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Archive for November, 2015

Did Jesus And Should God-Folks Have A Spiritual Agenda With Friends?

Spiritual folks often do more harm than good when telling others about God. Randal Rauser points out in his blog that according to one study, when people were the object of Christian witnessing 59% developed a more negative perception of Jesus and/or Christianity while only 19% developed a more positive perception. In other words witnessing is three times as likely to produce negative results (randalrauser.com, Nov 2, 2015). Years ago I was the best at making friendships awkward. Unfortunately, I was misinformed.

Misinformation about Hell in the Bible is one of the main reasons for unnatural relationships or interactions. Some may mess up a friendship because they feel pressure to talk to people about God or they are going straight to Hell. Others may not talk to friends about God even if it comes up naturally because Hell as a place of eternal, sadistic torture is something not even a human would think up much less a loving God. It is said after death God tortures people forever for sins committed in a few short years here on earth. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. Most Christians don’t really believe in Hell or shame on them for not offending everyone possible because they could die in a blink of an eye and burn to a crisp.

The traditional meaning and understanding of Hell, which you will burn in Hell after death for not believing in God while on earth, is a fabrication that doesn’t exist in the Bible. Hell, not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Sheol, wrongly translated as Hell in the OT, was a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs. Even Job, a righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape tremendous suffering. Gehenna, wrongly translated as Hell in the NT, was a real valley in Jerusalem. Jesus used Gehenna to symbolize the horrors of adversaries of God who disposed of their enemies into the burning, worm-infested valley. Simply avoid a valley near Jerusalem close to death if concerned about going to Hell. The God I know though will invite all after death to join Him. I doubt any reading this or their loved ones will reject such an invitation.

Believe it or not Jesus whole reason for coming was to simply encourage and inspire all to treat others like you want to be treated. Jesus came to let us know we are loved by our Creator and desires to help us be the kind of persons we all want to be deep down. Jesus said this was the most important commandment or the main thing (Mt. 24:37-38). When Jesus was asked how one obtains eternal life, Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). John 3:15 refers to eternal life as being in Christ, thus referring to a quality than future destiny. Jesus did not focus on Heaven, perfection, or the destiny of those who reject the pursuit of an unselfish life. Jesus taught life forever can begin here on earth. Jesus came to earth to convey knowing who God really is empowers one to shun evil and do good.

Who doesn’t know the story of how Jesus responded to the religious elite who had caught a woman in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:11). When Jesus rightly shamed the crowd by getting them to look in the mirror, they dropped their stones and left Jesus and the woman alone. Jesus didn’t lecture, pray with the woman, or tell her to go to church. Jesus simply said “Go now and leave your life of sin.” C’mon! Didn’t Jesus have a better evangelical spiel? It didn’t matter that Jesus may never see this woman again. Jesus had said all He needed to – God loves you and encourages you to do what you know is right in your heart for your own good and others. It is a slap in God’s “unconditional love” face to suggest Jesus’ agenda with people was anything other than loving people as they deep down desire to be loved.  Jesus didn’t use Hell to threaten others into heaven because no such place existed. The thief on the cross just asked to be remembered. Jesus said “you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23).

What is our purpose in our relationships with others? It may be obvious for those not weighed down by misbeliefs about God. Who thinks when getting with friends they that should have hidden motives? Spiritual readers can relax because no one has to say the sinner’s prayer to get a free pass out of Hell. Love doesn’t have a hidden agenda. We get together with friends to enjoy one another’s company and love them how we wished to be loved. I love talking to others about my relationship with God as must as I do a good book, but only if natural and mutually desired.  Jesus wanted all to know how much they are loved by their Creator. Mother Teresa said that she was simply responding to God’s boundless love for her and for all of humanity. When one feels extraordinarily loved they simply want to return that love to others.

Jesus did not come as a theologian but lover. If our beliefs are truly life changing than people will simply know by the way we love others. But, since I suck at loving others I often find it easier to write about beliefs that may hinder ones relationship with their Creator. God was always willing to live in peace, despite one’s beliefs, as long as they didn’t engage in such evils as child sacrificing, raping, killing, etc. Jesus did not attack people’s sexual preferences. Jesus attacked the real hypocrites – the religious. If you claim to be spiritual ask a friend where they see hypocrisy in your life. Years ago no one was asking me to pray in non-religious group settings. Now, people look to me as if I am expected to pray. Maybe they sense God and I hang together. Maybe they know I went to seminary a year and mistakenly think that qualifies me. But, my prayers are fun and open because God in my life is fun and open. I love having my conversations with God out loud. It is like asking me to play tennis. Anytime, anywhere!  Knowing God can be life transforming and help to face challenges in a not so friendly world.

