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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

You know, nothing makes the topic of denomination more irritating than missionaries and pastors defending it with human reason.

Yup, I have heard, on numerous occasions, missionaries and pastors defending denomination without Scripture.

Seriously?

“Well, the worship style is not to my liking.” “I mean, some people just like it a little more traditional.” “People should go where they’re comfortable.”

Can I offer you a choice of Free Market Jesus or Book of Common Prayer Jesus? Would you like a free Republican Jesus to go with that?

What can Jesus do to serve you today? Hmm?

You can argue all day, every day that people need a place where they feel comfortable enough to worship, but if you cannot worship in the same room as someone a little different, there is something seriously wrong.

I mean, honestly, are you really arguing on the basis that you can’t stand it when someone lifts their hands in worship? It makes your hair curl when someone gets on their knees in prayer? One person likes the guided prayer*, another likes free prayer and suddenly, they can’t worship together? They can’t pray together?

(*In all honesty, I must admit that I do not agree with the use of The Book of Common Prayer. I don’t say that flippantly, as I have spent a great deal of time in the Episcopal Church for the last few years. However, I cannot deny the effect it has had on kids and teenagers. The majority of Episcopal youth couldn’t find a book in the Bible without the index. This is literally tragic and disheartening.)

There’s also the issue Bible translations and meanings. Churches are divided on issues of baptism, liberal vs. conservative, etc. However, you might find it surprising that not everyone in your church believes as you do.

Seriously, if you can maintain the core of Scripture, i.e. The Gospel, then I assure you, there shouldn’t be much that divides you. There will always be differing opinions, even within churches of ‘like-minded people’. However, if you can all rally to the cause of Jesus Christ, I would assume that we could function in harmony as Ephesians 4:1-16 calls us to.

The only reason that people of differing opinions can’t exist in the same church is because people want to be right. It’s true; people can’t stand it when someone tells them they’re wrong. Especially if they grew up with their current beliefs.

I have been in communities of believers where are opinions differed on Scripture that was not central to The Gospel. However, we took the time to have a pleasant conversation, examine Scripture and pray over the issue. Even I, who had grown up with the beliefs of my parents, came to understand my friend’s view. Never once did our differing opinions keep us from evangelizing, worshiping and praying together.

And it shouldn’t.

I don’t believe anything that’s not in Scripture (I mean, I believe that there’s sugar in ice cream, and stuff, but you get what I mean), so let’s look at what Paul says about denomination.

1 Corinthians 3 is marvelous. Paul rips into the Corinthian church, calling them out on their petty followings. Some men claimed Apollos as their leader; others, Paul. Does this sound familiar? Wesley and the Methodists maybe?

We’re all just following denominations started by, you guessed it, men. We’re all arguing with each other and dividing the Body because one flawed human told us to read the Bible ‘this way‘. Oh, okay, thank you fleshy-man-in-need-of-salvation-like-the-next-guy. We’re like a pack of wolves, pulling apart the Bride with our teeth.

The right hand shouldn’t hate the left.

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I was walking with friends recently when we came across two homeless men. They didn’t approach us or even make eye contact with us; they merely sat in their cardboard box houses, looking at their meager belongings.

Two of us decided to give them money and Scripture, and so we all (there were four of us) dug in our pockets for spare change. One of my friends looked up, suddenly, and said, “Wait, but we don’t know what they’re going to do with this money!”

Oh dear.

You know, he had a point. We have no idea what these two homeless men were going to do with the loose change we gave them. They could buy food and water or they might spend it on alcohol. There was no way of knowing unless we followed them to the store.

This idea of ‘we don’t know how they’ll spend it!’ is sickening, though.

I was also of this idea, once, until God dragged me to a third world country and taught me otherwise.

You see, each man’s sin is his own. Ezekiel 18:20 explicitly says that ‘the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father,’ and vise-versa.

So, it will be our sin when we don’t give to the needy and it will be their sin if they take the money and use it unwisely. In giving them money, you have fulfilled Scripture’s call in Luke 6:30, which commands you to give to all who beg of you.

Of course, there will be those, like the men we encountered, who do not beg of you. No escape, ma’dears. Deuteronomy 15:7-11 tells us that if we come across the poor and needy, we should give to them with openhanded generosity. It says nothing of asking or begging.

