An Interesting Article

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It’s called, “What Has Happened to America’s Jesus?” Good question.

Go here to read it.

There are sincere Christians in America. Hell, I go to a church full of ’em [not everybody in my church is, but a lot of them are]. They are some of the most loving, kind people you will ever meet, and I thank God every day for the friends I’ve made there.

But I’m not sure I like the political activism I see from the more Conservative Christians. I’m not sure it’s anyone’s job to tell you you’re wrong about stuff but God’s.

If you ask my opinion, I’ll give it. And if I don’t know for sure, I’ll tell you that, too [which is usually the case].

I think I understand the motivation behind their actions, but I’m not sure legislating more rules is the right way to go about it. You can’t possibly force people to believe the way you do. It’s human nature to run the other way when anyone tries to control you. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Because what if, [this is pretty big, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers] what if the uber-conservatives are wrong?

Jesus said that all the law and prophets could be summed up in two commandments: Love God [with all your heart, soul, mind and strength] and Love your neighbor as yourself.

How do you love God when you can’t see him? Christians have a whole laundry list of things, such as attending church, studying the Bible, and prayer. And those are good things, don’t get me wrong, but I think we focus so much on those things that we forget that Jesus also said “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

I think the best way to show love for God, is by loving your fellow humans, and yourself. It’s okay to take care of your own needs before taking care of others’ needs, because if you only sacrifice yourself without ever re-charging, you burn out and then you’re no good to anyone.

But putting your own wants before your fellow human’s needs is not really loving your neighbor the same as you love yourself, is it? Is it possible that by hating others, we are hating God as well?

This is a weird journey I’ve been on, and I think I may be on the right path here, but as I’ve begun to really seek God again, I’ve asked him to help me to see with his eyes. I can’t explain it, and I certainly can’t prove it, but my heart has changed in ways I wasn’t expecting.

When I see two adults in love and committed to each other, I don’t see their gender, or whether they have a marriage license, I see that they love each other and put their partner’s needs before their own wants.

At the same time, when I see one partner cheating on the other, or being the sole ‘taker’ in any relationship, I see something that cannot possibly be pleasing to God. When I see anyone justifying hatred for or cruelty to another, my heart hurts, because that is so much less than what God wants for us.

When I see one group of people saying definitively that another group is going to hell simply because they worship God differently than the first group does, I think they’ve missed the point.

I’m not positive any more that only Christians will go to heaven [I do believe in heaven and hell, by the way, and I do believe that there is evil in the world, and I call that evil “Satan.”]

I’ve believed for a long time that Christianity has so many denominations not just because people get pissed off at each other and go start a new church. That happens sometimes, but I think we have a bunch of different denominations so people can find a place where they fit in and belong.

What if there are other religions that perform the same function? Not all religions are valid paths to God [I’m thinking of suicide cults, and other cults where the god is a person who created a ‘religion’ to make himself rich, or to victimize others], but what if there really is more than one way to truly find God?

I don’t have the answer. I wish I could say for sure, but I just can’t. I know a lot of Christians are full of arguments as to why there’s no other way, but so are a lot of Muslims and Jews. I think Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses believe something similar about their own religions as well. How can anyone really know for sure?

I’ve chosen the path of Christianity because Jesus changed my life, and then he changed it again, and gave me the ability to love people and see their goodness, regardless of their religion. But I’ve seen others have very similar experiences by following a completely different path. So I just don’t know anymore.

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About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

7 responses »

  1. But putting your own wants before your fellow human’s needs is not really loving your neighbor the same as you love yourself, is it?

    Ok–see that statement made me slow down and read it 3 times. I can relate that so many ways into my life–with God, my husband, my family and friends, and especially people I don’t even know.

    Good statement. I love reading your blogs–Shelbi-I really see “you” in “them”–very cool. So glad I’ve met you…(or should I say, you should be glad you’ve met me….J/K love you!)

  2. Thanks, Bob,

    I think that statement sums up my whole philosophy about sin.

    It’s not so much about what you do but the motives behind your actions.

    And if your motive is love for other people, then you automatically treat others with respect.

    Of course, we’re human, and fail every day, but I think God is more concerned about whether we try or not than if we always succeed.

    I’m glad you can see ‘me’ in them. That means a lot since we know each other in real life, too. And yes, Robin, I am glad I met you, too!

