals and nations decide to stop victimizing others.

More and more God-followers are rightly advocating for a loving than wrathful God. Many suggest since Jesus is God Himself, we should follow His words if we think they contradict an Old Testament prophet’s understanding of God. Progressives, for lack of a better word, would likely agree the Bible was not written so we can simply turn to a page to get an answer for our problem. I might give my kids different advice though dealing with similar circumstances. Should you confront, divorce, etc.? It depends! Seek God and the wisdom of others who are slow to be certain.

Quoting Jesus doesn’t settle it!

Progressives accept that the Bible, since literature, requires interpretation. Love isn’t dogmatically claiming my interpretation is right and yours is wrong. One interpretation of Jesus according to the Bible is that His example and the Cross mandate we must not respond violently. But, should we always respond as Jesus did on the way to the Cross? The Apostle Paul didn’t. When in danger, Paul threaten God on others and appealed for government protection (Acts 23).

Some biblical scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, suggest Jesus advising to “turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:39) was illustrating how we might respond to insults, not that we can never respond to violence against us or others. Does this and other passages rule out individuals or nations defending and killing if necessary when being attacked or even under the threat of attack? Depends! Jesus didn’t condemn a Roman soldier’s faith for serving his nation (Lk.7:1-9). 

Can we at least agree …….

Research is sited to suggest non-violent responses can deter further violence. We should always strive to not respond to violence with violence if there is another way. We don’t seem to agree that when violence seems unavoidable, that we can be grateful for those who protect us when people cannot be “talked or exampled” from violence. When we dogmatically claim God never advocates violence, we imply people are not being Christ-like when they must kill when serving their military, police force, or family. We don’t know what God would always do!

What would God do in your situation?

Can you have a security plan as a church or family that would use violence? That is a personal decision between you and God. You have to decide for yourself if to attend a certain church or go elsewhere. Personally, I hope I am God-loving enough to not respond to a situation with violence when other options exist. Jesus’ example encourages non-violence but sometimes self or government protection is necessary because evil is still very real. I am convinced we can love our enemies and love the innocent by protecting them from harm. The Bible doesn’t settle whether God would never advocate responding to evil with violence!

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by Jordan Hathcock

We don’t want the Christian tradition to become an antique shop just preserving old things. We want to build on old things and allow them to be useful in different ages, vocabularies, and cultures. We want our faith to be ever new, so that it can speak to souls alive and in need right now! – Richard Rohr

During the holiday season, we can see the old ways of tradition booming forth within each culture context. In most Western societies, the Christmas tradition rings loudest with its songs, lights, decorations and food. Not to take way the amazing traditions of Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Yule, etc. What I am doing here is simply pointing out a renewed since of presence within the Christmas tradition. It’s easy to see the beauty within the holiday of Christmas and forget how much it has evolved since it’s beginnings.

In many instances, the Christmas holiday borrows from other ancient traditions to capture the currents cultures needs and desires. For example, the lights on the Christmas tree. Early Christians adopted this custom from early Celtics due to its symbolism of keeping “the evil spirits at bay”. Christians repurposed this custom into a symbol of resurrection to the “tree of paradise”. Both customs bring with it a truth of protection and new beginnings. Thus, the reason early Christians adopted the custom.

Also, even with the issues the Santa Clause brings (consumerism, greed, etc.), he did stem from a real Christian figure in Saint Nicholas as well as the folklore character known as Woden. Both figures brought gifts to the ones in need (which is a great symbol of what God does for her creation). I think the actual historic figure in this (Saint Nicholas) should be the one we tell our kids about. Here is what the real deal good old Saint Nicholas was about:

He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine, and rescued a kidnaped boy.

All of this really points to numerous amounts of diverse traditions from ancient times that are still bringing about new ways of life in this holiday season. See, when we discover that the old ways were new once in time, we discover that the old ways always can become the new ways if we allow them to be renewed. I think we get to caught up in the tug between old vs. new that it ends up always being this dualistic battle instead of being a beautiful complementation.

We must let go of the idea that we must have this ageism divide between the old and new. To become unified (John 17:23) we will have to be more open to both sides of the old and new paradigm. Of course, when we see a tradition that brings harm to and individual or group, we have to cease the practice of that particular tradition and let it go. This can be hard for both sides. There will always be a time where regardless of how new or old a practice is, death and resurrection is going to be needed for a new type of design.

Jesus brings this same type of idea up when he said: “Every disciple of the kingdom is like a householder who draws out from his storage room, things both old and new”. —Matthew 13:52. It’s when come to the reality of the responsibilities of someone who is for the abundant life of all (not just some who have the same type of beliefs), regardless if it holds to the old or new ways. This is no easy feat. Fear has to die and love has to reign. It’ll be difficult but I believe it’s something that needs to be done if we ever want a world that brings life instead of death…

Oh, my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways, And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low, I’m at home and at ease on a track that I know not, And restless and lost on a road that I know.- Henry Lawson

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By Mike Edwards

A God who bothers to creates surely wants us to know what God is like. Atheists and believers agree. The only kind of God worth believing in is a perfect God. A Book can’t be the only way to know God because even scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, don’t agree on whether Hell really exist or God condemns gays. Most believe we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. We can only know what such love is through our own moral notions.

God and human perfect must be the same.

If God exist most would agree with the Bible’s exhortation that we should strive to: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). It is intuitive that human and godly perfection are one in the same. We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly? It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others.

We cannot know definitively what God’s perfect love is according to the Bible.

Literature always requires interpretation, thus why scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages. You are currently interpreting whether I am saying none of the Bible is inspired or that every word of the Bible may not be inspired by God. It is normal to question interpretations. Interpretations that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss because they are contrary to our moral intuitions and understandings of perfection. We cannot avoid using our moral brains when reading ancient literature. 

