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Posts Tagged ‘Love of God’

by Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, we have a hope within us that can be an encouragement to us, and that can uplift us during the events of our daily life. Because of this, we want others to know and share in having that hope for themselves.

Yet, we often go a little overboard on when and how to let others know about that hope. Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

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

We all have probably at one time or another taken (or forced) an opportunity to tell someone about the love of God. It seems even to the point of wanting to make converts more than wanting to make friends. I have experienced a few times when people I just met in a store or restaurant were extra nice and doing their best to talk with me. I thought they were just being nice, or maybe this will be a new friend only to find out they were just trying to make a new convert to their church.

As Christians, we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love, and usually no words are necessary.

Anyone can speak words…words of needing salvation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe, it has more impact than thousands of words.

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to try to convert people. It is not our job to condemn or judge anyone. We are only to love God and love the people that we meet each day.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 tells us that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine minding your business and living a peaceful life, but be ready to give an answer about God’s love when someone asks. Of course, this should be done in love and with no ulterior motive attached. Always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that our words on their own will not make an impact on anyone.

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

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

It’s hard to know why some believe in a God and not others. Neither is a personality flaw. I doubt a loving God plays favorites, giving special insights to some and not others.  I do know certain beliefs that lead to many leaving the institutional church. See here.  It is understandable why some interpret the God portraited by writers of the Old Testament among other things of being a misogynist and homophobe. Who blames anyone for not believing in such a God?

Let’s though debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

Is God really a God of chance?

John Hick acknowledges: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). Also, some misunderstand God because of certain claims. Is God a God of chance?  

We may not seek God because God doesn’t seem to really care. 

It isn’t easy to understand why some miracles happen and not others. Lack of healing obviously isn’t always related to lack of faith. One can speculate that prayers can only be answered if freedom isn’t thwarted in major ways. I do know our language can be harmful when claiming God’s grace saved a life in an accident. What about other lives? Such language understandably leads to unbelief. It is understandable that many question why God doesn’t prevent more evil. The argument that all evil, such as sexual abuse or murder, always leads to good isn’t true. 

What about you?

Let’s stop judging others not into God as if because of moral inferiority. We wish some God-people had less to do with God. I was taught early on there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I questioned. I have no idea why I questioned rather than rebelled against the whole idea of a God.  Many care to become more the person they want to be deep down without God. You don’t have to attend church, synagogue, mosque, or even be into God to embark upon being the kind of person you wish your parents were. I can tell you I am a better husband, father, and friend than I normally would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator. God may be exactly what you thought a perfect God is like.

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

I realize not everyone will agree with all the articles on this site. We all are in a constant state of learning and changing. No matter what your lifestyle, what you choose to believe, how you accept things, none of us will ever completely agree with anyone else.

As believers, we would not expect those who do not follow the christian faith to agree with everything we think and say. Yet, we also know that other christian people will not agree with everything either. We have so many denominations in the christian world, yet none of them will agree completely. But this is all OK, we are all individuals who see things differently.

I think those of us trying to follow Christ should be able to accept one another. Same with believers and non-believers, learn to talk with each other about how we see things and still be respectful and kind. As believers we are to be known by our love, but unfortunately, that just is not the case most of the time.

No matter if we are gay, straight, christian, muslim, jew, hindu, atheist, asexual, baptist, methodist, charismatic or whatever label people put on us, the underlying fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. Each of us should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on another.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of name calling and disrespect among different groups of people over time. Christian people saying God hates gays, and atheists are of the devil, people being afraid of muslims, one denomination wants nothing to do with another denomination…this is all wrong and sad.

If we could look past the labels and see each other as people who overall want the same thing, to be happy, to be loved, be healthy, get our bills paid and enjoy life, I think things would be better even with our differences. This is not to say we have to agree with everyone and associate with everyone and be happy together, that just is not going to happen. There are too many different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, lifestyles and personalities for us to agree on everything and be totally comfortable with everyone, yet accepting each other and respecting each other in spite of our differences certainly is a possibility.

