Category Archives: Christianity
Dear Prefixed Life,
My nephew ******** is supposed to be baptized in a month. His parents are good people but they don’t attend church. They don’t think my nephew is ready to be baptized because he still does a bunch of stuff that typical 13-year old boys do and they think he will be a bad example for others of how a baptized Christian is supposed to act. They won’t forbid him from being baptized, but they want me to speak with him since we go to the same church and see if I can get him to wait until he is more mature.
I agree that he should perhaps wait a year or so, but I think his parents should talk to him about this; not me.
Do you think I speak to him? And, if so, what should I say to him?
Misha in Los Angeles
Thank you for taking your valuable time to write the Prefixed Life and entrusting us to opine on this question that is clearly important to you, your nephew, and your nephew’s parents.
First, definitely speak with him.
But notice I said speak with him. Not speak to him. The difference is huge…especially to a 13-year old.
Teenagers need our love and our attention. But more than anything, most teenagers need acceptance and to know grown-ups care about them during this awkward stage of their lives.
Speak with him. But not because you have an agenda to push on him with regard to baptism. Speak with him because you like him, you care about him, and you enjoy spending time with him. If the conversation happens to turn to baptism (and only if it naturally goes there — no reason to force it), be prepared with a few questions to ask him about it.
Then all of you have to do is:
Don’t fake being interested so you can get to the part where you deliver your advice.
Actually be interested.
Although we would like to think that kids act and behave how their parents have been raised them, modern studies tend to show otherwise. The truth is that the majority of kids who are in their early teens tend to think, speak, and behave in the matter which the grown-ups in their life expect them to.
If you want him to mature and “be an example of a proper Christian” preaching at him won’t work. Depending on how influential you are in his life, he may follow your advice whatever it is. But, ultimately, that would not be a good thing. He should not be living his life to please his parents, or Auntie Misha, or his religion’s dictates.
This is his life, and his decision, and his relationship with his God.
If you want him to mature or act better, then decide how you would treat him if he was “the model Christian.” And treat him accordingly. If you give him the advice that he should wait for a year what you are subtly communicating to him is that he is not mature, and that is not ready to have a relationship with God, and that since he is still a sinner he is not yet ready for a deeper connection with God.
But if, instead, you treat him like he is already a mature follower-of-God and communicate that because of his status with God and his maturity; you might be shocked how quickly he steps us and fills those roles.
True Love never seeks to persuade others to do what we want them to do. True Love always empowers others to find out who they are. And become that. And True Love accepts their decision, accepts them, encourages them, and cares. Always.
That is what Love is.
This might be hard for you to accept. If you cannot accept it, then do not. You obviously care a lot about this young man and his parents. All three are blessed to have you in their life. As long as you demonstrate that you care, accept, and Love all three of them — any decision you make — will be the right one.
One final thought: We often develop the thought that we need to “clean ourselves up” before we go to God. I don’t know any religion that actually teaches this. God accepts us and loves us exactly as we are. If we wait to go to God because we aren’t mature enough or still commit sins or don’t attend church regularly enough, or any other reason — we don’t yet understand God and what God is all about.
We go to God and then He will help us become better. Trying to become better so God will accept us . . . defeats the purpose . . . and quite often results in us never actually making the decision to go to God.
I wish you, your nephew, and your nephew’s folks all the best — and will keep a good thought for all of you. If your nephew does decide to be baptized, please let me know when and where that will occur. I would be honored to witness a young man publicly declare he wishes to become better by deepening his relationship to our Tender Creator.
From my heart to yours,
NOTE: This is part two of two. You should first read “Was Jesus the Worst Prophet Ever?“
In part one we described how Jesus of Nazareth was either seriously future-vision-challenged . . . or perhaps we have not fully grasped what He meant when He described His mission in John 10.10 as “to give humans Life. And to give them Life in Abundance.”
So What is Abundance?
Abundance is a mindset.
Abundance is a mindset of peace and a life lived so confidently in God and Self that no matter what challenge, circumstance, or event happens — even if your family lives in . . . Australia, say . . . and your friends all abandon you.
And the IRS wrongfully seizes all your assets.
And you get fired from the job you love.
And you are served with divorce papers. Or receive the telephone call informing you a Loved One has died. Or your doctor confirms the worst after your last test.
