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
spirituality

Mending our brokenness

We all come to a point in our lives where our brokenness becomes unbearable. When we reach this point of no return, if we humbly ask for help, help comes in powerful ways.

Yet most of us will spend a lifetime seeking help for our brokenness in all the wrong places. Going from numerology to philosophy. From therapy to meditation. From hypnosis to healers. From atheism to agnosticism. From buddhism to spiritism. I’ve been there. I just never tried drugs.

Seekers won’t listen if you tell them that none of it is going to work. I was a seeker and seekers are blinded by their own interests. They have to go through it all and see the truth for themselves.

And the truth is that until we hit rock bottom, we are not going to have the completely broken, humbled heart to surrender and ask for help from the only One who can help us.

It is only when we get to that point that we are called to believe in Jesus. And he will mend our brokenness with his divine love.

The peace and light that come with living in a love-filled spirit allow us to clearly see our battles and the beautiful way ahead as we go through them. These battles are our temptations.

Jesus experienced all the temptations that try us on a daily basis. Everything in this world that has crossed your mind has also crossed his, struck his senses and provoked identical feelings.

His humanity is not different from ours. He lived in the same body we have, had the desires we have and felt the brokenness we feel. It is only because he knows exactly what we go through, and yet was not overpowered by it, that he can help us.

It is God who operates in us both the will and the readiness to resist our temptations. We can’t resist them out of our own efforts. His calling is for us to rely on him in our struggles. But he is the only one who does the work and all credit goes to him.

When we don’t rely on him, we give in to paranoid responses to temptations. We become disturbed by each temptation and experience shame, to which we respond with obsessive prayer, fasting and repetitive requests for forgiveness.

It took God incarnated as a human to overcome all our temptations. Jesus’ humanity is our own and, knowing that we are forgiven, we should not feel ashamed. It takes God making his home in us and operating his power in us to resist.

We all need to learn to allow Jesus to walk us by the hand. Our calling is to believe into him and seek him first in our lives, so we can enjoy his peace while he works on us.

Categories
spirituality

God’s gifts bring joy, not fear

We know that we have a gift from God when it makes us peaceful and when it is used by God to also bring peace to others.

We are free to accept these gifts or reject them. They don’t dominate or overpower us in any way.

God’s gifts don’t make us gloomy or fearful.

If we experience gloom and fear about an unusual manifestation within ourselves, that’s not a gift from God.

God is all good, all light and expresses himself through love.

Any ability we have to see and interact with who’s dead or to manipulate how others think and feel is not from God.

It is only when we rely on his light and love to guide us that we have the strength to rebuke this darkness that offers us pseudo powers that ultimately only aim to separate us from God and destroy us.

As always, God gives us the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to everything. To life, death, hatred, love – even to his salvation!

He is ready to rescue us from the expressions of evil in the world when we decide that we don’t want them.

We can ask God to take away the evil oppression that’s troubling us and he will replace this darkness with his light.

He called us to a life of freedom in the spirit and his loving power is manifested in us when we love one another.

Categories
love spirituality

Prayer, a therapy of Love

Prayer is an intimate conversation with God.

Because he already lives in us, we don’t need to pray out loud. God doesn’t need us to utter words, he knows our minds.

Prayer is not the repetition of religious text. It is a moment of intimacy with God to express our love, gratitude and share our struggles to ask for guidance. 

We chat with God in our own way.

I do it all the time. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. It doesn’t have to be in a quiet place. I don’t move into a position or fold my hands. All I do is open my heart to God.

It is the safest and most powerful way of opening up.

It is therapeutical, because it helps us identify what’s troubling us. Yet God doesn’t need us to tell him our troubles – he knows.

His diagnostic is that we rely on ourselves instead of relying on him.

He treats us with his forgiveness and heals our brokenness with his love.

He also does’t need to be reminded of what we need – he knows and is already taking care of us in his own perfect time and way. We do what we can, then rest. God is in control. 

Prayer is a wonderful way to consciously connect with him and experience the peaceful hope that this connection fills us with. 

Although he already knows everything, he still wants to hear from us through our prayers, because he knows we need this.

God listens. God knows.

And he will gives us more than what we ask or need.

Categories
love spirituality

Rebuilding our love bonds with a spirit of repentance

Every relationship that we have will experience cracks in its structure at some point. But we can mend those cracks, or even rebuild a broken bond, with a spirit of repentance.

Love teaches us to repent and live life with a renewed spirit that makes possible what wasn’t possible before. We are given a chance to do what is right and move on with a hopeful spirit.

While the world puts a lot of weight on “telling the truth”, repentance is about actions, not words.

We are called to rebuild our love bonds with repentance through a change in our attitude. It is our actions that express love.

This means that if a hurtful truth from which we wholeheartedly repent is bound to break our love bond, Jesus isn’t calling us to tell it and crush someone with its unbearable weight.

We’re not called to tell a truth that crushes. Destructive truths can only destroy. Instead, we are called to live the truth of our repentance and rebuild our love bonds with love.

Categories
faith spirituality

When being wronged is good

We will be wronged a lot in the course of our lives.

Each of us has the freedom to either be wronged and not take action against our oppressor or pursue the justice of this world.

