The buzz words for today are inclusiveness and diversity. I am all for it on one condition. If we have the same goal in mind, let’s all come together. There is indeed a problem…we are far from having the same goals.
In the Bible’s Old Testament, over and over again, the Hebrews fell into sin by adopting the local culture’s ways. When in Canaan, do as the Canaanites do…right? Wrong! The Hebrews started worshipping the Baal gods; archeologists have unearthed a single alter dedicated to both a fertility god and Yahweh. What were they thinking? If one is good, two are better? The Old Testament is full of examples where inclusiveness and diversity went against the will of God. Obviously, there was no common goal in these examples.
There are of course many groupings we could identify where there could be common goals, thus a great desire for inclusiveness and diversity. We see this in the world’s hate groups. We see this in those wanting dictator governments to control the citizens by pressure. We see this in those who have compassion and want peace.
We should not see this in our relationship to God.
Peter’s vision of the sheet full of birds and animals coming down from heaven was explained in Acts 10:28, as the Jews believed the Gentiles were profane and unclean; but now God intended to make His family, His chosen people [the Jews] into a larger group by bringing in the Gentiles. Here we see inclusiveness and diversity the correct way where there is a common goal…the common goal of belief in Christ Jesus. I want all peoples, black, red, white, men, women and children from all the religions of the world to come together in the LORD Jesus Christ…that is my prayer for inclusiveness and diversity…everyone come to the LORD Jesus! He died and rose again for you; can you receive Him as LORD?
Revisionists! We see a lot of that going on these days. Political sides champion their man or woman as the best ever, knowing their term was a flop. Smoke and mirrors, words out of context, it all seems like a shell game. Groups claiming hate are usually the most hateful group…smoke and mirrors, day after day, and song remains the same!
Since the mid 1990’s, media articles claim America’s success was due to its long-standing tradition of secularism. Oh, really? An L.A. Times article, titled “America’s Unchristian Beginning” quoted a portion of an April 19, 1817 letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson: “Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!'” Adams was commenting on the petty religious bickering between Joseph Cleverly, a schoolmaster, and Lamuel Bryant, a minister. The Times article stopped the John Adams quote there, but as Paul Harvey used to say…now for the rest of the story. Adams’ letter went on to say: “But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.”
So, you see, if you have no morals, no honesty, no integrity, and if your position is anti-Christian and you have a job for the L.A. Times (or any other media outlet), you can write whatever you want, quote the pieces you want out of context, and make people believe America had an unchristian beginning…not a bad gig if you are that type of person! Our mainstream media and professors of higher education are full of that very kind of person!
I once heard an atheist quoting Biblical scripture to support his case. The fact is, you can make the Bible anything you want as long as you take text out of context and leave out the parts that don’t support your argument. Pretty Sweet deal I’d say…until you die!
There are many stories of those once believers in God, who at some point reject Him. Why? I have always wondered why. Of course I know there have always been apostates; Satan is probably the very first apostate as he is the leader of all the fallen angels, each an apostate on their own. But to understand Judas…I guess I will never understand how someone walking with Jesus 24/7 for 3 years, being there for most of the miracles and sermons, and then turn Him over to those wishing to kill Him. Oh, people have suggested Judas simply wanted to speed things up; that is, getting Jesus to free the Jews from Roman rule faster. Regardless, there is no justification for betraying Jesus. So let’s back on subject…why do people reject God?
A recent article I read about a Lutheran who became an atheist. When a young person, they had a friend who a Buddhist and the idea of the friend being lost for all eternity for not accepting Jesus could not be tolerated.
Admittedly, they noted a lack of careful examination of the evidence; so what is driving this rejection of Christ? I think that many apostates are simply “wishful thinkers”. They simply wish things to be different. They want the world, redemption, even God Himself, to be a different way, a way of their own desire and invention.
What selfishness! What Arrogance! What laziness to not examine the evidence for God’s mercy and grace! Those rejecting God and His instruction pattern actions of those of Adam & Eve. God gave us free will to decide for ourselves what we want to do and think, even if it is to reject God. But, I say that the creation has not right to be arrogant toward its Creator, for the Creator absolutely loves His creation
Three weeks ago I wrote above God loving us by kicking us out of the Garden of Eden. From this banishment from the Garden, the whole Bible is about God trying to reach His people, people He loves, while allowing the loving freedom of freewill. Part of loving another is to allow them the freedom to accept or reject you. You are free to reject God, but you are arrogant if you think God hates you. God gave His only begotten Son to take your sins away which allows you entry to glory…after the giving of His co-eternal Son, why would God turn to hate you? It has always been mankind that has messed things up; we have all messed things up…only don’t blame your mess on God!
Finally, to repeat myself, to reach the lost, God sent His only begotten Son! Yes, we are unconditionally loved, so what is your response going to be? What will your response be to a love freely given? Using the tree metaphor again, the “Jesus Trunk” wants your branch to be connected and to receive life-giving water.
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10 ESV)
Why not be a part of something much larger than you? Be a part of a special family, the family of God; we have a guarantee to be joint heirs in the Kingdom of God! It only costs you everything you’ve got, including your life. Not a bad trade for eternal life in Glory with the LORD Jesus Christ, I say!
