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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Whether you are part of an organized church or not, we as followers of Christ are the Church. It is not a building or an organization but a community of believers loving God and loving others.

We should be able to get past our differences in doctrine and interpretation, get past what church we attend or if we attend at all and focus on our love for God and our love for one another.

We are not going to agree with one another and we are not going to come in contact with every person in the world. Yet we are to be ready each day to allow the Spirit of Christ, who is within us, to reach out to those individuals we do meet along the way to share the love of God with them.

All our organized services and plans to get people to a church building so the pastor can get the good word out will never make a huge difference. It is our job to go out into the world and live a life of love. That does not mean all of us have to become missionaries and go to some far-off land. The people we come in contact with each day during our regular routine are the people we are to show God’s love.

This is the way we will make a difference in our world, when people see the love of God within us for each other and for God.

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I had a conversation several years ago with a friend and we got on the subject of Jesus and how he showed the love of God to the world. I told him I had a simple analogy to explain why Jesus came to our world, but my friend told me it was pretty silly. I got to thinking maybe he was right, but the thought keeps coming to mind every now and then so here is my silly thought.

When I was young I would watch my mom enjoy the birds. She had bird feeders and bird baths and she always kept food and water ready for them. She enjoyed watching the birds fly down and eat and clean themselves in the bird bath.

I know she would have loved to go out back and sit with the birds, but every time she went out they would fly away and not come down for food and water.

I thought, if only she could become a bird for a few days she could relate to them and they would not be afraid because she would be like one of them.

birds

That got me to thinking about God. We have always been told about the wrath of God and that makes many people afraid of him. I believe the bible was inspired by God but it was written by men and my personal thought is that men added a lot of their own interpretations and thoughts making God look like a mean, revengeful being.

If only God could come to earth as a man and relate to us in a way we could understand and accept. He could spend some time with us and let us know that he loves us and wants fellowship with us.

To me that is a simple story but explains Jesus and why he came to earth. Jesus was God in human form. He came to show us that God is not a mean, revengeful being just waiting to smash us to bits. God watches us as we go about our daily lives just wanting to spend time with us and enjoy our company.

Yet because we have been told that God is mean, hateful, condemning and judgmental we are afraid of Him. We run and stay away because we have been told wrong things about him.

Truth is that God is love and Jesus came to show us that truth. As we read about the life of Jesus in the gospels we see a person who was loving, kind, accepting and who generally cared for people. Jesus said he who has seen me has seen the Father. By Jesus example we can be assured that God loves us and wants fellowship with us.

When we come to know that God loves us, we can know that he has our best interest in mind. We no longer have to be afraid of messing up and have the judgment of God fall upon us. The old covenant law no longer binds us to the ‘do this/do not do that’ performance mentality. When we know God loves us and we love him no law or rules are needed. Love naturally does what no law can do, which is love one another and be pleasing to the one we love.

The more I think about it, I notice that birds seem to be mentioned several times in the bible such as Matthew 6:26, 8:20, 10:29 and 13:32 and in Luke 12:24 talking about how they are valued, cared and provided for by God. Maybe there is something to this analogy of us and the birds.

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Why does the word inclusion make so many of us christian people cringe?

inclusion

We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If you think differently we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Sorry to say I used to feel the same way, but have thankfully changed my mind.

I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.

We see this so much within christianity, such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the bible. This is only mentioning fellow believers who believe that God is with us and loves us.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, it is even worse. African-American, White, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently. We think we should not associate with them or people will think we agree with them and are a part of their way of living.

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

inclusionbyjesus

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean agreement nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after together. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. Inclusion is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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Do you get tired of seeing such disagreement among fellow christians? We do not see a lot of unity and agreement at all today.

unityamongbrethren

Jesus said his followers were to be known for their love for one another. Yet today it is hard to find brothers and sisters in Christ being loving and kind.

Fortunately this is not the case in every situation, but it seems a lot more common than it should be.

I am not just talking about being accepting and kind toward those who are outside the christian faith, but it is hard to find true love and acceptance among brethren of different denominations within the faith.

If we go to the same church building and accept the same doctrines, you will usually find love and acceptance. I remember when I was in the church system the first thing I would ask someone was where they went to church. If they went to an organization I liked and agreed with, I would pretty much instantly like the person. If they went to a place that was different in their way of worship or interpretation of the bible, then I would immediately be on guard and almost dismiss them as someone to get to know. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

It is sad that we put such walls up with people who think differently. It is sad that we have made such importance out of buildings, doctrines, interpretations and bible versions that we forget God loves each of us no matter what we believe. We are to love God and love others just as God does no matter what they believe, especially among those who are also followers of Jesus.

Loving and accepting people does not mean we are always in agreement and that we always get along. Of course there will be disagreements and differences of opinions, probably even arguments and hurt feelings at times, but that is life. We can disagree and even argue at times and still respect and accept the other person.