We cannot know definitely what God is like according to Jesus.  

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is our final destination for fully understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. God-followers though don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus’ teachings allow or rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. It is an illusion to claim we can know God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

Uncertainty can be a good thing.

Even if God is Truth we still have to discern what is Truth. Many leave the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. But c’mon! We don’t have to make laws against murder, sexual abuse, etc. Admitting uncertainty, unless beheading people for beliefs, allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from a Book.

God surely is not a mystery but understandable.  

The idea of a mysterious God may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God. Biblical interpreters will often play the mystery card when their view suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. They understand some rationalization is needed when views of God are incompatible with human ideas of a loving God. If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)? We may not be able to comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can co-exist, but that doesn’t make God a mystery.

God surely isn’t a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking.  

An evil God isn’t worth believing in. Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. The Bible encourages us to be perfect like God, but we can’t be like God if God’s love isn’t what we know love to be. A Creator surely loves us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. God is neither mysterious or a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. 

So, for example how does God really feel about gays?  

Many only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays, even if you believe every word is inspired by God. Some condemn gays because it doesn’t seem natural to them. Why would God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! See Here

Human perfection is our best starting point for knowing what God is truly like.

We often think of God according to what we have been taught. We may imagine God, most often referred to Father, is like our earthly father or parent. We may think God is like what is claimed by others according to the Bible. Our understandings about God shape our attitudes toward God. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion.

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that 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 understanding 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?

It can be confusing by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God, but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires blood before forgiving.

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His bloody death (Mt. 9:6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even OT writers over time begin to write that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God by what God willing to do. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, many don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

  • God only ask us to do what God does – freely forgive without demanding punishment first
  • God didn’t kill Jesus by requiring Judas betray Jesus; we killed Jesus
  • God does not need violence, much less an innocent victim, to be satisfied
  • We don’t forgive one child by punishing another child
  • Jesus not responding violently sought to stop the cycle of violence – violence begets violence

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

 

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By Mike Edwards 

It can be confusing or turn others away from God by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God – neither did the OT gods – but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires this. Does the Bible really teach God requires blood before forgiving?

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

We may need to rewrite John 3:16 if Penal Substitution is true.

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.”  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/keithgiles/2018/11/for-god-so-hated-the-world/

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His death (Mt. 9: 6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even OT writers over time begin to write that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). In the OT sacrifices were for unknown sins while known sins were punished not forgiven. Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us because of our sins (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

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by Jim Gordon

Here we are into a new year already. This is the time many of us have a sense of excitement for new beginnings. We make resolutions to do better at various things in life, whether it is exercise, our spiritual life, eating or treating people better.

Resolutions

My wife and I have stopped making resolutions since we usually, like many, forget about them within the month.

On the other hand, we would like to continue on our walk outside the walls of religion and the many religious rules it puts upon us.

We are going to continue making new friends and get to know people who we were told to stay away from when we were in the organization. We were supposed to associate with people who believed in God and people who mostly believed like the denomination we were part of at the time.

We feel that Jesus came to show us that God loves people. Jesus associated with all kinds of people from all walks of life. They were not all godly people or people the religious leaders of the day would even dream of being seen spending time.

What we have found over the last few years is that people are basically the same. We all have our own beliefs, interests and ways of life. Yet behind the labels that are placed on us we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, fellowship with others and a fulfilled life.

We all go about finding those things in different ways. Just because we see things differently is no reason to separate ourselves from one another. There is no reason we cannot respect one another, accept one another and treat each other as equals.

Many christian people think this view is very wrong and we should only associate with other believers. They feel christians should judge and condemn those who do not believe as they do and stay away from them until they come to Christ. They seem to think that if we accept people as they are we are condoning what the other person is doing.

My wife and I just do not see things that way. Obviously none of us are going to agree or condone everything other people do, yet we can accept others as human beings, treat them with respect and enjoy time talking and learning about their views. We believe we are all loved by God just as we are, and we believe we are to show that same love to others.

BeKindtoOneAnother

Many times we read in the bible how God treats the righteous and unrighteous equally. We read how God loves all people whether they love him or hate him. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those who treat us bad.

In the New Testament we are told to love God and love our neighbor. Of course our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door but any and all that we come in contact with during the day.

So, we are anxious each day to meet another one of God’s creation. Maybe it will be someone that believes like us, maybe it will be someone who is completely opposite from our views. We just pray that no matter who we meet or what they believe, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to show love and acceptance, and to enjoy our time together.

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It is amazing to me the variety of voices and views there are in the christian world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own views and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking or just realizing we do not agree with what we hear and it bolsters our own faith.

The problem is that everyone has an opinion. That does not mean everyone is right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways and what may be right for one person is not right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, listen for his voice and ask that He will lead us into truth. God will speak and lead us through the Spirit, through the bible and through words spoken from fellow believers. The bible says his sheep know his voice so we need to be sure we are hearing from him, yet we can be assured we can know his voice.

Our relationship with the Father is a day by day experience. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek the guidance of God through the Spirit and seek His truth. To many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist or pastor. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others views and opinions but when we focus on people we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject. Putting our trust in people and their opinions often leads to fighting and arguing. Many times, when we have been shown something or led in a particular way we expect everyone to see it our way and to believe the same thing.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That is not to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways and as followers of Jesus there are many different paths we will walk throughout this life.

We need to remember that the Spirit speaks from within us, he speaks to us from the written word and he can speak to us through other people. We need to be sure we are hearing his voice and know he does not always speak the same way and does not always have the same life experiences for everyone.

It is time we become followers of Jesus and stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing the views of others, but take it as that. It is their view and opinion. Only Jesus is the one to follow and to be our everything.

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