The importance of friendship is something we all take for granted sometimes. We often are reminded of the value of our friends when the chips are down and we need someone to be in our corner.
My Granddad always said the quality of one’s friends was the single-best indicator of the quality of one’s life. Granddad had a three-tier model for the things that bring us joy. Granddad believed that things like money, power, security, a nice house or flashy car were deceptive “middlemen” – things that we often mistake for happiness – but rarely bring more than fleeting joy.
Granddad populated the second tier with things within ourselves such as our degree of autonomy, self-reliance, confidence and self-discipline. All of which, in Granddad’s opinion, could restore money, power or a home when these things are inevitably lost in a heartbeat – whether via lawsuit, accident, old age, natural disaster, economic collapse, false accusation or hundreds of other seemingly random events in life.
What Granddad placed on the his top tier . . . is the value that friends bring into our lives. A true friend brings us comfort, a sounding board, someone to spend downtime with, someone who shares in our thoughts and dreams, a person to laugh or cry with, a trusted source of wisdom and advice . . . and the list goes on and on. We all need people with whom we can share our deepest secrets and reveal our truest self.
In C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce the master penman creates a setting where Hell is a place where every human being is completely isolated from everybody else – with the next closest human being miles away. C.S. Lewis makes a compelling case that Hell is not a place of steam, magma and blazing infernos as we have been taught. Rather The Great Divorce postulates that Hell is instead any place where Humans lack companionship and friendship.
Every now and again you will find that you face a problem which seems overwhelming. Having a great friend or companion is often the difference between facing great depression and laughing at the challenge you face. This is true whether the issue is financial, a problem with your significant other, a complex issue affecting your career, or a fight with your kids or parents.
The best parts of life are those that contain your richest laughter. Friends are usually a part of those moments. The more and closer friends one maintains, the more laughter and joy you are likely to experience. Reach out to a friend today and tell them you love them.
“The best things in life are free. It is important never to lose sight of that. So look around you. Wherever you see friendship, loyalty, laughter and love…there is your treasure.” — Neale Donald Walsch
You can exist without friends; but you cannot truly live without them.
More Fun Personal Development Ideas
Enlist a Mentor. As many of the pioneers of personal development often said: “The easiest road to success is to find someone who has accomplished what you want to accomplish, and do what they have done. Think about the people in your life who you look up to. What qualities and characteristics do they possess that you would like to learn? Decide that you will approach them, and let them know what you admire about them — and ask for their help in adopting some of the characteristics you admire. There are very few people in this world who will turn down such a request. As an added bonus, you might find them opening doors for your future that you could never have foreseen or imagined.
Take a Closer Look at Your Friends. Now that you have networked with someone on the outer perimeter of your social circle, look at those closest to you. We all have amazing qualities. Demand of yourself the discipline to start really paying attention to the awesome qualities of your family and closest friends. Let them know about those qualities and ask them to teach you how to acquire those characteristics you admire.
Eliminate Hatred in Your Life. Only in the last few years has science really begun to understand how damaging it is for us, as humans, to carry around hatred. It does nothing to punish the object of our hate. Instead, it wrecks our life, saps our vitality, and crushes our dreams. We devastate ourselves and our future — and usually the other person doesn’t have a clue how we feel. Decide now that you are not going to let ‘hate’ zap any more of your vital energy or destroy your peace of mind. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to destroy an enemy . . . is to make him a friend.”
“The best way to destroy an enemy . . . is to make him a friend.” – Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President
If you do anything of importance with your life, there will be people who oppose you and say mean things about you. It is so seductively easy to hate them back. It is also toxic quicksand. It not only damages you, but it is probably a more difficult habit to break than heroin. It seems incredibly hard to love these folks in return for their hate. But it is rewarding on a scale like almost nothing else in life. Being able to forgive and show love to those who despise you reminds you that you are 100% responsible for your life and fills you with peace. Who most hates you? Take actions, right now and send them an email or text. Apologize if you have been wrong. Humble yourself to them. Show them love. See if you can find closure on past arguments. If they refuse, make the decision to love them all the harder. Why? Because it is now they who are suffering…and that sucks as you know. But being free of your attachment to hatred is liberating and infuses you with peace, joy, truth, and love.
Click here to read Part III in this series, Fun Personal Development Done Write
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,
In his 21 Suggestions for Success, H. Jackson Brown, Jr. declares number one: “Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.”
“Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
The above quote should be required to be memorized in school. We should repeat it daily. The law should require it to be printed in large letters at any facility where one might go on a date. It probably should be read to us repeatedly in the womb.
90%! Must of us would work incredibly hard at something that we knew would determine 50% of our happiness . . . yet most of us approach our relationships with a luck-of-the-draw, laissez-faire attitude.
