Archives For Things Spiritual

The Nature of God

Why did God go to all the trouble to create the universe? By any standards that was a massive undertaking. I am one who believes in the day age interpretation of the Bible.  In the last century or so God has given us the scientific understanding to know that the creation of the universe took millions if not billions of years to complete. Why did he go through all that trouble? But for God a billion years might only be a day. Who know?

One explanation for God creating the universe including the infinitely small corner of it called the Earth was that he intends it to be a proving ground for what kind of person we choose to be. We all start out on this earth in basically the same conditions; that is we come naked from our mother’s womb. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a caring family and someone who can give us a life that will allow us to live up to our full potential. Many unfortunately are also given a life of day-to-day desperation.  But it is up to each of us to decide via our actions just what type of human being we want to be.

One story in the Bible is that some of us become sheep and some of us become goats and in the end times Jesus will come back and separate us into those two categories. I don’t really understand the difference between sheep and goats; I kind of like them both but that is another story. :)  Anyway there are several other stories about how God will come in the end times for the “final” judgment.  How many of these stories are just allegory I don’t know but I know when I leave this earth, as all of us must, I will meet my Maker. When he judges me I am absolutely sure he will bring up the words of Jesus to compare what Jesus told me to do verses what I eventually did. Will that judgement make me a sheep or a goat? That seems to be totally up to me.  Will the judgment have an effect on whether I am with God or not from that time forward?  There are numerous places in the Bible where God seems to put conditions on that happening. There are also a few where St. Paul seems to say otherwise.  But in some ways it really doesn’t matter to me. I will spend my life studying Jesus’ words and trying to live my life by them. Whether that gets me in heaven or not is totally up to God; I will not spend much time fretting over that. I will spend the time I have on earth enjoying his creation and living my life by the words of Jesus. I do this because I must; I do this because he is my creator and told me what he expects of me and that is to be my brother’s keeper.

<<This post is a re-blog from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net from April 20, 2011>>

I am going to spend the next few Sundays re-blogging some posts from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving.net. I spent over five years there working through my faith journey.  I didn’t know it at the time but this was the last post I made there in April of last year. I think it is worth a second look as something encouraging in Christ’s church:

 

I’ve seen the light go out in people’s eyes when they decide it’s safer to embrace a doctrine or a policy that their gut tells them is wrong than it is to challenge those who say it’s right.

I’ve watched open minds close and tender hearts harden.

I’ve seen people pretend to believe things they don’t actually believe and do things they don’t actually want to do, all in the name of conformity to God’s will, all in the name of sacrifice and submission.

Fundamentalism erases people. It erases their joy, their compassion, their instincts, their curiosity, their passion, their selves. And then it celebrates this ghosting, this nulling and numbing, as a glorious “dying to the self,” just like Jesus demanded.

SOURCE: Hearts of Flesh.

These are some powerful words from Rachel Held Evans who is a young and popular Christian author and lecturer. She seldom parses words when it comes to her spirituality.  She also seems to be very aligned with the latest statistics of the Millennial generation when it comes to shedding much of the dogma of the current “church”.

I truly believe that the conformity that many churches demand is a primary factor for why even those raised in it are leaving in droves. They see things that directly contradict what they believe to be simple knowledge. They see their church speaking so viciously about those who are different from them.  What they see is not “conformity to God’s will” but to hardened hearts.  They see a fixated emphasis on below the belt issues when Jesus said almost nothing about that topic.

Young people, or at least many young people, are still in the mode of questioning things. They are still forming their own personal opinions on what will be important in their coming life. They will not allow someone to tell them what is moral when it is obviously not to them.

During my lifetime fundamentalism, even though it started with trying to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world, has for the most part morphed into something completely different. It is now primarily about what you are supposed to hate rather than what Jesus told you to love. It has become the dark side of Christianity in many respects.