 

Is There Life After Death For All?

How you feel God treats all people after death depending on decisions made while on earth can impact your relationship with God as well as those you speak to about the Creator. The Bible is not a systematic theological textbook, thus there is not a book on Heaven. There are enough biblical comments, without taking out of context, to suggest all will face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). Those who choose faith in God on earth are promised after death they will be in heaven where God will transform our bodies (Philip. 3:20). Jesus promised the thief on the Cross he would enter paradise. Scriptures do not give us the details of what will take place this final judgment day to those who do not or are unable to choose faith in God while living on earth. 

Why wouldn’t one want to believe God is a Universalist where all are saved from themselves, if freedom and justice can be defended in such a scenario? Several passages can be plausibly interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22, i.e. Rom. 5:18-19, Philip: 2:10-11).  It would not be unlike God to show mercy and give all a second chance when meeting their Creator. The case and hope for Universalism biblically may be greater than supposed by evangelical believers. Heaven may be more populated than many people imagined.

Some may argue that the possibility of eternal decisions after death creates less urgency to change here on earth. We may want to tell an addict after the 100th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. There are some that wish to scare people into obedience with the fear of God, but God has always emphasized a relationship over rules and obedience. Remember the Pharisees! Closer relationships, either personal or spiritual, are what inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. When one feels extraordinarily loved they simply want to return that love to others.

We know for sure God is not going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time! Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. The traditional understanding of Hell is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Scriptures suggest Jesus once before visited the dead during Noah’s time in hopes they would change their mind (I Peter 3:18-20; 4:6). Why can’t we assume Jesus would again visit the dead in hopes they would accept His invitation to live with Him in Heaven rather than possibly faced a second death?

God punishment has always been in hopes of redeeming the guilty. God’s justice in the afterlife may have an educative component and cleansing effect after our life here on earth. Victims will be vindicated as the guilty will face their sins. One’s childhood robbed because of sexual abuse can never be returned, but confession can lead to ultimate healing. We like God may forgive our tormenters if they truly sought forgiveness and desired to make amends. Believers and unbelievers may go through the same process of justice, some having more regrets than others. Some wanted nothing to do with a Heavenly Parent because of their earthly parents. Do you really think Jesus is going to invite a thief who warranted death on a cross to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus right before their last breathe? I doubt any reading this or their loved ones would deny such an invitation by God.

There is no more merciful, understanding, loving Judge than our Creator. God’s judgment is never clouded because of their own sins or biases. God is a God of a million chances, though they encourage to run from evil NOW to have fewer regrets. Jesus encouraged the pursuit of good deeds by loving others like you want to be loved as deep down that is the life we all desire for ourselves. God was anxious for us to avoid the painful look back of regrets, but it is never too late to choose to spend time with God for eternity even after death. It will be possible to be happy in heaven despite regrets for even saints such as Mother Teresa will have some regrets.

When Jesus was asked how one obtains eternal life, Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). John 3:15 refers to eternal life as being in Christ, thus referring to a quality than future destiny. Jesus did not focus on Heaven, perfection, or the destiny of those who reject the pursuit of an unselfish life. Jesus taught life forever can begin here on earth. Jesus came to earth to convey knowing who God really is empowers one to shun evil and do good. Jesus focused on the benefits of a current relationship to handle earthly struggles than what happens to unbelievers after death.

What do we lose choosing hope than despair! Freedom was necessary for authenticity, the highest good in relationships. Without freedom, thus the possibility of suffering, we could accuse God of not creating the “best” world. Can God eventually transform all unrepentant sinners without violating one’s freedom? Is it possible purgatory exists until God’s cleansing has it full impact, as one could suggest there can be no joy in heaven if just one person perishes? No suffering here on earth is in vain as eventually there will be reconciliation. I am a hopeful Universalist, but God wants us to know that Heaven can start now despite the world we live in. A relationship with God, once we get to know Him, can be our necessary nourishment in our battle against self-centeredness and the challenges of a not so friendly world.

 

What Did Jesus Really Come To Say And Do?