  3. I can agree with most of it, but I still have to draw the line where scripture is concerned. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” and I believe it. I think that other religions may have some nice points and interesting ways to make you a nicer person, but I don’t think that they have a ticket to heaven just because they’re nice. If you only get to heaven by being nice, I’m screwed. The only way is belief in Jesus. Now, do you have to call him “Jesus” can you call him Yeshua or Bob? I dunno. I just know that I’m responsible for the truth I know, and I’m responsible to live it out the best I can.

  4. But it’s not just about being nice. It’s about seeking God with a sincere heart.

    When Jesus ascended after his resurrection, he sent the holy spirit at pentacost, right? So the holy spirit [which is another aspect of God] picked up where Jesus left off.

    The HS is able to call every individual at once to follow him. When someone listens to that voice in their heart and begins to seek the person/spirit calling them, is it possible they will find him, whether through Christianity, or Judaism, or Wicca, or Eastern Mysticism, or whatever?

    That’s what I can’t say for sure, because a relationship with God is personal, and indefinable.

    I just know that God said we will find him when we seek him with a sincere heart, and I believe that there are people in other religious traditions who are genuinely seeking God, and I can’t say for sure that their way isn’t a valid path to God [the key concept is that the person be sincere, I’m not talking about people who distort views to give themselves power over others.]

  5. Lindsey,

    You lose me here. I’m a Christian too, and a Quaker. Jesus also believed in tolerance. There are many ways to love God and all of them are valid.

    I may be mistaken about what your meaning is, but are you saying that if someone like Tex Watson who brutally murdered several people, and then later on claimed to accept Christ, would have a ticket to heaven that would be better than someone who was not a Christian but lived an exemplary life, like Mahatma Gandhi who was a Hindu?

    I don’t accept that. I think Shelbi is closer to the truth. If you think of God the father and think of how a loving parent treats his children, why would a father pick only one child out of many and love that child only conditionally while the others were rejected?

    If God is love that makes no sense. If God is not love then what is God? It’s almost as if some Christian denominations seek to replace God with Christ? Is that what God intended, or was Christ supposed to be a part of God; gentler, kinder and more approachable.

    When Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me,” do you suppose he could have meant that you needed to behave in the ways he sets down for his followers in the Sermon on the Mount in order to enter heaven?

    I think Christ came to open our hearts and expand our awareness of God and the people we need to be, not to say that only people who say they accept his teachings but do not live his teachings are the ones who will be saved.

    Shelbi’s Coservative Christians who are so very verbal about what everyone must do think and say bear little relationship to people who follow the actual teachings of Christ.

    They put me in mind of another biblical passage where Christ said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?

    So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

    Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.'” (Matthew 7:15-23)

    What really leaps out at me from that passage is the phrase, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.”

    To me that means that how you live, what you do, and how you treat others is more of a factor in gaining paradise than saying a few words about accepting Christ as your personal savior after you have lived an evil life.

    You can also take the meaning from this that Christ will recognize those who love God and have lived well regardless of what name they use when they speak to God.

    In peace,

    Hedgehog

  6. Bryan and I have had a lot of discussions about why we believe what we believe. (We both come from different denominations.) To us it comes down to this. God knows the heart, but the only way he has to know the heart is when his Son tells him about our heart. I don’t believe that everyone who claims to be a Christian will “get into heaven”. I believe you have to live it to the best of your ability. But I do believe that there is only one way to God, through Jesus. Now as far as the name thing goes – that isn’t for me to say. I have heard it said that it is no different than us calling our spouse by their name, honey, sweetie, etc. But by the same token you can call complete strangers by honey or sweetie or dear, and you have nothing that connects names of the stranger to the names of your spouse. And that would be the same as calling God Jesus and calling God …, just a thought to throw out there.

  7. “God knows the heart, but the only way he has to know the heart is when his Son tells him about our heart.”

    To me, this seems to really limit God, though. I think that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Whatever can see every one’s heart, whether we want him to or not. Jesus saw the hearts of the Pharisees whether they believed he was the son of God or not.

    God knew the hearts of every person in Noah’s day, and knew that Noah was the only one left who was even trying to find God. Same with Sodom and Gomorrha, and both of those happened before Jesus came as a human [although he was there].

    I still think it has to do with whether you are seeking God with a sincere heart more than which religion you ascribe to.

    I just know of too many people who aren’t Christian, but follow the teachings of Jesus anyway, and have found the principles he taught in their own religion, even though they don’t call them Jesus’s teachings.

    It’s a hard concept, and goes against what we’ve been taught by Christians down through the ages. There is something to be said for tradition, but if that tradition excludes people unjustly, then it must change.

    I’m really beginning to wonder if that’s what we’ve done, without realizing it.

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