Loving Your Neighbor

~ Radical thoughts to follow. ~

So many Christians these days are stuck in thinking of God as the almighty Creator of the universe, the final judge and authority on everything good, and they fear this powerful deity enthroned in unfathomable power.  They get so caught up in the God who utterly crushed Sodom and Gomorrah, caused the ground to swallow up disobedient men whole, and sent bears to maul dozens of “youths” in response to a curse by His prophet after their “teasing” of him.  If that is the God you know, you are missing Him… essentially in a forest for the trees moment.

Now let me get this straight – the God I’m talking about did all of those things, but He is so much more.  The God I’m talking about is not vengeful and destructive – He is creative, He is merciful, He is loving.  He is not hovering somewhere up in space ready to cast down lightning and hurl giant hailstones at you if you stumble and fall in trying to serve Him.

This is why the concept of God the Father is so important.  Think to your own children if you have them.  As a father, we only want the very best for them.  We teach them, guide them, influence them, discipline them, and love them as much as we can before we turn them loose on the world.  God the Father is no different, except that He doesn’t want us to ever get turned loose, but rather to turn back to Him – to love Him in return and to become not just His child, but rather also His friend.

Few men in the Bible were ever credited as friends of God – Abraham, Moses, David. These men didn’t go on and do measly things either. Abraham is the forefather of two great peoples – Jews through Isaac (by extension Christians) and Muslims. Moses became the first civil rights leader the world has ever seen – he led an entire nation from slavery to freedom.  David established Israel as a nation-state and also provided the family lineage for the Son of God to be born with a royal bloodline.  These men also give us a stark contrast though because of their friendship with God – Moses talked God out of destroying the idol worshiping Israelites, but He also repeatedly angered God as well to the point where he was forbidden from entering the Promised Land at the end of the decades-long journey to freedom.  David had a man killed because he thought his wife was smoking hot and wanted her for himself.  Neither of these men were perfectly moral, but they sought and loved God for who He was and unconditionally on their parts.

It is friendship with God that brings with it God’s unconditional mercy.

Instead of fearing God because of His righteousness, power, and judgment, we should strive to befriend God because He is right there waiting for us to do just that.  It’s all that He wants as our Father…. the absolute best for us.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:37

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wrath

A few weeks have passed since the election.  As much as I was invested in it’s outcome as an American and wanted to see the right man win, the end result really won’t matter much ultimately.

Mathematically, we are toast… the debt has grown too big, the deficits add to it daily, and we have been propping up our economy with inflated government spending for far too long.  When the prop is removed (and it must, either by inflation or by maxing out the country’s credit card) the veneer will be stripped away to show the ugliness beneath.  Yet, this itself is just dust when all is finally settled.

Since the founding, America has been divided.  Small vs big government. Liberals vs conservatives. Right vs left.  Federalist vs anti-federalist. There have always been some things where we have agreed in the past – liberty is good, the family is good, God is supreme.  With these commonalities, we could look past our philosophical and economical differences and come together, but has that time passed?

Has the separation reached it’s apex yet?

Liberty is encroached on by both parties, but fewer and fewer people push back.

The family is attacked via invented social rights, the replacement of the father-figure by ever-growing larger government largesse, and the over-sexualization of our culture.

God Himself is openly mocked and spat upon in our courts, in the halls of government, on the street corner, and in our living rooms.  He was openly mocked and booed in the middle of one of the major political parties’ national conventions this year.

None of the previous is all that bad compared to mocking God openly as a society.  Recall what happened the last time that God was so openly mocked as he hung on a cross.

The earth shook, the rocks split.

Matthew 27:51

Christ was judged after He died carrying all of our sins.  The paradox of the Holy Son of God and the blackness of sin was too much and creation literally shook as a result.  The rocks came “undone.”

We, as the creation, play will a terrible fire every time we fail to live up to the righteousness expected of us through Christ.  Entire peoples have been wiped off the face of the Earth (Sodom, Gomorrah), governments have fallen (Rome, Byzantine), great men allow themselves to start believing the hype – that they are the greatest, the saviors of their countrymen before they are crushed by their own pride (Petraeus).

In the pride of your heart
    you say, “I am a god;
I sit on the throne of a god
    in the heart of the seas.”
But you are a mere mortal and not a god,
    though you think you are as wise as a god.
Are you wiser than Daniel?
    Is no secret hidden from you?
By your wisdom and understanding
    you have gained wealth for yourself
and amassed gold and silver
    in your treasuries.
By your great skill in trading
    you have increased your wealth,
and because of your wealth
    your heart has grown proud.

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

Because you think you are wise,
    as wise as a god,
I am going to bring foreigners against you,
    the most ruthless of nations;
they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom
    and pierce your shining splendor.
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die a violent death
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you then say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you?
You will be but a mortal, not a god,
    in the hands of those who slay you.
You will die the death of the uncircumcised
    at the hands of foreigners.

Ezekiel 28:2-10

I pray for my country and the people living here as seemingly half of the country votes to mock God openly.   As Matt Barber wrote a few weeks back, the sins of the Romans are being openly committed and condoned more than ever.

The path we are on has already been decided.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32

Now stop your mocking,
    or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me
    of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

Isaiah 28:22

He stood, and shook the earth;
    he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed—
    but he marches on forever.

Habakkuk 3:6

Where do you stand?  What will you do?  Will you look out for yourself and your family?  Will you stand in defiance of those that mock God?  Will you tell them that they are wrong?   Will you point to Christ and shine His love on the world and hope that those souls lost will come to Christ?

We are not called to be part of this world, but to be salt and light within it.   It is time for all good, righteous men to stand and declare, “THIS FAR. NO FARTHER.”

For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.

John Winthrop

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