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Posts Tagged ‘Love of God’

by Jim Gordon

I would like to take a minute and announce that we now have an additional author for Done with Religion.

Mike Edwards and I have been communicating and talking about things and we seem to have quite similar views.

I have asked Mike to be an author and to contribute some of his writings to Done with Religion. I think you will find his writing to be enjoyable and informative.

Mike also has his own blog site which you can check out at https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/  You can learn more what about what Mike believes/enjoys to write about here and how to best navigate his site here. 

We are certainly glad to add his interesting articles to Done with Religion.

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by Jim Gordon

You may have noticed that many christian people seem very quick to judge and condemn others. If you are not a traditional, church attending christian or not a believer at all you probably notice it more than others.

When reading the bible we find that christian people are to be known for their love for God and their love for one another. Not only fellow believers but those who do not believe or see things the same way.

Unfortunately, we do not always see such actions. We see more backbiting, judging, condemning and anything but love. So much that many times those outside of Christianity see no reason to pursue it any further.

Over the centuries God has often been misrepresented by many of his followers causing a lot of questions and problems with people having any interest in being his follower.

Jesus is the representation of God the Father. When we read about Jesus in the gospels we see that he treated people, not by judgment and condemnation but with love, healing and forgiveness. He taught about the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and many other parables about God being loving and accepting.

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Rather than listening to other people tell us what God is like and what Christianity should be, we need to start asking questions, seeking answers with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and realize that God is a God of love.

Today we seem to spend more time worrying about which denomination to belong to, which bible version to read, what doctrine to follow and which political party is the one to support. Once we make a choice we will fight to the end to defend our point of view no matter who we hurt in the process. We seem to be concerned with everything else rather than following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving others.

It is a known fact that we will not always agree with one another, but there is no reason to be spiteful, condemning and judgmental when we should be loving, kind and accepting.

Loving others, respecting others and being accepting does not always mean we always agree but we can show the love of God to everyone no matter if we see things the same or not.

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by Jim Gordon

Is it our job as Christians to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God? My answer would be no.

We are to follow Christ and love others. We are to let the Holy Spirit convict and lead people to the Father.

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We cannot convert others. We cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

So often we are taught we need to use every opportunity to preach salvation to everyone we meet. We end up using sneaky methods to force conversations trying to convert others. We are told their blood with be on our hands if we do not tell them about Christ. I feel loving others with ulterior motives is wrong and does more harm than good.

Jesus said to love God and love others. Apart from that we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us. If we are talking with someone or enjoying their company, there is no need to force the topic into trying to convert them. If the Spirit so chooses to use us, we are to be available but we are not to force the issue.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as ‘a professed follower of Christ’. We are to be there to encourage and build one another up to grow into maturity in Christ.

The good news is that God loves us. He has provided freedom from the effects of sin and has restored fellowship between God and his creation. By being judgmental, pointing fingers, threatening and using other means to force others to accept Christ, we end up driving people away rather than draw them by love.

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When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ easier than through condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences. Yet we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him and we should do the same. If there is any changing that needs to be done, that will be between God and the individual through the guidance of the Spirit.

In love, share the good news to those you meet when led by the Spirit. Encourage and make disciples of those who know Christ. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers through ‘holier than thou’ attitudes, guilt and condemnation. Love is the answer, and God is love.

 

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Fundamentalism

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I am letting all those questions come out and seeking truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works and reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting, I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in His likeness and are loved by Him.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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by Jim Gordon

War in our world has been a constant companion to mankind. It becomes more and more the way of life but the effects seem to be worse and worse.

Growing up in church we were taught that God is love and that we should love our enemies, yet we heard all the stories about God telling the Israelites to go to war against their enemies and kill them all. That always confused me as it seems so contradictory.

It seems like you can find wars going on anywhere in our world today, many of them are over matters that seem so unimportant. Kind of like the fighting and arguing that goes on within the organized churches. People fight over such insignificant reasons, over difference in doctrine or bible interpretation. Yet we are supposed to be known for our love for one another. Something seems odd about that to me.

I personally believe the best way to calm a hostile situation is with a loving, calm and peaceful attitude. I also know we live in a world that is not under God’s command. We live in a very hateful, stress-filled world where people are only concerned with their own goals and interests and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals.

In a perfect world we would have no need for war because we would all being loving one another, caring for one another and be more interested in the needs of others. Obviously, we do not live in a perfect world and war is going to be an issue.

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I feel that most wars are needless and so many people fight and die over issues that are really not important. Most of it boils down to money and power, just like everything else in a world without God.