What have you thought when you have heard the statement, “she is a child of God”? What does that mean? What it means is what it says, plain and simple. It means that where the Holy Spirit gives witness that our spirit has received Christ Jesus as LORD and Savior, then we become children of God (Romans 8:16). What then? What does the child receive from his father? His inheritance of what the father has built up. As a child of God, we are heirs to the Kingdom of God (Galatians 4:1-7). As with the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” story, the father threw a great banquet for a son that did not deserve it, a son who made all the bad decisions and wasted everything. The reason was simple; the son was lost but came back home to the father, back to the family.
My poor decisions occurred when I was not connected to the “Jesus Trunk”. I was getting poor nourishment by my own actions and decisions. It was not God’s making. I don’t blame God for God waited on me to come back to Him; this is grace. There is no way I can get to heaven except by the “Jesus gate”; it is not by my works, but is by the One I dedicate my life to. In being born again, the old has passed away and my bad decisions and sins are remembered no more. As a born again Christian, my new life should reveal what a real Christian is, and not one in name only…actions speak louder than words.
Though we, the body of Christ in the Christian Church, did not deserve it for all of our bad decisions once made, when we lost souls have finally awaken and turned back to God, we will receive the heavenly banquet and a place in heaven’s mansion where the Father, excited to have us back again, welcomes us home to the Garden again, welcomes us back into the family of God.
Following the “tree metaphor” in the book this blog follows, A Different Kind of Tree; connect to the “Jesus Trunk”, who supports like none other; take root into the Word of God to receive the best nourishment like none other; go out and produce good fruit for when your branch is connected to Jesus Christ and you are then indeed, “A Different Kind of Tree”!
Now, there are indeed some folks (and churches) going around saying that since Jesus already paid the price for my past, present, and future sins; I can now do whatever I want to. Wrong! How selfish is that! Is that the way you thank someone that rescued your eternal soul from hell? If you think so, then you are greedy, selfish and arrogant. You don’t have freedom from sin to keep on sinning! There is only one true “thank you” response; you repent from your sin, and then you praise, worship and dedicate your life to the service of Christ Jesus.
This, my friends, is the development of “good symmetry”, a move toward perfection; finally to be obtained when you are made whole again in God’s Glory. At such time, God will repeat a statement once made long ago about His creation and repeated when you were created, “It is good”.
Using the beautiful butterfly as metaphor, we start out low as caterpillars and we change, some all at once and some gradually. From our fallen state, we morph into a new creation not at all like the caterpillars we were before. God wants His “butterflies”, but He wants His “butterflies” to love Him unconditionally. This is not natural by itself for the world sees it all as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18); it all takes becoming a new creation in Christ, changed and made new by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17).
You see, we don’t deserve God’s saving grace! People turn from God because they wrongly say, “God doesn’t care about me”. How arrogant is that? It is the same thing as saying, “God loves everybody in the world but me”. The truth is this: We [humanity] were kicked out of the Garden of Eden before we could eat from that second tree…the “Tree of Life”. Eating from the “Tree of Knowledge”, the one thing we were told not to do, was our arrogant attempt to be like God; to have the every knowledge of God. But had we eaten from the “Tree of Life”, we would eternally be damned by this sin. God’s first saving act was to kick us out of the Garden; yet, today, many see the action as hate from a vengeful God.
In my first book, “I Am, the Great Creator God”, I wrote a lot about the designs (butterflies, flowers, ducks, etc.) and the wonderment of God’s creation. If God cares so much for each of His creatures, down to an insect…the beautiful butterfly…to care about the littlest details and coloring of a wing; then how much more will God care about you? We are all created in the image of God; look closely at this text from Genesis:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV) [underlines added]
Please take note that not only did the Triune God create you, male and female, in His image, but He put you in charge of every living breathing thing on the planet! That is an awesome reasonability! Do you think God would put you in charge of His whole creation if He didn’t think you were worthy of such a task?
You were individually and wonderfully made, lovingly crafted by the supreme power of the Universe; the same Omnipotent God that designed and crafted to smallest details of a butterfly’s wing. A butterfly that is here one day and gone shortly thereafter; but you are in charge of all of creation…how much more important is that? So don’t you think for one moment that God doesn’t love you; you were created in His likeness and given a big job to do.
A big job to do? Especially as you become connected to the “Jesus Trunk” and become more than just His wonderful creation, as you become a joint-heir to the very Kingdom of God. God loves you! You have no excuse to reject His invitation other than your own decision to do so…you can’t use the excuse that you are a sinful person. We are all sinners, but Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and we are forgiven (John 3:16). This is God’s grace! You can not hate God for anything you chose to blame on Him; He didn’t do it. You can not reject God because you didn’t get something; you don’t have the whole story. God sent His only eternal Son, that created all that is in the beginning (John 1:1-3), to pay the price for what you did; you can not hate a God like that.
