Why should we read the Bible? Andy Stanley says the Bible holds answers to the only three problems that we face in life.
That’s why the Bible stays relevant. That’s why it has passed the test of time.
Why has Christianity survived the test of time? Our LOVE sets us apart. The story of Jesus is a story of love and that is in the Bible too.
So why aren’t you reading it? Find one, pick it up, and read it…
In Greek, there are four different words for “love” with four different meanings. The Bible uses the term “agape” the most. Agape is the term used in the famous Love Chapter of the Bible.
1 Corenthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Agape is the truest form of love. It is distinguished from friendly love, lustful love, and familial love. It is Godly Love.
We use love to talk about many things. “I love this pizza.” “I love your hair.” “I love to swim.” “I love you.” They all express a form of affection for something, but all are on completely different levels. God’s love is perfect. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is agape.
Do we experience this love anywhere other than God?
Can a human truly love unconditionally?
These are questions that I have been asking myself for years. As Christians we strive to love like Jesus. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We try to mimic the love He showed for us by dieing on the cross. In my efforts I always seem to come up short. My selfishness, laziness, and ego usually tend to win out at some point or another. Can I love unconditionally? Is it possible for people to love unconditionally? I have had this debate many times with Christians, here is a common rebuttal…
“I love my spouse unconditionally.”
You may love your spouse, but do you truly love them in any condition? Lets be hypothetical for a moment. If your spouse walked into the house today and said, “Honey, I hate you”. You can probably say you would still love them. Then your spouse pulls out a gun and shoots you in the leg. Maybe, you could forgive them and continue to love them. Your leg starts to heel, meanwhile your spouse is out cheating on you repeatedly with multiple people including your best friend. If you can still find it in your heart to love them you are a better man than me. But then your spouse returns and maybe, just maybe you find it in your heart to love them again. Then they pull out a gun again and shoot your other leg. At some point in this hypothetical situation you are probably saying to yourself, “OK, I would be done.” If not, you are either lying to yourself or stupid, but I’m willing to bet that if this happened over and over you would eventually find yourself not loving your spouse any more.
This scenario is a little extreme, but you get the point. To love unconditionally is to love no matter what happens, no matter how many times they hurt you. No matter how many times they abandon you, beat you , shoot you, and cheat on you. That is agape.
I truly believe as humans we do not have the ability to love unconditionally. Apart from God we will never come close, but even with God our human nature will win out at some point, in some situation. Think about it…
Have you ever lied to the person you love the most? Probably
Have you ever hurt that person by mistake or even on purpose? Most likely
Have you ever made a decision that considered yourself more than that person? Yes
You have failed at loving unconditionally. You have loved with conditions. You are human.
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS…God loves us unconditionally!!!
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
No matter how many things we do to Him, he has already forgiven us. We choose to sin daily and he still loves us. From Adam and Eve until tomorrow we continue to shoot him, deny him, and sin against him, but He has already showed us unconditional love by sending his Son.
God’s love is unconditional because God is love!
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Apart from God, we will never experience true love. God is the only one with the capacity to love unconditionally because He is true love. So then, as humans, how do we come closest to loving unconditionally? How do we agape someone? This is how…
1 John 4:8-9 because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
We must allow God to love through us. We must share His love with others. We must bring them to God so that they will be able to experience agape. This is why we testify, witness, and evangelize. We are doing it to bring them the unconditional love that is God. A person who does not have God in their hearts will never know true unconditional love and no matter how hard we try we cannot show them true love without showing them God. Only by opening their heart to God will they know what its like to be loved unconditionally.
We show unconditional love by showing God. God is true love. God is agape.
So I found a book that expresses a lot of my thoughts. It is by a Canadian Pastor named Bruxy Cavey. He wrote “The End of Religion” in 2007 and it seems to be very similar to the thoughts I was having. There is also a website from a church in Tulsa, OK that experiments with the idea. Its www.jesushatesreligion.com and there are tons of posts from people around that area and all over posting their opinion on the topic. This seems to be a relatively new idea (at least in the public), but when looking at scripture it seems so obvious. I am going to be pulling things from the messages of the church in Tulsa, the book, and some of my own ideas in an attempt to explain just how irreligious Jesus was/is.
