The Standard, or a religion?
I get a kick out of watching people's faces at religious conferences- nodding in agreement with the preacher's message.Yet many of us, not at all experiencing the promises religion advocates-yet.
What is the space between what Christ says we have attained spiritually and what is actually happening in one's life? And if Christianity was doing such a good job why are so many churches in disarray today?
This is a fair question we might reflect on, and would you and I have anything to do with this reality? Not all people are in agreement on various subjects or beliefs. Why all this confusion and disorder?
My Father Business
Life is a struggle. The human race and the church as well are struggling toward holiness and attempting to adjust to levels of holy righteousness, God says we can experience- but what is gets in the way of this progress is a question we do ponder on?
Religion, groups and people can give the Word a bad rap, if one believes in Christ, or the Bible, they might be set up for abuse, ridicule, and finger-pointing especially in certain parts of the world such as in North America where the Anti-Christ is at work even in our churches. The Antichrist where Christ's Word is not considered true. Christ is the head of the church? Can we oust God and Christ out of their very own institutions.
-Sure just like in Golgotha where he was sent to be crucified.
Why apply the principals of the Bible, written thousands of years ago to modern societies such as ours? Some scriptures come across as out of date, hateful, and inappropriate, making God out to be out of touch, overbearing, which some people find problematic. At a glance, particular scriptures belittle women and encourage the misogynistic treatment of God's very creation, some scriptures seem to attack gay person describing them as demonic and unstable, and anyone who is gay is to be scrutinized, making gay persons to feel uncomfortable, misunderstood and unwelcome in the body of Christ- Could God be advocating unloving attitudes to people and encouraging hatred?
At a glance some scriptures come across as hateful, and hateful material is called out for obvious reasons because our societies today are composed of women and gay persons. Since God is love and commands that we love one another why then are these scriptures shared in its churches as a heavy hand of judgement, to its members and into the culture and world we live in?
Heads of states and votes from the government advocate for the feelings and direction of its societies as not to exclude anyone from their right to live in freedom and peace. The Bible, religion, and the church cannot be hateful to any soul? Just as Pontius Pilate in front of the screaming mob - found no ill or wrongdoing in Christ Jesus, washed his hands to the demands of the screaming crowd, and solidarity of voice- to do away with the Him.
"A new command I give you that you love one another."
"If this man were not a criminal we would not have handed Him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and judge him accordingly to your law." The Jews replied, " We are not permitted to put anyone to death."
Who was this crowd, how many of them were there- ten- three hundred- a thousand? There were enough people for Pilate to be persuaded. I am sure Pilate did not scare easily with his access to countless centurions at his command, and as governor of the known world- something else was at play that day? Apart from the will of God.
The crowd. Who made up this crowd and does it matter at this point? Is it politically correct to say that it was predominately a Jewish crowd- in John 6:41, it is written "Then the Jews began to complain about Him he said, " I AM the bread that came down from heaven." They were saying," Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He know say, 'I have come down from heaven?" Jesus answered them, " Do not complain among yourselves..." Was this a crowd which witnessed Christ's miracles? Was it a crowd that heard of Him but did not know Him personally? And why would they so severely take offense at Him? Was this act nothing more than a groupthink frenzy? Was the crowd there for other reasons and Christ got caught in the cross fire?- or was this a mixed crowd of believers and worshipers and the envious perhaps?
What impression did this give to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate - that Jesus own people could make no use of Him nor want Him around? It does not really matter at this point, of course because it was the very will of God, but for discussion sake- If the crowd wanted an innocent spotless man to die and deem Him guilty can one person as Pontius Pilate interfere, too overturn the demands of the crowd? If Christ could not get men to believe or respect Him could Pontius Pilate? Was the masses made up of influential persons, the rich of the land who had clout and could oust a governor in and out of power at a whim?
There were demands placed on Pontius Pilate, demands to overturn his decision to suit the high priests, the crowd was flippant on having their way. This was not a calm, orderly and obedient group of protesters. My heart goes out to men and women in authority.
They too often have to put up with the self-will and disobedience of people.Is it not the rich who usually drag people into court says the Lord. Stakeholders, shareholders holding the fate of their cause, in the decision making of greed, profit and position?
"But what about obedience and humility for those in authority?"
The ruling class of the region took offense at Jesus because He was advocating a "higher concepts" of practicing "religion" other than what the Jewish people would accept. But what they failed to see is that His teachings was not new "religion", but rather a godly standard of being.
Did the person who received healing from Christ dare to, dissuade the crowd from their chant. "Do away with Him?" It might of meant being stoned or trampled on?
I wonder how Christ must of felt in this situation- it was a hard experience of rejection, shame and indescribable hatred and injustice toward a innocent and just human- and God who had all the power in the universe to stop it. But Christ knew all men and did not put His trust in them. The majority won this lute. The stronger voice won and dictated. The crowd jostled that a innocent man be put to death and God allowed it to be so.
Which voice am I advocating for today? And will I be heard and heeded too because I am right and just, or just because I am richer, stronger, louder, or ... you fill in the blanks.
