Friday, March 18, 2011

Following God

The nature of following God grows deeper in meaning the more one knows Him.  For many, following God is about believing and doing all the right things and not doing bad things.  It means reading your Bible, praying, and going to church on Sunday.  All the while there seems to be something missing, something that doing these things does not fulfill.

We try to circumvent that feeling of lack by heaping more spiritual activities into our lives.  We increase prayer, evangelism, reading the Bible. We attend more conferences, or serve more in our churches.  Still there seems like something ought to be different.  If anyone asked us if we were following God, we would vehemently affirm that we are.  The question offends us, but awakens an internal desire to know what is meant by this question. 

Too often, we equate following God with being a good church going Christian.  The thing is most of the Christian life as we commonly see it exemplified can be done without any supernatural strength.  Much can be done by natural effort. We do not need to have a supernatural relationship with Jesus to read our Bible, go to church, serve in the church, do moral things, and avoid immoral behavior.  The world is teeming with religions that do this quiet well. 

What then is the difference that comes from life with Jesus? If doing all these things is not the summation or even the essence of Christianity, how then do we follow God? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Theocracy v. Democracy -- What Do Christians Want?

Proponents of America’s Christian heritage are often confused with being desirous of a theocracy rather than a democracy.  Instantly troubling thoughts of Constantine’s intertwined papal and political authority emerge.   Americans, for the most part, place a high value on freedom.  We do not want any institution to set itself up to be a controlling agent, most especially any institution with a high moral standard.
The church has not been a strong presence in American society for decades. It’s most boisterous contributions have been associated with moral issues such as homosexuality or abortion.  The Church has become defined by what it stands against, rather than who it loves. This is changing as a new Church is emerging, one who loves and serves without strings attached.
There was a day when Alexis De Tocqueville wrote that the churches in America were our greatest and firmest support.  He found the strength of our democratic Republic rested in the churches.  They aided in the self-governance of a nation by equipping the people to govern themselves.  In so doing, the government had no need to encroach on the morality of the people for the good of the people for they practiced self-control. 

This link will take you to where I am a regular writer. 

Jesus Is Salvation

The essence of salvation is Jesus. It truly is that simple. All debatable topics concerning salvation are solved with this simple truth.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said emphatically that He is the Way the Truth and the Life. It is not that believing is the way, but He is the way.
Yes, we believe in Him, but that is not a matter of intellectually adhering to true doctrines concerning Him. It is more correct to say that we believe into Him. We enter Him by experience with our spirit entering His Spirit and having the fullness of the Godhead living inside of us.
Many will debate whether or not all roads lead to salvation, but they cannot. Jesus is both the salvation and the road. We cannot separate the two. It is not a matter of sincerely believing some path will take us to the good life. It is that the good life is Jesus and to have that we must have Him.

By clicking above you will go to where my article was originally posted. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All We Need Is Love

I was once convinced of the veracity of the statement “rules without relationship breeds rebellion.” I understood that love was the missing ingredient, but I didn't realize that the need for rules would be fulfilled if love was present.

I ought to have realized this, as I would often write of how Jesus fulfilled the law. I also knew unequivocally that the two greatest commandments that fulfill all the law are to love God and love people. However, my knowledge of this was trapped in my mind and had not traversed to my heart.

My knowing was not really knowing at all. I could write all about it, but I didn't really get it. I've come to understand that I have not abandoned my relationship with the rules. My thought was that if we introduce love, then love will compel people to obey the rules.

But when a husband loves his wife, he knows what things may bring her pain, disappointment, or fear. He will not do these things, not because she has given him a rule book to follow, but because he loves her and cares about her heart. This is love. Love does not need rules, but if there were some, it would fulfill them just by maintaining the way of love. A husband who loves his wife does not need to be told to be faithful to her, he wouldn't think of being otherwise.

Just the same, love is great enough to cover a multitude of sins. If a wife loves her husband, she will love even when his love grows cold or his feet stumble into a path that does not protect her heart. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. It is always faithful and true. It always hopes and perseveres.

Many look at I Corinthians 13, famously known as the Love Chapter, as the criteria one must follow to love. Instead, it is the description of what love looks like. There in lies a significant difference. The former way of thinking lends one to trying to preform the way of love by following the rules, the latter is realizing that love is present or absent in your heart. When you see what love looks like, you can realize if you know this kind of love or not. The passage is not the rules of love to follow if love is missing, it is the fruit of love that can only come from tangible contact with God's love.

The more one has experienced His love the more their love can look like His. This is why a strand of three chords is not easily broken.

We will wear ourselves out trying to follow rules of love. It cannot be done. Such a life is inauthentic. It is a life of performance, an actor upon a stage. It is an exhausting show to maintain no matter how sincere one is. When we do what is right so the other person does not leave, or so that they do what we want in return, we do not have love. When we withhold love when they have hurt us, we do not have love.

From a young age we begin relationship with rules even when those rules were given to us by those who love us, we learn following the rules is the good life, and breaking them will hurt. We were not designed to be captives. We are created to have free dominion. The only way freedom can reign is if our hearts are healed and we live out of healthy hearts that are not afraid to love and do not get knotted up when someone breaks the rules.

Jesus did not lecture the woman caught in adultery. He protected her from the punishment of breaking the rules and sent her on her way, simply stating, “go and sin no more.” She did not need external punishment, but internal experience with love. Experiencing the love of Jesus protecting her from those who would condemn her was enough to free her from continuing sin.

The more I see what love is all about, the more I see how far away I am from that standard. At the same time, I also see how getting there is about resting, not trying. The more I rest in the Father's love, the more His love will flow from my heart.