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Posts Tagged ‘non-believers’

I’ve been watching the controversy unfold over health care reform in our country and the division, not only marches through party lines now, but even people of faith are finding themselves on opposite sides of “the aisle.” We must learn to disagree without “harsh judgments” of the other person.

Romans 14:1
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

There will always be “disputable matters” in our culture. We must take care, I think, to avoid condemnation of those with whom we disagree. We can participate in the political process by contacting and engaging our elected “authorities,” and we can work toward electing those we prefer, but we should not be harsh and critical with one another. There is no point.

Usually what happens is that we follow a particular pundit, someone we grow to trust, and as we listen to his/her take on a controversial subject we go along, “yes,” we think, “that sounds right.” And off we go repeating what we heard and even standing rigid on the ideas of another. But guess what? People are doing that on both sides of the equation.

I remember when my children were younger and we would pray with them before a sports game that God would give them victory. But then, one day, Kip asked me, “Does the other team pray too?” And there you have it. Yes, they do. They are also praying for victory. Who will win? God ultimately sorts these things out.

There are no Republicans or Democrats or Communists or Tea Parties in heaven. God is the great equalizer.

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It’s ironic, when Paul the Apostle declared Christ as the Way, it was a testament of freedom to anyone who chose to believe, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or foreigner. Anyone could enter this new relationship with God. But today, the Christ message is treated as limiting, exclusive, or prescribed.

Romans 10:4
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness [right relationship with God] for everyone who believes.

Several chapters of Romans are dedicated to the logic Paul lays out for the Jews of that time, the reasons and proof texts to support the reasons a Messiah came. He wants to convince them that the way was now open to God for anyone to believe. The season of the heart had come. “For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), . . . ” [Amplified, Romans 10:10a].

Many are guilty of limiting the Christ message, perhaps Christians most of all. We have codified the process and made rules of engagement. We have created denominations that have additional requirements such as specific types of baptism, communion practices, sins by degree, and methods of confession.

Today, we would need another Paul to set the Christians from their own chains of law.

The Christ message is one of freedom. That freedom invites us to participate in an intimate relationship with God that has never been possible before. For Christians, we must return to the simplicity of belief and confession. For non-believers, we must focus on the open door of Christ. All are welcome.

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Weekend message was actually quite provocative for me as Pastor elaborated on Matthew 16:19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And I thought about the process of using those keys to bring others to and through the door of the kingdom… the door Christ Jesus, the kingdom of God. And I began fantasizing even more about the “events” that would be authentic enough to reveal the heart of the matter… where the invitation into the kingdom would not be cliche, but mezmerizing and creative and thought-provoking and unexpected and tantalizing and refreshing and hope-filled and loving!!!!!

I have been a Christ follower almost 30 years! And yet I remember my “sinner’s prayer” where I, alone in my brother’s guest room on Christmas Eve, confessed that I believed the Word of God to be true, that Jesus was indeed who He said He was, and that mysteriously, what He did on the cross was significant and meaningful and life-changing … for me! And so, I asked that I might become a follower of Jesus… the door opened. But before I went in, I had one proviso … just don’t make me a Christian.

When I tell this story, everyone laughs… somehow, it resonates… they know what I mean. But here’s the sad part: somehow, it still feels that way. Oh, there have been long seasons where I have worn the mantle very well, but there have also been times when I have bristled under it’s narrow confines.

Today, more than ever … if I am going to be one of the holders of the keys … then I just want to use it to open the door, not hand out the rules. The way is narrow enough without me adding my versions of stumbling blocks.

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