Archive for the ‘ God ’ Category

Hating What I Love?

In my first official post ever (52 weeks ago today!) I made an argument of why religion is not as bad a thing as some people today make it seem. It seems fitting that on my one year anniversary with this blog I discuss the topic again!

Perhaps you have seen the video going around the web, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus by Jefferson Bethke, but, if not, go watch it now. It has caused quite a stir, especially between the liturgical sections of Christianity (Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, etcetera) and Evangelicals of various stripes.

I have found some great, balanced responses online, particularly from Richard who has covered it from top to bottom. He also shared a video from Make a Friar (find both videos here), and honestly it is quite amazing. (Even Jefferson Bethke totally dug the video!)

I have also seen people on both sides (and other sides, such as atheist and other faiths) attacking each other by calling names and questioning character and salvation.

To those people, I give a hearty GROW UP!

To everyone, I think it is time for a reminder.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

As some on the blogosphere have said, Jesus was also about religion. Consider His words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) As a refresher, the only religion Jesus hated is what we now call “legalism“. Religion itself is not wrong, it just how people implement it.

Clearly (oh, yes, I said “Clearly”), Jesus does not hate religion, and there are certain things He expects of us. As listed above, some of those things are to care for others in need. He also calls for us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world.

What does this mean?

We should look back at what Jesus said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Now, Jesus did call some people names (such as “snakes”, “brood of vipers”, and even “Satan” … poor Simon Peter), but He was revealing their true nature or intentions for what they were: not godly.

When we do it, especially in circumstances such as over this video, it is nothing but childish name-calling and wickedness. When we do it, we are acting like the very people whom Jesus scolded. When we do it, we are being “religious” in the way Jefferson Bethke hates … the way Jesus hates.

When we do it, we are pushing our hate on Jesus.

It is okay to hate “religion” and love religion. It is not okay to hate each other. When we act this way, remember Jesus’ other words:

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40

This is a little out of context, but hear me out. The things we do or do not do to and for people is done or not done to Jesus …

 

Fearing God

Last year, I wrote on why I fear God. This past weekend I saw a video from Francis Chan on the topic, and I realized I did not finish my thought last year.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

I mentioned last April that fearing the Lord includes respect and awe at His Holiness and Awesomeness. This is true and necessary.

We also need to understand what it means to respect. In that post I had a picture of a man sitting on the edge of canyon wall. I think this image can adequately demonstrate the need for respect. Ask any rock-climber, highrise construction worker, bungee jumper, deep-sea diver, hang glider, or any other dangerous profession/activity, and (the honest ones) will tell you that you must respect the danger. If you forget to respect the danger, you are that much closer to death (because you can make a mistake that will cost you).

This is the other part of fearing the Lord we must remember. God is ultimately the One who has power over life and death and everything in between and beyond either end. Many have taken the verse from Mathew 10:28, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” to mean God is the One who should be feared.

“Die in your sins, and suffer in Hell,” is how many preachers have put it throughout history.

Let us not forget God is also the One with the wrath!

This is all very important and must be remembered. However, this is not my focus, today.

If you were to look up the phrase “Do not fear …” in the Bible, it is used every time the Lord or one of His angels appeared. Most of the time, the people who were approached were relatively good people. Why would they have to be told to be unafraid?

Here is my take on this:

  • Many times, these guys show up unannounced and out of nowhere! Here you are, sitting by yourself, doing work or minding your own business, when FLASH! “HELLO!” That would be pretty freaky, man! I know I would need to be told to calm down!
  • These people were always given pretty big news, and that can be over-whelming. Imagine you are hanging out at God calls you to sacrifice your son. Or you are preparing the ingredients for bread, and God calls you to lead an army to overthrow conquerors. What if you were sitting quietly and then told you would have to raise God’s Son? You have been going along attacking people, and now you get the word from the Man Himself that you are now going to be a leader of these people. Scary prospects.
  • I think this one is the real crux of the matter, though: Imagine you are sitting there when a perfect being with amazing power and radiating holiness arrives. You will immediately become aware of how imperfect, not powerful, and offensive you really are. Daniel was a righteous man, blessed in all he did. When the angel Gabriel showed up, he fell down in fear. Afterward, he felt ill for days. Isaiah was taken before God, and he was instantly aware of his sins, crying out how unworthy he was. Saul/Paul was confronted with the Lord and was so over-whelmed that he called himself “the worst of sinners.” (There is an interesting dialogue about this phrase over at 3-Fold-Cord)

To go back to my original analogy, we must remember that we are dealing with Something rather intimidating: God. Therefore, we have to remind ourselves of Who He is. If we approach God as merely our friend, it is like acting blasé about a cliff-face and slipping due to carelessness. Carelessness and a lack of proper fear and respect can be fatal. So it is with God.

Any thoughts? Have I over-stepped my bounds, not gone far enough, or do you think I am right on the mark? Have you learned anything about the fear of the Lord?

Savior or Friend?

Is Jesus your Savior?

Is Jesus your Friend?

A recent (in terms of all of Church history) fad is “Jesus is my homeboy” and things like that, in which God is our friend. This is based on Jesus’ words “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

I have no qualms with calling Jesus our friend. I enjoy singing along with “I Am a Friend of God” both on the radio/at a concert and in church. I like singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” when I have the opportunity.

It just seems we have lost respect of the Savior in most circles.

I think the focus is just misplaced. Am I friends with Jesus because He is my Savior? Do I love Him because of what He has done?

The meaning behind these questions is one of “why I have decided.” This is all well and good, but the focus should always start with Jesus.

1 John 4:19 says “We love because He first loved us.” We are friends of Jesus, because Jesus calls us friends. I do not want to limit the importance of us choosing to love Him in return, but it is because of God we even have a choice. It is by God’s grace that we are free to choose.

I wrote this poem on Sunday (01/01/12) that I think might help understand what I am saying:

My Savior is my Friend

My Savior is my Friend.
He became a friend of mine
through being my Savior.
Yet He paid my sinful fine
by wanting to be my Friend.

My Lord is my Savior.
He became the Lord of me
through being my Friend.
Yet He deserved my loyalty
long before He was my Savior.

My Creator is my Lord.
He is the Creator
having created everything.
I love and serve Him more;
my Creator, Friend, Savior, and Lord.

Why do you love God? What are you willing to do for Him?

You should ask yourself everyday these questions and “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) Put another way, “who am I that You are mindful of me?”