If you are seeking a relationship with your Creator for the first time or more of an intimate relationship, it may matter what you believe Jesus’ real motive was for coming to earth to live and die? When we feel a meaningful bond with our parents, fully understanding the depth of their love, we are more motivated to follow their guidance which often is in our best interest. Closer relationships, either personal or spiritual, are what inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. God’s love is the same as perfect, human love. Knowing who God really is can be our necessary nourishment which can lead to life transformations and help facing the challenges of a not so friendly world.

Some may believe Jesus came to tell you to drop to your knees and say the sinner’s prayer or you can go straight to Hell. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time! Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. The traditional understanding of Hell is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. God’s love is center stage in the Bible. God’s angry in the Bible is simply another aspect of His love – tough love – in hopes to deter people from evil that leads to personal and worldly destruction.

Some may think Jesus died because God had to be appeased and His honor restored. Traditional, legal views of the Cross suggest God was more concerned with our guilt and His reputation than seeking credibility and influence for our own good. The Cross was not necessary as if God couldn’t love us until someone’s death accounted for our sins. God was not like other gods who demanded human sacrifice for their own pleasure or because they were mad at sins. God simply desires a contrite heart for only then is healing possible in relationships. The Cross was not meant to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. Jesus walked in our shoes, even facing undeserved suffering, to convince us of God’s unimaginable love and ways which are truly what we desire deep down in our hearts.  For those whose failures afflict their consciences, Jesus wants us to know we are forgiven and we can start each day anew with God.

Believe it or not Jesus whole reason for coming was to simply encourage and inspire all to treat others like you want to be treated. Jesus came to let us know we are loved by our Creator and desires to help us be the kind of persons we all want to be deep down. Jesus said this was the most important commandment or the main thing (Mt. 24:37-38). When Jesus was asked how one obtains eternal life, Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). John 3:15 refers to eternal life as being in Christ, thus referring to a quality than future destiny. Jesus did not focus on Heaven, perfection, or the destiny of those who reject the pursuit of an unselfish life. Jesus taught life forever can begin here on earth. Jesus came to earth to convey knowing who God really is empowers one to shun evil and do good.

God wasn’t being egotistically when suggesting life in a nutshell is loving God and loving others. We may think of God’s demand for glory as if God created us to remind others how great God is or we can go to Hell. God only ask for respect because loving God is loving ourselves and others like we want to be loved. I asked for the same respect with my kids and I am not even perfect like God. God seeks respect because if all lived by the Ten Commandments and treated everyone like they want to be treated, the world would be so much better off. You weren’t created to worship God so shut up and give God the glory. God wanted to share His glory with others. Most parents have children to share life with.

Jesus confirmed with His words and actions what we know in our hearts. When we hurt someone confess our wrongdoing to them and make amends. Jesus also came to encourage radical things like love your enemies. Anyone can love those who love them. But, the world is only going to change for the better when we also love our enemies in hopes of turning them toward our empowering God. Jesus had to throw a few tables to convey to the religious hypocrites that true religion is self-sacrifice not self-service. The Pharisees and religious-types after them are more in love with their power than truly loving others. Jesus taught that being last is really being first. The Law can only condemn and reveal shortcoming; Jesus wants us to know matters of the heart – that adultery and lust are wrong – but that there is life after failures as God loves us despite our imperfections. Jesus came to change hearts.

Can we admit the human condition is we all are to some degree bent toward self-centeredness? Parents know a child must be steered toward the narrow gate of unselfishness and away from the wide gate of destruction for true freedom. Jesus sought to empower us by ensuring we don’t have to remain stuck in our guilt or hopelessness. God forgives, loves, and desires to encourage us in the daily challenge of being the kind of person we deep down desire to be. Jesus didn’t come to save us from Hell or even to preach about Heaven as a total focus on the future leads to unproductive, passive living on earth. Jesus came as a lover not a theologian. A relationship with God, rather than an emphasis on rules and obedience, is our necessary nourishment to conquer our battle against self-centeredness.

Does The Bible Reveal God Or The Writers Are Sexists?

Beliefs have consequences. To believe the Bible teaches wives are in subjection to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives creates an environment most conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men throughout history. Since interpretations are fallible, we must error on the side less prone to abuse. Mutual submission is impossible for men to twist to justify their subtle or blatant mistreatment of women.

I will never tire trying to convince others that the Bible doesn’t teach men have any type of authority over women. One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions?” It just doesn’t make logical sense why God would put a man in charge based on history, common sense, and human nature. Lack of mutual accountability is disastrous. The truth is to not teach complete equality is confusing to those seeking to know our God better.