You know those times. It seems all the lights in the world have gone out and the world is a very bleak and dark place. You can actually feel the dark pressing down upon you and you wonder if you will ever get out of this cave.
Abundance is knowing that is exactly when you and your God shine the brightest. It is Living in the Certainty that you and God have been here before and you probably will be back here again. And you and God always manage to get out in one piece. . . to bond, and to have some fun together while you were doing it! Ahhh, Life is Good!
Abundance is not faith that God has the ability to do something. Living in Abundance is Living with the certainty that She will do it.
Yes, I know. You wanted season tickets to your favorite sports team and music venue. And a promotion at work. And some credit from your kids once in awhile. It wouldn’t suck to have a tad more money, a mansion, and some fame, either.
Despite what you might have heard whispered in your Church, you can have all these things. Jesus is often unfairly misquoted as saying “money is the root of all evil.” He never said that. Never!
J.C. proclaimed that the “Love of money is the root of all evil.” And in doing so, the Wise Carpenter reveals one of the most profound Truths about human life. We do indeed need a house, we need money, and perhaps we even need some status and fame if we are actually going to make disciples of all nations.
None of those things are wrong. Money is not evil. Fame does not equate to being self-centered. Power . . . well, okay, power you have to be pretty careful with . . . but it is not inherently evil. Just Seductive. But, the Truth is Jesus promised all of these to you. Even Power. “Great Power” in Truth. He knows we will never be perfect in this Life . . . and yet He trusts us with “Great Power.” He is Dying for you to have all of these thing. In Abundance. It was His Purpose in coming to this planet! Be clear on that: He wants you to live in abundance.
And you know why we immediately think of wealth, a nice house, and a fast car as indicia of abundance? Because someone living in Abundance almost always possesses all of those material trappings.
But those material things are not elements of abundance. Fame, fortune, and status are the certain by-products of Living in Abundance.
And that is the hilarious irony of abundance: The person who Lives in Abundance does not need any of those showy possessions or material trappings. He or she usually possesses them because they naturally flow into your life when you Live in Abundance.
But a person Living in Abundance is absolutely confident that they possess everything they need to live, within them. The Abundant Life is a life of self-reliance and one firmly rooted in a deep, meaningful relationship with God. And a Life where everything is designed to further the purpose that God gave them in this Life.
Look at Joseph’s life, Daniel’s, or King David’s: these men possessed the same grit and determination to Live Authentically and be true to their purpose at every point in their Life.
It mattered not whether they were living as shepherds or captives . . . or a potential midnight snack for some hungry felines. They Loved God and pursued their purpose exactly the same whether dealing with Potipher’s Wife or Nebuchadnezzar’s forgotten dream. They lived exactly the same when their fortunes improved, each becoming one of the very highest of the elite of the ruling class of a dominant world civilization. In those period of their lives, each possessed power, fame and money beyond the dreams of avarice.
And, yet, they lived the same as they always had lived: In simple yet confident peace, joy, truth and love.
They lived in Abundance.
They lived in Abundance.
May you Live Abundantly,
This was part 2. Return to part 1: “Was Jesus the Worst Prophet Ever?“
NOTE: This is part one of two. Click here to read part two: “What is Abundance?“
We all want it. But for most of us, Abundance seems elusive enough to make the Scarlet Pimpernel jealous.
Christians believe that the founder of their religion promised it to them. In fact, Jesus claimed that His purpose in coming to this planet was: That humans might have Life, and have it more abundantly. – John 10.10
Jesus was clearly the absolute worst prognosticator that Planet Earth has ever seen. How many Christians were put to death by the Roman Empire within a couple of centuries after Jesus was here? That doesn’t sound like Someone who came “to give them Life.”
How many Christians do you know that “Live in Abundance”? I have an incredible Church, and yet some weeks we sound like we have nothing better to do than gripe and moan about our poor lot in life. That doesn’t sound like Abundance.
We can deduce only one of two things from this: If Nostradamus and Jesus of Nazareth have conflicting prophecies, go with El Costa Nostra!
Seriously: Jesus couldn’t have been more off on both sides of the “Abundance Prophecy!” If J.C. told you the Cowboys were a lock to win their next game in Washington D.C.; you should sell everything you have, borrow as much as you can, fly to Vegas, and bet it all on the Redskins!