The answer is for most of us is that we don’t understand Love or comprehend how the Process of Attraction works. We think it is this mysterious “feeling” that just happens. We believe it is uncontrollable…it just happens. We don’t know how to intensify it or reduce it. Love has become our master. That should never be. Humans are capable of complete emotional mastery. Emotions are supposed to help us. They should never hinder us. Love most of all.
Love and Attraction are not magical or mysterious, and both can be mastered to a very high level without any advance college degree. They are both founded on easily-learned scientific principles. If you worry that “learning” love or attraction will make dating less romantic or suck the joy out of your love life . . . you would be completely wrong!
Like everything else, as you increase your knowledge of how attraction works, you appreciate it even more, and you will become better at it. This, in turn, will enable you to attract higher-quality partners, and you will find that you can use love and attraction consciously to improve every other area of your life.
Without learning the fundamental principles of love and attraction, you all but assure yourself that 90% of your life will be misery instead of happiness.
Is that really what you want?
Good. You will find the principles of love and attraction throughout this blog. For additional resources click on the Goodness tab on the main menu above. We will be adding additional links below as we more posts on this critical topic.
Yes, I am sure there must be a great lawyer joke in this post’s title. But it is not a joke. So focus.
Question: Which one, attorney or wolf, left unchecked, is most dangerous? Are you focused on that?
What if both were inside your head? Focus on which would be most dangerous then.
How about two of each inside your head?!? Two attorneys and two wolves.
You must have a gigantic noggin for us to have stuffed all that inside! But that’s not the point. In this post we are focused on . . .
Alan Cohen, the author of Why Your Life Sucks And What You Can Do About It (awesome and hilarious book in the event you have not read it), writes:
“Imagine two lawyers in a courtroom inside your head. One is arguing for your possibilities and you achieving your goals. The other is arguing for your limits and why you don’t deserve what you want. Who will win?
The lawyer whom you pay the most.
The way you pay these lawyers, however, is not with money; it is with your attention.”
* * *
“One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside of people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is Unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, and inferiority.
The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth, and compassion.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.’”
So, what are you focusing on? Whatever it is, it merits 100% of your focus. Do you want that to be thoughts of who you could be? Your goals and ambitions? And how you will achieve them? Ultimately, how you will spread your Love and make the world a better place?
Or do you want to continue focusing on your fears? Your past failures? Your regrets? And how nothing you do matters? Or how it won’t work out anyway?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. BUT THE RESULT IS GUARANTEED.
Your Life is 100% guaranteed to follow your thoughts. As we have discussed before, God is THE Creator, but He has entrusted you and me with the power to create, as well. And we create with our thoughts.
Want to explode into the life of which you have always dreamed? It is 100% guaranteed to happen if you dwell on nothing but those thoughts.
If you instead wish to stay mired in a failed relationship, a business failure, a poor childhood, or any other negative portion of your past, simply allow your mind to concentrate on those things. You are 100% guaranteed to repeat them.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. BUT THE RESULT IS GUARANTEED.
Pay attention to whatever it is you are doing. Love and feel how alive you are when you are 100% focused and completely engaged in it. Complete it. Then, and only then, move your energy and mind 100% to the next item.
Alan Cohen quarterbacks us on the game-winning drive with this analogy: “Your real enemies are the self-defeating thoughts, paltry expectations, and beliefs that you must live at less than full throttle. You will experience as much pain as you are willing to accept. You do have control over how much you hurt. Pain happens; suffering is optional. You can choose thoughts that bring you relief rather than imprisonment. To find your freedom, stand at the doorway of your mind and monitor your thoughts. Notice which ones lift you and which ones drag you down. Then, like a bouncer at an exclusive party, admit only those on the invitation list and send the others back where they came from. Fate is not a net cast over you by capricious fortune; it is a garden you cultivate by the thoughts you attend to. Shift your attention and you will shift your life.”
Brian Johnson’s reflection on the above: “LOVE that image of a bouncer at the doorway of your mind! How AWESOME is that? 🙂 We talk about this All. The. Time. For good reason: It’s the key to your happiness. So, get your big bad bouncer self rockin’ that velvet thought rope, will ya?! Challenge your negative thoughts. Don’t let them crash your party.
“So get your big bad bouncer self rockin’ that velvet thought rope, will ya?!” – Brian Johnson, Chief Philosopher
“So get your big bad bouncer self rockin’ that velvet thought rope, will ya?!”
Did the Chief Philosopher really just write that?!?
A few more Alan Cohen quotes that I love in closing:
“Your life is not what the stars, numbers, genetics, environment, politics, or economic conditions make it; it is what you make it. External variables influence, but internal variables determine.”
“Your true strength resides in holding your power in the midst of those who have abdicated theirs.”