When you read about the life of Christ in the gospels, you see someone who loved people. He did not disassociate himself from any particular group, nor did he turn away anyone or think he was better than others. Jesus showed the love of the Father by caring for people, talking with people, eating together, healing people and not condemning them. The only crowd he had a problem with was the religious leaders of the day who thought they were so much better than everyone else because they focused on the rules. Their reasoning was they did not do the ‘wrong’ things and they did the ‘right’ things. They did not associate with the type of people they thought were less religious and unworthy of God’s love. Jesus was always getting on their case for being so religious they were no earthly good to the Kingdom of God.

Speaking of all the different views and lifestyles, I can remember when I was young and growing up in the organized church, how I always stayed with people of similar belief. I do not know for sure if I was actually taught this or it was just a common belief I picked up, but I felt I needed to stay away from people of different views and lifestyles. I still see this in the church today, a separatist mindset.

Sound familiar? So much of the traditional church setting is based on separation from those who think differently. This usually brings a feeling of superiority, being separated from those who need to see God’s love in action, and living a Pharisee-type lifestyle. (Pharisee: strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, one who adheres to laws and traditions, self-righteous or hypocritical person).

Compare that to the life of Jesus we read about in the gospels, a person who loved people, he was not condemning or unkind, hung out with those who the religious crowd did not want anything to do with, spent time eating and drinking with the non-religious crowd, and truly cared for others.

I know we all see things differently. We will not all agree on things and we all have no way of proving our point in regard to spiritual matters. Yet I think it is time the christian ‘religion’ comes to an end and Christ-like people begin to daily show the love and acceptance of God to everyone whether we agree or not.

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 Jim Gordon

As christian people, we have always heard that we are to love our enemies. Do good to those who use you. Turn the other cheek.

The dictionary describes an enemy as a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against; or an adversary or opponent.

An enemy can go from someone who rubs you the wrong way all the way to someone who wants to literally kill you. How is it possible that we can love our enemies when we think about the more extreme sense of the word?

In all honesty, we just cannot do it. In our own human ways, we are incapable of loving people in this way. We have a hard enough time loving people who are similar to us and have some of the same beliefs.

Many times, we can make up our mind to look past someone who treats us bad. We can make sure to treat them in a kind way, help them when they have a problem, support them any way we can. We can walk away rather than argue. We can smile and be pleasant rather than give them a dirty look or flip them off. Sometimes it is within our human power to make a choice to treat others as we would like to be treated. There are other times when, in our own strength, it is just impossible to be loving.

Obviously, we look to our role model, Jesus, to see how he lived. He truly loved people. It did not matter if they agreed with him, if they were despised by the general population, if they hated him, or if they put him to death. He loved mankind. He came with the purpose to show the love of the Father to a fallen world.

Without the love of the Father living within us, we will not be able to truly love our enemies. With the power of the Spirit living within us we are more than able to do what we cannot do on our own.

We have to come to an end of ourselves, just as in the case of grace. We were totally unable to keep the commandments and live a perfect life that God commands. The ten commandments are a tutor that leads us to the fact that we are incapable of fulfilling this requirement.

Thankfully the New Covenant took effect after Jesus death and resurrection, and we were reunited in fellowship with God. The free gift of God’s grace cleansed us and made us new creatures in Christ. Now, because of Him, we can love God and love one another, even our enemies. We are now one with God and his spirit loves through us.

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

We can’t prove God exists much less prove our understanding of God is the correct one. If God does exist, what may be the most likely way to understand an invisible Creator? It seems doubtful a Creator would communicate to their creations only through a Book, since the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible. How God’s creations think they ought to love others (aka how we wish to be treated) may be how a loving, inaudible God communicates.

Where has an infallible or inspired Bible led us?

God may have motivated/influenced/inspired writers to record the story of God, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that God controlled or approved all that is written about God. I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” We cannot really prove God inspired these words or hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that advocate violence in God’s name. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the OT have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted God possibly didn’t inspire every word in a Book, and we had to use common moral sense to understand what a truly loving God is like.

A possible fallible Bible avoids the slippery slope toward inspired interpretations. 

It is common to hear one argue “The Bible says” without adding “according to my understanding.” It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. Interpretation rules don’t guarantee understanding a writer’s meaning, much less confirm the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We cannot avoid using common moral sense when understanding a loving God and Scriptures.

