(Note: This is not a safe read.)
going to church. studying your bible. scripture memorization. saving a few of your friends. these are not the ticket to heaven. in fact, Christ himself tells us that if we think those things are going to get us into heaven, he will get amnesia. He will say:” I never knew you”. This seems a bit harsh, now, why would Jesus say this? Because, he doesn’t want actions or guilt. He wants our hearts aka relationship with him (for those that think that Christ-following is boring — read this section again). If you get up and think “oh, i have to go to church” and then go out of guilt, you might as well have stayed in bed and talked to God. you might get more of out of it. A lot of conservatives might step in and say, “well, sometimes you have to force your way to feeling it”…but right here, and other places Christ says: I want your heart not your duty. Later on he tells his followers ” I desire mercy (heart) not sacrifice (duty)”. So, is there ever a time you should “force” yourself to do these things…yes! if you are avoiding these things because you are afraid or are lazy, then these are good. but if you look to these things as ways to get into heaven, i am sorry. duty is not a free pass. live with passion. yes, sometimes you have to force yourself to live with passion. but if you live with passion all these other things will fall into place. yes, it is that easy. Read Matthew 6:32-33.
If there is an “us” versus “them” attitude (i.e., Christians and non-Christians) we have failed. God isn’t chasing after a special few. He desires relationship with every person. there is not some exclusive bunch that receives special treatment. there were a group of guys who thought this same exact thing, they were called pharisees. Jesus says: God doesn’t play favorites. Westernized Christianity is failing if we think there is a side to choose in war. In fact, Joshua in the middle of battle meets an angel and asks the angel which side he is on and the angel responds: “neither”. we don’t have the luxury to justify war over oil. (okay, so now some of you know where i stand politically)…and for the record i am non-partisan. I want to change the world by loving people. that is the gospel and the will of god combined in a nutshell. if we think going around shouting that heaven and hell are real and you only have two places to go and a few seconds to decide is the gospel, then we are reading two different bibles. I echo the words of Rob Bell (as cited in Relevant Magazine): ” America’s (the whole of the Western world – my inclusion) is a failure. The whole system that says these few people, because of what they said, did, believe, etc., are going to Heaven and everybody else is going to Hell, is deeply flawed and must die. The central metaphor Jesus uses is the Eucharist. His body is broken and His blood is poured out to the healing of the world. God is looking for a body of people…for the healing of the world”. Love is the will of God, not were you are or how you get there….but what you do while you are there and getting there. Yes, there a few moment where he might specifically intervene, but through Christ He has already intervened. We just follow the leading of the Spirit.
Church has nothing to do with a building. nothing at all. it never had to do with the building. even in the Old Testament. It was about people/(then one person) meeting God. not about the temple or cloth. before Abraham met God he sacrificed to other Gods. God chose to step in and use their (human) system to “wean” them off the sacfrifical system. in comes the New Testament and we see Jesus saying that he is the fulfillment (translated and modernized: i am the end all to be all) to the law. and we get most of our modern day theology from the New Testament, which Paul himself got a huge chunk of his theology from the Old Testament. If you read the verse by him which has been misquoted quite frequently, you will see he was referring to the Old Testament (all scripture (OT) is god-breathed — god inspired men to write it) and yet we get all of our theology from the New Testament and these were men who like you and i now encountered God and got it wrong and sometimes even got it right. Yes, there is relevance to the New Testament and God can choose to teach us something from the New Testament, but He can also choose to teach us something from watching birds or reading a John Grisham novel.
The gospel is being among people being with them. not to them. not preaching to them or at them. but getting alongside of them, crying with them, starving with them, bleeding with them and even holding them when their world is caving in. “The enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity” — Erwin Mcmanus….the word christian was used more like a cuss word in the first century life of christ-followers. now it has become derogatory not by outsiders but by insiders. we have created such a destructive gospel, we have hurt one another and we pray for peace yet wage war against our sisters and brothers in other countries…what about those there who are praying for peace yet we rally behind our troops in the name of Jesus. The Jews believe (and I conclude the same) that everything is connected. We are connected to the earth (we are told to take care of it and we are also made from it), and to one another. We all (“saved” and “unsaved”) have the image of God within. rather than ostracizing people because of their lifestlye, love them beyond that, beyond your own theology. Theology is man’s flawed study of God. I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about this, we all have different ways to see God. We all interpret differently how God moves in our lives. But seriously, people who have Doctorates in theology (this is not to say that their hard work isn’t profitable or shouldn’t be recognized) are no greater than the guy down the street who only knows how to quote John 3:16 and doesn’t know how to read. There is not one more correct theology than the other. In fact, Mithras was a greek mythological story of a man who came down from “heaven” to die and resurrect for his people. sound familiar? there are a handful of other stories saying the same thing…so what does this all mean? is your faith centered on knowledge or Truth. Is it based upon facts or relationship? are you living out this messy faith because you believe or because you have to? My goal is not to make you doubt….but to challenge your perceptions and to encourage you to begin to ask questions and jesus promises that if you seek you will find, if you knock the door will opened…are you brave enough to start this hunt? Ask Jesus to come along…you will be surprised in what you might find! Happy Digging!!