Or, perhaps, I will choose “Promises that Great People Have Made That I Don’t Fully Understand, for $1,000, Alex.”
There would be very little Jeopardy of hearing George Alexander Trebek respond with something materially different than:
“Answer: Commonly thought of as fortune, fame, status, and material security; what word actually describes a mindset of such confident faith in God and Self; such that one possesses complete peace of mind and lives continuously in joy, truth, and love?”
Abundance, as Jesus employed the word, means living authentically and in harmony with one’s purpose and principles. Despite what us Christians often preach…it does not mean living perfectly. Just Authentically and True to Our Beliefs.
Abundance: Living Authentically and in Harmony with our Principles.
NOTE: This post is part one of two. Click here to read part two: “What is Abundance?“
To Your Abundant Life,
God’s laws are designed 100% for humans. It is crucial to understand and believe that if we are to observe God’s law in the fashion God intended. In the first post of this series we postulated that God’s Laws are designed for us, that God’s ego is not deflated when we inevitably fail and fall short, and we don’t hurt God’s feelings when we transgress His Law. In part two, we did a case study on the Fourth Commandment which appears to buttress that conclusion. We conclude here in part three by looking at the practical application of these principles in the world around us.
Let’s start by considering rule-making and enforcement by human parents with regard to their children. For whose benefit do parents make rules such as “don’t push coins into electrical sockets,” “look both ways before crossing a street,” or “don’t eat cookies without asking me first.” Are parents making these rules just to show off their power or to remind their kids who is in charge? Or because they Love their children and want the best for them?
Yet, we often treat our Heavenly Father like a dictator who has nothing better to do (like, say, run a Universe) than sit around all day coming up with rules and regulations to tyrannically impose on humans. Are we ever going to grow out of this stage and finally realize God isn’t trying to control us? Can we accept that God makes laws for our benefit? God is All-Powerful. He doesn’t need to “flex His heavenly muscles” to make us comply. He could have easily made us without the power to choose. He wants the best for us and does not want us to get shocked by electricity, or run over by a car, or to begin eating habits that may lead to us being unhealthy or obese.
God did not create us because He had some laws on the books that no one was following . . . He designed the Law to bless humans and bring us abundance. He designed the law because He Loves us. Period. Anytime we search the Bible to find a verse or two, for or against some proposition, without any consideration to the peace, Joy, Truth, or Love it will add or subtract to human Life – we can be confident we are neither analyzing the law as God intended nor applying it the way Jesus would.
The Pharisees, because they were unable to perfectly keep the law, instituted a complex and confusing system of Sabbath regulations that was oppressive, legalistic, and sucked all the Joy and Blessing out of the Sabbath. Their strict and merciless interpretations of the Sabbath included 613 specific injunctions amongst 39 categories of forbidden activities. The Pharisees had unwittingly elevated “The Law” to a position as high, or higher than “The Lawgiver.”
Jesus consistently criticized the Pharisees legalistic interpretations of God’s law which glorified judgmental behavior and cheapened Love and mercy. Jesus called Himself the “Lord of the Sabbath” because He created the Sabbath. The Creator is ALWAYS greater than the Creation. Rigidly following the Commandments neither upholds the ‘Greatest Commandment’ nor acknowledges that God reigns above His Creation, which includes His laws. You might say that elevating the law to the same level as the Author of Law is a risky proposition which comes perilously close to blasphemy.
We might say it was just silly religious leaders some 2,000 years ago who did this. But what if we do, too? Is it possible that we have taken “The Ten Blessings” and turned them into “The Ten Commandments” by our joyless and unloving interpretations and applications. Have we sucked all the peace, Joy, Truth, and Love out of God’s law? Do we correctly view God’s commandments as a benevolent blessing of freedom and abundance? Or do we on occasion employ the Decalogue as a platform of judgment and condemnation? Is it possible that if we decided to embrace and observe God’s law as intended that “The Ten Blessings” would bring us Peace of Mind, Joy, Truth, Love and abundance?
To your peace, joy, truth and love,
As we discussed in yesterday’s post, 10 Ways That Christians are Often Deceived, God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. They are for the benefit of humans, alone. This post provides a practical case study of why that is so. Although we could evaluate any of the Ten to the same result, in this post we will analyze the Fourth Commandment, the Sabbath Commandment. It is quoted in the Bible at Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Jesus was speaking of this commandment when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” What did Jesus mean by the words recorded in Mark 2:27?
