Litmus Test for True Christianity

I’m astounded with those who think they have the “scoop” on God’s word.  Many of whom believe God’s word is cut and dry…black and white with no grays in between.  Most are raised in Christian homes and have been taught the scriptures as a child.  Sunday school classes, Sunday morning services, and Wednesday prayer meetings were the staples of their life.  They were spoon fed not only the word but also the perceived meaning of the word, and the sad thing is is that many have never questioned what they’ve been taught. 

As a small girl I sat on the second pew from the pastor and like a sponge soaked up all the words that fell from his voice.  Sunday after Sunday, week after week, and year after year I was fed the truths of God’s word in accordance with an Independent Fundamental Baptist point of view.

Sitting here typing I can look back and see the wide-eyed girl sitting on the pew…so small my feet barely passing the edge of the pew.  I literally believed it was God’s word I was hearing and of this I should never doubt.

But I did doubt, and guilt became a part of my life at an early age.  

My inner struggle went something like this…. if I have this doubt, how then can I have faith, and if I have no faith how then can I be a child of God, and if not a child of God…how then could I ever be “saved”?  This inner battle possessed me my whole childhood, into my teens, and well into my 20’s and 30’s.  For the most part I kept this secret…never to be told, after all if I admitted to doubt then I was virtually admitting I had little to no faith.    

I’m saddened for the little girl who silently lived in fear day after day.  Sometimes I take her in my arms and hold her until her trembling subsides.  Now, as a 54-year-old, I realize this doubt was not the monster I thought it to be.  My doubt should have been the stepping stone to an even greater faith.  

I believe it is wise and healthy to question your beliefs.  First of all are they really your beliefs or are they your mother and father’s beliefs.  Perhaps it goes even deeper maybe they’re the pastor’s beliefs and maybe mom and dad just took his words at face value…. Even deeper:  maybe it’s the churches fodder handed down from generation to generation, century after century from organized religion?  

As a Christian I want my beliefs to be just that…mine.  I want my faith to be given to me from God himself.  I don’t want to blindly believe something because that’s what mama, daddy, and the preacher said. 

Jesus himself admonishes us to “…search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life.”  The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the religious elite felt confident they had the scoop on God’s word.  Why?  They felt this way because they followed the word to a tee.  They like many Christians today, took God’s word literal and failed to see the nuances of grays woven there-in.  They were always questioning Jesus because Jesus refused to take a literal approach to the law established in the old testament.  They were so busy trying not to break the rules that they missed the whole premise of Christianity which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, and to love those around you (everyone) as you love yourself.  Jesus says that the whole law of Moses rests upon these two principals.  Loving God is the greatest commandment and the second greatest is loving your neighbor, and, my friend, for the most part you cannot pick and choose your neighbor. 

You can have neighbors you like and neighbors you dislike…neighbors who believe as you or those who believe differently, neighbors who believe that “this and that” is a sin and neighbors who believe it is not.  This whole idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin is bull malarkey.  Their “sin” is none of your business, it is between them and God.  Your job as a Christian is to love them…period.  

How can I love them?  You love them by treating them the way you want to be treated, and by letting God take care of the rest.  

Our relationship with our God is no one’s business, and when “well-meaning” Christians make it theirs it’s time to shut them down or as Barny Fife says, “Nip it!  Nip it in the bud!”  Jesus says, “Judge not least ye be judged,” and “He that is without sin cast the first stone.”  

Christianity is alive and vibrant.  

Christianity is “your” personal relationship with God.  

Christianity is defined by what you do rather than what you don’t do.  

Christianity is love because God is love.  

As Christians God asks us to feed his sheep.  Three times by a campfire Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Three times Peter said, “Lord, you know I love you,” and three times Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.”  

Jesus was saying to Peter… If you truly love me then you will take care of my people.  You will take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  You will be like the Good Samaritan and cast aside your opinion, in order to lift up the down trodden.

Friends, love is not always a feeling.  It’s wonderful when it is, because it makes loving others easy.  But, the love God calls us to goes way beyond a feeling.  The love God calls us to is active.  Jesus wanted Peter to realize that true love is more than words, for if you love only with words then the object of your love is never really touched…never changed.  True love reaches out, and true love changes lives.   

Christian, are you truly Christian?  

If so then take care of his sheep…the stranger, the hungry, the homeless, the unloved, the immigrant, the addict, the dirty, the poor,  the sick, the refugee, the naked, the prisoner,…the least of these…

Jesus’ litmus for true Christianity:  

[Jesus replied] “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

Make America Great Again…?

ted-strutzs-town
Photo by Ted Strutz

She always knew it would end this way.  

She had lived her life…so, what of it…?! 

They had been so gentle helping her cross the road.  Their faces kind and their touch kinder. 

Lies!   

They cared nothing for her and she knew it.  They wanted her gone.  Gone and forgotten. 

Inside the boat, she pulled the blanket they had given closer, but it did little to soothe her aching bones. 

Gone? 

Never. 

Her memory would live in all the hearts she had loved.  She smiled at the thought.   

The border patrol boat left the harbor.

***

Friday Fictioneers:  100 Words

Fandango One Word Challenge:  Dreamer-DACA

The Challenge:  Look at the provided photo and create a story with beginning, middle, and end in only 100 words.

 

 

 

 

Against the Wind

A Conversation with God 7/29/16

Me:  God, I’m confused.

God:  About what, my child?

Me:  Well, how can Christians, who are filled with the same Holy Spirit, perceive the world so differently?

God:  Different…how?

Me:  For example…refugees.  Some think we should turn them away in order to protect what is rightfully ours.  Then others, who also claim to be Christians,  think we should open our arms and welcome them into the safety of our country.

God:  Have you heard the story about Moses and my people, Israel?

Me:  Yes Lord, I learned it in Sunday school.

God:   Well then, as you know, when they were slaves in Egypt, Moses lead them out and eventually into a promise land I had prepared for them.  Before I let them go into this promise land I gave them a few guidelines about how I wanted them to live.  As I recall, a few of these guidelines dealt with refugees and how to treat them.

Me:  Well, what did you tell them back then?

God:  Basically, I told my children to give foreigners food and clothing; but I didn’t stop there… I also told them to love the refugee and to remember that they themselves were once foreigners in a strange land.

Me:  Well…did they do it?

God:  Some did and some didn’t.  Once, hundreds of years earlier, there was a whole city, her name Sodom, who shunned foreigners and  mistreated the poor and needy.  It became so bad I had to do away with her in order to protect the innocents.

Me:  Lord…

God:  Yes…

Me: I still don’t understand why some Christians think we should and other Christians think we shouldn’t.  I just doesn’t make sense to me.

God:  Well, tell me what you feel you should do.

Me:  My heart seems to be saying…to love…

God:  Then maybe you should follow your heart.

Me:  Yes, Lord.

God:  And Lisa…

Me:  Yes Lord?

God:  Don’t worry about the other Christians…that’s my job.

***

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength:  this is the first commandment…love your neighbor as yourself.  There is non other commandment greater than these.  (Mark 12:30-31)

Follow your heart…even if it flies against the wind.