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Posts Tagged ‘love’

by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs and doctrines. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him.

I am not so sure we are going about this in the correct way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving rather than showing the love of God to others.

As Christians, many people go to a church building on Sunday to sing and smile and listen to a sermon. By doing so, they think they have fulfilled their duties for the week. All day they are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and off they go to work with a frown on their face and feeling down. They may be in a bad mood and snap at fellow employees trying to make them feel as bad as they do.

It seems we forget that Christianity is not a religion or a one day a week life. As followers of Christ, we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout the day.

Rather than try to win people to God by our words, or by pointing out their mistakes or condemning them, we should allow the love of Christ to touch them by actually being loving and kind in the way we treat them.

While Jesus lived in bodily form on earth, he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders’ thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way to live.

Jesus accepted people for who they were, just the way they were and did not show condemnation toward them. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others, pointing out their sins and mistakes and treating them like second class people. We are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with love and respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

In our world today, with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of the church, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to love through us. We are to let the love of God touch others and let them know they are accepted and cared for. We are to remind them that in God’s eyes they are loved beyond measure. Love is the way of God because God is love.

Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted. Do not do this in word only, but in actions and good deeds.

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 Jordan Hathcock

Awkward church moments – aren’t they the best? I was around 14-years-old, passing the sacrament at my L.D.S. Ward, laughing with my friends in front of the whole congregation (big no-no). Why? Oh I don’t know, maybe it was due to the fact we were adolescence, attempting to do a “holy” thing but really the only thing that was holy was our love for laughter with friends? I can’t really remember what triggered it, all I recall is the feeling of guilt (due to getting scolded by leaders and parents) instead of the total unbiased freedom of joy. Yes, I get there is a time and place for everything but I also can’t help to see why we can’t include comedy in our rites and rituals? Is it due to the fact that if we indulge in the act of laughter it will produce the infamous act of irreverence which leads to sin (gasp!)?

It reminds me of the famous line from Tommy Boy from the master himself: Chris Farley:

Were you watching Spanktravision? Or were you watching that funny comedian, oh what’s his name, Buddy Wackit. Hey, there’s a pretty girl out there, maybe she goes out with one of the yankees…Richard, who was your favorite Little Rascal? Was it Alfalfa, or was it Spanky, hehehehehehe, sinner.

It’s funny how, if looked at with a comedic lens, some sins are kind of hilarious. I think that this outlook can be very healthy when it comes to encountering ones sin issues and others. It allows us to step back and get a perspective that removes us from our baggage which then helps us encounter grace (a free gift of abundant love). I understand that this idea of sin has brought a lot of damage to others when it comes to one’s worth and mental health but I still believe this word plays a role in our reality.

The definition of sin in the Bible is missing the mark. This does hold true to an extent. But, if we dig more deeply, I think we could say sin is “a misperception of oneself in reality” (more on this later). So, what is the “mark”? A perfect state of being (in the sense of doing nothing wrong)? Living a perfect life free from lying, stealing, cheating, killing, and “spanking the monkey” (hehe)? Drum roll please…dumdumdumdumdum…NO! It’s not any of those things, in my opinion.

***Side note: While we are on the topic of “spanktravision”, masturbation is definitely off the list since there never was a command against it in the bible (fun tidbit ). But I get the warning. When we use it as a form of “unrelational” pleasure with no other loving partner involved (i.e., pornography) it can lead to broken relationships (even though this might not be the case for everyone: context is everything). Even then, this is not what I’m referring to when it comes to sin.***

The mark definitely prevents those actions from happening. But it’s not those acts specifically. Then what the hell is it? Well people, the freakin mark is LOVE. Love is God and God is Jesus and Jesus said: You (the rest of us) are gods (John 10:34). Not gods in the sense of becoming what the serpent succeeded in tempting the Adam and Eve with (i.e., a relationship NOT based on partnership with others in order to create peace, love and mercy but a relationship based in greed and selfishness)–but in the the way of what Paul referred to as fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17–Authentic Connection).