“When you fall in love with yourself, you will be irresistible to everyone else. When you find your beloved inside you, you will find your beloved beside you.” – Alan Cohen
Quotations above by Alan Cohen. Find him at www.AlanCohen.com
We are all in this together.
All eight billion of us.
Really. We are. Our fates are intertwined.
Are we going to continue to let government, business interests, and religion tell us who “our enemies are” and let YouTube, Google, and conspiracy theorists pit ‘them’ vs. ‘us’?
What if we refused to accept the suggestion, for any reason, that there was a them?
What if we decided to become adamant there is only an us?
Take a minute to reflect on what the world would be like if each of us decided there is only a we. What if we decided that our family, all 8 billion of us, were in this together? What if we looked out for each other and had each other’s back?
By choosing to focus on what unites us rather than what separates us, we can change the world. In Truth, if we decided to do this, the question would not be IF we could change the world . . . or even HOW MUCH we could change the world.
The only question would be: Would we officially have to change the name “Earth” to “Heaven“? Or, does that happen automatically?
* * *
Everyone has a heart.
Every heart wants to love and be loved.
You never know what every person you meet is going through.
That person passing you in the hall may have just lost a loved one.
The person in the elevator may be suicidal.
You never know the hurt hiding behind the mask.
You never know the battle they are waging within.
You could be standing next to someone completely broken.
So don’t withhold your smile. Never withdraw your good will.
Always provide hope to every single person you meet. Hope may be all that they possess.
Let us connect them with the love in our heart
. . . and with the network of Love all around us.
Take a minute now to decide you will do this today. Be grateful for something. And tell yourself nothing is worth withdrawing your love or your smile from anyone you meet today.
Remember: Life is hard. God is great.
Do your best not to reverse them.
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”]
“[No one is a child of God] who does not Love their brother and sister…this is the message…We should Love one another…We know that we have passed from death to life, because we Love each other. Anyone who does not Love remains in death… If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the Love of God be in that person? [L]et us not Love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – I John 3:10-18
Jesus’ message (and of every Great Religious Teacher) was NOT that we must perfectly follow commandments to be Saved. In fact, that is the OPPOSITE of the Christian Gospel! The Christian Message is that we are incapable of reaching a place of ‘sinlessness’ while we still wear human flesh, and Jesus died for those shortcomings. Note the Beloved Apostle’s words:
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…If we claim we have not sinned, we make [God] out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” – I John 8-10
We will sin. It is part of being human. And the Gospel is the Story of the outrageously scandalous Love that God the Creator showed to us humans. Can you picture God planning Salvation? Maybe He said,
I don’t care if none of My children accept My free gift…I Love them and can’t bear to see them flounder around in their poor choices without any chance of a better Life. So I, God, will go to their crappy little planet, Myself, and absorb their punishment, their sin, and their shame in hopes some of them will accept My Free Gift of Love.
What if Jesus would have adopted the Major Purpose of many Christians — “to follow commandments”? Jesus could have followed the commandments perfectly . . . without ever crawling up on that cross to Save you and me.
What saved us was not Jesus’ Commandment-keeping. What Saved us is Jesus’ Love for us!
And that is exactly how WE are Saved — By showing Love to Others.
Every human will break commandments in their Life. Many times. But even if we could keep them all, of what profit would that be to others? Think of a few great people in history. What makes their Life extraordinary?
Do you remember them for NOT doing things? I have never heard someone say they admired President Lincoln for NOT raising taxes. Do we speak reverently of Martin Luther King, Jr. because he DIDN’T wear mis-matched clothing? Winston Churchill is not remembered for NOT taking God’s Name in vain.
No! Every great person — whether that Greatness is on the stage of World History or ‘merely’ being a great Mom, neighbor or co-worker — is measured by their Love expressed in action and in Truth (although Words of Love are good, too.). Greatness is not measured, EVER, by what we DON’T DO!
It that always easy? Hell no! There are times when Love is incredibly painful…and sometimes in return you will receive no fanfare . . . or even gratitude. On occasion, your ‘thanks’ will be disdain, vile hatred, and the person you are trying to help may spit in your face.
Love is much more difficult than merely following commandments. But that is what Real Christians, in fact True Followers of all Great Faiths, are called upon to do. In fact, you might say: Love is NOT what Believers do. . .
Love is what True Believers ARE!
Love is what True Believers ARE!
You could say, ‘Yeah, but God does not break Commandments.’ And you may be correct.
He is God because He LOVES.
God is Love. And if we want to truly be our Heavenly ‘Father’s’ children, we should become like Him.
No one has ever seen God; but if we Love one another, God lives in us and his Love is made complete in us. . . God is Love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them. I John 4:12-16
From my heart to yours,