They are controversial. I'll also admit I am somewhat jaded.
I've been betrayed, deceived and hurt by most of the
"Christian" people and churches I've associated with.
While I willingly accept my part of the blame in those painful encounters,
I don't think it's all been me. Rather, I think my experiences expose
some of the patterns that develop with most "Christians" over the years,
and absolutely expose some of the problems inherent in
organized religion..."the church" as the world sees it.
In my opinion, and believe it or not, Gandhi and Monty Python said it best.
Someone asked Gandhi why he rejected Christ. His response was that he didn't deny or reject Christ. He loved Christ. He just observed that so few of His followers were like Him.
When asked why they disliked Jesus and why they frequently mocked Him, some of the members of the Monty Python comedy troop responded that they did not dislike or mock Christ. Mostly, they mocked His followers. They said Jesus was actually very cool. It was His followers who were dicks.
From my own experiences, and probably including myself as well, I have found these to be astute observations. I've never had more trouble than when I was trying to keep a Christian band together, or when I was trying to maintain a friendship or association with a Christian "brother," "sister" or Christian organization. And who is the worst when it comes to paying a band for a show? Churches.
And, again, stating the obvious, I know much of my trouble was probably my own fault. I freely admit I have many faults. However, I do NOT suffer from the "instant self-righteous justification syndrome," as I like to call it.
It seems to me there comes a time in the walk of a Christian that one of two things usually happen. Either they mellow out and find more inner peace with themselves and their faith, which in turn makes them a more peaceful and humble person to those around them, or they become self-righteous and judgmental, developing a superiority complex, causing them to become hypocrites with an obnoxious "holier-then-thou" demeanor...which NO ONE wants to associate with.
Unfortunately, it seems most do the latter. They seem to forget the humanity of Christ. They forget about the love and patience and acceptance of Christ. They lose sight of the compassion, servitude and humility. They forget about winning the lost through actions of kindness and sacrifice, and they become fairly adept at judging the lost, even to the point of being insulting and condescending to them. Their pride grows into arrogance. Their entire demeanor begins to flow from the personification of megalomania and self-aggrandizement, and they quickly alienate the very people to whom they especially should be showing the loving, accepting, Christ-like characteristics of Christianity.
I feel the "church" in general is to blame for this. Especially the bigger churches of "organized" religions. Good God! I'm a Christian and organized religion scares me to death! It was organized religion that crucified Jesus. And it seems not to have changed much over the past 2,015 years.
When you get hundreds or even thousands of people congregated, all patting themselves on the back, marveling over what good works they've accomplished, seeing the results of huge offerings and upscale church buildings, it's difficult not to succumb to the fleshly traits of pride and arrogance. It's an environment that's ripe for allowing human emotions to overpower the spiritual tenants of faith and the humble servitude that Christ represents.
Yes, God is holy and Jesus is worthy to judge us all. Yes, Jesus is King and deserves appropriate respect and dignity. Yes, holiness is a virtue and God does not tolerate sin. And it's easy to look around you at the successes of your mega-church and feel you've been rewarded for being obedient to the will of God, for your good works. But for crying out loud! You're not God and He doesn't need your help to do His job. It's not up to ANY of us to judge someone else and their relationship with God, or judge their place in God's kingdom. And it's especially not up to us to evaluate the divinity of our OWN relationship with Jesus. Once you start feeling you're holy and mighty in God's eyes, the fall is only a short time away. It's up to us only to bring about an introduction of Jesus to the world through our actions, being an example of Christ as best we can, then allow Jesus to make whatever changes He sees necessary within a person.
Yes, we should council the newly initiated and help guide them on the new path they have chosen. So our obligation doesn't necessarily stop after we've introduced someone to Jesus. Yes, we do have an obligation to follow up and help them mature and grow, to answer questions as best we can, and to nurture them along their Christian walk. But even THAT can lend itself to the feeling of self-importance that creeps into the demeanor of so many Christians.