Which interpretation more likely reveals who God really is?

It seems obvious a Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes! Choose the view of God that doesn’t contradict your moral sense of a loving God. See  here.

What does God think about women, gays, etc.?

The Bible is God’s story beginning with Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. Reading the Bible encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Similarly, should women though gifted be denied entrance in to the priesthood or pastorate? It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Mental health problems don’t originate because one is gay but because one is force to hide their true identify and experience condemnation. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and be wrong!

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 Mike Edwards

It is often implied Jesus’ mission was to get others to confess certain beliefs to avoid hell and enter heaven. But Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but a life worth living here on earth. See here.  When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Good advice! Jesus didn’t advise her what to believe in case He never saw her again.    

Jesus stressed loving God and neighbors the most important commandments (Mt 22:37-40).

My children love me best by loving others to the fullest. A perfect, loving God surely desires the same of their creations. Loving God is loving others to the fullest. How do we love others? Who doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships – treat others as you wish to be treated? Turns out God only desires for us what we deep down desire from ourselves. A loving parent or God openly discusses beliefs to seek what leads to an individual’s own good and the world’s good.

Does God eventually require allegiance?

I don’t see how a God who creates freedom requires obedience. Evil in the world clearly reveals God doesn’t force compliance, or there wouldn’t be so much horrific evil in this world. God obviously understands what we humans know – freedom is necessary for authenticity. Not even God can force true love. Is there a day of reckoning for rejecting God here on earth? It is suspect God stops forgiving before or after death. One’s faith often depends what land or family born into. It is suspect God is a God of chance. Careful! Character developed here on earth may carry over.

Did the main writer of the NT demand certain beliefs?

The Apostle Paul certainly sought to convince others about Jesus. I would too if I had a vision of Jesus after he died (Acts 9), and knew eyewitnesses that had seen Jesus alive after dying on the Cross. Two thousand years later, we may have different discussions. Paul debated his beliefs with others who seemed open, though he didn’t force traditions that may have been important to him (Rm 14). In marriage Paul didn’t advise a believer to impose their beliefs on an unbeliever but let them go (I Cor. 7:15). Believers shouldn’t insist non-believers share their beliefs.     

How do we share with others about God and our relationship?

Those who feel loved, encouraged, and inspired in their relationship with God naturally want others to experience such a relationship. I enjoy discussing what a loving God may truly be like as much as one may want to discuss a great book they read. I am not suggesting such conversations be forced or that conversations have any hidden agenda to convert one to your beliefs. If you believe God desires to influence all for good, you will trust God to make such discussions natural.

One doesn’t have to be perfect to talk about God, but it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly.  I admit God conversations seldom happen in my life. Often others rightly smell hidden agendas to proselytize because of their past experiences. Such conversations are seldom successful if forced. It is up to God rather than us to inspire others to seek ways to be a more loving, caring person. One has to hope the life we live is enough for others to consider discussions about God when they have such an interest or need.  

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 Mike Edwards

We can’t claim the Bible is a one-stop information source about God. We can’t prove God inspired all of the Bible thus approved everything written about God. Maybe God didn’t inspire every word due to God’s uncontrolling nature. Maybe God wants us to read the Bible to contemplate what a loving God may be really like. Maybe God speaks to us through our moral intuitions which is what the Bible describes as guidance by the Holy Spirit – unless you are hearing an audible voice.

I will list only a few beliefs that make no moral sense to me. For a full railing see here.

  • God can’t be a hellish sadist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell really exist is because of some book, but I doubt the traditional understanding of Hell exist in the Bible. See here.
  • God can’t be a religion excluder. A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. One’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • God can’t be a homophobe. A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
  • God can’t be a sexist. God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has enabled dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Men and women have God in trying to out serve one another. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?
  • God can’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. If God exists, God surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. God also!
  • God can’t be a “hidden agenda” friend. It has to be wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of manipulating them to your beliefs. Friends aren’t evangelistic projects. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment. Jesus wanted others to know God loves them and seeks to help them be who they want to be deep down if desiring such help.
  • God can’t be an angry egomaniac. God doesn’t want to be feared as if that leads to a genuine relationship. If God was so worried about their ego, God would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. God surely only wants what we deep down desire – loving others like we want to be loved.

