Categories
spirituality

Converting from Christianity to Jesus

There are many layers of understanding to uncover when we desire to have a relationship with God, but the hardest one to reach is the understanding that religion has nothing to do with God. This includes Christianity in all its denominations, and even its non-denominations.

Our lives might look a certain way from the outside, but only God knows what’s in our hearts. We are called to follow Jesus, not Christianity, which is a world system that tells us what our lives should be like and who we have to be to belong.

A lot of us seem to refuse to accept that Christianity is a religion and, as such, just as problematic as every other religion that has ever been created by men. Yes, religion is and has always been an obstacle between us and God’s love.

Jesus teaches us that we can not separate wheat from chaff. Yet being a Christian is largely about saying who’s living a godly life and who’s not. This is also why most churches are empty.

As Jesus’ followers, we are not called to tell people how they should live as a condition to be saved. God loves all of us and he saves whoever he wants. The transformation that he operates in our lives is unique to each of us and entirely up to his will.

I am often appalled by the oppressive Christian beliefs about our sexuality, which reveals their legalistic systems.

As a friend of loving people who are gay, I can absolutely not stand the oppressive Christian preaching that singles them out as if they were the worst sinners in the world.

What about the heart of stone ready to exclude and condemn someone for love, albeit same-sex? Is that not sinful? Remember, mercy always triumphs over judgment. God is not going to send a loving brother to hell because of his sexual orientation.

As a woman, I can absolutely not stand the oppressive Christian preaching about virginity and marriage for life. This is being preached among many who are abused, abusers or too conservative to promote a satisfying relationship.

When we pervert Jesus’ message of love to promote a deeply legalistic and religious lifestyle, it becomes evil and oppresses people instead of saving them into a gracious spiritual life.

But God puts his word in people’s hearts however he wants, including people who haven’t heard of Jesus. This truth is offensive to most Christians, blinded that they are by their religious arrogance.

Following Jesus and abiding to Christianity are thus mutually exclusive. Yes, there are followers of Jesus who happen to attend Christian churches, because there is a good community there. Yet the vast majority of Christians are not followers of Jesus.

Christians’ conviction that believing into Jesus requires religious knowledge and practice shows a profound lack of understanding of God’s almighty power and plan for every one of us.

Following Jesus, not abiding to Christianity, is what saves us from our own pursuits of adequacy and worthiness. He calls us to lose our lives so we can become a home to his life-giving love.

Remember, our God is a God of the lost. After he finds us, we still desperately need his loving grace to guide us along the way.

Categories
love

Intellectual debate won’t make us wiser. Love will.

Most of my life I was known as an intellectual. I still am an intellectual. But intellect never brought me balance.

No amount of knowledge ever made me peaceful. I enjoyed being acknowledged for my intellect, but there was always debate going on about everything. And there was no truth, only competing perspectives.

One of the most fundamental changes that I’ve experienced after my conversion was a progressive detachment from this obsessive compulsive disorder we all suffer from called debate.

Most of the time, wherever there is a need for debate, love is lacking. On the other hand, wherever love is abundant, there is no need or incentive for debate.

I never feel like debating – I’ve learned to either keep quiet or vocally refuse to join. Having a background in journalism and a history of winning over debates, this is a radical change – and a wonderful one that’s brought peace to my interactions with people.

Nonetheless I am genuinely interested in the well being of those around me, so here is one strategy that I find more meaningful and efficient to produce change both in and around me:

– If I disagree with something that is being said or done, instead of debating it, I focus on acting in a way such that reflects my vision as opposed to investing in showcasing my perspective to either convince (win) or accept (lose) against someone else’s perspective.

There’s nothing more powerful than actions. So why spend so much valuable energy on debate? The world and particularly the Internet is already full of it – and there is a profound lack of love in it.

When we’re lead by love, we learn how to transcend the dynamics of this world to shield ourselves from all its nonsensical behavior.

Categories
love

Love casts out all fear

The fear of a life with an unknown expiry date is soul crushing. Yet this isn’t the life we are called to live. We drown in fear because we don’t live in Love.