By the power of the Spirit within us, we can accept, respect and be loving toward others. Not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but those who are not of the christian faith and belief. I think we can disagree and have different opinions and still act in a respectful and accepting way toward our fellow human beings.

loveoneanother

Jesus said that they will know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Love draws people, but condemnation, judgment and unloving behavior drives them away. Many times, when I say we are to love and accept others I get a lot of comments about being wrong because as christians we are to point out the sins and mistakes of others. They say our responsibility is to make sure others know what they are doing is wrong….at least by their way of thought.

I personally do not think we are to be the sin police. We are not told to do such things. We are told to love God and love others. As far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. That is between the Spirit and each individual as to what they do and how they respond. We are only to love others.

Love draws, God is love. Rather than judge, condemn, separate and argue, get out there among humanity and let the love of God flow out of you by the power of the Spirit. There is a whole world of hurting people, both christian and non-christian who can use the encouragement of an accepting person who cares and shows the love of God.

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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 our world today 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 make ourselves more comfortable and satisfied in life. It seems we will do anything to get ahead in life and to get all the comforts and ‘things’ to make it easier for us.

The above verses from Philippians 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, what we can do to help those in need, how can we use the money and things God has blessed us with to help the less fortunate.

love-god-love-people

 

God says that the fulfillment of the law is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as yourself. 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 are to consider how we can encourage and build up someone and how can we help meet a need in their life.

There is nothing wrong with taking thought of our wants, needs and interests but 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 God to help us think of others and be ready to care for them in any way possible with God’s leading.

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So many times we christians get the idea that we are not supposed to associate with people who are not believers. We seem to sometimes isolate ourselves and feel the need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently.

book-store

I at one time felt the same way myself. I wanted to be in church every time the doors were open and I wanted to work for a christian book store so I would constantly be around christian people. Boy how my views have changed.

 

I have also noticed that a lot of christian people seem to have bad feelings toward those of different race, LGBT, atheist, muslim and even other christian denominations. At one church I actually saw some of the worst hatred toward the pastor of the church.

I had been involved for years in the church and around religious people. I do not want to put everyone into the same basket but there seems to be many that feel this way.

Fortunately I have had a change of mind and have come to find that separating ourselves is not what God intended for us anyway.

Jesus said he did not want to take his disciple out of the world, yet he said to come out and be separate. What was he talking about? Could it be he meant that we were to come out of the religious system and the world system and live in the Kingdom system in this world now? We know we are not to separate ourselves from those living in the world, yet we can separate ourselves from the religious and world system by allowing the Spirit to guide us, teach us and love others through us.

We know the world system is opposite from the Kingdom system. The world system is the mess we call life today under man’s rule, thinking only of ourselves, hatred, greed, worry and materialism to name a few. Or as 1 John 2:16 says, for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you. The Kingdom of God is love. We know the Spirit of Christ came to live within us as believers and we no longer need the religious system or a building and pastor since now we are the temple and the Holy Spirit is our teacher.

Jesus did not separate himself from those who thought differently. Rather than being isolated from those who think, believe and act differently than those of us who believe in God, I feel we should be out there around those who are different and show the love of God to them.

It is just as in our personal families, there are those who have different views, different beliefs and different lifestyles yet we love them. We are to be the same with those in this world, we can have our differences yet we respect and love them anyway.

lovegodlivelikejesus

Jesus said to love God and love others. He never said we have to agree and be the same. But we are not to treat those who are different from us with any less love and acceptance. Rather than separate ourselves and make it look like we think we are better than everyone else, we should allow the Spirit to live through us showing the love of God to everyone.

 

Not everyone is going to believe like we do or accept our way of thinking. Jesus never said to only associate with like-minded people. We are to love God and love others, showing them that God loves them just as much. Whether we believe the same or not we are all humans created and loved by God. We are to let the world see the love we have for our Father and for one another remembering that Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”.

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When we speak of Christianity with all its different denominations, interpretations, doctrines and various versions of the Bible it seems there are always times when we run into conflict with other believers.

Each of us as brothers or sisters in Christ seem to want it our way. Our church, our interpretation, our version of the Bible. We each feel that we are right and sometimes feel the need to distance ourselves from those who feel differently.

notarguing

Have you noticed how religion seems to set the rules to described what it takes to be a ‘good’ Christian? Do this, don’t do that, stay away from this and make sure you participate in that. Attend every service and be active with this group or that group. If you are not reading a particular version of the Bible you are just wasting your time. If you are not part of a church you must be backslidden, at least that is the way some fellow Christians make you feel. Rules, rules, rules.

Maybe it is time we stop arguing over versions, interpretations, doctrines, church attendance and such and start focusing on Christ who is to be our first love. If we can focus on Him and loving others, we should be able to agree to disagree on other topics and accept one another even in our differences.

When we find common ground in our faith in Christ, when we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, we should be able to look past the differences we have in our various denominations, Bible versions and interpretations.

loveall

Let’s stop fighting against each other and begin to love one another as Christ loves us. Do not let the various differences come between the love we can have for one another and the things we can share and learn through fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Those outside of Christianity should be seeing the love we have for God and for one another. There is enough hate and disagreement in our world today. What makes a difference is seeing brotherly love for one another and sharing God’s love with everyone we meet.

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