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Posts Tagged ‘Love of God’

by Norm Mitchell, Guest Blogger
https://thewildfrontier.wordpress.com/

How is it that humans, who all have the same basic needs, can disagree so fiercely about what is right and what is wrong? It amazes me how different our opinions can be on what exactly constitutes right and wrong. And of course, we all are thoroughly convinced that we are correct.

We each think that we know what is right, yet in the defense of our beliefs, we have a tendency to be awfully vicious to each other. This is not new. Humans have done this from the beginning.

To be sure, there are those few out there who have wholly committed to doing evil—to hurting others for their own profit or pleasure. But probably more evil has been done by the rest of us in the name of good or in the name of God. This concept deserves some serious consideration, but I’ll save that for another time.

On the surface, we are all concerned about what is right, what is fair, and what is just. Yet when we try to nail down exactly which actions are good and which are bad, none of us agree.

Ironically, this is what started humanity down the violent course we are on. The problem is not that some people are good and some are evil. The problem is that in our efforts to define good and evil, we conceive evil.

So in the name of being pro-life, we deprecate those who are pro-abortion. In the name of women’s rights, we vilify those who are anti-abortion. In the name of Christianity, we disparage homosexuals. And in the name of gay rights, we malign those who think that homosexuality is unhealthy. We say that we are pro-tolerance—except toward the intolerant. And we say that it is wrong to oppress others—unless they are oppressors. And we’re anti-hate—except when we hate the haters.

And so the cycle of conflict twists and seethes in a downward spiral that threatens to suck us into an inescapable vortex of our own making.

So here’s the dilemma: two diametrically opposed concepts can’t be true under the same conditions at the same time. Homosexuality, abortion, oppression, social justice—these things can’t be both right and wrong at the same time. So who is right? And does it matter?

I would say that what is right does matter—who is right does not. The endless quarreling is convincing nobody. Those who have firmly held opinions about any given issue will not change their opinion simply because someone passionately disagrees with them. The arguing is unproductive and has become a wedge that is driving us further apart. So where does that leave us? We could continue to use the legal system to coerce others to behave the way we think they should behave and pray that dirty politics is the most devastating result of our conflict. But perhaps there’s a better way.

It seems to me that, when it comes to questions of morality, the better way is to seek the highest Good—that is, to seek God above all else. When we do that, we will be moving in the right direction. Does that guarantee that we will all agree on what is right and what is wrong?

Unfortunately, no, we still will not all agree. But even in our disagreement, if we are truly seeking God, we will begin to treat each other with love. We will never bridge the gap between us until we decide to love each other. We will never understand someone else’s opposing point of view until we see them through the lens of love.

Yet too often, we place conditions on love. (I’ll love you when you see abortion the way I see it. I’ll love you when you see women’s rights the way I see them.) The love must come first. Only when we choose to love others, regardless of their opinions, will we begin to understand them.

Choosing to love others does not mean that we have to compromise our beliefs. We do not have to do or support things that we believe are wrong. But we can still reach out in love to those who do not agree with us. Will everyone behave this way? Unfortunately, no. But those who follow Christ should lead by example in this matter.

Above all, we must love each other. Love will facilitate understanding, which will, in turn, further break down barriers. When we choose to love others regardless of their opposing viewpoints, we will discover that love is the mechanism that God has provided to help us transcend our differences.

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by Jim Gordon

I have been thinking about the way christians, atheists and LGBTQ treat each other. Certainly talking about this can easily upset a lot of people, especially christian people. Obviously this does not apply to everyone but the majority seem to fit.

I write from a christian perspective and I have many christian friends both LGBTQ and straight, along with several atheist friends and LGBTQ who are not christian. I do not want to sound like I am taking sides or condemning anyone.

What bothers me is the way many christian people have so much hatred and animosity toward atheists and those who are LGBTQ. When speaking about many christian people it seems they have feelings toward atheists and LGBTQ that are not very Christ-like. There are times I can hardly believe the words and actions of some christian people toward them.