I’m not taking away the seriousness of missing the mark of love. It’s a big deal. Jesus was executed because of our denial in the importance of trusting in love. We scapegoat the victim in order to secure our violent social structures and individual egos. We choose violence instead of love. We will accuse all day long to keep our domination systems in place. The spirit of accusation is what the Bible calls the satan.

We are all created in God’s image. It’s the process of seeing the divine in us that we become aware of the “mark” (Theosis). SIN IS NOT TRUSTING IN HOW GOD SEES US: AS BELOVED! When we trust this, we have a change of mind and return to our true self (aka Repentance). When we don’t, this “un-trust” leads to all the consequences (war, murder, theft, cheating, environment damage, racism, gun violence, etc.) that hinder us to fully becoming the True Human race.

When we find ourselves accusing others to gratify our desires of righteousness (being in “correct” standings with our tribe) then we fall into the trap of the satan. It’s bye bye fat head from there. Oh, but not so fast there buddy boy. As a participant in Christ, I believe Jesus showed us how to break free from the bondage of sin into the liberation of grace. To live a life fully lived by loving your enemies! Let’s face it. If we embrace our sense of humor, we smile down on our enemies not make war with them.

This is how the world is healed from sin (which brings salvation). We come together to help the least of these. Jesus saves us from the accusatory lifeless cycle of sacred violence into the beautiful flow of shalom and forgiveness. Not only for the human race but for the entire universe. This is where our misperception of ourselves in reality comes into play. The reality of God is love which brings peace. This way of Jesus will bring healing to ALL the nations. His Spirit is flowing through all of his creation NOW. But, in order for the universe to trust and participate, it’s up to his participants, here and now, to represent his beautiful way.

In the end, according to close family and friends and even Chris Farley himself, the lack of love (not the side effects of sin) is what pushed Farley to an early death. Sure, the unhealthy lifestyle was a major factor in Farleys overdose but the root cause of it all was him not feeling loved. May we all find humor in our bones and come to the realization that we are all beloved NOW rather than later. It’s all about presence (what better way to encounter this then laughter?)…because life is to abundant to waste it. Chris Farley’s sense of humor still is bringing joy in this crazy world. This is no accident. Humor coincides with love. The two cannot live without each other too long as Mr. Farley said himself:

This notion of love is something that would be a wonderful thing. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it, other than the love of my family. At this point it’s something beyond my grasp. But I can imagine it, and longing for it makes me sad.

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Just a few verses from the bible that put emphasis on what we are called to do, and that is love one another. Does not mean we always agree, does not mean we do not have different views and opinions. Yet we can accept one another, grant the same equal rights, respect and human dignity to everyone through love.

Notice these verses do not say this pertains only to those who think the same, look the same, believe the same or worship the same. It applies to all human beings no matter what label they wear, such as man/woman, black/white, gay/straight, democrat/republican, no matter what nationality, no matter what religion, gender or race. We are only called to love one another.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Mark 12:30,31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 15:12

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:17

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

1 Peter 1:22

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart

1 John 3:11

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 John 3:23

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us

1 John 4:7, 8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:19,20,21

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2 John 1:5

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

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by Jordan Hathcock

When we haven’t earned the right with our blood, sweat, tears, and time, truth-telling is most often received as judgment. Jared Byas

What a no holds barred match of viewpoints we find ourselves in, within our current culture climate. With so many voices being echoed through all available chambers—social media being the main sphere—how do we know truth? Beats me (haha). But I do believe there is something to an experiential encounter with a “quality or state of being true”, that holds more tangible weight than other voices. In other words, how does our experiences inform us about whether or not an specific idea or act is the actual essence of truth?