Remember, only God knows the intentions of the heart. That goes for us and the poor. He knows if we are grudgingly giving to them and he knows if they are being dishonest.

But our job is to give. If we do that out of a pure heart, we will have fulfilled our call. And remember, by doing this, you are closer to the Truth than many of the churches in America. James 1:27 tells us that religion is serving the needy, such as widows and orphans.

Once, while in a little town in a southern state, I stopped by a convenient store for some cute lil snacks. While inside, a woman confronted me, claiming that her daughter had just left the ICU and was waiting for her across the street at Wal-Mart. However, the lady said she needed money for [I forget exactly what]. All I had was $3 in my pocket so I quickly handed it to her.

I then watched as she stole several items while the teller deposited my $3 for a slushy she purchased.

Oh. Didn’t see that coming. How could I have known? Are there special goggles that x-ray someone’s soul and reveal their intentions?

Probably not. But I did as I was called, and I was content.

Disclaimer: Well, as we all know, there are particular people who have proven themselves to be dishonest time and time again with financial offerings. They continue to buy cigarettes and alcohol and over time, you begin to feel as though you are sponsoring their drug life.

Money is not the only answer to the ‘give to all’ Scripture. If you have the time, try buying them a hot meal and a bottle of water. Scripture doesn’t say to specifically give money to those who beg of you, but to be honest, that tends to be all we have on us. If the opportunity arises to give something else, try food, water, blankets…etc.

If not, I encourage you to give money, hope and believe in their intentions (1 Corinthians 13:7) and pray that it is wisely used.


Bangerang.

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As it turns out, many American Christians are under the impression that if you vote a certain way, you have, in essence, proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.

This, in my very unprofessional opinion, is delusional.

Maybe it’s the fear of sharing with someone directly. Perhaps it’s the fiery passion we have for politics and the lame, Sunday-centered, deadbeat attitude we have for Christianity.

Many Conservative Republicans who claim to be Christians choose voting as their declaration of faith. By voting against abortion, homosexual rights and lower taxes/the free market, we feel that we are representing Christ.

While Christ is certainly against the murder of innocent children and Scripture does warn us of homosexual lifestyles, I don’t remember Jesus putting our salvation to a vote.

When a young pregnant teenager or homosexual hears that you, the Conservative Republican voter, are voting against them in the upcoming election, I can assure you, the first thought that comes to mind is not, “Man, they just want me to lead a better life.”

By voting against them, you reflect ignorance and hatred, spitting in the face of those you disagree with. All that you do is strip them of their current lifestyle, leaving them with nothing. And unfortunately, a majority of Conservative Republicans are satisfied with this. As long as they vote down legislation, they have done their Christian duty.

Wrong, my friend, how very wrong.

As Christians, our job is not to point and cast judgment, which is what, in essence, we do by quietly voting ‘No’. In reality, we should be reaching out to the people we seek to vote against, loving on them and sharing the gift of Eternal Life. The Gospel is news, not legislation.

In summary, most Conservative Republicans hide behind voting, dispassionate and afraid of sharing the Gospel. We would rather vote against those we should love, leave them with nothing and hope for the best.
Look at Jesus, though. Check out Matthew 5-7. These three chapters encompass Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Jesus told them what not to do and what to do instead. He didn’t simply say, “Stop sinning,” and peace out. No, he gave them an alternative: Him.

In reality, voting is simply a form of arguing. Your not really trying to help anyone, you just want to be right. Many of you will say, “I vote because I want to help!” Voting does not involve Scripture or Christ. It’s a little slip of paper and it’s purely based on politics. The Truth will set you free, not your government.

Have you ever thought, even for a moment, that perhaps they are pregnant or gay because they want something more? Every human desires to be whole and happy. No one* wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m going to have unprotected sex with my boyfriend, get pregnant and abort the baby…all because I hate God and Christian morals!”

(*I will admit, there are a few people out there who hate God enough to behave that way.)

What does this mean for us? It means that we need to love them. I’m not saying to stop voting, no, I’m just want us to stop hiding behind it. The Gospel, in its pure form, will free people. It will do a much better job of it than voting, too. Our duty is to make disciples of all nations, and that is not fulfilled in a little voting booth.

Check out 1 John 4:7-8 and John 13:35.

After all, they will know we are Christians by our love, not by our voting record.

bangerang.

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