Christianity is not a religion, it is people who believe in and follow Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to live like him. Jesus was loving and kind to all people. Many people who call themselves christian are so far from following his example, especially when it comes to atheists and LGBTQ. Rather than being known for our love, some christians seem more like the pharisees of Jesus day. Pharisees were the religious leaders who Jesus would continually reprehend because they thought they were so much better than everyone else. Many christians nowadays see atheist and LGBTQ people as their enemy which is certainly not the case.

The fact is God loves all of us, and as his followers we are to do the same. Just because people do not all believe the same or act the same we all deserve to be loved and accepted as we are. God loved us as we are, even before we came to follow him. A lot of christian people tend to forget this fact.

I also see a lot of demeaning comments from several atheist and LGBTQ writers about christian people from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if it started because of the mean comments from christians, but I do not like to see such things from anyone. If we could just get past the labels people put on one another and see the human being, the person who wants the same things: acceptance, happiness and love, I think we could do much better at getting along even in our differences.

I know we are not all going to agree on things, although as christians we have the power through the spirit to love and accept all people no matter who they are or what they believe. As people of God, we are to be known for our love for one another. Many of us have a hard time loving not only those who think differently but even other christians who have different interpretations of the bible. Showing love is the way of Christ yet we seem so often to choose fighting, arguing and condemning.

We know that many will not change their mind and believe in God as we do. As christians, we want everyone to know and enjoy the love and acceptance of our Father. Yet we need to remember it is the Spirit, not us, who draws people to the Father, and it is through love rather than rule keeping and condemnation. Those who choose not to follow a christian belief still deserve our love and understanding even when we do not agree.

I think many times christian people are afraid to accept others who they feel are not of the faith because they feel it is denying their own faith. They feel accepting others in love is saying we are in agreement on everything, yet they think they should be pointing out what our differences are and leading them to a christian faith. My viewpoint is we should love and accept others as Christ did and leave any convicting or changing to the Holy Spirit. Those decisions will be between God and the individual.

Rather than condemning and avoiding those who are different than us, we should be willing to spend time getting to know, accept and understand them. We can talk and discuss our differences and learn from each other, yet without the expectation that we are going to change anyone.

Jesus told us to love God, love one another, love our neighbor and to love our enemies. He did not say we had to agree with everyone. He did not say we had to change everyone to believe like we do. We can all maintain our personal beliefs and still accept one another as human beings without the judgment and condemnation.

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by Jordan Hathcock

“Non-Violence is one of the byproduct of “loving your enemies”

In the history of our American culture, the “Hero” motif has always captured our imaginations in the cinema world.  We love to see the good guys prevail and the bad guys lose.  It is just the dichotomy that we enjoy to see in the movies. Take for example the new film: Avengers: Endgame (amazing movie, I recommend it.) This is the ending to a twenty-two film and over a decade span, which stunning cinematic magic has brought the hero genre to the forefront of pop culture.

Now, I get it. Bringing these cherished comic book characters to life has definitely sparked the familiar essence of good vs. evil–which has been imbedded in us as a species, since the beginning.  Evil must be defeated for the good to survive and thrive. But, is the only way to destroy evil by violence?

As I mentioned in a previous post, the use of violence to prevent violence just doesn’t work. As participants of the way of Christ, the use of violence is antithetical to what Jesus taught and died for. It is really a tough pill for our American way of life to swallow. Human history is soaked in the violent-blood of Cain instead of the enemy-loving blood of Christ. I get it. We all want to survive and not be destroyed and wiped out. But, are we willing to really believe in resurrection? Are we trusting on a death that leads to life?