I’m done!

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

Philippians 2:3-7 – Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

In today’s world, it seems everyone has the ‘I am number one’ attitude. We are all interested in what is best for us, what makes us happy, how to be more comfortable and satisfied in our lives. Seems like we will do anything we can to get ahead in life, and to get all the comforts and ‘things’ that make it easier for us.

These above verses state that as followers of Christ, we should be doing just the opposite. Our thoughts and attitudes should be how we can show the love of God to others. It should be what can we do to encourage and build up those in need, how can we use the money God has blessed us with to help the less fortunate.

God says that as his followers, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as ourselves. While the jobs and ‘things’ we have been given and blessed with by God are not wrong, we need to keep in mind that they are not the important part of our lives. We are to be thinking of others and their need for love, acceptance and help. We should focus on how we can encourage and build up someone else, and how can we help meet a need in their life.

There is nothing wrong with taking thought of our wants, needs and interests. The verse states ‘do not merely look out for your own interests’. Unfortunately, many times our own interests are all that concern us. May we daily ask that God helps us to think of others and be ready to care for them in any way possible that will show them the love of God.

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by Mike Edwards

Freedom by God is necessary for perhaps the highest good in relationships – authenticity. Not even God can force true love. Freedom has possible consequences such as suffering, but if God didn’t create freedom we could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world. So, freedom must exist here or earth and freedom surely exist in heaven.

Freedom requires that God can’t know the future.

The future must be open if we are truly free and God is truly loving. There really isn’t freedom if the future is already known thus determined. The good news about God not knowing the future is that we can feel God truly want us to feel free without strings attached. Is that what we desire to feel from our human parents when making decisions?

Why it matters that God doesn’t know the future.

A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. It seems a match made in heaven, but their partner becomes abusive. If God supposedly knows the future, why didn’t God warn the young woman? A human parent would warn their child if they knew ahead of time. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. A controlling God can lead to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?”

We don’t have to live in fear of making “right decisions” or missing out on God’s will. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making best decisions at the time that make our lives and the lives of others better. There isn’t one correct decision. Joy and good is achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths.

Even the Bible suggest an all-powerful God can’t know the future.

Hundreds of biblical passages could be cited to defend either God does or doesn’t know the future. For example, in the beginning the writers suggested that an all-powerful Being doesn’t know much less control the future. Genesis 6:5-6 speaks of God regretting decisions: “God saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth…God regretted that he had made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled.” If God knew the outcome of decisions, why did God make regrettable decisions? Many biblical passages refer to God changing their mind depending on what choices humans freely make.

What About Freedom In Heaven Then?

It would not be loving for God to force others to accept God’s ways even in heaven. Perhaps character developed on earth may eventually lead to seeing no good reasons for doing bad in heaven, which surely is the highest form of freedom. If one wishes to entertain the possibility of sin in heaven because of the presence of freedom, we can at least hope God’s presence will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. We thrive more under certain types of parental love and leadership because of their qualities such as integrity and understanding. Also, we can hope heaven will not have certain negative temptations.

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by Jim Gordon

Kindness is something we do not find much in our world today.

The Bible speaks about kindness many times. Kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The dictionary says kindness is being considerate or helpful. I think the world would be a better place if everyone treated each other with kindness.

It usually does not take a lot to be kind. Sometimes I think we make it to hard, when something so simple and easy as a genuine smile can brighten someone’s day. Being polite and kind to others can sometimes be just what they need to make their day. Holding the door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in line, smiling and saying hello, being respectful, you never know how that may effect them for the better. The little everyday acts of kindness can be a seed planted in their lives that will grow and help them to be encouraged and to pass it on to others.

These days it seems we even have a hard time with Christians treating each other with kindness. We want to fight and argue over our views and interpretations and forget that as Christians, we all have the common ground of faith in Christ.

Let’s see if we can make a point to do one act of kindness each day. You never know where it may lead.

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