Jesus hates Religion
The opposite is also true…
Religion hates Jesus
First I want to address a common misconception. People immediately get offended because they think Jesus can’t hate. Jesus is love, so how can he hate anything, right? Well, let me correct that notion. There is one thing that Jesus clearly hates. First read Revelation 2: 1-15. Jesus hates the “Nicolaitanes”. It is not known for sure who these people are, but it is for sure that they are people. They have clergy and beliefs, therefore we can deduce that they are a religion or sorts. This doesn’t prove that Jesus hates all religion, but it does prove that Jesus can hate. Therefore saying Jesus hates something is not wrong, otherwise the Bible itself is blasphemous. It also shows that of all the things in the world, the one thing that Jesus definitely hates is a religion.
Next I want to establish a definition for religion. People like to say that if Jesus hates religion or is against it than he is against religious people. NO! That couldn’t be more wrong. Just as the idea of “hate the sin, love the sinner” separates the two you can settle this debate by saying…
“hate the religion, love the religious”
So what is religion? The literal translation means to re-join or re-connect, but that doesn’t help us much. The connotative definition of dictionary.com is, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Here is the key. “a set of beliefs…involving devotional and ritual observances.” A later definition says this, “The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.”
So I point out those definitions to say this. Man has made religion a practice…something you do. A set of rules, ideas, or laws you have to follow to “live right” or get to the ultimate destination of freedom or peace. Jesus broke all these rules by teaching against the ideas of the Eastern Religions and doing away with the laws of the Western ones. When you look at the details of Jesus life you will see how obviously “subversive” his teachings are. You will notice how all the details show that Jesus hated Religion. The point I am trying to make is that if Jesus were alive today he would hate Christianity (what it has become) just as much!
To see this clearly all you have to do is look at the details…
Irreligious, scandalous, and radical are not three terms used when talking about people you want to be like, but they are the words that describe Jesus of Nazareth. Irreligious?!? Yes, I said it. Jesus did not start Christianity. In fact I think Jesus had no intention of starting any new religion. This is what I am going to be diving into. A new perspective on the life of Jesus that just makes sense when you look at his life with an open heart.
Jesus came to end religion, not start a new one!
Before Jesus came God had tried everything to free us from ourselves. Starting with Adam and Eve. No religion and no laws existed in The Garden. We had one boundary given in order to provide free will (this creates love). Without at least one boundary a true relationship (love) would never exist. And everyone knows our fate. We screwed it up. Then Jesus picked a group/family as a case study for humans. He gave them land boundaries and we screwed that up. He gives them rules to live by, we added rules and broke the ones that existed. He gave them Great Kings to rule them, and we rebelled and picked our own rulers. God only asked for a tent, but we had to build Temples to worship, so He let us. We began making idols and using the Temple for commerce (prostitution, exploitation, etc.) Notice a common theme? All those things we screwed up.
God is smart. He realized we weren’t getting it. We needed something radically simple to get us back to The Garden. He had exhausted all options even letting us choose how we should live. In His Grace He sent Jesus. Jesus flipped everything upside down (physically and metaphorically). Jesus came so we can bypass all the religious processes. God sent Jesus to show us, and teach us love! GRACE!
I’m going to be writing some posts on my take on Jesus’ life and why He came to end religion. This will tell why I think Jesus looks at Christianity and laughs.
Once again, we are screwing it up…
Law: Matter cannot be created or destroyed.
Scientists have been at war with religion for a long time. Science is based on Truth. Religion is based on Truth. How can the two co-exist if their Truth is not the same?
Truth is Truth and I am going to use Scientific Law to prove God exists.
First we must define God. God is Life. He always has been and always will be. He is creator. He is God.
So how can I prove God using science. Its actually easy. I don’t know why this has never clicked with me, but here it is. I thought of this in Biology class the other day. We were watching little cells and talking about life and law.
Scientific Law says Life comes from Life. This is a testable, provable, law. It is true in every circumstance and every try. If you take two of the exact environments and try to create life, the only way it will ever happen is if you have a form of life in your environment. You will never have an environment without any trace of life be able to produce life without putting life in it.
I’ll break it down. For people life is created by sex. This is no surprise. Even with genetic breakthroughs we still need some form of life (DNA) to create more life. We can alter DNA, but we can not produce it.
Plants need other plants, cells need other cells, etc. You cannot create a living cell without using another living cell. Therefore Science would support the fact that life has always been. Life can only be created from Life.
So this disproves any “Big Bang Theory” or crazy notion that says a worm hole spit out life from nowhere. Good try Dawkins, but time is proving that you are an idiot so I don’t have to.
God is life. He has always been. We have been created from this life. Therefore He is creator.
Even if we evolved from a single cell, something had to create that single cell. Something that had life had to give that cell life.
So were created from a life that has always been here and will always be here. Sounds familiar to me.
Words have such an impact. When spoken with passion and truth, they can create or destroy relationship, mend or break hearts, and change the world forever.
“I have a dream!”
“We the people…”
“Yes we can!”Proverbs 10:14 The wise accumulate knowledge—a true treasure; know-it-alls talk too much—a sheer waste.
What’s your favorite food? Why?
Did you answer the “why” in less than 3 sentences? Probably. When we are sure about something we don’t need to defend our answer. We are confident and secure in our answer.
Are you Religious? Why?
DEFENDING YOUR FAITH!
Why do we feel we need to defend our faith? Its your faith, just as spaghetti is your favorite food. Be confident and secure in your answer.1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Bill Hybels (Just Walk Across The Room) brings up the point to keep your reason short.
3 Sentences or less. What were you like before Christ? How have you changed?
I used to Defend my faith when asked why I believe. Now I share my faith.
I was shy and reserved, I met Christ and now I love out loud, out spoken, and without reserve!
Be prepared and practice. When someone asks you, “Are you Religious?” feel confident. We all are, right? We are all born with a desire to worship and believe. No one can argue with your story. No one can disprove your testimony. Its your story. Its Truth. Don’t defend your faith, share it. After all, who wouldn’t want Christ?
Re-li-gion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
It bothers me when people ask if I’m religious. I usually bite my tongue and want to respond by saying, “Aren’t we all?” Until we really know the Truth of the Universe (never) we will all be “religious”.
When you meet someone who claims to be “non-religious” they are usually basing that on the fact that they don’t go to church or believe in The God of Abraham. I usually follow that type of statement with this questions, “Well then what do you believe?” Because we all believe something, right?
We all believe in something.
We all have a religion.
I rarely get the person who answers this way. They believe in “nothing”. Usually these people are the proudest in their nothingness. They seem to answer with more pride than most Christians. It seems ironic to me that they are proud of nothing.There are generally two things they might mean by this statement.
I don’t care…
I don’t believe in a god…
When the person says, I don’t care. What they really mean is I want to live my life the way I want to live it. We are born with a curiosity of nature. A desire to find a purpose. If someone claims they don’t care. They are either lying or they are covering up. WE ALL CARE! They just don’t want to know, in fear or in conceit. The best selling books of all time are books that explain our existence. The most searched terms on the Internet are “religious” terms (even more than porn). Why? Because we all want to know. We all have this built in curiosity. WE ALL CARE!
When the person is saying, I don’t believe in God. They are saying, I just lied to you. They are just as religious as anyone else. Can they prove that there is no God? Of course not. Then they are the perfect definition of religion. They live their life on a belief that there is no God just as I live my life on a belief that there is a God. Regardless about what they believe created the world, or how they believe the world will end. They believe.
“Aren’t we all?”
We are all religious. It is built into our DNA. We all worship. A person who believes in no God still worships. They can worship knowledge, nature, themselves, etc.
Wor-ship: Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
Worship is also built into our DNA. We all regard something as sacred. Usually its what we spend the most money on, what we spend the most time on, what we hold higher than ourselves. It could even be our selves. We put value in a belief. We were born to worship. WE ALL WORSHIP!
TO BE CONTINUED>>>
OK…I admit it!
Jes and I were on vacation last year to Myrtle Beach. We went to the dueling piano bar at Broadway at the Beach (because we love Jokers in Mooresville). We finally got a seat up on the railing and the guys broke into a 15 minute Prince concert. We were sitting beside a couple who wasn’t really talking much but looked to be having a good time. As the pianists broke into “Kiss” the guy beside me leaned over and said, “I know my wife loves this crap, but when are they gonna give us something to listen to.” I guess he had not noticed I was singing along with every word. So I leaned back over to him and said, “Real men love Prince.”
