We often hear about the "Christian Right," or "Conservative Christians." Yet, if you think about it, Jesus was the original liberal.  He cared about motives more than the deeds themselves (Matthew 23:5 & Mark 12:41-43) and more about compassion than adhering to rules (Luke 6:1-11 & Luke 13:10-17). This blog will reflect liberal Christian values of compassion, tolerance, mercy, charity, a thirst for knowledge & understanding, and, above all, love.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ambassadors Of Christ

Those who know me know I'm a comic book nut.  I always have been.  When you grow up unable to walk, reading about characters who can do anything provides a kind of balance.  In any event, I grew up between the pages of Superman, Batman, and alike.

Someone told me that X-Men was a great title to collect.  I picked up that year's annual, which is typically a good jumping in point for a comic book.  This issue featured a story about an X-Man drowning his sorrows in a bar, and a story about a mobbed up version of the Hulk shaking down gamblers.  I was not impressed, and didn't pick up another X-Men book for twenty years.  As a result, I missed out on some of the best comic book stories ever written.

I have a friend who is missing out on a relationship with God for much the same reason.  She's known, seemingly devout, Christians who have called her a bad parent and evil for being a single parent.  Now she sees Christians, as a whole, as judgmental hypocrites.  I keep telling her that many of us aren't like that, but that initial negative encounter has her convinced that good Christians are the exception rather than the rule.

It occurs to me that Christians are more than merely followers of Jesus Christ.  We're ambassadors people.  Like it or lump it, we set the example.  Non-Christians who have their noses pressed against the proverbial glass will see us first.  If they don't like what they see, they won't stick around long enough to examine the Bible or church doctrine.  They'll take their spiritual needs to the agnostics down the street.

It's not fair, but our actions and attitudes do effect others.  I don't know if we'll be held accountable for turning people off who may have otherwise come to know God, but I know I don't want to risk it.  I don't want to have to meet God on Judgement Day and answer for my neighbor not having a personal relationship with God.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Repenting Is Hard, Not Repenting Is Harder

"The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

With tongue in cheek, I've cited this quotation multiple times in my life. It usually comes up just as I'm about to do something which I know I shouldn't do. I say the line, give a chuckle, and commit the sin in question. Besides I'm a Christian, God will forgive me.

Er, it's a bad attitude, but an easy trap to fall into. It is. Left to my own devices, I can use what I know to justify almost anything. I figure if I'm not hurting anyone I can look at that picture or hang in that chat room. No harm no foul, right?

The problem is that deep down I know I'm doing something contrary to the will of God. When I commit the same sin over and over again, asking for forgiveness each time, repentance becomes a lie. It becomes harder to pray. When that happens, the sin becomes a wedge between me and God.

I'm not sure where exactly I thought I was going with this blog. I do know that I will probably always struggle with temptation. Perhaps the trick is to focus on other things and replace sinful habits with constructive pursuits. Easier said than done, I know, but I think it's worth the effort. There is no worse feeling than being ashamed to pray.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fear Not

Isaiah 41: 10 (ESV) ~ "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

I found the verse in my email inbox this morning.  It couldn't have come at a better time too.  My Bible study group recently came to discuss the ideas that Christians should "fear God."  This never made sense to me.

I wrote in my study answers, "I've always had trouble with the whole 'God fearing' aspect of Christianity. If you're in a healthy loving relationship with someone, you don't fear them. We're supposed to be in a personal loving relationship with God, so we shouldn't be afraid of Him. It just seems contradictory to me.  In Romans 8, Paul compares us to children and heirs of God. Children obey their parents out of love and respect. Perhaps 'respect' is a more accurate term than 'fear.'"

By my way of thinking, when we act out of fear we're acting to avoid a punishment.  When one acts to avoid a negative outcome, one is said to be acting with prudence.  A prudent act is typically thought to be amoral, which means neither moral nor immoral.  In other words, acting out of fear of God negates the morality of the act.

I have a hard time believing that God wants us to be neutral players in life.  The God I envision and worship wants us to be motivated by love and morality.  He wants us to WANT to do good for the sake of doing good, rather than to avoid going to Hell.
WOW, that ended in a place I hadn't predicted.  I don't typically get that preachy.  Sometimes, I get in a groove and the words take over.  I stand by the piece though.   Personally, I prefer God as he's depicted in Isaiah, a God who is with us and who will strengthen, help, and uphold us with his righteous right hand.

I'm curious about what you think.  Is it important to fear God?