So I'm sure that many of you have heard by now of the show with the Duggars being canceled due to some disturbing things that have come to light. To be honest I have never seen an episode of their TV show, and I do not know much about this situation, however I read a couple of articles about it, and basically what has happened is that many people have looked at Christianity and said that Christians are a bunch of hypocrites and so that's why we should ignore Christianity. Well it's true all Christians are hypocrites, I would argue that this does not say anything about the Christian religion other than that Christians fail to live up to the high standard that Christianity sets for it's believers. The standard that Christianity sets for believers is to be Holy as God is Holy. Now anyone with any kind of sense would see that this is impossible for any human to do. In fact the Bible makes this clear that it is impossible in Romans. "All have fallen short of the glory of God." This is what sin means, to miss the mark. So why would Christians set such a high standard if they cannot reach it? First Christians did not set this standard God did, and second Christians can reach it, but not in their own power. Christ are Holy as God is Holy because they are united to Christ through faith. The righteousness of Christian comes ultimately from Jesus Christ. It is not something that we have earned, and in fact is the exact opposite of what we deserve. Christians trust that Jesus is the one the makes them Holy, that justifies them before a mighty God. So while Christians can call our actions sin, we understand that it is through our savior that we have been redeemed. "So are you saying that what we do doesn't matter because we are forgiven?" May it never be, was Paul's response to this same question. What we do matters very much because of it's effect towards people here. The Christian seeks to not sin out of love for their neighbor. Sin is destructive, it hurts us and the people around us. Even though we are forgiven for our sins, if we should willing continue to sin it demonstrates our lack of understanding of what Christ did on the cross and shows a lack of love for God, and for our neighbor. Perhaps is reveals our lack of belief that the sins we are doing are in fact wrong, which is a fruit of unbelief. As humans with a sinful nature we are going to sin, but this should grieve us when we do. We are no longer at peace with our sin, but are at war. We fight every day against desires of the flesh, however we have to remember that we do not achieve righteousness by our own power, we must every day look to the one who saves us. I believe that when we stop looking to Jesus as the reason we are saved and we trust more in our own power and our ability to combat sin, that is when we open ourselves up to temptation to do all kinds of evil, because like everyone else who seeks to justify themselves, we have to change the standard, and make excuses, and cover up our wickedness so that we look pure in our own strength. This is how and where Christians fall, however it should be pointed out that they are no longer being Christians consistent with the word of God. It is so vital that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, because if God will send his people a savior it makes sense that He would speak to His people in a clear way, and that it what we have with the word. It is the standard by which Christians must conform their life around, because it is in his word that we learn, that while we are sinners falling short of God's glory, we are redeemed by the saving work of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity. It is from this standard that we understand what sin is, and how to see in our lives, and it is from this standard that we are commanded to love God and to love our neighbor which leads to us fighting against sin, because of how it hurts us and our neighbors. If one is to judge Christianity, then it should be judge by it's message through the word of God, and not to people's ability to stick to it. This does not excuse when Christians sin, however just because a person screwed up part of the quadratic equation does not mean that the quadratic equation is wrong, or should be disregarded, it means that person working the problem has some more work to do. The same is true of Christianity. What do you think, comment below and let me know.
I'm just going to say it suffering is hard. It does not matter if you are sick for a long time, it does not matter if you are separated from loved ones, or going through a death, or are being bullied for being who you are, suffering never feels good while you're going through it. This brings up an interesting questions for Christians, "Why would God allow His children to suffer so greatly?" In Romans 8 it states that believers are children of God, so why does God allow His children to suffer, and what do we do when we do go through suffering? First we must understand that God allows this suffering to come, but He does not produce it. The cause of our suffering comes from sin. We live in a fallen sinful world. Word by its nature is destructive and causes suffering. So with so much sin, there is a great deal of suffering. Why does God allow this suffering? That question is not as easy to answer because it requires knowing the mind of God, which can only truly be known as it has been revealed through His word. In God's word it says that all things work for good for those who love the Lord, and it states that suffering is a form of discipline and that it is done out of love for His people, and that it is to remind Christians that this is not our true home. Christians are apart of God's kingdom, and God's kingdom is not of this earth yet, so we must remember that we are strangers in a strange land which is why at times we will suffer. So what do Christians do when they go through suffering? The first thing I would suggest would be to understand that the Bible never tries to hide suffering from you. There are many believers who suffered in the scriptures. Joseph was sold into slavery and went to prison. David had to be on the run multiple times for his life, the entire book of Job, Steven was stoned to death, Peter was put into prison, Paul was stoned and put into prison, John was exiled to an island to die, Jesus was crucified after being beaten and whipped. Jesus even says those who do not pick up your cross and follow me are not worthy of me. In that time, to say, "pick up your cross" meant to join the death march. Suffering is not a hidden subject in scripture and so as Christians we should first understand that be Christian is to suffer. This is not the most encouraging thing to say I know, however while reality might not be comforting it is more useful. This brings me to my next point which is that Christian should understand that one day their suffering will end. Christ has promised to carry us through this life and into the next, and in this next life every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no more suffering, or sickness for the old way(which is present) will have pasted. A time is coming believer where we will be through with our suffering and so hold on to the hope of that coming day, understanding the suffering we are going through now will not even compare to joy we will experience in the new heaven and the new earth. The next thing Christians should is stand together. It is important that all Christians have a group of fellow believers they