Jesus does not work on our time schedule, nor does He consider what we feel should be priority for the newly initiated. Never has Jesus asked me what I thought He should do to help someone who has just accepted Him into their heart, and I'm relatively sure He's also never asked you. There may be things that person is battling against within themselves that Jesus wants to work on first...something you don't know about...before He confronts the trait you can see; the one YOU think Jesus should immediately confront.
We all fall short, and those leaders in the church whose egos are inflated by receiving the accolades of entire congregations, are failing Jesus the most when they apply their human judgment to the spiritual matters another person might be experiencing.
The church leaders need to remember they are mere vessels of clay, and are prone to the same human frailties as are the rest of us. Yes, they should have reached a certain place of spiritual and Christian maturity through experience and learning. But there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and that vague line becomes even more blurred when a leader has an entire harvest of parishioners and underlings supporting them, encouraging them, applauding them, hanging on their every word and sermon. Pride may goeth before the fall, but it can often go on a long time and do much damage before that fall comes, leaving many bruised souls in its wake.
There are numerous perceived inadequacies with Christianity and "the church" in general. The secular population does not understand the things of faith and spirit. They mock a God who would allow people to be killed and suffer, but then declare how He loves people so very much. To the secular population, this seems like a glaring contradiction in the very fundamentals of Christianity. A contradiction in the very essence, even in the very existence of God. They mock a religion that seems so ill equipped to deal with the mounting pressures of modern humanity and society. To them, it seems the church provides anything BUT the answers for which they seek.
And I can absolutely understand why it appears this way to most secular people. Often, we seem to be preaching to the choir rather than to those who really need the teaching. We alienate those we should be attracting. With our arrogance and judgment and self-righteousness and justifications, we present a picture as unappealing to the world as a mindless cult, where you have to drop all common sense and questioning and curiosity and just mindlessly accept the very foundations of a loving, omnipitant God on faith, no matter how impossible that precept may seem.
Much of that which the secular world accuses "the church" is accurate. The secular populace don't understand separating "man" from Jesus. They see the acts of the church and interpret those as the acts of Jesus. We are his representatives, and we're supposed to be Christ-like, so the people get the sense that what they see in the church is what Jesus has to offer. While we may be able to justify any act to our followers, friends or to a congregation, the world sees our hypocrisy and recognizes it for exactly what it is.
Let's add to that the other observations the world makes of Christianity as represented by the church. Fighting among denominations to the point where Methodists openly mock Catholics. Baptists mock Lutherans. Then there's the non-denominational sect mocking all the denominations.
Add to that the different teachings and doctrine between the different denominations. Some churches speaking in tongues with holy-rolling down the aisles like circus performers, other churches saying that that is purely the work of Satan and total insanity. Is there such a thing as a rapture? And if so, when will it happen? Pre-tribulation period, post-tribulation or mid-tribulation? The gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are they still active today? Does true Biblical prophecy occur today? Interpretation of tongues? Some churches desire to stay away from that topic entirely, hoping to be safe rather than wrong.
Plus, the seeming contradictions within the Bible itself. Did Saul SEE or HEAR Jesus on the road to Damascus? Where did Cain's children come from? Did the women tell anyone about Jesus' resurrection or not? These are valid question for people to ask, and it's confusing for them at best. At its worst, it seems like a cocktail of gibberish that mindless Christians swallow without utilizing the benefit of even the smallest measure of logic, taking things entirely on blind faith and mindless devotion.
To the world, we are all "the church." They don't differentiate between Baptists and Methodists and non-denominational churches. We all have our faith based in the same Jesus, and to the world, that seems to represent contradiction and chaos.
I went to the music leader of my church one year at Christmas and spoke with him about something I wanted to do for the upcoming Christmas program. I wanted to put together a band consisting of mostly church members and play a concert of modern, rock-style Christmas songs...kind of like a Trans-Siberian Orchestra-type thing. He said I could not. He said what we need to do is present the secular world with an alternative, something they would prefer to attend over some secular Christmas event. Something they couldn't get anywhere else. Something that would entice them to come into the house of the Lord and enjoy themselves and see Christians as normal people, enjoying the season and the show, and that a concert like I was proposing wouldn't fit that bill. People could attend a concert anywhere and see a band they already liked, rather than seeing a band they didn't know. I said I understood, didn't argue the point, thanked him for his time, and left.