We “Christians” have taken the violence a little further along in the spiritual evolution of Cain to following the blood of Abel. It’s vengeance instead of just all out violence. Theologian Michael Hardin points out why we do the Eucharist for this very reason:

“How many times have you read in a news report about someone being killed and the family calling for justice? How many times have you read or heard others say that someone who committed a criminal act ‘got what they deserved?’ Retaliation, eye for eye, lex talionis, is the way we humans do justice. This is the voice of Abel crying out from the ground for vengeance. “Cain bombed my city and killed innocent me, O God, now kill him to balance the books of the universe.” We hear this voice in many of the Psalms where the singer, who is persecuted, cries out for revenge.

Yet, when we take the cup to drink the blood of our Victim, Jesus, Son of God, True Human, Lord of the Universe, is it revenge we hear? No, it is the cup of forgiveness. In his blood we find only forgiveness. There is no hint of revenge either now or in the future. All revenge or retaliation by God is forever forsworn. As the writer to Hebrews says, “Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than that of Abel’s.” Jesus blood does not cry out for justice, his blood cries out for mercy”.

Beautiful! Mercy and forgiveness is what this new creation in The Universal Christ is all about! This is what stops evil. When we let go of the violence of Cain and the vengeance of Abel, we step into the flow of love that Christ showed on the cross: Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. What a profound statement and a whole new way of interacting with our so-called “enemies”. If the cross shows us anything about God, it’s revealing how God reacts to enemy violence: LOVE.

Yes. It’s love that defeats evil. This love is a non-violent resister to the principalities and powers of darkness that come about when we think violence solves the issue. We must come to grasp to the reality of the Spirit that always loves–brings joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is a meaningful trajectory to this way of enemy-forgiving love.

This changes the whole concept of hero. The hero of the story is always the enemy-loving symbol of forgiveness not revenge. We are not here to survive but to thrive. Look, violent marvel hero movies always tickles my fancy (along with the rest of the western world). I am not trying to stop you from going to the movies for God sakes. All I’m pointing out is to truly be the hero who saves the day, it comes by non-violence. Let us be Forgivers that bring new life, not Avengers that end it…

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

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by Jim Gordon

I am certainly no expert on LGBTQ issues but I am one who cares for LGBTQ people. I have seen so much abuse, hatred and discrimination by others, especially by other christian people against LGBTQ. I have seen them treated like second class citizens or worse. I have to say these things should not be.

LGBTQ is a label. We all have some type of label. There is the label of black or white, male or female, gay or straight, American or foreign, christian or atheist. We need to remember that behind the labels are human beings who were created in the image of God.

LoveOneAnotherheart

Why is it we cannot see the human being being the labels? Why do christian people, who are to be known for their love for God and for people seem to be the ones who all to often are the main offenders?

I understand the misunderstandings and the personal views. We are never going to have people agree on everything. But because we have disagreements and differences in opinions there is no cause to show hatred, discrimination and condemnation.

For those who are gay I am sure you do not quite understand how people of the opposite sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Just the same, those of us who are straight cannot understand how people of the same sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Yet because we are straight or gay and cannot understand the other, there is no reason for the hatred that is shown. There is no reason that each should not be treated fairly and with equal rights. We are all human beings.

As christians, whether gay or straight we are to be known for our love. Even in differences of opinion we are still to treat one another with kindness, love and acceptance. Even when we do not agree with the actions of others we still act in love. Put your prejudices aside, put your personal opinions aside and let the love of God flow through you to be loving and kind to everyone. God loves each of us, he created us and wants the best for each of us.

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by Cindy Felkel, Guest Blogger

I see your beautiful heart. Every time I talk to you, I am amazed at the resilience and bravery I see in you. I know that I have only seen a glimpse into the hurt that you have experienced. I know that life has been harder on you than on many people. I see the jaded parts of you and I see the defiant spirit too; that refuses to give in and rises stronger every day.

I know when you hear me say that I am a Christian, it causes you to cringe. You expect me to judge you. You think that if I saw half of what you have done, I’d run away in fear and disgust. But that’s not the kind of Christian I am. That’s not the way a lot of us who really know Jesus are.