Our calling is to live in Love, and powerfully overcome death as we walk towards eternity.

Love keeps us strong. Even when everything and everyone around us collapses, we stand in peace and filled with hope.

When this divine Love inhabits us, we get a taste of the eternity it comes from and leads us to.

There is no medicine for our fear in this world. If we want to be healed of living in fear, we need to want this Love.

Because only Love casts out all fear.

Categories
forgiveness

Enjoying the freedom of being forgiven

There is a freedom we can only enjoy when we know we are forgiven. It gives us peace to live life as we can, based on the conscience we have, and not as others think that we should.

Being forgiven humbles our hearts.

But we still need to be watchful of different people who will come around trying to question this freedom.

Remember, “church” is not a group or a place. It is a spiritual dimension filled with love, not judgement.

Let the One who called you guide your heart with his peace. And enjoy the forgiven life of freedom he gave you.

Categories
love

We are Love’s poem

We are a work of art, forged by eternal Love. Our design is meant to express our maker’s wisdom. Since our maker’s essence is Love, we too are expressions of his loving ways.

When we choose to connect with Love, our essence and maker, we are free to enjoy a peaceful life in this world, regardless of circumstances. He makes his home in us and we share his power to love and forgive everyone.

When we choose to connect with the systems of this world, we allow our peace, joy and love to become dependant on our circumstances.

It’s a choice we make, and we are free to make it. But each of us has a particular timing that only he knows.

We are free from everything and everyone that tries to become an obstacle between us and his eternal Love.

And we need to be careful not to allow people to tell us how we are supposed to live.

We can’t live a genuinely free spiritual life when we judge, single out others and live in a bubble of self-righteousness.

When we connect with Love, we live under grace, knowing we can do no good without it operating in our hearts.

Let this divine grace lead your heart, not people.

It is when we allow our maker to bring us into a full expression of his love poem that we become salt of the earth, powerfully able to love one another for his good works.

Categories
love

The freedom of Love

God is not forbidding us from doing things. On the contrary, he gives us the free will to make our own decisions.

Similarly in politics, a politician can be a follower of Jesus and yet give others the possibility of making decisions that are not aligned with his/her personal convictions.

I know a wonderful woman in politics who is exactly like this. I voted for her with my heart filled with hope and love.

It’s called free will. All else is judgment.

We have the freedom that God, who is Love, gives us. We aren’t called to advocate against each other’s freedom.

It is God’s love that is in control. Always.

We give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. And to God what is God’s.

Categories
forgiveness

The joy of forgiveness

How we talk about people who hurt us says a lot about whether or not we have a relationship with the One who made us.

I met a Christian man recently who has been divorced for four years and talks in a resentful and bitter way about his ex-wife. According with him, she had no right before God to divorce him.

It was hard to listen to him. His voice, no matter what I talked about, was full of judgment and condemnation.

What he is missing in his life is not his ex-wife, but the joy of forgiveness. This is a gift that we receive from God when we allow him to make his home in us.

He attends church every Sunday and tried to discredit my faith when I said I wasn’t religious.

Yet no regular attendance to a place or membership to a group will give any of us the divine ability to forgive everyone. It comes from God when we are humble and willing to receive it.

It is only when we forgive everyone, and genuinely love and wish them well, that we experience divine joy.

Once we have tasted it, we always come back for more.

When this joy overflows in our spirit, our voices become an encouragement for others who can’t forgive and, as a result, can’t find peace in their lives.

If you are struggling with bitterness and resentment, pray for the willingness to be filled with love and forgiveness.

And you will joyfully taste peace that exceeds all understanding.

Categories
love

Loving one another outside the box of religion

Living in the spirit is about putting Love first in our lives. It’s about being inclusive and merciful instead of judgmental.

After spending most of my life as an atheist, I have found Christian groups to display the least welcoming and most judgmental behavior I’ve experienced in life.

I have visited, joined and frequented a lot of different Christian groups and have found that they live in bubbles. It is difficult to make friends with them, because of how “concerned” they are about not living in the world and how much they avoid it.