  • Genesis, the first book in the Bible, is often used to suggest God ordained separate gender roles and as you might suspect the men aren’t women’s helpers. The English implication of the word “helper” translated from the Hebrew word ezer is nowhere to be found in the Bible (2:18). Ezer is used of God and implies or often is translated as “strength” (Deut. 33:29). R. David Freedom has argued convincingly that the best translation of Genesis 2:18 is “I will make [the women] a power [or a strength] corresponding to the man” (Walter Kaiser Jr., Tough Questions About God And His Actions In the Old Testament, p. 140). Genesis 3:16 describes what happens when sins enters relationship. Men will rule over women. God got that one right! God is describing problems not prescribing roles. If the context is suggesting God’s will, then farmers sin by trying to combat weeds (3:17-18).
  •  The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament is accused of being a woman hater or seriously misinformed of God’s view of women especially in his first letter to the Corinthians. Is Paul really duplicating synagogue ways and telling women in church to just shut up and sit there and be thankful you are even allowed to come to church? (14:34) Paul’s response suggests otherwise: “Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached” (14:36). Besides, Paul wouldn’t waste his time controlling a practice in the previous verses of how men and women should speak in an orderly fashion if it was forbidden to begin with (14:26-33). Paul’s goal was to restrict unauthorized women who were deceived but not authorized to teach such as Priscilla (2 Tim 4:19). This surely is Paul’s meaning as the rest of his letter speaks of the equality of the sexes: husbands and wives share equal authority over their body (7:4); women are not condemned for prophesying which clearly involved speaking (11:5); again, women and men possess the same authority and in fact are interdependent (11:10-11). Yea, Adam was created first but then no more men were created without women. The bottom line is all human beings are better off being dependent on God using whatever spiritual gifts they may have. If Paul supposedly told women to hush, why didn’t he explain which spiritual gifts are gender specific (12:1-31)? It is way too risky to not give Paul the benefit of the doubt and not empower half the church in their giftedness.
  • Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is often used to suggest wives are subordinate or under the leadership of their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives (5:22). The truth is that mutual submission is a way of life for all followers to imitate Jesus: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21). In verse 22 in the original manuscripts, Paul literally says: “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” The verb missing is supplied from verse 21 so the TNIV translates verse 22 “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” If we defend wives are subordinate or under the leadership of their husbands, then we must also say church members are in subordination or under the leadership of one another (v. 21). Mutual submission in marriage is critical. Many men assume an impasse in a marriage cannot be solved through normal conflict resolutions means, especially when they think they are to provide leadership through decision-making just because they are male. One may argue that relationships must have a final decision maker. A President of a country has to govern through laws and make decisions such as whether to go to war against other countries.  There are more checks and balances when under authority of one’s government or church leadership. There are many creative alternatives in marriage such as the partner who has the most expertise with the matter at hand making the final decision. Personally, in thirty-three years of marriage all decisions have been solvable without insisting one be the final decision-maker. Women do not need male leadership in marriage; women need unselfish men who have the heart of a servant (5:28-29).
  • Many women are denied the privilege to exercise their spiritual gifts in the church because of one main biblical passage (I Tim. 2:11-15), which is highly debated among scholars. Those who suggest this passage teaches women can’t teach men allow women to teach women and children as if they are less important than men! Women were never referred to as pastors in the Bible but then neither were men. There were plenty of men and women ministers/co-workers. A primary problem in Ephesus was false teaching in which untaught women may have been the target (I Tim. 1:3-20; 4:1-7; 6: 6-10, 20-21; 2 Tim 2:16-26; 3:5-13; 4:3-4). Philip Payne argues that “to teach or have authority” in verse 12 likely conveys a single idea such as “assuming authority to teach” and not two different actions (Man and Woman, One in Christ, p. 443). Paul had already prohibited men from teaching false doctrine (1:13, 20). Then, Paul teaches that a woman must not teach or have authentein over a man but Paul had in mind what the first woman did to the first man – prevailed upon Adam to go along with the false view of God’s word that she heard from the serpent. It is the repetition of the error of Eve that Paul disallowed, not a woman’s faithful exercise of her teaching and leadership gifts in the church body. While we are reminded that Eve was deceived, it was Mary that heard and brought the Christ into the world (2:15).

