As a new year starts, we are stricken with the belief that we need to expect “good” things. Yet the “good” in our lives that is genuinely life-changing often comes out of the worst of circumstances that we call “bad”.
Regardless of what our previous year was like, what makes the new one better is our willingness to embrace the unknown. To be ready and willing to make bold moves in life with Love as our guide. To let go of other people’s expectations and focus on being truthful to our hearts, expecting nothing in return.
Whatever happened in our lives last year, whatever will happen in our lives this year, was and will always be for our own good. There is a perfect balance of “good” and “bad” each day to bring about our spiritual transformation into who we are meant to be.
In this new year, may all of us allow Love to be our wisdom. And embrace the unknown of the eternal life unfolding before our eyes everyday with confident faith.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.