I am a Christian who has dealt with abuse and I have seen its power to cause people to run from light and hide in corners of hurt and self-protection.  I have  been afraid of being seen because of all the secrets I  was hiding. I know what it is like to lay on the floor sobbing until I couldn’t move because the hurt was so deep that I couldn’t think of a reason to get up and go on.

My story may be mild compared to what you have seen. My story may not relate to you at all.  When you hear my story, you may see me as a spoiled clueless middle-class  white woman living in a bubble or a weak woman who let religious people shame me for the lamest things. I don’t know if anything I’ve ever experienced really relates to you. But what I do know is God’s healing heart that longs to embrace you and show you just how treasured and adored you are.

That  may not be what you’ve heard from religious people who have judged you, but it is completely what Jesus taught.

I imagine that you have experienced religion telling you that your mistakes keep you from God and that you have to get your act together before you can come to him. But that’s not what Jesus taught or modeled with his life. Jesus taught about God loving us and grieving over our sins because they hurt us and keep us from seeing him.

People misuse the Greek word “wrath”  when they talk about God.  The word actually means “the strong emotion we feel when someone is doing something that hurts themselves or our relationship with them.” It is more how a mom feels when her child is playing in the street and not at all about an angry vindictive God wanting to squish us when we disappoint him. He cares about the sin in our lives because it hurts you and it keeps us from accepting his love for us.

It’s a love that none of us can fully comprehend.

It’s a love that Jesus describes in the book of Luke, when he told us three stories about missing things. In each of these stories, the missing thing represents people who don’t know God and aren’t following him. Each of these stories builds on the other and gives us more insight into God’s incredible heart for you my friend and how he longs to bring healing and hope to your story.

In the first story, Jesus tells of a shepherd who has one hundred sheep but loses one of them. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep who are together and goes after the one sheep who has wandered away. When he finds the missing sheep, he doesn’t scold her and say, “Why did you wander away, I should have let you get eaten by wolves.” He joyfully picks her up and puts her on his shoulders and carries her back home. Then he calls all of his friends and celebrates with them, because he is so happy that he has found her. Jesus says this is the same way the father feels about you, my friend.

He continues to tell another story of a woman who has ten silver coins (which were much more valuable in Jesus’ culture than silver coins today). When the woman lost one of the coins, she lit a lamp and searched feverishly until she finds the missing coin. When she finds it, she calls all of her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her because she is so thrilled that she has found the coin that was missing. This is another amazing glimpse into how much God misses you when you aren’t walking through life with him.

Then, in the final and most beautiful story, Jesus develops a picture of a young man who does everything imaginable in ancient Jewish culture to insult his father. The young man defies convention and asks his father to give him his inheritance while the father is still alive. This was an unheard-of slap in the face to the father. It was if the son were saying, “I wish you were dead because I’d be better off and I can handle things better than you do.”

Then the young man takes his inheritance, which was supposed to be used to further his family’s estate and heritage in Israel, and he takes it to a foreign land where he wastes it all on “wild living”: sinning, breaking the religious rules of his people.

The young man finds himself so bad off that he takes a job feeding pigs (which is a disgusting job in any culture, but for an ancient Jew, it was as rock bottom as you could get. Pigs were unclean animals that Jews were forbidden to eat. Association with them made a Jewish person ceremonially unclean).

This young man was so desperate that he longed to eat the slop that he was feeding to the pigs.

When he finally came to his senses, he realized that even the lowest servants in his father’s house were better off than him. He decided to return home, apologize for all the mistakes he had made, admit that he was no longer worthy to be called a son, and beg his father to take him back as a servant.

For the people in Jesus’ day, the story would have been shocking and the expectation would have been for the son to be punished extremely. Before Roman occupation, a son could be killed for such defiance.