Yet it is when we have the willingness to be wronged and to suffer loss that we are given the opportunity to keep Christ’s virtue at a cost that this world is not willing to pay.

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

Paul

I know wonderful people who have suffered severe wrongdoings.

Thanks to their surrender and faith in the wise ways of God, they make a decision everyday not to pursue worldly justice. Their peace and joy overflow and inspire.

This way of life, which mirrors Jesus’ spirituality, resonates with few of us. Yet this is the life that rewards us with peace that exceeds all understanding. This is the divine life worth living.

Categories
faith spirituality

The righteous will live by faith

I always hesitate to call myself a Christian. The first followers of Jesus were coming from religious backgrounds and pagan practices. They were later referred to as “the way”, but Jesus himself didn’t give any names to anything. So why should we?

Being a follower of Jesus is about being freed by God’s love, a love that we are blessed with through God’s grace. Paul himself a religious man converted to believer describes the fruit of this spirit perfectly:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23

When Jesus came, there was already an ongoing situation with religion and religious people that was not surprising back then – and it isn’t surprising now.

If we come off as stiff, judgmental, hypocritical and legalist, that might still make us Christians, but certainly doesn’t make us Jesus followers. Christian world leaders using their religion to justify violence and discrimination is just one of many red flags rightfully attached to Christianity. 

Our attitude toward others ultimately depends on how much of a ‘fight’ we put up with the worst in ourselves. In other words, the evil that inhabits us is always there, but if we choose to live under God’s grace and not under the law or religion, we will make it – because the righteous will live by faith.

Categories
love spirituality

Feeling comfortable in our own skin by transcending it

I know it is important that we feel comfortable in our own skin. But only love provides that comfort. When we are filled with love, we transcend the body and live peacefully in the spirit.

We, believers, know that this world is full of struggles, so we don’t wrestle with it. Being accepted, liked or even respected aren’t our battles. Our only battle is with evil trying to keep us enslaved to the deadly systems of this world.

We know that the one who has loved us from the beginning was neither accepted, liked or respected in this world. So why would we?

God invites us to live in spirit and truth. He doesn’t care whether our bodies or genetics spell male, female or anything else in between this world fights for. He also doesn’t care about our skin color.

We can start living an eternal life – in the spirit – while still in this temporary body. But instead a lot of us are attached to the body. 

And make no mistake, friend: this attachment is not just random. This focus on the body takes away the focus from the spirit and is just another way evil finds to keep us trapped in its many cycles of self-destruction.

The good news is that instead of wrestling with our bodies, we can choose to thrive in the peace that only the reality of God’s love gives us. 

All we have to do is accept his love.

When we are filled with his love, we are able to love ourselves for who we are as a path towards who we were always meant to be. 

Categories
love spirituality

Love saves us when we accept it

A few years ago, shortly after my conversion from atheist to believer, I joined a group of believers trying to plant a church in a very, very atheist Canadian city: Vancouver. One night a man joins us and the pastor, as well as some of the others, who were always so welcoming, seemed uneasy about him. He was a Christian universalist and, back then, I had no clue what that meant.

Now, friends, there are a lot of differences across religions. And we know that a relationship with God has nothing to do with any religion, but we are called to be patient with fellow believers who are blindsided by religious beliefs.

Christianity itself is a religion: Jesus did not found it and does not belong to it. He was always very critical of religion and if he would show up today, he would not be any less critical of Christian denominations.

But believing that we are all saved regardless of believing into God. Without making the decision to do his will. And without being willing to know what that will is. That is not just a difference. That’s a different story.

I completely understand the complexity of separating a relationship with God from religion. But while God will raise anything, and anyone, as a means to reach out to us, a relationship with him does not happen while we continue to pursue the things of the world and live by its standards.

What saves us is precisely our belief into God. This belief allows us to share his divinity and live a forgiven, peaceful and joyful life in a world of struggles.

The thief on the cross who believed and repented at the very last moment is an example of how God does not give up easily on us. Instead he gives us every single opportunity to leave death behind.

But ultimately we are free, and if we choose this world instead, we have to live with the consequences: death in the physical and spiritual sense.

This is all to say that when God calls us, we have the choice to answer or not. And it is only when we do answer that he can save us.

Categories
love spirituality

Enter into grace and stand in it

B.C. (before Christ) and A.C. (after Christ) quite literally define diametrically opposed periods in my life. As I celebrated my “earthly” birthday on May 23rd, I could not help but notice how hard it is to look at time the same way as most others do.

Yes, I know I am celebrating a birth date. But at the same time, the “age” that actually impacts my life started counting from my conversion, on January 5th 2014.

So what should I say to people, that I am 6 years old? Perhaps I could, except my conversion aged me by making me far more mature, spiritually. So, in a way, I actually feel closer to 60.

Since I entered into grace and chose to stand in it, I have found myself routinely challenging the categories and systems of this world. Age is but one of them.

Most importantly, as I stand in grace, I know that I will never fit in anywhere in this world. But instead of feeling defeated by that realization, I am driven by a compelling sense of belonging.

And I am infused by the unconditional love that explains the meaning of my life, where I came from and where I am going.

So where do I belong? Where I am eternally loved.