The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female. By contrast, the Jews did not speculate about the “masculinity” of God. There are language limitations when referring to God by gender. It can be difficult to refer to God without using either he or she, but God is never referred to as a “male” or “female” in the Bible. Personally, I prefer to think of my God as either my Creator or my loving, perfect, Heavenly Parent. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal, but God does not simply annihilate people because His desires are not followed. Jesus clearly encouraged equality between the sexes and mutual respect against culture norms. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that. We must not become corrupt and have physical or mental images of God “…whether formed like a man or a woman (Deut. 4:15-16).  We cannot be sure what form God will be until we see Him in Heaven. I simply know that God, my Creator, they love me in unimaginable ways no one else can.

Are God Actions In The Bible The Same As Jihadists Or Extreme Islamists?

It is understandable when reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, that one may assume God advocates genocide or slavery or other horrible practices. God surely is not such a moral monster so some suggest the biblical writers recorded their own beliefs about God rather than God revealing to them what He was really like. Some believe this makes for less angst as we don’t have to defend God’s actions. But, I have written elsewhere that certain passages may be misunderstood and have plausible explanations proving God is not a moral monster.

God clearly is not like the god of the Jihadists. The God of the Bible turns out to not have anything in common with religious extremists concerning freedom of beliefs, women’s rights, or the killing of women and children. God was a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the very beginning. Otherwise, why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? God’s judgments and declarations of war against other nations were not because of a refusal to worship Him, but because people were involved in despicable immoral acts such as child sacrifice. If such nations existed today where child sacrifices were a ritual, war may be the most humane action.

God allows freedom of belief in this life and it is a fabrication that you will burn in Hell after death for such a choice. Hell, not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Sheol and Gehenna, words translated into the word Hell in the Bible, are not a place of sadistic torturing after death for those who do not choose to worship God during their life on earth. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what happens to those who don’t follow God during their time on earth. The God I know though will invite all after death to join Him. I doubt any reading this or their loved ones will not accept such an invitation. 

Women are not to be under the authority of men in the eyes of the God of the Bible. This only encourages dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal, but God does not simply annihilate people because His desires are not followed. Jesus clearly encouraged equality between the sexes and mutual respect against culture norms. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that.

I wrote here that God did not advocate genocide thought certain biblical passages at first reading seem to suggest this. God has always preferred to live in peace. But, corruption had thoroughly infiltrated the Canaan nation that a fresh start may have been more merciful. Was that true also in Noah’s times? ISIS has not existed long enough for an entire culture to buy into their despicable evil actions. God never approved war because a nation believed in other gods as opposed to their Creator. But, Israel like nations today must sometimes take the fight to extremists rather than wait for them to come to our land and blow up innocent people. ISIS doesn’t wage war against our armies who can defend themselves. In such a world thousands of years ago or today, innocent lives cannot always be spared. Israel’s God though can make good on His promise to provide a better place after death for the innocent than subjection to adult evildoers. 

Differences between the Israelites’ God and the extremist Islamists’ God is obvious. God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the beginning. God knows freedom is necessary for authentic relationships. God only desires to encourage people to listen to their heart. What is not debatable in the Bible is that God never advocates the torture or beheading of infidels. God never advocates that blasphemers be put to death. God never promises a lustful afterlife at the expense of women. You can blaspheme or not believe in God but how you treat others has consequences.

What Is Awkward Spiritual Language?

It is important how we represent God to others. I don’t enjoy insulting my Christian readers. Their heart is in the right place. They have a special relationship with God and they want to share that excitement with others. How is that any different than sharing with others your excitement about a new dating relationship or expecting a child born into the family? I also don’t wish to offend those who currently aren’t into God. I don’t want you to think that my agenda is to get your butt saved from Hell. My only agenda is to love others the way I wish to be loved, and I admit I suck at my life goal often. 

I recently read some Bible study notes that are used to teach thousands over the world about God. It said without any explanation that “the Bible’s strong answer is nothing happens outside God’s will to accomplish His grand purpose.” Oh, really! You mean God intended all the evil in the world. I don’t think so. Evil serves no good purpose but God will help us overcome evil eventually. Freedom as opposed to control is necessary for genuine relationships. It is true God allowed for the possibility of evil by creating freedom, and God does not destroy instantly whoever acts evil. God does work though to change the hearts of the evildoer through others. And God says one day after death in this evil word we can live with Him forever. Who doesn’t want to live with God in charge than any President, Leader, or Dictator that has ever lived?  