So, what did he do for the Christmas show? He put together a band and performed a bunch of Christmas songs in a modern rock style like Trans-Siberian Orchestra...and unfortunately, they weren't even very good. My son, who knows the quality of music and live performance I produce very well, even looked at me and said, "Ahh. Yet another exercise in mediocrity."
And who was in the audience? Everyone from the church. There was no draw of new faces attending.
But the point is, the world sees stuff like this and they don't shrug it off. They hold Christians to a higher standard, because we profess to HAVE a higher standard... to adhere to a higher standard. Which is true, but in professing this higher standard as loudly and boldly as we often do, we also lose sight of representing ourselves as real people with human faults and frailties, with struggles and problems and real earthly personality issues. Basically, we try to represent ourselves as being Christ-like, rather than as having a desire to be Christ-like, and attempting to exhibit His likeness as best as we're able while still being flawed human beings. And we rarely admit our failures.
That music leader has snubbed me from day one, and he makes no bones about trying to avoid talking with me at all costs. I don't care. I don't like him, either. But to the world, we have inappropriately set their expectations of what being a brother of Jesus and a child of God means, and they see things like this as completely contradictory to the very basis of what being a Christian is supposed to be.
When someone joins the "family of God," they want to feel accepted and loved and experience a feeling of belonging like they never could anywhere else. They aren't prepared for the infighting and politics of "the church" and they certainly aren't prepared for the arrogance and self-righteousness of some of the people who are set up as leaders.
Much of the inappropriate expectations new believers have are a direct result of how we speak of God and the blessings He desires to bestow upon us once we accept Jesus as our savior. We speak to the world about how He wants to give us life fuller, more abundantly, in every way. We make God out to be Santa Claus, just waiting to open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings upon us as reward for our obedience and commitment. We talk about the financial rewards for paying our tithes and the new car God wants us to have. We talk about how badly God wants to provide for all our needs and wants, for us to prosper and be a shining example of one of God's children.
Jesus did indeed say for us to look at the birds of the fields and notice how God provides for them. He then asked if we didn't think our Father wanted to provide for us even more fully than He did for a simple bird?
And while the answer to that question is obviously "Yes," the reality of what and how He will provide isn't at all what the church normally claims it to be. Nor is it what people expect when they decide to invite Jesus into their hearts based on what we've represented to them. They expect to receive what we've promised them. And I think we're making promises God has no intention of keeping.
What God does give us is many things, and His blessings are priceless beyond compare. But I don't think He cares one little bit about us having a car to drive, the clothes we have to wear, the size of our bank accounts, or whether we even have a roof over our heads. What He gives us is an inner peace that surpasses all understanding, the likes of which we can get nowhere else, to deal with whatever circumstances life present to us. He gives us the divine wisdom to make good, Godly decisions about the path our lives should follow. What He gives us is guidance in times of hardship. What He gives us is a heart of strong ethics and morality. He gives us strength of character and the promise of an afterlife so filled with glory and riches that it's worth the sacrifices we make to give ourselves over to Him in this life. He gives us the fortitude to make it through the tough times when our car isn't running or we lose a job or when sickness or disease invades our bodies. He gives us friendship and encouragement to weather the storms that come to every one of us. But God is not going to provide us with a car. He may give us the wisdom to see the means to obtain the car we need, but God doesn't provide us with a car. The blessings He promises us are worth WAY more than money or material possessions. As human beings, we just have trouble seeing the value of honor, integrity and strength of character when our car is broken down and we have to walk to work in the snow.
So, we present this "Santa" image of God to the masses, then when they need a car or an influx of money to keep their electricity on and it doesn't happen, they blame God for not following through on the promises we made for Him. They feel betrayed. They feel disappointed and let down. They question God's love for them and wonder why those blessings aren't happening the way they were promised. And often, the first answer we give them is, "We are somehow hindering God's ability to bless us. Are we paying our tithes? Do we have sin in our lives? Are we out of God's will in some way?"