“The Sabbath Was Made for Man”
Genesis says God rested the seventh day from His creative works with regard to Planet Earth. It is clear, however, that God does not need rest. The Sabbath was designed solely for human well being, not God’s.
When humans observe the Sabbath as God intended, the Sabbath’s blessings include time to:
- Rest, refresh and recharge our minds and bodies; and
- Build, enjoy, and nurture relationships with our friends and God; and
- Enjoy and study the ways of nature, peace, Joy, Truth, Love, and the plan of salvation; and
- Focus on those whose life is difficult: widows, orphans, prisoners, the poor, etc. ; and
- Be grateful. Something modern science links very closely with our happiness (or lack thereof).
By taking a day off from our own work and worry, and instead focusing on helping and encouraging others – we celebrate the Sabbath, care for all human life, build and nourish friendships, and we make the “Greatest Commandment” worthy of that title. Just as the Tabernacle was a physical place for Israel to worship, God designed the Sabbath as a chronological place for every human to rest and recharge in preparation for another week.
God didn’t create us to boost His ego or because He needed some followers to observe His laws. He created laws to enhance our Lives and lead us to peace, Joy, Love and lives of fulfillment and abundance. Notice that humans were created before the Sabbath, and the Sabbath was appointed thereafter. The Sabbath was not initially created, and thereafter God created humans with reference to the Sabbath.
As Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “The Sabbath is a sacred and Divine institution; a privilege and benefit, not a task and drudgery. God never designed it to be a burden to us, therefore we must not make it so ourselves. The Sabbath was instituted for the good of mankind, as living in society, having many wants and troubles, preparing for a state of happiness or misery. Man was not made for the Sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was [man] commanded to keep its outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.” [2 Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary 23-28, emphasis added.]
Jesus point was that the Sabbath was made to serve people, instead of people being created to serve the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a servant, not a master. The Sabbath was to be a blessing, not a burden.
The Sabbath was implemented to give humans rest from their work and worries. Likewise, “The Lord of the Sabbath” came to Earth to give us rest from struggling to attain salvation by our own works. The sacrifice of “The Lord of the Sabbath” on a lonely hill on Calvary was enough. We can trust Jesus paid our price and stop “white-knuckling” all our behaviors. Jesus paid the price! We don’t need to try and ‘gain’ God’s sympathy and goodwill. Jesus died to give us a “Lifetime Sabbath.” We can confidently rest, refrain from worry, and Joyfully bask in His Love, mercy, and grace – forever! And when we decide to do this, we suddenly find we are much more able to share peace, Joy, Truth, and Love with everyone we meet.
Try observing the Commandments instead of merely ‘following’ them. This one change has the power to revolutionize your relationship with God.
Back to Part One: “10 WAYS THAT CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN DECEIVED”
Continue to Part Three: “GOD’S LAWS ARE DESIGNED SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF HUMANS”
[Make Sabbath and Life more meaningful by “CREATING A SYMPHONY OF ABUNDANCE IN YOUR LIFE”]
God is not an impotent, egocentric dictator who concocted the Ten Commandments as a cosmic power grab. God’s Law is a gift to humanity; not a subversive control system. God did not order compliance with the Decalogue to show the Universe who was Boss or because He narcissistically needed attention or followers.
No. It is our enemy who leveled those untrue charges against the Most High. It is the Deceiver who accused, and continues to accuse, God of being a dictatorial tyrant. The Father of Lies, not God, demands absolute obedience from his followers. It is the Enemy of Souls, not our Loving God, who refuses to share power. God has invited us to boldly approach His Throne anytime we wish. The Deceiver would not even extend an invitation like, “Come, let us, reason together.”
The Deceiver has manipulatively whispered to humanity that we must gratify and placate our narcissistic God’s fragile ego. . . or He will become angry and enraged and condemn us to eternal Hell.
Alas, we have been listening.
If God desired rigid and absolute compliance, God could have easily designed Humans without Freedom of Choice. God could have created us with no ability to rebel against His law. In fact, by withholding Freedom of Choice, God could have saved Himself millennia of angst, anguish, rebellion, and the heartbreak of sacrificing His Son to atone for our sins. So why did God bestow such a sacred and princely gift upon the race of humans? Why did He give humans Freedom of Choice? The answer is simple: Because God Loves us deeply and could not stand for us not to be free!