Maybe by “walking in another’s shoes”, we reach a firmer grasp on what is true or false? Look, I get the importance of doing your own research and the importance of peer reviewed articles. We read articles, try to have an open mind, listen to experts (a lot of conspiracy with this at the moment…good lord), and attempt to listen to both sides. This is good advice and has helped me tremendously. But I cannot help to hear the saying of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself” when trying to pursue *the* truth. Yes, we can’t forget the other saying of Jesus: “I am the truth”. Amen! But you know we are part of his body so we can’t dodge the responsibility of being part of that truth ourselves. To embody a reality of authentic truth, we get there by self-giving love. And to love is to put ourselves in other’s perspectives, which in turn, enable us to “see and hear” the truth that sets us ALL free.

Don’t get me wrong. Critical thinking skills are needed to get us to a place of factual analysis (Critical Theory for example). The point of any cognitive critique is to bring in a set of ideas and push them to the forefront of discovery. These are all good and much needed steps to find truth. What I am proposing is when we are pursuing the truth we must do it in love. Yes yes yes; love love love is all we need, blah blah blah. Listen (or read? hehe) here, alright?! The only love I am talking about is the love that “lays down her life for a friend”. Capeesh?

This love is a movement of action where all eyes can see. Or, how Dr. Cornel West puts it: “Justice is what love looks like in public”. Speaking truth to power is the gateway of experiencing healing and liberating truth. This is the gospel that Jesus preached. He was “living” this truth, no matter what the cost. It’s an inner truth that Jesus couldn’t deny. Folk rock band The Avett Brothers songTell the Truth say (sing?) it best:

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

I can make my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my lover, my neighbor, my friends all happy

Give of myself whatever they ask

But without this single truth it is only emptiness that I cast

A happiness that will not last

But I’m not here for that for what does happiness help without this single truth given to thyself

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

When we come to a point of a moment of truth, we must embrace the love of self and others to really accept it. Inner truth always will pour out onto others. Hear me out on this: This isn’t the same as weaponized truth, where we just have our weapon of choice—locked and loaded—ready to beat the shit out of any who dare not to comply to our truth claims. I believe we have come to a point in our current social dialogue that all we want to hear is our reasoning biases in the voice of the other. If it isn’t there, bombs away!

We all should be passionate and prophetic when we are looking to carry out our truths to implement change. A little anger helps but when it is the most thundering sound and drowns out love, that’s when we get nowhere. Yes, we need to hear the voices of the oppressed, the sick, and the poor at this current time of history (and all of history past). I mean, this is what Jesus did all day long during his ministry. But we cannot forget how he redeems, reconciles, and resurrects it all: By a cross of forgiveness and love. Author and podcaster Jared Byas says it like this:

We live our lives feeling that there is a tension between truth and love. But there’s only a tension if we believe truth and love are equals and opposites. They are not. Love is the bottom line. When we pursue a life of love, we will find truth along the way. When we pursue truth, we do not always find love along the way. When Jesus tells us the greatest commandment, it’s not truth-telling, it’s not fact-based, it’s not doctrinal. It’s love.

So, can we really know truth? Yes and no. But we definitely will never get there if we do not show the love, people! What if truth is not a belief to be held but an experience to be shared? I like that possibility. Let’s step into that realm of trusting love and see where The Truth leads…

As for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part. For love is the end. — 1 Corinthians 13:8-9,13

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By Mike Edwards

I swear this is the last time I will write on this subject until next time. There is repetition in my writing because I am always trying to answer the question better.  I named my blog What God May Really Be Like  in search of answers to this question. I am convinced many don’t pursue a relationship with God because of mistaken beliefs claimed about God.   

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

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). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). 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 or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God believer that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but civil dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

But, what about the Bible?

We can’t prove if biblical writers were made to understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey all are on – discovering what God is really like? Even if God inspired every word of the Bible, we can’t always know what the writers meant. Scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages concerning significant matters such as hell, women, gays, etc. Sick and weak minds carry out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense according to their interpretation. We must use our moral brains when reading ancient literature.

What About Jesus? 