I read also in the Bible study notes that “God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself in His son, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh really! So God created Adam and Eve, knowing they would have offspring, for the purpose of bowing down to their Creator or they can go to Hell. I don’t think so. God is not an egomaniac. Yea, God ask for respect because His ways are in our best interest. I did the same with my kids and I am not even perfect like God. God only seeks respect because if all lived by the Ten Commandments or treated everyone like they want to be treated, the world would be so much better off. You weren’t created to worship God so shut up and give God the glory. God wanted to share His glory with others. Most parents have children to share life with. 

Jesus doesn’t think you are a wretch that needs to be snatched from the pits of Hell. Maybe you are wicked but the Apostle Paul eventually became a hero in God’s eyes though a murderer. God isn’t always thinking ill of us any more than our human parents because we fail to obey for our best interests. God simply grieves selfish choices because of the pain it will cause His children. God loves all and simply is hoping to persuade all that His love is in their best interest as any parent would. God loves you and doesn’t see you as evil unless putting His Jesus glasses on. God would love to earn your respect and help you become the person deep down you wish to become. God is not a hellish, sadistic, slave-approving sexist in case you think the Bible teaches that! 

We don’t need to quote a lot of bible verses to tell others about God if they wish to discuss your relationship with the Creator. Many quote the Bible out of context anyway. How would you like it if someone took one of your letters, pulled a sentence out of a paragraph, and used it according to their own understanding? Husbands do that all the time so they can rule, I mean lead, over their wives. We don’t need to tell people to repent. Let’s encourage folks to consider the possibility that there is a Creator behind the world we live in. God doesn’t have to be called He as if he has a penis and not a vagina. God is the Creator. God is a Parent. We don’t need to stop sinning. We need to stop acting unjustly toward others or taking actions that are not in our own best interest in the long run. Language matters.

Why Does It Matter What You Think God Is Really Like?

Many sense there is a Being greater than them and is surely the best explanation of how the world came to be. It just takes too much faith for some to believe how children come into the world somehow evolved rather than was initiated into the grand event that it is. If we believe God is the reason for our existence we may be inclined to seek our Creator’s wisdom in how we should live life. If God can create surely God may have answers to why there is so much evil in the world and how I can best cope. Not all people when under duress call out to a supposed Higher Power but if you do, it may matter what you think God is really like.

I wonder sometimes if we would be better off without the Bible. Many may want to believe in a Creator but what others tell them the Bible says about our Creator is just too much to stomach. We all have a sense of what perfect parental love is, even if we did not always experience it. Similarly, our biblical interpretations and characterizations of God must be relational and rational to the human mind as we know what a loving God should be like.

It is said after death God tortures people forever for sins committed in a few short years here on earth. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. The Greek word Gehenna in the Bible is wrongly translated into the English word Hell. The traditional meaning and understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. God is not a sexist. God never said women should submit to men in a way men shouldn’t submit to women. God understood the dangers of such a belief by warning that men would try to “rule over women” (Gen: 3:16).  God is portrayed as an egomaniac that created us to remind all how great He is or we can go to Hell. God like human parents simply encourages respect because parents desire the very thing deep down we want for ourselves. God may be who you really think He is despite what you have heard the Bible supposedly says.

Some may feel almost wired to believe in a loving Creator greater than them. They see how messed up the world is but this doesn’t necessarily lead them to reject God. But certain explanations or lack of answers may prevent the relationship from being as intimate thus helpful as it could be. “Why is this happening to me or my loved one” can sometimes turn into “why God do you not love me.” How we understand God’s role in suffering can determine how we handle suffering and benefit from a relationship with God in our greatest time of need.

Some may know God is their heavenly Parent as much as they know who their earthly parents are. If certain ways about my earthy parents are counterintuitive, I am less inclined to want to get closer or follow their lead. Even if my parents were perfect it is still not always easy to follow their wisdom, but at least the relational barrier is removed. Certain beliefs about God may hinder us from feeling more intimate with our Creator. When we feel deeply connected to our heavenly or earthly parents, we are more empowered and inspired to please them because we know they always have our best interest in mind.

The advantage of having a Bible is that certain truths are not always intuitive. The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image. Such an understanding reveals that how I know I should treat my child is how God thinks toward me. God is not a representation of our earthly parents but the perfection of the human parents we have always desired. What beliefs do you have of your Creator that may hinder you from feeling more deeply connected? It may help to explore whether such understandings are true. God may be the kind of Parent you had always dreamed of or knew in your heart was true despite all the chaos in the world.

 

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