But Jesus tells a different story. I think perhaps the most beautiful words in all of the Bible are “while the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son…”

Jesus painted a completely different picture of God’s heart for people who aren’t following him. He gave us a beautiful picture of God longing to have a relationship with us.  The son was still a long way off! He hadn’t made amends. He was simply on his way home and the father ran to him!!!!

This is the true picture of how God feels about you, my friend! It’s so hard to fathom that those of us who believe it constantly struggle to live it out for ourselves and towards others, but it is what Jesus taught!

The story continues and to say that the father embraced the young man and kissed him.

The young man was fully aware of all the wrong things he had done and he said to the father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But, the father completely restored the son to the position he was meant to be in. The father had his servants honor the son by putting the best robe on him. He gave his son a ring that showed his position of authority in the family and he put sandals on him which showed that he was not a servant.

Then the father had a huge celebration with his friends and neighbors to rejoice over his son coming home.

And that is how God sees you! Yes, he is hurt over the sin in your life because he loves you and wants the best for you. When he looks at you, he sees his beloved daughter. He wants you to know who you are. He wants to restore you to your position as his child with the full authority and honor that comes along with that.

That is the God I follow and he misses you.

Blessings my friend!

https://www.rumandcolaforthesoul.com/blog/2019/3/26/to-my-survivor-friends-who-hate-religion

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by Jim Gordon

Continuing on the subject of church and abuse, we know many people have been abused and treated wrong within the system. Some more severe that others, but none of it is good.

I think one of the groups that seem to be affected most by this are those who are LGBTQ. I have seen this group of people treated rudely and like second class citizens in the church where they should find love and acceptance more than anywhere else. God said to love our neighbors, he did not say to love only those we agree with.

Even in the churches that are actually accepting, LGBTQ people are often not allowed to participate fully within the organization or hold certain positions.

GodsDoorsAreOpentoAll

Christian people will deny rights and services to LGBTQ people based on their christian beliefs and that even includes fellow christians who are LGBTQ. Even government office holders can refuse certain services and basically get away with it because they say it goes against their christian morals. As as christian I say these things should not be.

Labels are placed on many people, gay/straight, black/white, male/female, christian/atheist, American/foreign. Yet behind those labels are human beings who were created in the image of God. They are loved and accepted by God and we are told as followers of Christ we are to be known for our love for one another also.

I feel for those who are LGBTQ. It hurts to see people who were created and loved by God be rejected and abused by his followers. I think it is time to look past the labels, look past your personal feelings and accept people just the way they are….created and loved by God.

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by Jim Gordon

Since doing the article on abuse in the church I have come across several people who have left the church system but not because of abuse. Unfortunately, abuse does happen and it is terrible especially within a place that should be known for its love.

Yet, even more than stories of abuse the one comment that seems to keep being said is that ‘I left because something just did not seem to be right. I felt there had to be more’.

I think this is a common feeling among those of us who have attended church for some time and have seen some things that just do not make sense. Sitting in a service once a week looking at the back of someone’s head does not make a lot of sense when in the bible we are told when we come together each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. Yet that does not happen. We all sit quietly listening to one person participate.

BetheChurch

God said he is building his Church from living stones, or in other words from us. Church is people. It is not a building nor an organization. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit of Christ lives within us, why are we just sitting letting only a few participate?

Many people are coming to the realization that the organization we know as church is flawed and not what God intended. We seem to be putting our focus on the pastor and the organization rather than emphasizing the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. We are to allow him to love others through us as we go about our daily lives. People are getting tired of just sitting along the sidelines when we can walk daily with the Spirit of Christ walking with us.

The Church that God is building is a living organism, many people making up one body under the headship of Christ. The church that many attend is an organization made of brick and mortar, doctrines and denominations and led by human beings. Many good things happen in the church building but the body of Christ is an active, living body where everyone has an equal part to play. Rather than attend a pre-planned service once a week we are to be living daily under the guidance of the Spirit. It is by his power from within that we can show the love of God to everyone we meet.

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