Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus vs. Religion

Have you ever felt like your religion was dead?  Ever sensed that this whole God thing had to be better than what you have?

Consider this-
Romans 7:6, "Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit."

δουλεύειν ἡμᾶς ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος.(1)

Look at the word "new".  It is the Greek word- καινότητι
It is renewal, not simply an experience similar to the past, but a qualitatively different one. In the NT used in a moral sense, “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), meaning in a qualitatively new life with the indwelling of Christ.(2)  Quality of life is key here.

Many people want a religion, "Just give me the marching orders & I will do it."  Well, God gave us 613 marching orders & all it did was show us that we all fail miserably.  Leave me a comment if you want to have fun with this.
The fact is-rules are meant to be broken.  The Law (613) aroused in us a desire to break these rules.  We have, what Jewish people call, the "evil inclination" (יֵצֶר הַרַע).

Could it be that we want a list of rules, so we can compare ourselves to others?  So, when God comes to judge us, you can say, "You should accept me because I am not as bad as Joe over there." Or, "Certainly, I am no Adolph, surely I can get in the door."

Therefore God has given us something much greater, a much greater quality of life.  A life in which we can follow the better Law, the Law of the Spirit (aka The Law of Love). God has loosed the chains of the Law, and given us freedom, kicked out the hovering tutor, and has let us grow up to follow the Spirit.

What is the Law of the Spirit?  It is the Law of Love.  I am still in the midst of a four year study on the Law.  And in my observation, this Law of Love was always there, but people, being of flesh, missed it in the 613.  You can see it boldly in Deuteronomy 6, and in the Law explained in Exodus 23:1-6.  It is everyhere!  Abraham got it, Rahab the prostitute got it, David got it, and Jesus is this Law.

So, instead of looking to a cold religion & rules in order to appease God, run to Jesus, embrace Him & follow is greater ways, follow his Spirit.

Do you want new life to your religion?  Look to Jesus and walk a quality life, one lead by His Spirit.

Jeff, I know a lot of Christians who are very legalistic & are the most unloving people I have seen.  How can this be true?
Well, the focus here is Jesus.  Yes, there have been Crusades in the name of Jesus, abusive pastors in the name of Jesus, nasty parents & killjoys in the name of Jesus.  That is the problem, that is exactly what happens when people follow religion (even in Jesus' name), and leave following Jesus in the dust.  In addition, we don't follow people, we follow Jesus, keeping our eyes on Him, the author & perfecter of our faith.  Do Christians still sin?  Are some, you know whats?  Yes & yes.  But I, we need to focus on Jesus, and let him define what it means to be a Christian.  He is the author of the Law of Love.

(1) Aland, B., Aland, K., Black, M., Martini, C. M., Metzger, B. M., & Wikgren, A. (1993). The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) (420). Federal Republic of Germany: United Bible Societies.
(2) Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dealing with Oxen Poop

My post on FB today- "Here is one of my shortcomings-one that I am working on & want to conquer. It has to do with this verse- Proverbs 14:4 (NLT)

'Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.'
May I learn to deal with the shtuff the oxen leave in the stall."

Here are some verses to help me:

1. Proverbs 14:4 (see above)

2. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)- "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."  This means that there are times where we need to endure the poop of others.  
Endures- ὑπομένω (hupoménō)- it remains under, bears up under, suffers under.  

3. Galatians 5:22–25 (NLT)-"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."

Patience- μακροθυμία (makrothumía)- Big wrath, big patience. In the Hebrew mind, God has a BIG nose, in which to draw deep breaths with us.  

My problem is that I like to let people know I am drawing deep breaths.  
I think I pride myself in not putting up with poop, or the poop of others.  In my flesh, it is a sign of strength.  "I ain't gonna put up with no crap from no one."  Well, according to Galatians 5, this is a mark of the flesh in me, something that needs to be MORTIFIED.  This passion needs to, I want it to, be crucified and die a slow, agonizing death.  So I can become more like Jesus, who did this:

Romans 5:8 (NLT)-"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."

While I was full of bile, full of crap, God loved me (and still loves me, as I slowly die to sin and live for Jesus).  May I love others too, even when their breath, their actions, their lives smell like a dirty stall.  

Oh Father, I want to love people even when they are full of crap.  Even when they do not even have an acceptable level of crappiness.  Help me to rise above and be objective and to have your eyes towards others.  Help me to be strong in You and not in my flesh...having to prove how tough I am.  For you love me, even though I stink.  May I do the same to others.

Here is an ecard I just saw, that excites my flesh, but I am trying to beat this perspective.