God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. I’ll repeat that: God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. They are for our benefit alone. When observed instead of merely followed, God’s laws promise each human enhanced freedom, and a life filled with abundance and Joy. ‘Blind allegiance’ (aka rigid commandment following), on the other hand, makes it feel like our freedom is being curtailed and stripped away; fails to deliver grace or mercy; eradicates peace, Joy, Truth, and Love; completely disregards “The Greatest Commandment”; advances the Deceiver’s accusation that God is an unjust tyrant; and often blocks our ability to receive the blessings God’s Law was designed to provide and which Jesus’ Life guaranteed: An Abundant Life.
Is your Life filled with abundance? Or do you struggle to ‘keep’ God’s Law but find yourself still feel mired in physical, mental, spiritual, financial or interpersonal issues? If any area of your life is less than abundant, you may be thwarting Jesus’ promise of abundance by rigidly attempting to follow God’s Law. This blocks us from abundance and leads to legalism. It causes us to become hypocritical and judgmental and cheapens grace and mercy. Making ‘not breaking commandments’ our primarily goal inexorably begins our descent to a life of quiet desperation as we feel diminishing levels of peace, Joy, Truth, and Love. Observing the Commandments as God intended, instead of ‘rigidly following them’ is a simple but critical step in maturing as a Christian. This step leads directly to the Abundant Life Jesus promised.
Remember that in addition to promising Abundance, Jesus also declared that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law. How does someone ‘fulfill’ a Law? If you get nothing else from this post, please prayerfully contemplate and focus on how someone ‘fulfills a law.’ Once we gain clarity on that issue our entire view of God, Love, Grace and the Plan of Salvation will be instantly and forever transformed. Everything before the moment we discover that Truth seems like a dull, black and white, uncertain and dangerous affair. When we truly grasp how Jesus ‘fulfilled the Law’ our Christian journey will suddenly burst alive into the vivid, Technicolor, abundant Life we have always dreamed!
Our focus as Christians should be on observing the Law as Jesus did, which means focusing on the purpose and intent behind the law, rather than rigidly apply its exact technical wording to every situation. This is considerably more daunting and difficult than simply ‘not transgressing the law’ and perhaps explains why many of us have settled for ‘not breaking it.’
So how should we observe God’s Law as Jesus did? Start by understanding that each provision is designed solely and 100% to benefit humans (i.e. recognize that God doesn’t get all butt-hurt when you break a law). Next, fully embrace the Truth that each of God’s Laws is aimed at maximizing Peace, Joy, Truth, Love and Abundance. When the “letter of the law” conflicts with the “Spirit of the Law” in a given situation, those who would Live as Christ need not hesitate in deciding on the course of action that maximizes Peace, Joy, Truth, and Love. We can confidently do this because we know that even if when we get it wrong once in awhile . . . God did not send Jesus to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Christ. And whosoever believes in Jesus shall NOT perish but live eternally. (John 3.17,16)
Do you believe the words of John 3:16, 17?
Read them again. Allow the meaning to sink in and infuse every part of your soul with the beauty of the simple Truth it contains: ALL that is required to be Saved is ‘to believe in Jesus.’
Are you positive you believe those words?
It seems that to ‘believe in’ the Jesus described in John 3.16 we would necessarily have to ‘believe in’ the Jesus described in the very next verse. Do we really believe “Jesus came not to condemn the world but only to save it?” Or does the fact that we continue to white-knuckle all our little Christian behaviors expose the lie we tell ourselves. If our prime focus of our Christian walk is ‘not breaking Commandments’ than we do NOT believe John 3.17.
Christians are supposed to be ambassadors of Peace, Joy, Truth and Love to a world gravely lacking these qualities. Focusing on ‘not breaking Commandments’ can perhaps make us good, little, moral Boy and Girl Scouts. But it does NOT make us CHRISTians. CHRISTians believe in CHRIST. CHRISTians believe CHRIST died for their sins. Therefore, CHRISTians aren’t primarily focused on ‘not sinning’ in hopes that they can somehow complete the work that Jesus failed to do at Calvary.
