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By Mike Edwards

Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before loving them. Are we better lovers than God? God, like any parent, only wishes we consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help in our journey of becoming the person deep down we want to become. Who wants to live a self-centered life that only hurts those you love and yourself as well! A loving Creator surely cares more about how we treat others than our beliefs. 

You don’t have to be a Christian to be loved by God.

A loving God wouldn’t ignore the realities of our world by insisting one can only come to God by believing in Jesus. The majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. A reason one may think God judges people who have never heard about God or misunderstand God is because a Book supposedly says so.

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him, not confess, say a prayer, and be called Christians. Only terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control. Bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.

Don’t you at least have to believe in God?

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 doesn’t claim his audience doubts but ignores God and morality to justify their wicked ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch and accuse those who question of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.

A child sexually abused by their father maybe can’t accept a God most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some may want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more in so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God when condemned by God-followers for choices they can no more control than straights can.

Surely you must believe Jesus was the Son of God or resurrected from the grave!

One must admit it is hard to understand how one chromosomally can be God and human. Isn’t it logically impossible to be God and not God? Some may be willing to accept that Jesus was an extraordinary man who epitomized who God was. Why can’t we begin there as a discussion as to what teachings and actions of Jesus seem to represent what a loving God is like?

Jesus’ disciples wavered if Jesus resurrected, and they supposedly witnessed miracles beforehand. It is understandable why we may waver since we rely on historical as opposed to visible evidence. Each must consider the historical evidence for themselves. Jesus seem to confront the most those whose actions were unloving to others, not those struggling to accept certain beliefs.

Even the Bible doesn’t require certain beliefs for eternal life!

Jesus didn’t think of eternal life as something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life. Jesus simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). No one is going to Heaven if such actions are required according to God’s standards. If entering Heaven depends on certain beliefs or saying the sinner’s prayer, wouldn’t Jesus have responded differently?

Where have written Creeds or Doctrines gotten us?

Catholics, Protestants, and most other religions establish Creeds or Doctrines to differentiate themselves from others. It isn’t always said you are required to accept them to participate but try challenging them and see where that gets you! If beliefs about the Trinity, Angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, etc. were clear, why the Hell can’t we agree. I doubt God cares about these matters. Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions established only the Creed of Love and live it out. This may lead to feeding more the poor than erecting more buildings.

What God cares about!

God only wants us to consider loving others like we want to be loved. Doesn’t this lead to true freedom for ourselves and other. Also, in a broken world we may want to consider matters such as justice and forgiveness, because one day we may be on that side of the fence. God has no sacred beliefs. You don’t have to believe that hell is real or that God condemns gays. Identify any beliefs of God proclaimed by others that make pursing a relationship with God difficult for you. God only hopes we may come to believe in God’s love for us so we might reflect such love back to others.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

Why I Doubt God Knows The Future And Why It Matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Rocky Glenn

My thoughts going into Easter this past weekend were a mixed bag of criticism, questions, and self-analyzation.  Although this wasn’t the first year we have not actively participated in any church based Easter activities, ghosts of special sermons, carefully selected worship songs, newly purchased clothes, and orders of service timed to the minute haunted my mind.  I have actively, willingly, and intentionally played a role in times past of ensuring Easter Sunday morning service is meticulously planned and flawlessly executed.  Every effort was made to make the right impression on the countless visitors we were certain would be in attendance.  After all, if the plan was executed perfectly it would draw people to join our congregation and our attendance would increase showing how great of a place we were.  Heck, if we performed well enough, visitors might even make a decision to follow Christ!  Oh yeah, I guess we were actually celebrating Christ’s resurrection as well, but, despite being repeatedly mentioned throughout the course of the service, it never seemed to be the real focal point.  There was more concern taken over the timing of every agenda item and every detail of cleanliness and structure rather than celebrating the day for what it was to represent.  It was the biggest Sunday of the year and was treated as such.  It’s the institutional church’s Super Bowl!