Yet there are times when I believe war may be necessary. It is still terrible and still not the first or best choice but there will be times when wars will need to be fought. In our world where money, power, hate and selfishness rule, there will be times when people, ideals or causes will need to be stopped. Unfortunately, that means sometimes there will be wars or else the innocent will be walked over, taken over, tortured and killed.

This is not the plan of God. This is human nature running rampant in a godless world. War is mankind at its worst even when there is a necessary reason to fight. Those necessary times when the ideals and goals of the Hitler’s and bin Laden’s of our world need to be stopped.

I honestly believe that many of the stories in the bible about God commanding war and killing of people is a misinterpretation of God. We know that Jesus displayed what God is really like. He said that God is love and that we are to love our enemies and love our neighbors. I do not believe God ever caused the killing of people because God never changes. It was people of the time telling about life as they saw it and they attributed their actions to their God. Actions and killings that really were not ordained by God in the first place.

As followers of Jesus, our allegiance belongs to Christ. He is the head of the Kingdom of God in which we live. We are citizens of heaven and we live by a different code than the world. Yet we still live in this world which is under a different ruler, a ruler of hate, power, money and selfishness. Although war is not our first choice and not what we feel is right, there are going to be times when it is necessary to stop the evil being done towards the innocent.

I pray for wisdom for our leaders that wars and fighting will not be started over issues that are not about the safety and concern of the innocent. I pray that more diplomatic ways of love and acceptance can prevail and we can live together in this world without all the hatred, wars and killing of innocent people.

 

This post was part of the July 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of Just War and Pacifism. Here are links to others who contributed this month. Go read them all!

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by Jim Gordon

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God

People can be persuaded to do certain things or believe certain things by the power of suggestion from other people, especially those who have a charismatic personality.

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There is nothing wrong with listening to others. We can learn from others by listening and we can encourage others by talking together. Yet we do not want to depend on what others say putting all our faith and trust in their words and opinions.

Our faith needs to be based on more than just the power of words. Our faith needs to be in the living God and the power of his Spirit. Paul tells us that when he spoke it was not by natural wisdom of men but by power and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit.

Even today there are many people who can talk and persuade others by the power of their message. We do not need more powerful man-made messages or the opinions of others to guide us. Now more than ever we need to seek and listen to the wisdom of God presented through the Holy Spirit. The powerful and life changing guidance of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that will make a difference in our lives today.

We need to be careful who we listen to and what message they are presenting. There are many people with their own agendas and who are way off base from the message the Holy Spirit wants to give. Love God, love one another and seek first the kingdom of God are not common messages in our world today.

Remember, John wrote in his epistle that we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we have no need for anyone to teach us what is true.

Abide in Christ and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit within you to lead and guide you. Let the love of God flow from you daily to help and encourage others along the way.

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by Jim Gordon

A friend and Christian brother of mine recently passed away unexpectedly. It was quite a shock and something that is just now starting to sink in.

This got me to thinking even more about all the arguing we Christians do with each other.

We are so quick to defend our personal views and interpretations, we will argue, judge and even condemn one another because we see things differently.

Yet in moments like this I cannot understand why we have such a problem accepting one another in a spirit of Christian love. This life passes all to quickly to spend so much time arguing and defending our views.

Jesus said we are to love God and we are to love one another. He did not say we are to fight, argue and condemn one another. We are not to force our way of thinking on others. We are to share the good news that God loves them, but we need not argue over personal views and interpretations.

If only we could get that down inside us and start treating people with the love of God, knowing that we all see things differently. We all have our views, interpretations and beliefs and they are going to vary from person to person. We will not always agree and accept one another’s views.

Obviously, we cannot prove very much when it comes to spiritual matters. Most is a matter of faith and how we personally interpret scripture or how we view what makes sense to us. Rather than continually defending our way of thinking and trying to get others to see things our way, it would be much better if we could love others and accept them for who they are and how God made them.

We will have differences of opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. The Spirit is our guide and teacher and we need to allow each person to hear from the Spirit and follow the way they feel they are being guided.

We also need to accept that not everyone will believe like us, not everyone will believe there is a God and not everyone will interpret the bible like everyone else. I do not believe it is our job to force anything on anyone. God is able to work in the life of each individual the way he sees best. The Spirit will work and draw people to the Father. Even God leaves the decision up to each person as to how they will respond. Even those who do not believe and want nothing to do with him are stilled loved. God wants us to do the same.

Life is to short for all the arguing, judging and condemning. Love God, love your neighbor, love your brothers and sisters in Christ and let the Spirit work in the life of each person. Enjoy one another, enjoy fellowship, have a laugh, be concerned for one another and do what you can to show the love of God to everyone you meet.

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