No, the folks that fit that description are called Pharisees. They oppose Jesus. And that group includes me more often than I care to admit. Perhaps you have been a Pharisee on occasion, too? One of the numerous AWESOME things about God is if we are willing to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness, God is Faithful and Just and Merciful. God will not only forgive us on the spot . . . but he will cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.
All we have to do is appear boldly in His throne room and ask for forgiveness.
That does not at all sound like a dictatorial tyrant to me. THAT sounds like Love!
To go to Part Two and continue with the case study: “THE SABBATH WAS MADE TO BENEFIT HUMANS. HUMANS WERE NOT MADE FOR THE SABBATH”
– LINKS BELOW WILL BECOME CLICKABLE AS REFERENCED POSTS ARE PUBLISHED –
[Make Sabbath and Life more meaningful by “CREATING A SYMPHONY OF ABUNDANCE IN YOUR LIFE”]
[Jump to Part Three: “GOD’S LAWS ARE DESIGNED SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF HUMANS”]
It would benefit my Spiritual Journey to ask the question of myself on a regular basis:
Why Am I A Bad Christian?
Why Am I A Bad Christian?
If I just assumed that there exists areas where I could improve as a Christian and I devoted a mere 15 minutes each month to sitting somewhere quietly and jotting those things down – how would that affect my Spiritual Walk? What would I learn about myself, others, my religion, and my God? Only the future can say, I suppose. My first thoughts:
I am a bad Christian because:
- I prefer to be “right” rather than compassionate.
- I prefer living in self-delusion regarding my judgmental, hypocritical, and inauthentic nature; more than authentically pursuing greater levels of Joy, Truth, and Love.
- I prefer complaining about my religion failing to become a force of Respect, Love, Truth, Harmony and Joy; rather than doing what I can to help it become that force. My religion is not that failure. I AM. I am a member of my religion. Once I have done everything in my power to help my religion become a force of Respect, Love, Truth, Harmony and Joy – then, and only then, will I be in a position to judge what it is capable of doing. Because maybe it would be more capable if I put forth effort. Until I do, I will recognize my words of complaint for what they are: a flimsy and lame excuse for not possessing the requisite Faith to even try.
From my heart to yours,
In Who is God? Part 1, we touched on a basic understanding of God’s Nature. Although there is a ton left to discuss, one thing is immediately of critical concern.
Relationship with God and Keeping Commandments
The Commandments are designed to improve our Lives, not limit our freedom…but they are NOT designed to create a relationship with God.
We often forget that God told the Israelites that He would deliver them from Egypt. And then time-and-time again God worked gigantic plagues to convince ole boy Pharaoh that the Son of Ra might want to let the Sons and Daughters of God have some freedom.
And then, God parted the Red Sea for His peeps. And made this awesome hovering light show that went with them everywhere. And gave them plans such that a city of about 2 million people traveled from Egypt to Canaan (even though it took human technology more than fourteen centuries to witness more than a handful of cities with over one million people.)
(Oh, and we are talking about FIXED cities. You know, the kinds with farming land and foundations, aqueducts and grazing pastures, hospitals and workshops, and other seemingly important things for any civilization to thrive).
Yet God moved a city of two million people in a proficient, orderly, and awesome manner.
Yep, braggin’ a little ‘bout da Lord. (See Who Is God?, Part 1) He is good!
But here’s the thing we often forget about the Journey from Egypt to the Promised Land: God came to Moses and the Israelites and said, “Hey, Trust Me – I AM going to get you outta this slavery gig.”
And He did.
And when Egypt forgot how ravaged they were by the plagues and decided to pursue Israel: God Red them the Riot Act (never mind; it’s a Sea joke.)
God asked for their Trust, proved He was worthy of their Trust and Love, and cared for them and provided for them . . . and only much, much, much later did God lead them to Sinai where He gave them the Ten Commandments.
See, whether it’s God or People: When we Trust, we begin to Love. And when we Love, we want to make sure we don’t offend the object of our affection…so we want to know their boundaries . . . or their ‘rules.’
Another words, Trust leads to Love, which leads to WANTING to follow the Others’ rules.
BUT IT DOES NOT WORK IN REVERSE! When someone we don’t Love or Respect (or know) tries to slap rules on us, how does it make you feel? Say, like that annoying guy in the cubicle next to you. Or, perhaps your boss trying to enforce a no texting at work policy. Maybe your Mother-in-law. Whether we agree with the rules or not, what do we do? Yep, me too.
If God would have just laid out a bunch of arbitrary and capricious rules, Israel would not have Trusted Him. Or Loved Him. Or even desired to come to Know Him.
Rules can never lead to a relationship. And we can ONLY be Saved by a Relationship with Jesus!
So, a Relationship with Jesus ALWAYS leads to us WANTING to follow His commandments. But when we dump a bunch of rules on New Believers, we only ensure that we are pushing them away from a Relationship with the One Who SAVES.
I like how the Apostle Paul puts it:
2 For athe law of the Spirit of life 1in bChrist Jesus chas set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For awhat the Law could not do, 1bweak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in cthe likeness of 2sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the arequirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who bdo not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4 NAS
Requiring Someone to Follow Rules NEVER leads to Love or Trust. Following Commandments does NOT result in a relationship (except for the relationship of dictator/oppressed, perhaps). But Trusting and Loving ALWAYS lead to someone wanting to be part of your Life.
Or, another way to say it:
“NO ONE WILL CARE WHAT YOU KNOW, UNTIL THEY KNOW YOU CARE.”
God knows this principle and works this principle when dealing with humans.
From my heart to yours,
I do not know if it is only where I live, but it often seems like Christians focus on blindly following rules. Interestingly, we know better. When the question is asked at Church, ‘How are we saved?,’ no one at my Church answers, “following commandments.” So we intellectually understand that rule following is not what it means to be a Christian.
So why do we focus on rules so often? Why do we make doing or not doing things one of the most important aspects of our Christian walk?
I am not saying that no lying, no swearing, no tattoos, no stealing, no smoking and the all-important supreme focus of the Christian’s life: no sex of any kind outside of marriage (and seemingly only controlled, conservative, and minimally-pleasurable sex within), are terrible ways to live life.
Well, actually, I might take issue with them if they are not . . . uh . . . strictly Biblical…but that may have to wait for a future post.
But the important question is: Why do we do this? Does any of this “no fun” behavior help us to be Saved? Or does it just confirm Lucifer’s first rebellious accusation against God: That He is a tyrannical dictator who just makes rules without the consent of His governed . . .
Am I wrong in thinking that if we just follow rules without knowing why or under what circumstances we should or should not follow those rules — than we should call ourselves “Church-ians” rather than “Christ-ians” ?
Really. Do these behaviors, these “thou shalt nots” make us better Christ-ians?
If so, then I assume that every single Girl- and Boy-Scout is a shoe-in for Heaven, right?
Does the Bible ever indicate that any of these things we refrain from has the power to save us?
Does refraining from them somehow make us better Christians?
How about better people?
Or have we forgotten what the first six letters in the word “Christ-ian” actually stand for. I mean, if we embraced the name we seem to devote much of our focus to, our name may become the slightly more unwieldy: “I-don’t-do-that-ian” or “I-don’t-enjoy-sex-ian” or “No-tats-under-my-shirt-ian”.
It seems that we follow these ‘rules’ that God may-or-may-not-have-established but have no reason to do so except all our fellow Christians do so.
Which makes me wonder: If everybody else decided to reject and jump off the “Salvation Bridge” or the “Salvation Cliff” . . . would you?
I would Love to hear your thoughts.
From my heart to yours,
Agape, pronounced uh-GAH-pay, refers to selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. We generally think of Agape as the highest form of Love.
Agape is a Greek word and variations of it are found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers, such as in this passage from John chapter 14:
15-20 “If you really love me, you will keep the commandments I have given you and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always. I mean the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, for it can neither see nor recognise that Spirit. But you recognise him, for he is with you now and will be in your hearts. I am not going to leave you alone in the world—I am coming to you. In a very little while, the world will see me no more but you will see me, because I am really alive and you will be alive too. When that day come, you will realise that I am in my Father, that you are in me, and I am in you.
21 “Every man who knows my commandments and obeys them is the man who really loves me, and every man who really loves me will himself be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and make myself known to him.”
23-24 And to this Jesus replied, “When a man loves me, he follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him, and we will come to that man and make our home within him. The man who does not really love me will not follow my teaching. Indeed, what you are hearing from me now is not really my saying, but comes from the Father who sent me.
27-31 “I leave behind with you—peace; I give you my own peace and my gift is nothing like the peace of this world. (John 14; PHILLIPS)