I’m starting to see that the story of the woman caught in adultery is one of the most influential stories in the bible…at least to me. It has been a story that has always caused people to reflect on themselves, putting themselves in the place of the stone throwers. This is always good. We need to critique ourselves. We need to be honest with ourselves to the point that we become better at being kind to others….wanting what’s best for others. It’s the whole body that thrives as we share each others burdens that makes this all work. When we make it all about how righteous we are, how well I obey God, or that we are going to heaven when we die, then we make it very exclusive and we shun those who are on the outside. We see crazy examples like Westboro Baptist that show how our doctrines can actually destroy others through righteous exclusivity. If you go to a church out of obedience to God, that’s where it can start. That “I’m righteous because I’m obedient” attitude grows in us when it’s fed by the pastors that enable it from the pulpit. This is what we must critique in ourselves…the ability to exclude which tears us from the body. Our ability to want to pick up the stone and throw it is real…our obedience to our doctrines justifies the cutting off of another from the body. We feel vindicated to cut the branch off the vine in the name of God….as if God is demanding it. But God is not!
As much as we don’t want to admit it…our doctrines dictate just about everything we do. We look at the bible for all the answers to see what we can and cannot do. We think the bible is a magic looking glass that allows us to see into the future and know what choices we should make. Unfortunately, at the same time, we also interpret the bible to justify our view of who we want God to be so we can be OK when we are exclusive to those that disagree with us. But that’s just being human….we all do that to some degree. In fact, I think that’s why Jesus came on the seen. . So we can see a greater way. The way of Love. However, we all want God on our side and not our enemies side. On the contrary, there is something greater than us that happens, when we become self-humbling and other-centered, that cannot be done when we retaliate, become vengeful, or wish that God would destroy our enemies. If we can learn one thing from the story of the Good Samaritan, it’s that your belief system has nothing to do with your standing with God. You are already right with God….you are already prepared to help your enemy on the side of the road. We need to understand that we are fully loved regardless of anything you could have done or will do. God is greater than the doctrine you use to describe who God is.
Unfortunately……we interpret the bible to justify our view of who we want God to be so we can be OK when we are exclusive to those that disagree with us.
To show that you understand this is key… it’s how you engage in the opportunities to love your enemies regardless of your belief system that show God or makes God become manifest. Remember, truth is subjective but Love is absolute. You can always justify why you would not love your enemies and use the Bible to prove it. However, in spite of your religion, denomination, doctrine, or pastor, you can choose to love your enemies regardless of any verse in the Bible that may tell you otherwise. Why? Because you have seen God do it first. God’s Love transcends all space, time and Law….Love is greater.
I saw this video the other day and it has had me spinning in thought ever since. It asks a very relevant question that may not have been asked 200…400…or even 2000 years ago in religious circles. The reason it interested me so much is precisely that the churches I came out of were notorious for manipulating people. They could get so many people to believe what they said without any hesitation. Even when they said the most hurtful things….people would just nod their heads in agreement because they saw these religious leaders as “anointed”. As if they are speaking for God. What this video suggests is that the work of organized religion and its religious leaders gain these followings and admiration through the same techniques that a con artist takes advantage of in unsuspecting people.
Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova looks at the mechanisms of human nature that have allowed con artists, religious authorities, and cult leaders to prevail for thousands of years. Konnikova is the author of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It… Every Time
Agree or disagree with the person in the video…but at least think about the possibilities of what’s going on….even in your own church. Love casts out all fear and does not instill it in you. Love does not control or manipulate. Love does not demand anything from you or shame you to give money to be blessed. But a con artist does…and yet we fall for it all the time. Let me know what you think. I’m eager to know…
I had another conversation with someone the other day…it’s coming out more and more. The honesty is telling for sure. They are talking about the worship experience at their church….and how it just doesn’t seem real. It seems contrived. It seems all put together, yet it’s pitched as if God came in and took everything over and they had no choice but to relinquish the time to God. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault…I just think this is what we do. We, as humans, love to control the things we do. Church is no exception.
Sunday morning has progressed with the rest of the world… it has been persuaded by business? It’s not hard to see that the worship industry has taken over and capitalised on Christians. It’s called “ministry”, but at the end of the day, we have people trying to pitch their songs so they can become the next thing. It’s been happening for the last 20 years…starting with Sonic Flood. I remember when it all changed and Sonic Flood was doing worship songs in concert in a more relevant form….(not that Hosannah! Music wasn’t paving new ground with its choir music). Teenagers, and adults as well, flocked to the new sound. The rest is history….we are now consumed by the barrage of worship bands trying to stay afloat and sell music, yet still say it’s not about selling anything. Any given Sunday could be the next band trying to pitch their music where you can buy it at the table in the foyer after the service.
Paul is getting at something in these words….what is worship?
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul is saying that loving your neighbor is the act of worship. Don’t be confused in thinking that these verses are meaning to not sin….that would be shredding the words said here. To be holy, or set apart, means to love your enemy opposed to killing your enemy. If you believe in the faith of Jesus Christ, then the true act of worship is to not only lay your life down for your friend…..but also your enemy. On the contrary, the world submits to the Myth of Redemptive Violence (Walter Wink), which is to overpower your enemy by force. Jesus is different. The will of God, in these words above, are to love your enemy through having the same faith that Jesus had in his Father…which is to become self-humbling and to love even your enemy no matter who they are. If Jesus did anything other than what he did (like come down off the cross and kill his aggressors), then we would have never seen who God truly is. God is Love…not wrath.
So, joining in on sunday morning music to bow down before a god in worship is done by many many religions. However, seeing that Jesus put his enemies before himself, is the act of worship that Paul recognizes as the only act that really means anything. We can fake our way through everything else. Think about it and be honest
Our dualistic ideology has no problem putting God on our side. We have no problem using the bible to justify our position against our enemy. Why not? The bible is full of examples of God being on one side and against the other. Do you think this is who God is? I ask this only because at what point are you actually sure that God is on your side if God chooses sides? Is God always on the side of righteousness and the devil on the side of evil? Are you quick to say you are on the side of righteousness? In reality….we use God as a weapon all the time. If you have chosen a denomination over another…you have said that “God is on my side”. If you have said that you are going to heaven yet someone else is going to hell, you have said that “God is on my side”. If you have chosen a religion over another you have said “God is on my side”.
I’m wondering if all along we have missed who God is (or maybe this is all a part of the trajectory that humanity is on). Maybe God has been saying since the beginning of time that “I am on your side“. Imagine that….God is on our side! Richard Rohr has said that “it’s a benevolent universe” and I agree. God has already shown in Jesus Christ, that humanity had God all wrong. It was his love and forgiveness that pierced through the thick religious cloud of sacrifice and blood to show that God was never against anyone….but always for everyone. Jesus was for Israel, yet he was also for the enemies of Israel. At the same time we still struggle to see this today. Instead, we see God as a pagan deity that needs a sacrifice to appease his righteous anger and we are pleased to see God avenge our enemies who disagree with us. It is this very view of God that has justified so many atrocities within the religious timeline of humanity.
Our trajectory as humans is to see that, while God is on our side….God is also on the side of our enemies. We need to see that what Walter Wink called the Myth of Redemptive Violence does not work. We create the demonic in others by overpowering them. Can we not see that the same God that has breathed life into you has done the same with everyone…..including the muslim, christian, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, creationist, evolutionist, theist, atheist, and so on. The worst thing we can do is to find a verse in the bible to justify our “us vs. them” mentality. We have to stop using God as a weapon against others. Think about how you could be using God against another person….we all need to do it.
This is a great couple sentences…think on it.
Jesus came to correct our misunderstanding of God. Not to make our standing with God correct.
Maybe one of the biggest problems with religion…and Christianity as an institution….is our dualistic ideology of God. To think that God has an enemy, or to place God in a situation where God has to fight to win. This way of thinking is old and spread throughout pagan religions for thousands of years….yet I think it is a damaging view of God and humanity and is very much alive today. Most christians would agree with the assessment, that God has no equal, no doubt. They think that God would never compete with the devil and is the Almighty, who is unbeatable. However, most Christians still live within the framework of dualism. Anytime someone creates an “us versus them” situation, you have stepped inside dualism. Anytime you have created an “enemy other” and used the bible to determine them as an enemy, you have put God in the dualistic box along with yourself. Any time you have used the bible to justify violence, you believe that God (good) is fighting your enemy (evil). The sure way to know that an ideology is rooted in dualism is when God has been declared to be on the victor’s side….since the story is always told from the victor’s side.
When we justify our actions as if God approves of them, we will always believe God to be on our side and not the side of those we want to conquer. For example….this is a hot topic in christianity. If we believe God has justified the dehumanizing of homosexual people because one thinks it’s evil, and we use the bible to justify it, then we have placed God in a dualistic box and we have become the satanic force in the lives of those that are being oppressed even though they are our enemy. “But what about sin?”….”we need to point it out in others!” I know…I know. We are obsessed with sin as well. Pastors love to talk about sin. That’s our dualistic influences coming out of us when we justify our pointing out the sin in others. Jesus never taught how to not sin…he taught how to love your neighbor. Love will always win over law.
I believe God is not who we think God to be. God is for us and never against us. God is on our side and has come, through the non-violent person of Jesus, to deliver hope and not condemnation. In that….God is constantly asking each and everyone of us, even our enemies, to join in the flow that is the loving community of the Trinity. You are the fourth person to the Trinity. You are always welcome to the “dance” that Jesus called the Kingdom of God. God sees you just the same as God sees your enemy. You both come from the same material…You both are important. You both are loved just the same. God breaks down any idea that there is a battle to be won against your enemy. God destroys the idea that God is dualistic in nature. Contrary to your pastor…God does not hate your enemy. The opposite is true….We make our enemies ourselves while God leaves and pursues your enemy to show they are loved and right with God. Remember….Love always wins over law.
You are Important now keep asking the hard questions. Try to step outside of the dualistic box.
Here are a few ideas of the dualism that we live in everyday …
- Good vs. Evil
- Democrat vs. Republican
- Liberal vs. Conservative
- Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton
- Denomination vs. another Denomination
- Rich vs. Poor
- Success vs. Failure
- Blessing vs. Curse
- Material substance vs. Spirituality
- Evolution vs. Creationism
- Dark vs. Light
- Christian Music vs. Secular Music
- ….and whatever else you can see in your own life that causes you to reflect on yourself.