The early church theologians insisted that God is impassible, by which they meant that he does not suffer, and immutable, by which they meant that he does not experience human emotion. Yet the Bible portrays God as exhibiting a striking range of intense emotions: he sings for joy, expresses jealousy, is incited to anger, responds to worship with pleasure and to rebellion with wrath. Some biblical passages go so far as to state that God changes his mind. Do we need to make a choice between the Bible and orthodox theology on this point?
We are known by God before we were formed in the womb of our mothers; we also have a God that “walks with me and talks with me and calls me His own”. We also have a God who is Alpha and Omega, knowing the start and the end of all that is. God, all perfect and complete, not needing anything, wishes for relationship out of love, but my sin blocks that. So, God sent His Son to pay the price for my sin that was to be mine to pay, and yet, impossible for me to pay. The price now paid all that is needed is for me to come to God, repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ, allowing me the justification to come into God’s presence. Now, I can have a loving relationship and all of heaven will sing.
Many will falsely reject God due to a misunderstanding of the nature of His wrath, saying that a loving God would not exhibit wrath at all. Maybe the word “wrath” is too harsh a word for people these days… what about using the word “punishment”? Don’t like that one either? How about the word “discipline”?
Discipline, often rejected by moderns, is actually an act of love! You simply will not waste your time correcting and directing with discipline if you don’t love or care for the person. God cares enough to create, to save, guide with discipline, and to prepare a place for His children…all this is Biblical and orthodox! To the question in my first paragraph, there is no division between the Bible and orthodox theology.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after his encounter with God, he was physically changed. When we become a new creation in Christ, we are changed as well; the old has gone away. There should be a difference between a Christian and the rest of the world; unfortunately, many cultural statistics remain the same whether the surveyed group is Christian or not. One should wonder if there is really a change or not; for Jesus said many would call Him LORD and He would say, I don’t know you (Matt. 7:21-23). We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). We are to strive to be like Him (Romans 8:29). As Christians, when people see us they should be able to tell that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). In boldness and in love we should stand up for Jesus and be His disciples no matter what the world thinks of us. Be holy as Christ is holy; be loving as Christ is loving…search and find Jesus Christ, then strive to be like Him.
We searchers of light are not perfect, but we try to be. When we fall short, we are supported by the Spirit and forgiven by God’s grace. So what then is our action toward those that hate us? Shall we return the hate? Fight fire with fire? No! Jesus forgave those that tortured Him and killed Him on that rugged cross. No, we are to love our enemies; though in a way they are not “our” enemies, but we apparently are “their” enemies. Actually, the love we are to show is not our love at all but God’s love, we are only instruments [disciples] used to pass that love [Agape love-God’s love] around to all that will receive it. Strange that “God’s love” is such a threat to so many; they have no eyes to see.
There was not a conservative that called for the execution of Mr. Obama when he became President; yet, we see the unhinged liberals holding up bloody heads of Mr. Trump and openly calling for his execution…can we not be civil and simply disagree? Apparently not if you are a professor on most any American college campus or a liberal congressman or major media person, all of whom routinely become unhinged and fall into a rant when faced with opposing views. Michael Gerson wrote a nice article entitled “The Reason for Civility”, published January 21, 2011. He writes:
“So what is the source of America’s current civility problem? Is there too much immodest conviction? Or is there too little regard for the value and dignity of others?
There is no reason that both answers can’t be “yes.” But the second challenge is primary. We need a robust civility that allows for deep and honest disagreements instead of explaining those differences away. In the long run, this is only achievable if Americans believe that their fellow citizens deserve respect, even when they hold absurd political beliefs.”
Friends, this article is over 6 years old, and our civility problems are MUCH worse now! We are all “branches” on a trunk, be it the “Satan Trunk” or the “Jesus Trunk”. The Bible teaches that the wheat and the weeds should be left to grow along side each other and that in time separation of the good from the bad will occur (Matthew 13:24-30). We can show that we are growing with correct and proper nourishment if we can remain civil while holding to our good positions and beliefs. Certainly, people will decide for themselves that they are “wheat”; we don’t need to label the “weeds”…God will sort that out at judgment time…and it is not our role.
The culture would put forward that there are no absolutes; please don’t buy it. This is simply another source of diversion from real truth. It is hard to see in muddy water, so if you want to control others…muddy their water. Of course there are absolutes! To those “branches” growing on the “Jesus Trunk”, we can and should treat all with dignity for we are all created in the image of God. It is the Jesus dance!
The selfish intolerance of others is interesting; it is like if I do it, it is my freedom, but if you do it you are infringing on my freedoms. Wait a minute, I just inadvertently hit on it; it is all about the offended, only their freedoms matter and nobody else…the minority control over the majority.
I guess there is no room for other “branches” on this tree. We have those branches that shut down Christian prayers and symbols in schools, yet promote the study of Islam in public schools. We have those branches that shut down Christian examples of peace & forgiveness, yet wave the signs of hate & bigotry toward the capitalism that made this country great. We have those NPR branches that receive mega-millions of tax-payer dollars every year yet they directly attack the Christian faith. I see intolerance on parade…but since the offense by the minority is not about one of the 90 different genders these days…the Christian majority will continue to be stepped upon! We must continue to show peace as best we can…and pray! Shalom!