Most people that know me know I am not ashamed of what kind of music I listen to. Justin, Prince, Mraz, Buble (I don’t know how to put the accent over the “e”, but if I could, I wouldn’t, because I call him Michael Buble) Where it gets really interesting is when I tell people I mix that in with some T-pain and there’s my playlist.
Several years ago I had a friend ask me a question when we were talking about me putting my faith in Jesus. He said, “How do you listen to Christian music all the time?” It took me back…
I don’t, should I? Should my playlist be Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and in stead of T-Pain should I mix it up with T-Mac?
So here it comes…close to 5 years later I finally have an answer to that question. I know you’re wondering how it took so long, but that’s not the point. The point is, it took God 5 years to get it through my thick head and now I’ve got it.
What is Christian Music? No, really…what makes some music Christian and some not? What makes some Companies Christian and some not? What makes Chick-fil-a a Christian restaurant and McDonald’s Secular? Is it because they aren’t open on Sunday? Is it because the owners are Christians? I know, it must be because they over abuse the term “my pleasure” and that is what God would want from “His” fast food joint.
Sorry about all the sarcasm.
So what classifies music as Secular and Christian? It’s not that the artist is Christian because you can’t tell me that Josh Turner, Bono, and many other “secular” artists are not Christians. It’s not that they sing about God or Jesus, because Carrie Underwood would have had a Christian hit with “Jesus take the wheel” if she released it as a Christian single. There are tons of songs written by Christians singing about Christ that aren’t considered “Christian Music”. I know, it must be the over abuse of the words “love” and “above” and that is what God would want from “His” music, right?
Are Chick-fil-a sandwiches any more Christian than McDonald’s? Is a Cook-out shake any more blessed than a Wendy’s Frosty because they have scripture on the cup? NO!!!! In fact, the idea that Cookout prints scripture on their STYROFOAM CUP is kind of ironic to me.
Ok seriously, no more sarcasm!
So here is what makes some music Christian and some not…It’s self proclaimed. The artist says, “I am playing Christian music.” Does this make it any more “Christian” or any less “Secular” than any other music? NO!!!!
All music is created by God, and therefore it is good. Yes, all music! Not just self proclaimed Christian music. All food was created by God, the chicken and the cow. So next time you pray to God to “bless the food” remember that it is already blessed by God. He created it, blessed it, and it is good.
Are you a Christian?
Is the tree outside my window Christian or Secular? Is the box of mac and cheese in my cabinet Christian or Secular? Is my dog Christian or Secular…the couch…the car…etc. Doesn’t this sound ridiculous! It is! It was all created by God, it is good, but it is not Christian or Secular it just is.
Music just is. We as humans can alter it, manipulate it, change it, but it was created by God, it is good. It just is.
Food can be pumped with steroids, flavored, fattened, packaged, and preserved, but it was created by God, it is good. It just is.
So are all people Christian people? We were all created by God, right?
We were created by God, but we are different than the music, the food, and the tree. God gave us a soul and a decision. My dogs have no decision to make, they just are. The tree has no decision to make, it just is. We have a decision to make. We can choose to accept the truth and be as we were meant to be, or we can deny it and be apart from God.
We were created by God, we were good. Then we were separated from Him. We have a choice to accept who we are and be “Christian” or deny it and be “Secular”. That’s the difference between music and people.
So my answer, “I am a Christian, but I listen to music, not Christian, not Secular, just Music.”
CONNECT – verb (used without object) – to become connected; join or unite.
This word has been plaguing me for over a week now. Its like when you hear a word for the first time in your life. You may have been around for decades and never heard it before, but for some reason when you finally hear it, you hear it over and over again. Or when you buy a new car. You love it because its unique and you haven’t seen anyone driving it, but then you start seeing them everywhere you look.
God definitely has a sense of humor. He seems to show me things in ways that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but me. I guess you could say I have a twisted, or maybe a more P.C. term would be unique, sense of humor. God puts things in front of me and and I walk right over them without noticing, but once I find it, I never forget what it was, where it was, and why it was there.