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers 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 for certain what God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can.  Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies. Such beliefs may only be held because of one’s interpretation of a supposed inspired Book.

Uncertainty may be better than certainty.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs, unless you are a terrorist, but it is not a universal belief that God condemns gays. God may not communicate more directly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. 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. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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By Mike Edwards

Is God all in for me? Does God feel the same about me that I do about God? All I know is when my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. It has been said that God created us to remind God how great they are, or we can go to Hell! Sorry, doesn’t sound like a God I can get close to. Why would an all-powerful God give us uncontrolled freedom unless seeking a mutual relationship?

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). How can we be merciful if clueless what mercy is or God is mysterious? The best way to understand God’s love is to compare to perfect human love. God must love like perfect humans. Bible folks say we are made in the image of God. God is made in our perfect image!

It is only intuitive that God’s love means what we mean when saying we love others on a deep level. Even those who accuse God of being mysterious agree. When one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective, they are assuming God and human love are the same by accusing God of being mysterious.

God is love but what does that mean?

God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for my success, believes in me. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes.  We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. God is dependent on us. God puts trust in us by giving us freedom. A parent who claims to love but doesn’t believe or pull for us doesn’t love us at all. A God who claims to love but doesn’t believe in, hope for us, doesn’t love us at all.

God can’t know the future and love!

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. If the future is predetermined or knowable, I can’t act otherwise. God can’t love and know the future. God must have faith too just as our parents did when having us. Even the Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future because the future is open. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10). God either puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents, or God is uncaring.

We matter to God!

It pumps me to no end when my parents or partner feels genuine respect for me! They committed to me not knowing how the relationship would turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you trust them, you hope they succeed, you have faith in them. Even some who don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, they believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus had trust, hope, and faith in others. So does God! God is the kind of spiritual Parent I have longed for in my journey to love others like I want to be loved.  How do you want to be loved by your parents? That is how God loves you!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

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By Mike Edwards

Many grew up with a view of God that encouraged fearing God. The threat of Hell was used to encourage such fear. Who doesn’t want to avoid being kept alive to be tortured forever? Good news! Hell doesn’t really exist. See here. So, since Hell doesn’t exist maybe God didn’t create us to whip us into submission.

What does the Bible really say about God? 

I am not going to quote you Bible verses to defend God is loving or wrathful. Verses can be quoted to suggest God is an angry son-of-a-bitch and you better get in line. Then, I could quote you bible verses that defend God is merciful, graceful, and loving. I am appealing to your common sense about love. Why would a Creator desire anything different relationally that what we were created to desire from others in relationships? 

Why would a loving God desire fear?

How do you want to be treated by your parents? Do you want to visit a parent who demands or instead seeks to earn respect? Do parents want us to fear them and visit out of obligation or like just hanging out. Do you want to be able to go to your parents for support or rebuke when you continue to mess up? I have a hunch God knows also fear doesn’t lead to change.

Where does fear get you?

Fear doesn’t work in spiritual or human relationships. People may suck up to you because you have something over them. They need a job, they need money to survive, whatever. Good luck when they don’t need a job or money. Genuine relationships happen not in an environment of fear but mutual respect.

Fear of God doesn’t make you a better person. 

Do you every think God needs a break from you at least for a day or do you think God can’t possibly forgive you for the 10th or 100th time? Guess again! God’s love and mercy, not gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for breaking free from habitual habits or bad behaviors. God isn’t looking to pile more guilt on us. God already knows we heap enough guilt on ourselves. God seeks to continually assure us of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love so we don’t every give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. 

But, don’t we need fear to control selfishness?

Has fear of consequences always stopped your selfishness? Fear only leads to trying to not get caught or doing enough to soothe others’ feelings. A great advantage in being a God-follower is being secure in knowing good enough isn’t enough. Relationships aren’t about just being good enough or not as bad as other partners. I have the “want to” to be perfect. My God allows me to pursue perfection while not being paralyzed by guilt when failing.