Late last week I had a conversation with a long time friend via text and we discussed the subject.  Having walked together through many different courses of life, and many changes in beliefs for each of us, I knew he was someone safe to talk to and would not return any judgment if I shared my true feelings.  I mentioned my disdain for what it has become and how I referred it to as the Evangelical Church’s Super Bowl.  The response I received was a simple, “It’s pretty much all Christians’ Super Bowl,” and he went on to explain it should be a cause of celebration.  He mentioned the resurrection should truly be the one thing in the world we have reason to celebrate and the manner in which we do so should inform people of the power of the resurrection.  I pointed out my problem is it’s the one day of the year we talk about the resurrection and we then live the rest of the year forgetting  it.  We celebrate and look forward to the day itself and gloss over the event.  The next response I received was significant and gently reminded me there were three fingers pointing back at me on the same hand with which I was pointing at others, “Most people are very inconsistent.  I know I am to an extent . . . I say that to seem somehow piously humble, I mean it. I’m an inconsistent mess sometimes.”  The conversation which followed took us everywhere from the prodigal son and his older brother to being focused solely on our own salvation to the true purpose of our faith being faith itself and not our eternal destination.

As I reflected back on the conversation over the next two days, I believe he hit the heart of the matter with the word inconsistent.  If we are all honest with ourselves, we are all just a giant bundle of inconsistencies. Paul stated this in his letter to Rome as simply, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”  To live a human life is to live a life of inconsistencies.  Inconsistencies appear in both our actions and beliefs and become glaringly obvious when the two do not align with one another.  What we believe as absolutes today are the very things we may question tomorrow.  Theologies and beliefs I would have once defended I now despise and detest.  Though I lived a life once grounded in rules, regulations, and expectations, I strive now to live with an open minded letting Love be my guide.  Yet, in the very same breath with which I proclaim to live in Love I often find myself judging and looking harshly at those who choose to remain in the path I traveled for many years.  Despite striving to live freely in grace and seeking to show grace to others, my back still stiffens as my blood pressure raises when I’m cornered about why I walked away from the life I once lived.  I find it difficult to not respond in anger when being accused of leaving my faith and when I am judged as sliding down a slippery slope to damnation.  The churchboy I lived as would never openly admit to living such a life of inconsistencies no matter how true it would have been.  His life was all about maintaining the perfect image of what he believed a Christian should look like.  I would like to believe the churchboy I once was is dead, but as I shared recently I am forever recovering.  

Brennan Manning admitted his inconsistencies like this:

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

I’m at a point in my journey where I can truly recite Brennan’s words as my own.    Brennan captured what I now believe a Christian truly is as he concluded his statement above with the words of Thomas Merton, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”  This goodness of God is found in returning to Paul’s letter just a few sentences after his admission shared above, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul’s words bring us back full circle and return us to Jesus and his resurrection which is where our discussion began.  In pondering and reflecting on Easter, I found I was not alone in the process.  One friend spent the week on social media questioning if our obsession with and promotion of holy days had gotten in our way of enjoying the blessing we have in Jesus Christ each and every day.  On Easter Day itself, he gracefully summed up the week with the following sentences:

There is nothing wrong when we celebrate a certain day as “holy” when it is an option you choose in your own conscience before God.

At the same time, there is not a single instance in the grace portion of your and my bible where a holy day is presumed true and where celebrating a certain day is ever mandated.

Whenever and wherever a mandate to observe a holy day is present, it is a violation of God’s grace who cleansed our consciences and who liberated our minds and our consciences to enjoy him free of manmade ritual and tradition.

A life of grace is a life free of manmade mandates of ritual and tradition.  It all comes down to your own conscience before God.  To share grace with others is to refuse to view them through your own personal mandates which arise as result of that conscience between you and God.

Inconsistencies will arrive and plague us as long as we live but as Paul, Brennan, and Thomas all point out, it’s through Jesus we overcome them.  His consistency overcomes our inconsistencies just as His perfection overcomes our imperfection.

Rocky

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

I don’t have to convince anyone that God does or doesn’t exist. God can speak to the hearts of individuals on their own. That billions are convinced there is a loving God cannot be declared definitely irrational or delusional. It is not irrational either to ask if God is real, why doesn’t God clinch the argument by making their Presence obvious? I would encourage those who believe in a relational God to not stand in the way of others and speak for God declaring any beliefs are required by God to consider a relationship.