can share their burdens with. Although it should be understood that Christians will suffer, it never has been taught that Christians should suffer in isolation. Part of the reason why believers are called to gather together is so that they can help one another with their burdens including advice, prayer, sound doctrine, and sometimes just an ear. In this same way believers should also cast all their cares upon God because He cares for you. Paul had a thorn in the flesh that he prayed about and Jesus prayed in the Garden that if it were possible for Him to not go through what He did then for the Father to take that cup away from Him. Both Jesus and Paul came to God with what was on their heart praying for their affliction. In both cases God did not remove their affliction. Christ went to cross for our salvation, and God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you." Both times these men went to God with their suffering, and while God did not remove their suffering, He did comfort both of them. The Bible states that suffering never feels good while you're going through it, and so this blog is not serve as a means to remove discomfort, but it is aimed to give anyone who cares to read it, the biblical worldview of suffering and how Christians should respond to suffering when it comes. Please understand that God is with you believer, and He cares for you, and your suffering will come to an end, and please remember that God is working all things out according to His will. What do you think of suffering? Is there something that I did not cover or something more that should be said? Comment below and let me know. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think of this blog, and if you have an idea for a blog you can comment below and I'll be sure to write on it.
Justice is a word that I do not often hear in the same sentence to God anymore. Many times we talk about the forgiveness of God, and the love of God, but what the justice of God. In fact we do not hear much about a universal theme of justice hardly at all. Justice is now a word that is always associated with another word. Social justice relating to matters of justice in society, or unjust meaning that something is not right. The idea of justice as a concept is something that I think few people really think about, however justice is one of the reasons why I believe Christianity is truth. What is justice? Essentially justice is everyone getting what they deserve. When murders get life in prison or face execution, we say, "justice is served" because it is understood that the murder got what they deserved for taking a human life. One of my favorite movies is the movie Hogfather. This is a movie that explores myths, the human experience, and what is called the "Noble Lie" Towards the end of the movie the character Death, and yes Death is a character in this movie, scythe and rob and all, makes a comment about mercy and justice that has always stuck with me since the first time I watched the movie. Death challenges his granddaughter (don't ask) to take the universe and grind into the finest powder and show him one molecule of justice, and one atom of mercy. What is being conveyed here is that if there is no God, the concepts of Justice, mercy, and even love are nothing more than lies we tell ourselves and our children, in hopes that they one day become real which is also a lie. If there is no God, then really is no justice, at least no true justice. We have justice for certain crimes, but there is not justice for the person that insults you, the person that was mean to you, and so you can think about all the wrongs in your life that will never be right. I reject this idea and do believe that there is a thing called justice, because I believe there is a God, however, if we are going to talk about God and justice, then we must say that God is a just God, after all a God who is all powerful will always be just because they have the power to determine what justice is. If God is a just God, then it stands to reason that God would be a totally just God taking into account every injustice no matter how big or small, and to me this is where a majority of religions fail, but is where Christianity succeeds. I can not keep track of how many injustices I have inflicted over people throughout my life. I've lied to people, cheated people, insulted them, talked badly about them behind their backs, and the list goes on and on. I'm only 27 years old. I cannot imagine how many injustices I will inflict should I reach the age of 80 or 85. This does not take into account all the unknowingly times I wronged someone. Now these might seem small, however if we are looking at justice, can we really say that justice has a limit? It does in our society because if we punished everyone based off all the wrong things they did, there wouldn't be anyone left in society, and we can not keep track of all the wrong doings of each person all the time, and so we prioritize. God is not limited and thus if He is to be a justice God, the He must give each person punishment for every wrong that they do, not matter how big or small. Be honest if you were to think about every wrong deed you have done in your life could truly say that you have done enough to make up for it? Can you really feel like you deserve to be called innocent, or at least that your debt has been paid? I can not. This is where I feel many religions fail. I think most religions do not adequately address the issue of justice if they even address at all. I can't say that I have studied all religions, so I am making an educated guess here, but looking at the ones with the biggest followers I feel like Christianity is the one that best deals with justice and that is of course through Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God and is the second person in the Trinity (Within in one being of God, there exists 3 persons coequal and co-eternal namely Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) We believe Christ took on flesh and lived a sinless life and then died on a cross. This death was the sacrificial atonement for all of God's people. All the sins of God's people were placed upon Jesus at the cross and God delivered His full wrath upon Jesus for the sins of the world. This action paid the penalty for all those that are in Christ and death itself was conquered and thus Jesus rose from the dead, the first fruits of what is to come. It is though Jesus that all of Justice is accounted for, because Jesus took on all of the sins of his people both big and small and thus every believer has not reason to fear the judgement of God because they know that God's judgement has been paid in full by Jesus Christ. This is grace, and so Christians repent and believe in Jesus who has saved them. It is with this understanding that Christians are able to forgive other people, knowing that they are forgiven, and understanding that justice will be done. It will be done on judgement day, or it has been done on the cross. It is through Jesus that Christians can properly address issues of justice since they have a total concept of justice, and I believe this is part of the reason of how unbelievers' thinking is darkened as it says in Romans 1. Without a proper concept of justice, how can think about things in a proper way? What do you think about justice? Do you think Christianity gives a proper answer to justice? Do you know of another religion that answers all injustices both big and small? Comment below and let me know!