God’s approval can be a breath of fresh air.

Some parents beat down their children all their life, reminding them constantly how worthless they are. You aren’t thin enough. You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t smart enough. You aren’t successful enough. You are worthless! God will never betray us like parents or partners can. A relationship with God always entails mercy, acceptance, and encouragement when seeking change.

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By Mike Edwards

Most agree One claiming to be God must be loving and perfect. Such a claim is nonsensical if we are clueless what perfect love is. The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. God surely loves us the way we know we ought to love family, friends, and others. Question when suggested otherwise. You may be right!

What may be the only reason God’s love and human love are different?

We may only think God’s love is different than human love because of our understanding of a Book. When one’s interpretation of God according to the Bible doesn’t seem to mirror perfect human love, the mystery card is played. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn sense that God and human perfect love must be the same? We must question interpretations or whether a biblical writer truly understood God when God’s love doesn’t seem the same as perfect human love.

We may only condemn women, gays, and other religions because of a Book.  

Question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face! Question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can. Question if a loving God really approve only Christians going to heaven, when the majority of people born rebel or adhere to the religion born into. Our hearts know how we ought to treat women, gays, and non-Christians.

But isn’t the Bible God’s Word and not our hearts!

You may believe the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. Still, the Bible requires interpreting what the writer would advise in our circumstances. We don’t always know what the writer didn’t say. I once wrote telling my kids to never lie, but if lying saves a life lie through your teeth. Biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t agree the Bible teaches different roles for women and men. Scholars disagree if the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Not questioning and using common moral sense has led to sick and weak minds justifying evil.

Even the Bible tells us we are to love others like God.  

The Bible encourages us to be perfect like God or follow God’s example by walking in the way of love (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). The Bible doesn’t spell out what such love is but assumes we can understand such love through the lens of human love. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.” What would a relational Creator love differently than the way we are created to love?

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how God-followers might treat others. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. We all seem to have an inborn feeling that we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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by Jim Gordon

My wife and I often discuss using the word Christian these days. We wonder whether we should describe ourselves by the word Christian or not. We think it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

So often the word means many things we are not. Say the word Christian and many people automatically stereotype you to basic beliefs and doctrines of the religion of Christianity and not necessarily to what we truly believe.

If being a Christian is being part of a religious organization that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on a particular denomination then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other people and religions and only accepts those who believe like we do then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with man-made religion, exclusion, hatred, following old covenant law then no, we are not Christians.

In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. I always heard that they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian then we are all in.

There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, followers of the way, and even Christians. Yet the term itself really does not matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, whatever word we use to describe our religious belief does not make any difference.

When people see us, they should see Christ. When people see Christ, they should see God who is love. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for the love we have for our fellow human beings. Do not worry so much about the label we use. Follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. Share the love of God with each and every person we meet. Be known for sharing the love of God rather than for what religious word we choose to use.

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By Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we don’t have some notions of what perfect love is. The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. God surely loves us the way we know how we ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

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 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 or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t value the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but calm dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can. Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

We can’t know what God’s perfect love is only according to the Bible.

Many don’t question the above views because of the Bible. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like? How would God control every cognition and word written down? Besides, the Bible requires interpretation and biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t all agree the Bible teaches different roles for women and men or that the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Not questioning a Book has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, can be a good thing.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is hard to be relational when so damn certain! It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Problems begin when insisting on our interpretation of a supposed inspired Book. God may not communicate more clearly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Can we judge what is truly evil?  

Terrorists believe that murdering or beheading others for their beliefs isn’t evil. One main clue about extreme behaviors is if our actions demonstrate loving others how we wish to be loved. Would terrorists accept their wives and children being murdered or beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming God-speak? Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. I would ask extremists how we can be certain their Book is really God’s words or that they have interpreted correctly. I assume the conversation would go downhill until one accepts Books can’t be proven inspired or uninspired.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. 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. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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