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
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
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
forgiveness love

We live in peace when we become agents of peace in the world

Right after my conversion from atheist to believer, I had this group of friends who were Christian libertarians. They loved guns and hated minorities – just not publicly.

Being new in the faith, I took all that as normal human flaws and tried my best to be patient with them. But as my understanding of the word deepened, the strong shift from love to hate just didn’t feel right.

Friends, there’s a moment in our lives when we need to take a stand if we want to walk with Jesus. We can’t walk with Jesus and invite violence into our lives.

The first one you kill when you buy a gun

Following Jesus transforms the animalistic beasts that we are into the pacified, loving little Jesuses that we are meant to be. But when we’re not seeing this transformation in ourselves, we need to search our spirit, as God already does, to fully understand why we sometimes still shift from love to hate.

The one we claim to follow teaches us to love and pray for our enemies. If we can’t, we’re either pretending to follow him, or we are deliberating to follow that other one that he gave his life to save us from.

Thanks to God’s grace I found peace, in him, to fight the good fight and dare to love in an unforgiving world. It is a daily exercise, and one that we can absolutely achieve as long as we rely on him who makes everything possible.

Categories
love

Only Love makes us perfect in our imperfection

I remember watching this Lisa Nichols video last year and feeling so deeply touched by her heartfelt speech. The key message in the video is to remind ourselves that we are enough, in spite of all the people that we come across in our lives that try to tell us otherwise.

Yet being enough is not a question that God ever had about any of us. We are definitely not enough, or else we would not need his grace, mercy and love.

We are only enough with God’s love.

On our own, we are not enough and should not aspire to be. It is only in God, through his love, that we become an expression of not just enough, but of perfection. God’s plan isn’t to rise us up to enough. That’s not enough for him!

This world can play tricks like this on us. And, yes, I still love Lisa’s heartfelt speech, but only if I consider it in the limited context of this world. We should certainly not listen to anyone trying to devalue us.

But as far as being enough goes, I would much rather not be enough by the standards of this world, which means so little, and happily count that as loss.

It is our humility of not being enough for this world that brings us closer to God, who fills us up with riches that enough could never account for.