God doesn’t require any belief!  

I am convinced God only wishes for all to consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help you in your journey of becoming the person deep down you want to become. Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before hoping they will consider if they love them. Are we better lovers than God? 

You certainly don’t have to believe in magical trees and talking snakes.

No one was there with Adam or Eve to know literally what took place. Genesis isn’t necessarily a scientific explanation about Creation but about a relationship with the Creator. Flood stories appeared in ancient literature before Genesis. The global flood story could describe a regional flood in hyperbolic terms to convey moral, spiritual food for thought. God doesn’t require literal belief in any event in the Bible or else! Now if God physically appears raising your friend from the dead, you may want to consider!

You don’t have to believe Jesus resurrected from the dead.

I know the above statement is extremely offensive to many, but I care more about those who want to believe in a God but struggle with certain requirements as opposed to those who are already convinced a loving God is real. Jesus told followers He was coming back from the dead and they didn’t believe Him. And they supposedly witnessed miracles beforehand to have less doubts such a claim was possible.

I would like to think more of us if we witness a man or woman coming back from the grave after being killed that we would think their message such as claiming to be the son of God would be believed. But, none of us lived during biblical times so we will not have such an opportunity. I happen to believe the historical evidence is credible that Jesus rose from the grave, but God can handle doubts or skepticism.

You don’t have to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Many insist that Jesus was both God and man. Some can’t logically wrap their heads around Jesus being both man and God. Exactly how does one do that chromosomally? Isn’t it logically impossible to be God and not God? Some may be willing to accept that Jesus was an extraordinary man who epitomized who God was. Why can’t we begin there as a discussion as to what teachings and actions of Jesus seem to represent what a loving God is like?

Doesn’t God at least require the Law of Love?

I have written before that the only belief God requires is love. I would say that differently now. God doesn’t demand love but only seeks to encourage unselfish love which leads to personal freedom. God know what we know – the road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing convictions over time is what leads to genuine, lasting love.

Didn’t Jesus require belief for eternal life?

When Jesus was asked directly by a religious expert how to have eternal life, Jesus didn’t talk about escaping torture after death. Please see HERE that the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. Jesus replied to simply love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jesus’ message wasn’t about requiring certain beliefs but avoiding consequences in life here on earth through destructive choices. This is the message of any loving parent!

What beliefs about God are worth insisting upon to others?  

There is no belief about God you should impose upon others. You could be wrong. God is big enough to prove themselves to those interested. You don’t even have to insist God is loving. A tyrannical God isn’t worth believe in. I surely am not as perfect or loving of a parent as God is, but even I don’t require my children accept any of my beliefs or else. Even I understand controlling through fear than proving my love doesn’t lead to true change and intimacy.

 

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by Jim Gordon

Grace. It is not something we say before a meal. It is a life-changing event that was provided for us by a loving God. We are saved by grace. A one-time event of Christ dying on the cross provided all we needed to be restored to fellowship and right standing with our Father.

But grace itself is an ongoing, daily event. We are not saved and then just sit around and do nothing. Jesus told us to follow Him. Love others, do good to others and follow his example.

growingrace

By grace our sinful nature is crucified, dead and buried. By grace we are resurrected in the power of Christ and it is His spirit that now lives within us. By grace we are now hidden in Christ and seated at the right hand of God (Colossian 3:1-3). We do not just wait until we die our natural life to enter His Kingdom, we now live in the Kingdom of God.

When we realize that only by dying (spiritually speaking) and allowing the life of Christ to dwell within us is when we can truly follow Him. It has been said that a dead man has no worries. When we are dead to self and alive to Christ, it is His life that is within us by the power of the Spirit. His desires become our desires. His thoughts become our thoughts.

We are saved by grace, we cannot buy it, cannot earn it, cannot do anything to pay God back for it. Each day we can commit ourselves to God, acknowledge that the Spirit of Christ lives within us and daily deny the human nature and selfish desires that separate us from true fellowship with the Father.

Grace is an ongoing, daily lifestyle. It is our choice to commit to Him. When we do, we will continue to grow in grace and knowledge of Him, and we will enjoy fellowship with our Father every day.

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