So there's been an article going around the web lately called "How to take Christ out of Christianity" written by Alana Massey. The article describes the author's plight of not believing in God, however she feels a deep connection with the Episcopal organization and thus seeks a way to reconcile being able to claim Christianity without having to claim Christ. While I certainly understand the author's plight, I find myself disgusted at the continued disrespect for words that continues in our culture. What do I mean by this? Well there seems to be a trend going where people use words due to their cultural context rather than using them because of their meaning. Wanting to be a Christian, but not wanting to follow God is just one example. Christian literally means "little Christ" or "Christ follower" Christ believed in God, Christ prayed to his Father and sent the Holy Spirit to his people. To say that one is a follower of Christ without sharing his core beliefs and motivations, is intellectual insanity. Gandhi to my knowledge has never been understood to be a Christian, yet he is quoted saying he liked Jesus' teachings. Because I believe that the Bible is the word of God and God's ways lead to life, it makes sense that reasonable people would be able to find at least something in the Bible they agree with. It is well understood that Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian, but found that he agreed with a great deal of what the Bible had to say, and so he literally cut out the parts he didn't like. He viewed the Bible as a good book, rather than the good book, but Jefferson and Gandhi did not try to redefine Christianity to suit their own belief, this is what this author is trying to do, and I find it appalling. I respect atheists, truth, and words too much to want to try and argue that I'm an atheist even though I believe in God, believe the Bible is his word, and it is through Jesus Christ that I have salvation from divine judgement. This author does not seem to have respect for Christians, words, or truth. To some it might seem as if I am being too harsh on this author using words like "disgusting", or "appalling" however I want to make clear I do not feel this way about the author, but rather their idea that one can causally redefine a word to suit what they want. Words have their power because it is with words that we communicate ideas. If we continue down this path of redefining words that have a long history and are connected to a series of important ideas, eventually these words will lose all their meaning. The redefinition of the word demonstrates a person's totally lack of respect for the idea that word is connected to. In this case although the author feels a connection to the Christian faith, they demonstrate their lack of respect for it, by thinking that they can call themselves a Christian and yet lack the corner stone of the faith which is resurrection of Jesus Christ which is only possible if there is a God. Believers gather because Christ is alive. Our faith only has value is Jesus Christ is alive. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians. If Jesus Christ is dead then our faith is worthless. The book of Hebrews makes clear that it is through faith that believers do what we do. Why do we love our neighbors? Because the God we believe is real has commanded us too. Why do feed the hungry? Because we see the effects of our sin upon the world and out of love for our neighbor we give them food to restrain the suffering inflicted upon them by our sin. We also give as a means of feeding the breading of life which is Jesus Christ. Each action a Christian takes is tied back to their faith in God, which is connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To deny these core tenants of the faith one is removing the foundation for all their actions and replacing it with, it feels good to good towards other. So now the author has taken Christianity and since they have removed Christ they have made the religion all about them. Why do they give to poor? Because it feels good or feels right to give to the poor. I am going to suggest that this line of thinking and this type of Christianity only works in a 1st world country where people have the luxury of acting like a saint when they feel like it. The author makes the case that they are not alone, however by redefining words to suit your wants you make yourself alone because only you can fully have the definition you want. Only you will fully commit to your worldview. So for all this person's effort to find a community which is what they want if you read the article they are isolating themselves even more. Because they seek to redefine the religion, rather than changing who they to meet the demands of the religion. In Christianity we believe that the Holy Spirit is making us more like Jesus Christ. This process is called sanctification. As we individually are transformed to made more like Christ we find that we have much in common with others who being made to be more like Christ. We are still individuals having our own preferences and things we like, however the core values, and worldview is something we share, and thus brings us together. These are things that are greater than the individual however. That is one of the great things about Christianity is that it emphasizes both the individual and the community when one has a biblical worldview. Christians gather together because the believe in and worship Jesus, just gamers gather together to play video games, and people who enjoy football gather together to watch football. In the same way that it would be crazy to say "I'm a football fan" but hate watching football, or "I'm a gamer" but hate playing video games, it is crazy to say that "I'm a Christian" but I don't believe in God, or believe Jesus is God. What do you think? Can you be Christian and not believe in God, was I too hard on the author? Is there a fault in my logic? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor