Jesus is the Rock

Please read this blog and get in the conversation.

New Horizons

The fate of evangelicalism in America hinges on this:

Do we look to JESUS in developing our conception of God, or do we look to the BIBLE in developing our conception of God?

I know what many are thinking. I know that we’ve been taught to harmonize the teachings of Jesus with the rest of the Bible and that we’ve created over-arching “systematic theologies” that explain the various covenants and laws and actions of God throughout history. From this perspective Jesus marks a radical change in how God deals with mankind. God “used to” demand sacrifices and uphold holiness codes in the Old Covenant, but now in Jesus these things are being replaced with grace, mercy and forgiveness (for some). He “used to” empower His chosen people in their killing of enemies, but now His people are called to renounce violence and love their enemies. He “used to” reward the…

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Love is Greater than Doctrine

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. love-is-greater-1Unfortunately, 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.

Do Religious Leaders and Con Artists Work The Same?

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…

What’s An Acceptable Form Of Worship?

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.love-your-enemies 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.love-your-enemies-1-rachelheldevans 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

 

 

God Is Not Dualistic…God Is On Our Side

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 imagesdamaging 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 …

  1. Good vs. Evil
  2. Democrat vs. Republican
  3. Liberal vs. Conservative
  4. Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton
  5. Denomination vs. another Denomination
  6. Rich vs. Poor
  7. Success vs. Failure
  8. Blessing vs. Curse
  9. Material substance vs. Spirituality
  10. Evolution vs. Creationism
  11. Dark vs. Light
  12. Christian Music vs. Secular Music
  13. ….and whatever else you can see in your own life that causes you to reflect on yourself.

 

Atonement Theory

Easter just passed us by and it is the time of year that we reflect on Life….that the life of Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Along with that, we also recognize that Jesus died first, or course, to make a resurrection possible. So, it’s this time of year that people ask questions surrounding the Atonement of Christ.images (1) I have questioned the Atonement for years…never coming to any exact answer, but always asking the hard questions. One big questions I have had for many years is, “why does anyone have to die?” See, we have verses like Jeremiah 3:27 that says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Or Luke 18:27 saying, “What is impossible with men is possible with God“. I mention these verses because we give all the power to God, yet the first problem with all the theories of Atonement is that God is in a box and has to do something….that he is beyond the ability to work outside of a perceived view of justice. I say “perceived” because I see that all the theories of Atonement seemed to be built on a man made foundation of our idea of what justice should be. Yet, the entire religion of Christianity is built on the premise that Jesus died to deal with the justice that God deserves….or demands….or wants. A sacrifice needed to be made to reconcile our sin with God’s righteousness. What if God’s idea of justice is different?
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Unconditional Love

The absolute display of unconditional love here is inspiring. Watch it and see what God looks like in 2016 and maybe what Jesus looked like in his day. Do not be afraid to admit that this is the power that can change the world that we live in. Where politics, war, and religion undoubtedly fall short…Love will take over and win.