My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not on Our Own

Had my morning reading today. Read Luke Chapter Twenty-One. Also read fifty verses from the Quran. It began with the widow's offering and finished with an admonition to watch. (My daily reading is done with the Revised Standard Version Bible.)

[1] He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury;

[2] and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins.

[3] And he said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;

[4] for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had."

That is a great passage. And it is not a parable, either. It really happened. Someone gave everything they had. I've never even come close to that.

[34] "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;

[35] for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.

[36] But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these thintgs that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."

When I first became a Christian, way back in August of 1975, I would read these passages and feel so good. Oh, I knew I would give my last two coins if I had the chance. What a stupid thing to say. Of course, I never did.

I also was so pleased with myself because I didn't get drunk, and I wasn't caught up in the cares of the world. Didn't even know what dissipation meant.

What I realize now is that I had accepted forgiveness, but then launched out on my own. My pride had not truly been broken. Only slightly humbled as I had come to realize I was not so perfect as I thought. But having received forgiveness I seem to have returned to a sense of self-righteousness. Paul wrote of this in Galatians, Chapter Three. (New King James Version)

[1] O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

[2] This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

[3] Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

It is almost a paradox, isn't it? It's all about faith. And yet our behavior says so much.

Like small children, we get confused over things. We see the evidence of faith and the imitation of faith and we can't always tell them apart. There is real butter. There is margarine. There is real wood. There is veneer. There is the real diamond. There is the piece of glass.

We do this with others, but mostly we do it with ourselves. We don't like to admit when we're phony. We don't like being hypocrites. We don't want to walk around with our heads bowed in shame.

God doesn't want us walking around with heads bowed in shame all the time either. But he does want us to acknowledge when we're being phony and hypocritical. By faith we have been saved, and so we can hold our heads up by reason of faith. Not self-righteousness. We have none - except in our own eyes.

We think to please God, and so we undertake self-assigned adventures and quests to destroy God's enemies, not realize we have set ourselves against God in the process.

Ezekiel (chapter eighteen) New King James Version

[23] "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

[24] But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.

[25] Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

[26] When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

[27] Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.

[28] Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

[29] Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?

[30] Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.

[31] Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?

[32] For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!"

God does not want us dead, so don't be killing yourself. God does not want others dead, so don't be killing others.

It comes down to faith, people. Faith in God. Faith in God to take care of himself and his reputation. We do not need to fight for God.

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." John 18:36-37 New King James Version

I think we would all do so much better if we could just remember that God does not want us hating, hurting, killing, and otherwise oppressing each other. But we try to do it on our own all the time. And then we get it wrong.

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