Is my voice true and pure- or unjustly powerful, and heeded? Does it matter if what were asking for is wrong? We might think to just keep quiet then. God wonders as well-Will I be heard and listened too this time or ever? -Will I be shunned and ignored, but my voice is true and pure and stands forever?
Do not judge the man Pontius Pilate but rather ask " How and what would I have done in his situation and place? What do we do when the crowd is stronger than the voice of innocence,truth or justice. It becomes a problem to all. In homes, churches, states around the world.
Why put to death a man who was instantly curing the sick, and teaching about love and forgiveness and fairness. Did no one stand up for His defense?
Jealousy, envy, and fear perhaps? Have I ever done anything to someone else for reasons of greed, envy, or strength disregarding the other's voice. Be honest. What would it mean to someone, anyone in authority, if someone in your mist, cured the sick and brought hope and euphoric joy to individuals and families and decide they are just too much trouble to have around? Perhaps those who would be losing money or prestige because of Christ's power? Christ's power and truth versus what I want in life right now? Does this describe me?
The Bible is a mysterious book and at the same time, a complex standard of scripture that is at times, baffling to its reader. We look at its ancient societal practices as unparalleled to our times, but overlook to realize that our collective human nature is the same yesterday,today and tomorrow.
We might fail to realize that the societies of Bible times were just as societies of today. Filled with people just like me and you who erred, made bad choices and paid dire prices for their errors. Past societies display the character of countless men and women who did not think fairly or lovingly enough to make good decisions and many suffered and paid the price of death, the price of shame and rejection, the price of loss, the price of- fill in the blanks. But Christ says that He took care of all this for us (sin) and I encourage each person to make the great exchange.
Have we ever stopped to ponder why so much has been said and done in the name of the message of the Bible throughout the history of the human race? Why is this book so talked about? Because it is constantly telling us that we don't often know how to act fairly, justly and with clarity without the help and guidance of The all-seeing eye and Spirit of Truth-The Holy Spirit.
"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate asked Him, "What is truth?"
God wants to be our helper if we pay enough attention to His message of truth, He will guide each reader into tailored suited instruction for the person individually, Peace must be our umpire as well, love for our neighbor as for ourselves.
The Ancient protocols and knowledge of the past were Sacred and cherished by the certain Jewish peoples. Since the Jewish race exodus out of Egypt, thousands of years ago, and as the Jewish race dispersed throughout the globe, they brought us these books, the Bible, and its people's "relationship" with the transcendent named God. Thank you the Jewish race for the Words of God you've kept safe for all generations to behold and read.
Love your Bible, read it, and cherish it as Sacred.
Then stories of the books of the Bible where the human race's relationship and every day experiences with the Eternal- today art, the Church, priests, share and expound its truths, into our current societies. Each person is trying and working out their walk of faith somehow in a relationship with the transcendent and in hopes of a better understanding of themselves and life on earth, toward eternity, forever.
When Christ came to earth- His intention was not to create a religious order- but a standard of human conduct equal to all and for all, now and forever. This standard continues into eternity where God's kingdom is already in order. The standards will not change in heaven,nor here on earth for that matter. God wants to raise our standards to His level of perfection.
So much is said in the Bible, and because any book that is written, is soon forgotten. The Bible is the only book in the history of the world, that transcends time. Why-because the very Spirit of God is in its pages and thus the Bible is a a eternal living voice- speaking to each person and generation with the same message of love, justice and invitation to relationship with the Triune God..
The people in the Bible are not about people who lived perfect lives rather the opposite is true. The reaction and behavior of the men and women mentioned in the Bible more often than not, display attitudes and behavior which are wrong, incorrect, and who show poor judgment.
When the inebriated King asked Queen Vashti to parade in front of him- the story is not advocating that men get drunk, and command their wives to do things they do not wish to do, rather the Bible is like a mirror, placing it in front of each of us- for us to see ourselves in the situation (not the other) for us not to point our finger at, but rather for us to reflect and decide- was this a correct decision the king made? Do I see myself in its stories? What really is at play in the story- what is the message for me today in this story and scenario? Most see this as a story about a insubordinate woman who needed to be put in her place, but looking more intently at this story its saying, 'Is this you too, would you act like this too?' Are you taking sides or are you doing the right thing.Acting honorably and with respect toward your wife? Or is your ego at play?
Let's talk about its messages. How can what is applicable thousands of years ago in culture and scenario's possibly be relevant to our day and age, thousands of years later. The answer is- human nature is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow and if we do not take on the standard of righteousness God wants to elevate us upward toward, so that we live in peace and freedom for the long term- then history is doomed to repeat itself over and over again, and it does repeat itself over and over in sin, pain and suffering.