2014-03-25_16-33-02It is encouraging to see that the force is no longer with the fundamentalists but instead beginning to meld into what is now called the Great Emergence as described by Harvey Cox in his book entitled The Future Of Faith.  As explained in the book the emergent church is more about moving on to the next stage of Christianity rather than tearing down the current one. It is about shedding all those man-made rules and replacing them with the messages of Jesus its founder. If you are becoming discouraged with the direction that many in the church are taking maybe it is time you took up the book and read it with an open mind. It just might just change your idea of some of the basic things you are told you must believe in order to see God.

We’re worshipping religion, not God. It’s hard, when we’ve been endowed with these amazing buildings, these historic legacies and these time-honored traditions, not to mistake them for the thing we’re supposed to really focus on. To paraphrase the recent TV show, ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ religion isn’t the thing; it’s the thing that gets us to the thing.

Organized religion, and all that comes with it, is a means to an end. It’s intent is to facilitate community, spiritual growth, mutual accountability, worship of God and transformation of the world around us. But so much of our energy in recent decades has gone into propping up aging, hollowed out institutions and preserving empty rituals for the sake of themselves that we’ve turned them into the golden calf, taking precedent over God and the Gospel at the center of our hearts. We’ve fallen victim to mistaken assumption that we have to resurrect dying religious infrastructures in order to reveal God to ourselves and others. But in doing so, we’ve run the risk of losing connection with God’s call all together.

SOURCE: 5 Reasons Post-Christianty is Good for Followers of Jesus | Christian Piatt | Red Letter Christians.

The words above echo my current thoughts on God and religion. Religion is a means to an end, not the end itself.  I must admit that all the amazing buildings as the quote above says have an opposite effect on me. I was recently in a suburban church for a funeral and as I looked at the lavish building I wondered just how many people could have been helped if they had spent half what that did for the building and spent the rest on the community.  It saddens me to think this way but that is just how I am wired I guess….

I love this quote. I will have to put it on the top of my list of favorites.

religion isn’t the thing

it’s the thing that gets us to the thing

Against Indifference….

December 28, 2014

canstockphoto17403580I’m not sure if religion is the opiate of the masses, but I’m convinced that indifference is the opiate of the privileged. We turn to it when overwhelmed by the discomfort we feel about our complicity in an oppressed person’s reality. To anesthetize ourselves against their reality, we willfully ingest this opiate and use it as a coping mechanism.

After years of the westernized church ingesting unhealthy amounts of indifference, we now experience delusional thoughts which blame the victims of injustice for their suffering. We have contorted scripture to please our ears. Ignoring the words and life of Christ, disregarding the narrative of Israel, and taking Christ’s upside kingdom and attempting to flip it right side up….

What I’m saying is not outside of our given consensual ethic. By no means do I wish to selfishly draw upon my own ethical agenda, but instead to draw upon a traditional morality, emulated in the life of Christ and written in the word we claim as God’s.

SOURCE:  Against Indifference | Andy Gill | Red Letter Christians.

All the words from Andy Gill over at Red Letter Christians ring true to me but the last words I try to think represent me perhaps more so. Yes, I have a personal ethical agenda that I draw from for most of my posts but I would like to believe that my criticisms against today’s church come from drawing from the life of Christ as written in the Word.

When I read the words of Christ I am hit hard center with his empathy for all of mankind and I just don’t see much anything close to his teachings that I take to heart in today’s world or even his church.  It saddens me that so much of what is happening in many churches today is politically motivated. The church was once the social conscience of the country, when did that change?

It saddens me to no end when I see so many in Christ’s church doing and saying things that are the direct opposite of what his messages were. Jesus spent a very long time and a lot of words trying to teach us how to live on this earth and so many just seem to be indifferent to those teachings. What part of “Love God, and Love Each Other” is so difficult for us to learn??

I know we all have what we call sin in us but aren’t the words and messages of Jesus meant to counteract  those sins. As Jesus said “Go and sin no more”. If only we could manage that simple message to even a minute degree everything else would fall into place.

It seems indifference is at the core of what is going on socially in the world today. The rich get grossly richer while safety nets are ripped from the poor. I can only deem this possible due to our indifference.  “I’ve got mine so screw you!” seems to be the mantra of too many sitting in church pews this morning and that tragically saddens me…..