Well, YEAH! Aren't we all? Don't we ALL have sin in our lives? Aren't we ALL out of God's will in some way or another? What kind of answer is that to someone who feels cheated and confused? In essence, what we're telling them is, it's YOUR fault God isn't living up to the promises we made for Him.
Well, if we hadn't represented God as a material God in the first place, we would have accurately and realistically set their expectation to understand that what God does give us is mental, emotional and spiritual blessings, not new cars, expensive houses and great jobs. God is concerned with the condition of our heart and soul. God sees our intentions and motivations and relates to us on a spiritual level about those spiritual issues. God wants us to be good people, not rich people. And if we're unable to distinguish between the value of material possessions and the value of the spiritual blessings God abundantly gives us, that's our problem.
What about the five-fold ministry? Apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist? Aren't we supposed to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the five-fold ministry? It seems most pastors are too busy pastoring to perform many of the other aspects of ministry. All the big churches have "teams" that take care of those things. To the secular populace, it seems all the pastor wants is for everyone to sit down, shut up, listen to his lessons every service and pay their tithes. And I understand why it seems this way to them.
It seems many leaders in the ministry practice what is called a "cafeteria-style" Christianity. They go down the line and decide for themselves what they'll take, and what they'll leave.
"Oh yeah, pile on those blessings. I'll take a big helping of that. And the anointing. Give me a bunch of that. Oh! No. Forget the sacrifice. I don't want any of that. I hate visiting people in hospitals...and going to the houses of strangers to eat. I don't much care for doing weddings or funerals either, so I don't want any of that. Oh! But now, there is the wisdom and discernment. Give me a double portion of that! Here. I'll get another plate for the wisdom. This one is getting full."
So, how can Christians bring the salvation of Jesus to the lost and not expect them to scoff and mock us and dismiss what we have to say without even listening?
We can't. Only by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, by allowing Jesus to guide our actions, and by allowing Him to move in the hearts of whom He wants, when He wants, how He wants, will God's presence reach into a heart and sear His glory into their soul. That's why it is paramount that the church leaders maintain a heart of humble servitude. THEY are making no difference in saving the lost other than being available to follow His guidance. Jesus is making the difference. Not us. And only Jesus making His presence known to a soul is going to open their eyes and hearts to spiritual matters. We are to be nothing more than tools, willing to be used as He sees fit.
When you see a well-built house, do you thank the hammer for building that house? When you see a nice car do you congratulate the wrenches on their craftsmanship? If you see a beautiful painting, are you in awe of the brushes used to paint it? Do people look up at the Sistine Chapel and marvel at the tools Michelangelo used to paint it? No. Those things are merely tools used by the artisan. That's what we're supposed to be for God. Tools to be used in the hands of our Master. And if THAT won't keep you humble, nothing will.
I have many opinions that get me in trouble with a lot of the "leaders" of churches...if you haven't guessed that already.
If Jesus were to appear on Earth today, we'd kill Him again.
God has a sense of humor. If He didn't, we wouldn't.
Jesus wasn't a white guy. If He got on an airplane with us today, we'd probably give Him a second look.
Paul's letters to the churches (in fact, all the letters to the churches) were filled with a lot of specific directives specifically aimed at those specific churches. There are a LOT of good lessons to be learned in those letters, much of it timeless and applicable to today's society. But there were many specifics directed at specific problems specific churches were having at specific times. For example, I have no problem with a woman being in a leadership role.
Some of the King James Bible is different than the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures. Not a lot, but some differences are significant. I do feel the scholars who gathered the writings into what we now know as "the Bible" were indeed lead by the Holy Spirit. But there is a difference between interpretation and translation. I believe many of the Bibles popular today are interpretations of the King James version, which is in turn an interpretation of the original scriptures, rather than a direct translation. I think the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures are the most accurate, but a perfect translation from Greek and Hebrew into English, or any other language for that matter, is impossible. I also feel a reader can not accurately understand the exact intention of that written word without divinely inspired wisdom. Yet I feel NONE of this negates the Bible as being the perfect word of God. It just needs to be properly researched and studied for the lessons contained within to be perfectly understood.
I don't think there is such things as "Christian" music or "non-Christian" music. I think music is neither inherently good or bad, regardless of the style of music. (Lyrical content is a different matter.) I do believe music is a powerful spiritual medium, but it's not as cut-and-dried as many make it out to be.
What if "Christian" band plays a secular song? Does that song then become a "Christian" song? And what if a decidedly non-Christian band plays a "Christian" song? Does that song then suddenly become a secular song?
Jesus was tempted with drug addiction. Sexual addiction. A lust for animals. Jesus felt compelled to kill and murder and rape, rob, steal and lie. Jesus had desires for gluttony and greed and pride. He desired riches and coveted wealth. You name it, Jesus had the desire for it, within His human body.
When Satan took Jesus out into the desert, he tempted Jesus with all things. Jesus paid the price for all sins, because He was tempted in all ways. It's not a temptation if you don't have a desire for it.
If I offered you the chance to hold a rattlesnake, would you be tempted? Probably not, because handling a live rattlesnake isn't tempting to you. You have no desire to handle a live rattlesnake...I hope. You have to have the desire for something for it to be tempting. If Jesus was tempted in all ways, then he had to have all those desires. If there is a sin or desire left unconquered by Jesus and the Word of God, how could Jesus offer us salvation from every sin? Yet, He does, so there you have it. It seems simple to me.
I believe the Bible tells us a lot about what we will become after death. Our state of actual being. What our spiritual "body" will be like. I believe we'll have the same body Christ had when He resurrected. We'll be able to fly... in a sense. Time, space and distance will mean nothing to us. The laws of physics that govern our world are all created FOR this world to help bring order to the chaos. They are the laws that govern this earthly realm and all life within. After death, we'll exist in a spiritual realm which doesn't require those laws.
I believe heaven will be whatever is your idea of perfection. Mine will be inhabited by more animals than people. There will be fruit on trees that taste like whatever we want, but we won't have to eat. We won't be subject the any of the needs of a human body. We'll never be hungry, thirsty, tired or sick. We won't be old or young, tall or short, thin or fat. We'll just...be. But if we want to enjoy the taste of a pizza, there will be a pizza fruit provided.
I don't think there will be children in heaven. I mean, not physical little kids. Again, the spiritual realm knows no time, no space, no distance. That child who died was only in the body of a child here on Earth. First and foremost, that child was a spiritual being, made in God's image. I think when God said He made mankind in His own image, He meant first and foremost He created us as spiritual beings. Once shed of this earthly body, the spirit of that person is released to exist in its natural state, as a spiritual being, existing in a spiritual realm, which knows no age. So, no little kids...or old folks...for the same reasons.
I do firmly believe there will be animals in heaven. Many say animals don't have a soul, so therefore, nothing to cross over to the other side after death. They say the soul is what differentiates mankind from the animals. I disagree. I think there are many things that separate mankind from the animals. I don't think the soul is mankind's exclusive key to an afterlife, and I don't think only mankind possesses a soul. I think the spark of life itself is the key to having an afterlife. God blew life into Adam, giving him a consciousness and the powers of discernment and reasoning. If it has the spark of life and awareness of self, able to discern pain from pleasure, happiness from sadness, then it can also exist in heaven. If you can commit a sin against an animal, then that animal can also reap the rewards of a spiritual afterlife.
I believe there is a BIG difference between disobedience and sin. The Bible tells us what sin is. The big seven. We all know them. I don't think there are scales in heaven. I don't think your good deeds are weighed against your bad deeds to determine whether you're allowed in. I think that, no matter the state of your life here on Earth, if you have the reality of Jesus living in your heart, you get in. Even if you struggled and fought all your life against earthly wants and desires, yet managed to keep the presence of Jesus alive within you, and kept your faith and belief alive, you win. No matter how far you backslid, no matter your successes or failures, you win. As long as you didn't live in those sins, meaning weren't consumed by them, allowing them to become foremost in your minds and hearts, quenching your faith in God and Jesus as your savior, then your disobedience is not a condition that will keep you from entering the glory of heaven.
I think the factors you lived with on Earth and your successes or failures in your obedience to the Word only determine the size of your reward...whether you get a big mansion, or a small mansion. Either you get the job of a leader, or a servant. You may be the boss of something or you may be one of the boss's assistants. Regardless, everyone is happy...for the most part. Everyone is working together in harmony...for the most part. But only living in sinful ways and allowing the darkness of sin to corrupt the light of Jesus in your heart keeps you from the reward of heaven. Otherwise, the veracity of your obedience determines the measure of your reward.
Doesn't the Bible talk about there being yet another revolt a thousand years after Satan is defeated on Mount Megiddo? It plainly states Lucifer will lead another revolt against God, and this time he'll be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire for eternity. Those unhappy beings in that revolt must come from somewhere. Just like what happened before with a third of the angels falling along with Satan, some of the "angels" will once again fall with Satan. So, somewhere in heaven there will be those who are not quite as content as they should be.
People don't get wings when they die, and they don't become angels. Angels are beings specifically created by God for specific purposes. Angels are angels. Dead people accepted into heaven are the saints. The real saints.
I don't agree with the Catholic practice of praying to saints. I think dead people are dead people, and I don't think I want to pray to dead people. I pray to God, through Jesus. I think praying to the Catholic saints and the "Holy Catholic Church" is a form of idolatry.
I look at God as a parent. I don't think He is all that concerned about the normal daily things with which we're concerned. I think He raises us up through Jesus, we're taught and educated, then turned out to live our lives as best we can. Yes, he cares for us and loves us, but with Jesus dwelling inside of us and the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have help to navigate life and its complexities. We have what we need to make good decisions. And we have no guarantee things will be rosy. Some of us are doomed to live meager existences. Some of us will prosper. The test is in how you deal with the specifics of your life. In other words, whether you keep your eyes on Christ, or allow the cares of this world to distract you.
I don't think God punishes us for sins or rewards us for goodness while we're in earthly form. Blessings and hardships are everywhere, and the decisions we make, whether according to Biblical principle or not, determine whether we're able to take advantage of those benefits, or suffer hardships. I mean, it would really suck if you lived a hard life and suffered much due to internal struggles against the flesh, then got punished for eternity after death and judgment. Keeping your faith intact and your belief strong through those hardships is what gains you riches and blessings after death, so why should I expect reward for doing what is expected of me while here on Earth?
I believe some people are given spiritual gifts, and they may not even know where they came from. I believe some people, on extremely rare occasions, do have gifts of healing, wisdom, discernment, all kinds of gifts. But they may not attribute them to God. I think we have learned the teachings in the Bible about staying away from the occult and the supernatural stuff, so we lump all that spiritual-type stuff into one basket, then equally fear it all. Fortune tellers, healers, mediums, it's all bad. Bad!
But you take two people who have the same gift. I mean, really have true spiritual gifts. Not some yahoo who takes your money and reads a crystal ball. One of them says they don't know from where their gift comes, the other says it's a gift from God. We'll see the person who says their gift of discernment or prophecy comes from God as Godly, working in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the other person as working through the occult. Who are we to judge? There is one universe, one God, one mold from which we were all cast. And that mold was a spiritual mold. I think when God said He made man in His image, he meant first and foremost as a spiritual being. Some of us are simply more in touch with that spiritual realm than others. And whether we attribute any spiritual gift as being from God or from some unknown source, whether we use it for good or ill, whether we use it to benefit ourselves or others, is simply another one of those decisions we have to make in life.
I also believe that about 0.1% of the people who say they speak in tongues or work in the gifts of the Holy Spirit actually do. I think the rest get caught up in the emotions of the moment and just...go with the flow of emotion.
Secular people don't understand the division between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Most don't know the definition of the word, "Testament." They don't understand the difference between power and authority as represented in the Bible. They don't understand the change that took place at Jesus' death and resurrection, and they don't understand how God now interacts with people through the change Jesus' death and resurrection initiated. They see one book, one Bible, old and new, the rules and laws God had for His chosen people, the Israelites, back in their society, and they can't reconcile how those Old Testament laws apply to modern society. To them, they think the Old and New Testaments both still apply equally to God's expectations of mankind. So they mock and scorn the perceived discrepancies and contradictions. Granted, some of those people have no sincere interest in learning. But we need to stop preaching to them like they're dead, dying and going to Hell, and start educating them like they're intelligent, rational, curious people. They can either receive it or reject it. That's up to them.