I have been going to a new church for a few months now. I just started back to school and went from being self-employed for almost 3 years to full-time hours in a classroom. I am in a new apartment (since December) in Uptown Charlotte, a little change of scenery from Concord, NC. So I guess you could say I’m in a transition phase in my life. As the country is experiencing “Change” so are Jesalyn and I.
If you haven’t been on a college campus in the last 2 years you probably wouldn’t know this, but the new trend is to wear your ipod. You wear it to class, from class, and sometimes in class. In stead of walking to class with a friend or finding someone to talk to, you look down, put your earbuds in, and walk to class while listening to the newest T-Pain song. If you aren’t listening to your Ipod there is only one thing you could be doing. No, not talking to your friend, or even talking on the phone…texting. It’s said that calling someone is a simple communication and emailing is pseudo-communication, then texting must be the lowest form of communication possible. Its too much to actually find out how someone’s doing, we have to get to the point in 100 characters or less. BTW, if u no “txtin lingo” u dnt need 100 characters…10 will suffice.
In World Religion we were discussing how disconnected we have become. Disconnected from nature, disconnected from each other, and disconnected from God. I couldn’t help but walk out of that class with my head up. Watching everyone walk around with their heads down. It really began to bother me. My mind began to think about the day of a 21st Century American…TV, Video Games, Internet, IM, maybe a phone call or two, between all that we are lucky to get in a genuine hug from a friend, kiss from our family, or an actual conversation lasting longer than this paragraph.
We have reserved areas for trees and nature, and we usually have to drive to get there.
We know people on TV Shows better than we know the person we are watching the show with.
We spend 10 hours a day in artificial lighting and maybe 10 minutes in the sunlight.
What’s the problem?
We are born to connect. We are here for that reason, and that reason only. To unite with God, to unite with each other, and to unite others with God. That’s it! No, really…that’s it!
In Genesis God created Adam and Eve. The Garden and everything in it was blessed, in total connection with God and each other. That’s why they were here. To be with God and with each other. Adam and Eve experienced a connection with God which in turn connected them to everything He made. Then it went down hill… They chose to be disconnected. They become ashamed and covered themselves. They were disconnected from God, which disconnected them from nature, and then each other.
NOW, we live in a DISCONNECTED world.
In Rob Bell’s book “Sex God” he points out that this could be why babies cry. The first thing we experience in life is being severed. We feel alone for the first time and we weep.
So if we are born disconnected and we live in a disconnected world, then how can we connect? How is it even possible?
When God sent Himself to Earth as Jesus He was connecting us. He was sending us a cable that will plug us back into Him, nature, and each other. And here’s the best part. We already have this cable…all we have to do is plug it in. This is what makes it so amazing. In every other belief or “religion” we have to do something to earn the cable. We will never be truly connected unless we get it ourselves. The Bible says that we are already connected. God has done it for us! All we have to do is…
The letter to the Ephesians says that there is, “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and IN ALL.”
And in Hebrews, it’s says God is the one “for whom and through whom everything exists.”
Do you see God in the grass you walk on? Do you see God in the person you are sitting next to? The God of The Universe, the creator of EVERYTHING! If you saw Him in that person, do you think you would put down the ipod a minute and talk to Him? Do you think you would open your eyes, look up, and see what He has done/is doing around you?
So that day after we talked about connecting in my World Religion class I put away my Ipod and walked with my head up. I came home from school and decided to connect with God by reading. I picked up the Rob Bell book I was reading months ago and started from my bookmark that was on page 36 of “Sex God” which starts, “We’re disconnected from the Earth and we know it.” I kept reading in amazement as Bell goes on to talk about connecting with ourselves, the earth, and each other. I then started thinking about connection, realizing the church we are now a part of is Connection Church and the small group study we are doing is called, Just Walk Across The Room, about connecting with other people in your life. It was right there in front of me. I had walked right over it without noticing.
I guess you can say God started laughing.
Are you connected? Yes, you already are! You just have to realize it. God has already connected you and all you have to do is look up. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you are doing, or who you are. He is already above ALL and in ALL! He has already given you the cable…just plug it in!