I was raised in the Mormon Church until I left at the age of twelve. I have encountered many denominations over the years and found then all to be similar in some ways. Finding the right church was a daunting task.
I decided to follow the teaching of Jesus rather than try to find into the right christian community. I tried to play by each of their rules but found flaws and contradictions. Now it is all about love. Love your neighbor, love your god, and love yourself. Focusing in on love and trying to find the most christian was to do just that will keep me busy the rest of my life.
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. NKJV
This is one Scripture that is not commonly discussed in the churches today. We see a world of mega-churches and televangelists whose love is more commonly geared to their own wealth. The reality of compromise is just as appropriate for leaders of the church today as it was in the time of Christ. The big question, do we blindly support religious institutions that are sometimes riddled with corruption or do they support the teachings of Jesus and extend a loving hand to the world.
If we are going to be honest about ourselves we have to acknowledge that we all fall under the category of being priests and prostitutes. The thing I like about the scripture is it sheds light on typical human behavior and self interest. We have priests that are nothing more than money grabbers and have become pimps for the institutional church, compared to a more notable profession of prostitutes who are at least direct about their practice in order to maintain their own survival.
I have belonged to many churches throughout my Christian walk and I found some to be more credible than others, but have found all religious institutions to be self-serving to a greater or lesser extent. The point is, when we are called to Christ, our mission is made clear by the teachings of Jesus. We are all in the same boat. Some would like to keep it politically correct without any offense to anyone but unfortunately that practice waters down the gospel so much that people see no need to clean up their act or acknowledge their shortcomings, or try and make restitution for the tremendous damage they have caused themselves and those around them. The church is sometimes proud and abusive.
We look at civilization today and think that somehow those that have money are better than those that don’t. Really it’s just a justification for greed. We look at civilization today and think that somehow we’ve evolved way beyond cultures in the history of mankind. The truth is that people are people. The truth is that people are an amalgam of hope, terror, love, righteousness, pride and betrayal, to name a few. The religious institution is not here to save us. They can’t even save themselves. The religious institution is here to guide us, and point the way to God rather than their own self-interest and ego.
Don’t be afraid to examine your church and asked the question, “Is there a place for me here?” Can I serve God here or would I just be supporting some hierarchy that has no relevance to a broken and suffering world?”
If there is no place for you within the institutional church, shine as you can. Consider that you may perform greater service to God outside the walls of the temple.
Let’s extend a hand of love and spiritual direction to the broken.
Around the holiday season we feel many different emotions. We have hope for an upcoming new year, we fear getting together with family, we enjoy the decorations and maybe miss those loved ones that have departed. I think the Christmas season can easily be overshadowed with the rush of buying gifts preparing or either going to parties, or impatiently waiting for traffic to move. What I think the holiday is supposed to be about, just a reminder, it is a time of spiritual experience and reflection. It really is a time of wonder as the story tells us that something pure and holy entered into the world and change our hearts and our minds and our lives.
The world during the time of the birth of Jesus was a mess much like today and much like most days of anyone’s life. There is political strife and poverty, fear of not having enough and fear of losing what we have. Then Jesus came into the world and shifted the entire dynamics of heaven and earth to proclaim there could be love and peace and joy within a human being regardless of the circumstances that surround one’s existence. There is hope of something beautiful, to rise above the turmoil and the tragedy.
My favorite translation of the birth of Jesus is found the book of Luke. I think Luke was a phenomenal writer and when I ponder what he says about this pivotal moment I am in awe. Please read it with me and I pray you find the same beauty that I find.
2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. NKJV
This blog is to help us take black and white teaching and expand our prejudices outside the box. Let’s try to meet God a little more in Their terms. How thorough is Love? How expansive is Grace? Forgiveness to what end? What are the real tools of faith? How do we restore Hope and Holiness in a lost and broken world?
My hope is to expand our own narrow perspective and take a chance on God’s faithfulness. Please feel free to interact here. If you are not sure or a bit afraid, lets find the Peace that passes understanding together.