God loves a homeless drug addict as much as He loves any pastor. God loves child molesters as much as He loves a doctor. God loves gay people. God loves truck drivers. God loves dentists and God loves cops. God loves Democrats and God loves Republicans. God loves alcoholics, rapists, murderers and gamblers. God loves Wiccans and witches, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. God loves all people. The "world" has trouble fathoming that fact because so few of us prove our faith BY our works. Jesus dined with Matthew, who was a tax collector. In that day, a tax collector was like the most decadent rock star you can imagine. People were up in arms He would go to the home of a tax collector and hang out. He sat, ate, probably laughed, talked, probably asked questions and gave answers to questions. He hung out. How many of us would go to the home of a Wiccan high priest and hang out if we were invited? And if you did go, would you consider it spiritual warfare, or would you just casually go, treating it as if you were going to any other home? Answer that question for yourself, then discern what the answer means about yourself. I would like to think they would be more scared of me than I would be of them.
I often see people mocking even the very idea of God. They see people suffering, dying, innocent victims of murder, rape and assault. They see wars and famine and violence of all kinds. What they are actually seeing is the result of mankind's free will, but they don't understand that. Then they hear about this loving, kind, caring God...the God WE represent as being omnipotent and in control, and they can't consolidate the two. The reason for this is simple, and has been the main point of this entire article. We misrepresent God, Jesus and His plan of salvation to the entire world. Our freedom of choice, our free will, results in more ills for the world than we admit. The world is not under God's control. God's greatest gift to us, and yet His most dangerous gift, is that of free will. The only thing under God's control is that which we willingly, voluntarily relinquish. And we have not given up control of the world. God may be in control of your world, or certain aspects of your world, but God is no more in control of this world than am I. It's not ours to give. We can't even pray in our own public schools anymore. Secular society wants to remove God from our money and the Pledge of Allegiance. Even the very reference to God now offends people. The Freedom From Religion organization has over five million members! So while secular people mock God for "allowing" the pain and suffering they see in the world, what they are actually seeing is the LACK of God in the world, because of their own free will to deny Him control. They see the results of the lack of God's presence, because they reject His presence, even his existence, then they mock Him for not being present. The irony does not escape me. But, the secular population does not understand this simple precept, and we're doing a poor job of educating them.
They see a Muslim praying five times a day to Mecca, and most Christians can't get their asses out of bed once a week for a church service...me included. They see in Islam the dedication, the commitment, they should be seeing in us. I think what they want to see in us. But instead, they see petty arguing, dissension and politics. They see struggles for fame, glory, riches, recognition and pride. They see pastors of mega-churches driving BMWs and wearing Rolex watches, asking for money from people who can hardly afford food for their table. They see many traits in us they know are not Godly traits. And, yes, I'm as guilty as everyone else. But what we haven't successfully expressed to the world is the conditions of our hearts. The love of God. The acceptance of Jesus. The non-judgmental peace and compassion, the open, inviting arms Jesus extends to anyone and everyone. The servitude. Mostly because our actions rarely seem to manifest the Godly traits for which we strive. They see Westboro Baptist Church protesting the funeral of a dead war hero, and to them, that's "the church." That's us. That's Christianity in action. We need to better explain the difference between the actions of man and the human motivations thereof, versus the purely loving, spiritual intentions of God through His son and our savior, Jesus. And we need to explain it by our actions! The people are so sick and tired or words that they'll no longer even listen. We need to better express the differences between the results of mankind's decisions through free will, producing the absence of God, versus the desires God has for our lives and the resulting inner peace, harmony and wisdom. Honestly, I get tired of hearing the world mock God for what is obviously the results of mankind's free will. We need to represent a Christianity people want to be part of again. But then, I also have to ask myself what I'm doing about it.