I have found it quite difficult, as someone who breaths God’s grace everyday and who knows his love is not selective, to become close with Christians. Their tendency to single out people who do not correspond to their ways breaks my heart.

Yet God is love and he loves all of us. He calls and saves whoever he wants, however and whenever he wants.

When I experienced a conversion 7 years ago, I was alone and no one preached to me. God puts his word, which is the expression of his eternal love and almighty power, in people’s hearts however he wants. Including people who haven’t heard of Jesus.

The transformation that he operates in our lives is unique to each of us and entirely up to his will.

It is wonderful to read the word and experience the joy and peace that it gives as God reveals more and more of himself to us personally. However there is a lot of interference in this beautiful and powerful relationship coming from people in religion – even those from non-denominational groups.

Last year was decisive for me to move on from a number of such groups I had “trialed”.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

Matthew

If you have tried finding community in the “Christian world” and felt they were never going to let you in, don’t be discouraged. That’s likely not the place where God has called you to be.

Remember: God’s will is for us to love one another.

And there is a whole world out there where we can meet and, regardless of our differences, be inclusive as Jesus was. He is the incarnation of God’s perfect love and infinite mercy.

Categories
love

A fresh start with Love

On January 5th I celebrated 7 years since my conversion. It feels like I’ve lived hundreds of years, yet I feel so rejuvenated because everyday is a fresh start when Love is our master.

I’m taking the opportunity to share a bit of my story again today. I know it encourages believers and non-believers alike.

When I was an atheist, two psychologists helped me navigate and cope with a series of life events that crushed me. But they never healed me. 

To say that I was hanging by a thread would be an understatement. And although I have a lot of appreciation for deeply humane and loving psychologists like the ones who helped me, there’s only so much they can do. 

I couldn’t imagine myself going one week without therapy. At that point I felt emotionally crippled. My life was a full-time burden.

That’s when I did the unimaginable. One night I surrendered and asked God for help. Being an atheist, I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a crushed, humble heart as I called him. And God listened.

God healed overnight what two different psychologists couldn’t heal in years.

For the first time in my life I knew that there was one who loved me just the way I always wanted to be loved. And his divine love set me free.

God’s love worked in me to forgive others who had been the root cause of a lot of emotional turmoil in my life. And he also taught me to forgive myself.

Without God’s love, I could never have healed. 

It is his divine and eternal love in me that makes it possible to forgive everyone and the world everyday, regardless of merit. And heal.

Categories
forgiveness

Mercy always triumphs over judgment

When we see others acting in ways that don’t align with our conscience in Christ, we are called to be merciful.

We were forgiven by a merciful God who carried our sins on the cross and set us free to live a spiritual life filled with his love.

The world might judge and condemn, but we live under the power of grace. We speak up for mercy, forgiveness and love for everyone being crushed by the destructive systems of this world.

We must not keep silent when others are being crushed. Indignation has its place as long as we don’t lose our minds and become hostile, giving way to expressions of evil.

When it is necessary to confront others to assert our values, we must do so with calm and loving words.

We should pray with a hopeful spirit and ask that the One who made us converts the perpetrators of hatred and the ones being affected by it into expressions of his love.

His mercy always triumphs over judgment.

And when we allow him to make his home in us, and seek him first, his mercy triumphs over our judgment.

Without him, we would be agents of destruction. With him, we are agents of his peace and cooperators for his loving word.

Categories
faith

We become stronger when we stop defending ourselves

I grew up being told to defend myself. You probably did too.

And I have to admit it: my instincts used to tell me the exact same. Sometimes they still do. But I know now that the best defence that I can ever get is not my own, or anyone else’s.

It is the wise, timeless and powerful defence from the One who is the master of everything we see (and cannot see).

Relying on God to do the weight lifting takes confidence in his love, trust in his ways and faith in his power to transform us.

We become stronger when we stop defending ourselves and let God defend us instead. While we might fail, he always succeeds and does exactly what needs to be done to deliver us from our oppressors and bring peace to our lives.

Relying on God to defend us is a daily exercise.

But his strength becomes our strength when we let him take over from us. All we have to do is step back and watch his love at play making the impossible possible in every aspect of our lives.