Stumbling Through Life

My photo
Please, God – Don’t strike me with lightning! I’m just trying to figure this world out. Sometimes I think and say things that are stupid. But sometimes, too, You tell me things that are so meaningful that I simply have to write them down. This blog is nothing more than a diary of some of these thoughts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Simple Christianity

Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

How simple is that? Believe in premilleniallism or postmillenialism, young-earth Creationism or Theistic evolution, transubstantiation or consubstantiation, but remember to carry each other's burdens. That's what Christianity should be about.

Peace, Love, Simplicity

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pharisaical: A definition

A.Word.A.Day with thanks to Anu Garg


PRONUNCIATION: (far-uh-SAY-uh-kuhl)

MEANING: adjective: Characterized by hypocritical self-righteousness; putting emphasis on strict observance of rituals unrelated to the spirit or meaning of the ceremony.

ETYMOLOGY: After the Pharisees, a Jewish sect during 1 BCE - 1 CE, whose members were noted for strict observance of rites and rituals, and felt superior because of it. The word is derived via Latin and Greek from Aramaic prishayya, plural of prish (separated).

The Pharisees made Jesus more angry than any other sinners; more than tax collectors, more than adulterers, more than "real" criminals.
Why? They followed Him around, trying to catch Him in a lie, trying to catch Him sinning. When He acted with compassion toward the blind, the crippled and the sick, they took him to task for doing it on the Sabbath... the wrong day of the week. (Mark 2)
Who were they? They were the "good guys," the "white hats." They did everything right. They were the religious leaders of the day.

Do you know any Pharisees? Anyone who declares loudly that their way is right, and maybe even that anyone who disagrees is going to hell? It's tempting to believe them; their answers seem simple, and they seem so sure of themselves: "Just do all the right things, exactly the right way, and you'll get into heaven; just like me." Whoops! What happened to "for all have sinned..."? (Romans 3:23) What happened to GRACE? (Romans 11:16)

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Matthew 23:24

Don't follow the Pharisees. Follow Jesus.

Peace, Love, Discernment

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wacky Christian Races

Nowadays, some Christians spend a lot of effort criticizing others' beliefs. I thought I'd help out to make it easier. Here's a handy list to use when you meet other Christians, so you'll know if they're really Christians:

  • Do you believe all the right things?

  • Do you believe the Bible is literal/inerrant/infallible?

  • Do you read only from the correct translation of the Bible?

  • Do you believe in creationism?

  • Do you vote correctly?

  • Are you rich/poor enough to qualify?

  • Are you born again, and can you recite your conversion story?

  • Do you believe America is a Christian country, and that all our our founding fathers were Christians?

  • Do you believe in the American constitution?

  • Do you fully understand and agree with the entire Bible?

  • Do you always obey the entire Bible?

  • Are you always happy?

  • Do you never feel doubt?

  • Most important: Do you believe just as I do?

Hey, wait... Is that my job as a Christian? To decide if you are good enough? Is it your job to make certain I make the cut? Maybe we should have trials to find out if those around us pass muster. Maybe we should hold them under water to find out if they float. Then we'll really know if our neighbors are good enough for us. (Hey Christians: This isn't like those old "Wacky Races" cartoons. You will not earn points with God by knocking other Christians out of the race, flattening their tires, or injuring them.)

I noticed one thing about the above list, and it is taken from conversations I've seen online by Christians; it's mostly about believing the right way, but not about action; not about helping the widows and the orphans, for instance. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

The Bible has something to say about this attitude:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

Oh, and one other thing... "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone..." John 8:7

P.S. In case it isn't obvious, the above list is completely tongue-in-cheek. I believe every person, Christian or not, is on a journey, and it isn't my place to judge them. It's only my place to share the Good News. (Romans 3:23-24)

Peace, Love, Acceptance

Friday, October 1, 2010

Obama and Grace

When asked why he’s a Christian, (has another president undergone this kind of questioning to “prove” his faith?) Obama said only one thing I disagree with: “...we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own. And that's part of what makes this country what it is.”

Article: Obama 'Christian by choice'

While I disagree with his statement “path to grace,” I agree that we must respect all people even those of different religions, or no religion. That’s what makes us Americans; not insisting they agree with us.

As for “paths to grace,” the closest I believe is that God doesn’t send good people to hell. Rather, I believe “good” non-Christians don’t know Him YET. If people are striving to do the right thing as they see it, they will meet Him face-to-face, they will recognize Him, and they will run into His arms. I can’t believe anything different; “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Do I believe there are other “paths to grace?” No. Being a good person doesn’t get you in. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 But He does accept people at any point in their lives, even at the very end. That’s why the robber on the cross saw Jesus in paradise. That’s why the Prodigal son got a feast when he came home. That’s why I know that, no matter how much I mess up, I know in my heart that Jesus loves me. He’s not looking the other way – He knows I’m trying, and he knows I fail. (Not cheap grace – “I’ve just live for myself and change at the last second.” Pfff. God is smarter than that.)

Grace is the coolest thing about Christianity! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 I couldn't work my way to heaven, or to paradise or nirvana or anywhere else. I'm just too flawed.

As an American, I respect all people of all faiths.
As a Christian, I invite you to meet Jesus.

One more thing: Barack Obama is my president right now. I respect him. If he says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.

Peace, Love, Grace