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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
The Good News bring us hope and peace. Which is why we should never use them to crush others and frame them as sinners.
We are all sinners and capable of the same things.
As we start navigating the Word, we will realize all these horrible things about ourselves and others. But we do so with the confidence and peace of mind that God forgave us through Jesus.
There are also a million other sins we won’t be aware of. Possibly things this world looks up to. And with God lifting the burden of guilt from us with his forgiveness, we will be able to, under his grace, make better choices as we move forward.
It is only when we put love (=God) first that our lives reflect His love, peace, forgiveness and hope.
And the greatest of all these is love.
We are called to love one another, not judge one another.
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.
I watched Schindler’s List for the first time a few weeks ago. The resilience of those people while facing the absolute worst of humanity could only have come from God. They would have never made it without him, and neither would we.
I believe all our sufferings are relevant. But watching a movie on such a horrific story really puts things into perspective. It is a tough watch, but a humbling experience. Our sufferings look so small compared to these dehumanizing events.
Another key aspect of our dark history is how often it takes a monster to defeat another monster. We know God has used ruthless characters to defeat oppressors of his people.
Although it might look like these ruthless individuals are doing what’s right, we are not in a position to justify them or rely on them. Their cruel actions have good outcomes exclusively because God can bring good out of any situation.
It is God who gives us the resilience to walk through the most terrifying moments with the confidence that they will yield good outcomes of a spiritual nature in our lives.
Holding on to his love saves us from losing our ability to be grateful, loving and forgiving in the cruelest of circumstances.
As we walk with God, we know everything is going to pass. At the end of the tunnel, there is light, goodness and unfailing love.