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Layman's Walk

God Is Love (Part 2)

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Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.  — (excerpt from) 1 Corinthians 13


In my previous post (God is Love – Part 1), I discussed what Christianity is not.  Having clarified what it isn’t, let’s look at what it actually is.

Quite simply put, Christianity is about love:  Unconditional, never surrendering, unending love.

The core of the faith is a belief in a creating and loving God, who demonstrated to God’s creation God’s love by becoming like one of the created in the person of Christ Jesus, serving and loving humanity, understanding them, experiencing life as one of them, and being willing to die a horrible and humiliating death, all while still expressing God’s love for all God’s creation.

I understand that last paragraph is a lot to unpack, and probably raises as many questions as it answers.  Questions like:

  • Why was God’s creation imperfect?
  • If God really loved his creation (and all people), why do so many terrible things happen in the Old Testament–particularly all those terribly violent things, and things that are completely contrary to what is in the New Testament (Jesus’ Gospel)?
  • If God is really all-powerful, did God really need to “die” to “save” humanity?
  • How is the story of Jesus Christ’s gruesome death a “love story?”

All of these, and others you may have, are completely legitimate questions.  Frankly, they are all significant enough to merit their own article for discussion–because they are big, legitimate, and complicated questions.  (Now I know what my next several posts will discuss…)

But the bottom line is:  Christianity is LOVE:  Love for God, Love for Others, and Love for God’s Creation.  As Christians, we are called to love all of these and nothing more.  No hate; no judgement; only to love.  After an Old Testament (that makes up most of what Christians refer to as the bible) that is full of failed human attempts at righteousness, goodness, and purity, God realized we needed more than just “rules to follow that we can never satisfy.”  That was the mission of Christ–to show that while we were imperfect people (sinners–i.e. people who do what we want, when we want, for our own selfish reasons), God still loved us without end.

As Christians, we are called to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS as we love ourselves. You’ve probably heard this called the “Golden Rule,” and it is.  In Christianity this is also referred to as the “Greatest Commandment.”  That’s right, it’s more important than the Ten Commandments.  It doesn’t negate them, but it is superior.

Christianity is about showing love to all the world in the same way Christ did:  Selflessly, without judgement, without condition, without anyone deserving his help or love, without being loved in return, and even when that love is returned with hate, or maybe even worse–with indifference.

The New Testament is full of stories that reflect this.  Jesus heals ten lepers, yet only one even bothers to thank him.  Jesus heals countless others–none of whom have done anything to “deserve” his help.  But he helps them nonetheless.

Even while dying on his cross, Jesus prays for forgiveness for those who are murdering him.  Jesus does not pray damnation on those who have beat him, humiliated him, and who are ultimately killing them. In LOVE he prays for their salvation.

It is this love that Christians are called to–and when we fail to demonstrate it, we fail to send Christ’s message to the world.

Who among us (myself included) would be willing to continue using our own strength to make the lives of others better when there is no thanks?  Who of us would be willing to immediately forgive (let along pray for) someone who beat us, or abused us, let alone was going to kill us?

This is exactly the love that Jesus demonstrates.

So when you want to know what Christianity is, know that it is believing is God’s unrelenting love for creation–and in a Christians’ recognition of that love, we want to share that love with all who will listen, all who will hear, and all who seek to fill the void in their lives that only an amazing love can fill.

And when you see a professed Christian doing anything otherwise, know that their actions are not “Christian.”  But also know, that every single Christian you meet is every bit as undeserving, as imperfect, and as sinful as any other person who has ever lived.  Christians are NOT perfect and they are NOT better than anyone else.

We are only called to love as Jesus loves.  And we still screw that up.  But when we do, we try again.

And that’s Christianity in a nutshell.








Layman's Walk

God Is Love (Part 1)

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“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:8

In post-modern America, “Christianity” has earned itself a pretty mixed reputation.  Granted, people who identify as “Christian” have a relatively positive view of the faith, its teachings, and its followers, but there are major segments of society which have the opposite view.

And I don’t blame them.  There are plenty of good, legitimate reasons that people have no regard for (or even outright hate) “Christianity.”

You’ll notice that to this point, I have only referenced the faith in quotation marks.  The reason for this is simple:  Much of what masquerades as “Christianity,” particularly in the United States, is anything but Christ-like.

In the New Testament, there are many warnings about “false prophets (teachers)” who will corrupt the message of Jesus and us it for their own means and benefit.

This may come as a surprise, but Christianity in America has become infested with these false teachings.  The corruption that lies at the root of these falsehoods is largely the reason that so many people look at Christians and Christianity and say, “No thanks,” or even, “Hell, no!”