Scenario and setting in past times are obviously different- since we cannot go back in time to be there to get the details of the events, - The Holy Spirit can fulfills this role as our omnipresent Counselor filling the gap by exercising our imaginations with logic to understand what really is at play and what needs correcting and learning in Scripture today. God is very concerned about how we do things and why we do them. God likes a humble and contrite heart. God's standard is constant, equal for all people at all times in all places throughout the earth. It's not about the culture or customs- it's about how each of us live our lives so that we are healthy happy and whole in relationship with Him and others.God is The Perfect Standard.
If we take what is written in the book as a fair and just proposition applied to each and every single human being as a standard of holy justice and its message is baffling- then our level of understanding and maturity needs to come up higher in faith and patience for what we cannot yet comprehend. This attitude is called having faith which Christ asked us repeatedly to have in truth and trust. More is required than simply reading the scriptures at a glance and making a personal opinions and judgment, rather reflection, prayer, thought, and belief, are required to comprehend the statements of the Word as true even when we do not yet understand.
I believe that it is best to realize the difference between culture, and an event, versus what is a standard of loving holiness. Because God is The Standard which needs no adjusting? God perfect love- which humans struggle to emulate too many times, cannot outsmart the Creator.
Ask God questions about His Standard and don't assume you've understood- where you deem God unfair and out of date- ask. "What really is at play in the situation?" Often its our human nature void of the direction of the Holy Spirit, or void of the guidance and sign of the Holy Spirit leading our decisions and, behavior.
An analogy can be If I pick up a physics book and know nothing about physics and say all that is written is rubbish this would make one sounds ridiculous. Gaining knowledge and ground about physics takes a basis and beginning and gradual expansion of built knowledge upon knowledge to come to a fuller understanding of its subject matter and the Bible is no different. We must understand and learn and study it from all angles and realities of history and its powerful essence and cap power of the Holy Spirit and Christ as Prime Mover and Initiator of all things.
When reading the Word- say "what do I need to understand in order for God's voice and logic to ring true" especially for those who are not interested in doing research and study but just want to believe in Christ point blank, because they trust the Savior as their teacher and Father in faith, and then adjust to His truth of infinite love and protection. Others want more proof and do more expansive research and this is a good thing as well.
Patience. The waiting period between what is written in the Bible and waiting for all things to come together in our understanding and knowledge of God is required. God is working in our lives but we need to be at a place and state of mind where we do not get everything we want instantly and that means as well what we will not believe or understand yet? What we do not understand we leave alone, but obey- like our parents, priests, teachers, and government in faith, trusting that our Creator is for us and has our best interest in mind. There is an order in authority, like a parent and child relationship that requires trust and obedience out of fear and respect. Yet God is not like our parents, who are human but a perfect God, is loving us unconditionally and perfectly-not all parents love perfectly. Yet God still requires that we honor in forbearance and in patience our earthly Fathers and Mothers and those in authority placed over us. God is a God of order and love.
First, aspiring to be wise, we need to ask for wisdom. Placing things in sequence and understanding is required. Often what was written in scripture denoted a spirit or attitude which was destructive and hurtful. What is written in the Bible often depicts events and scenarios that were evil and destructive in attitude and behavior- such as throwing one's children into the fire of Molech? We cannot go back in time to the place where these events took place and where God's judgment or voice came through its characters, but we can relate to its message as a person who is part and parcel the same as any other person who lived or lives- based on biases, prejudices, right and wrong and the acknowledgment that a human nature is often not able to act or judge fairly. In order to understand the scripture and its context, one might be in a frame of mind that is receptive to what the Holy Spirit is saying through the event. Whatever sounds problematic is to be pondered, examined and researched- in its entirety. Scripture is no different. What we cannot prove or validate- we trust as true because God says so. God's thoughts are not man's thoughts. So then?
Obedience is required in life for all of us. Children, Employers, Partners in any relationship. Heads of state, Countries. We obey and wait for God to intervene where we cannot understand, control, or change. Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.
What was written about women keeping silent in churches and assemblies in the Bible may have been referring to a situation that had nothing to do with women teaching in general, as clearly in the Bible women were leaders and lead churches, but due a situation in a particular story? We read what we want often siding with our biases and prejudices. does this describe you?
One thing we know for sure God asks us to respect all persons and to treat them with dignity and this includes all persons. Each person is to be righteous in conduct and attitude. Not perfect but trying.
Homosexual described in the stories of the Bible may have been referring to orgies and indecent sexual acts taking place at alters or certain areas of Israel. These were times where cults and cultural performances of ritualistic behavior that did not include Godly sentiments, similar to the event of the making of the golden calf while Moses was in union with God on top of Mount Horeb. Does what took place in ritualistic demonic cult worship today describe the love, two people of the same sex experience. I do not know.- and furthermore,I feel it is none of my business. There are some things and ideas that are best left to the individual. Some things are simply none of my business. My business is not to judge but to love deeply.
The Book of Philippians
Do not judge admonishes the Lord. Do not commit adultery or fornication, rather be the example of a genuine and wholesome loving relationships. Is your relationship broken, unfair, and unloving? God commands that we love others and ourselves fully and deeply which is our new command. Love one another deeply as so fulfilling the law.
Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Wisdom of Solomon