As we move further into this discussion, there are a few things I want to make sure are clear to the reader:

  1. I’m just a human, too, and thus I am no better or worse than anyone else.  Period.
  2. Just because I say something is not Christian does not mean that that concept or philosophy is wrong–but it does mean it is misattributed to Christianity.
  3. I am and will always be learning more and growing in my faith–I claim not to have answers that are absolute–but I do have plenty of support for these statements.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk at a basic level about what Christianity is not (part 1) and what it actually is (part 2).

Christianity is NOT about “Us” versus “Them” or “the Good people” versus “the Bad people.”

If you have ever been made to think this is a Christian belief or idea, let me apologize to you on behalf of all Christians.  This is one of the biggest corruptions of the faith and it is inherently human.  For millennia, humanity has divided itself into segments, groups, and categories to describe itself and this has too often led to fights between the “us” and the “them.”  Christ’s teachings and others in the New Testament actually profess that we are ALL both “good” and “bad” at the same time. No person is just “good” and no person is just “bad.”  All people have elements of both–Christian or otherwise.

Christianity is NOT about following all the “Rules.”

Two key points here:

  1. Christianity is more about how we are completely incapable of following the rules to meet God’s standard that he sent Christ to both demonstrate how it was done and to demonstrate how much God loves us despite our ability to do what we should.
  2. Christ Himself was a HUGE rule-breaker!  It should be noted, his rule-breaking was to make life better for others, not just for the sake of being a rebel.  Still, he rebelled against the establishment’s arbitrary laws were either nonsense or oppressive.

Having said that, I’m not advocating you go out and do a bunch of stupid/wrong/mean stuff.  Just know that your screwups are understood and forgiven.  And more importantly, God’s love for you doesn’t vary with how “good” you are.  It’s consistent, constant, and unchanging.

Christianity is not about all the “Good Things You Do.”  (But you should do good things.)

Christians do NOT do good things in order to earn salvation.  We do them because in the joy of knowing we are saved in Christ we want to do good things for others and share Christ’s love with the world.  If you’re doing good things (or abstaining for bad things) in order to be “OK” with God, you’re missing the point.  There’s nothing you can do that will put you in better or worse with God.  No one is worthy; only through Christ are we made righteous.

Christianity is NOT about Nationalism or Patriotism.

Again, I’ll restate–having pride for our/your country is not in of itself a bad thing.  A healthy dose of patriotism is good; it’s very important to support our men and women in uniform who are both sacrificing and performing a very important service.  Do not interpret this as “anti-American” or “anti-troops.”  It’s just not a Christian characteristic–it’s an American (or whatever country you live in) characteristic.  Don’t confuse national pride and Christ’s Gospel.  And it’s easy to–we Americans love songs like “God Bless America” and “God Bless the USA.”  No worries there–it’s perfectly OK and appropriate to pray God’s blessing on our democratic experiment and those who protect it.  But don’t confuse national pride and prayer for its continuation for Christianity.  There is not a “nationalism” or “patriotism” requirement in Christianity.  If anything–the only national/patriotic pride professed by Christ is in that of His Kingdom–not of any kingdom or nation here on earth.  In fact, he rebelled against both the religious and political establishment to such an extent that they executed him as a criminal.


In my next post (Part 2), I’ll discuss what Christianity IS.  But before doing that, I think it was important to clarify what it is not……because often the people who are shouting the loudest (those who are heard on TV/radio/televangelists/extremists) are doing Christ’s Gospel (and humanity) a terrible disservice.





Layman's Walk

At the Edge of a Dream

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I was in a void–neither bright nor dark.

I saw a desk much like the one in the room where I was staying.  A key was on the desktop.  I picked it up and used it to open the bottom drawer.  In the drawer, I found a black leather-bound book.  I picked it up and as I went to set it on the desk, it fell open near the midway point.

I looked and saw something beginning to sprout from the book’s gutter.  It continued to grow–slowly, then faster and faster–until it had become a massive tree that had overtaken the book and the desk.  It was larger and taller than any tree I had seen.

Staring up into the canopy, a nut of some sort fell to the ground and broke open  I looked inside of what seemed similar to a walnut, and there were three pieces.  As I looked at each of them, I knew immediately what each represented.

The first piece represented the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a message of love and compassion for all people.  This is the message I am compelled to live and share.

The second piece represented the fight for social justice and equality–that in all things I must not only seek to do no harm but also to make things right where there is wrong–to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly” as instructed in Micah 6:8.

The third piece represented an open mind and humble heart.  It reminders me to be open to the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.  While I may not always agree with them either at first or at all, it is important to listen with openness and humility. As a human, I certainly will never know everything, my logic and opinions will be flawed, and I’m prone to mistakes and my own selfish tendencies.

As I looked away from the nut and back to the tree, it was etched into my mind that if I were to base my life and ministry on these three core concepts, it would be a healthy and helpful one.