Saturday, 20 June 2015

Be Like Christ

While I have been pondering the realm of God, the nature of sin and trying to wrap my head around Calvisnism, which I don’t fully understand, I do understand what God’s personality is. Jesus Christ is the personification of God, that it is to say we can understand God’s character by the way in which Jesus acted in His time here on earth. As Born Again Christians we are called to follow that character. Through the influence of the Holy Spirit when we are born again we are motivated to being a likeness to that character. When I first understood this, I thought how ridiculous this notion was. How can I be like Jesus? I can’t turn water to wine. I can’t walk on water. I can’t control the weather. I can’t heal the sick. I can’t bring the dead back to life. I can’t atone for all of humanity's sin by being sacrificed on a cross. And while I’m not entirely against the idea that the Holy Spirit can give us some supernatural abilities at times it seemed entirely ridiculous that I should follow Him like that. But I was merely describing His actions. His greatest commandment is based on His character. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment was to show love. To Him, To God, To Ourselves, and in the same measure to each other. He was very clear when He said He came to serve, not to be served, we are to follow that character too. In following Him we are called to serve others, no matter what their views. In fact, He was also clear that the service of the most needy, in need of food, and clothing, and shelter, we are serving God directly. He also told us He came to the world, not to judge the world, but to save the world. We too, must inherently not judge, that is definitely not our job as believers. Jesus never condemned anyone for their sin. His great commission was to spread the good news of the gospel. He told people to sin no more and turn to Him. The methodology of that is entirely up for debate of course, but that is the message we need to spread. In fact, the only time Jesus ever condemns anyone, apart from a fig tree, is when the religious elite are acting exactly the opposite in the way He tells us to. When they live by the piousness of their own actions and the proclaim constant condemnation of Him and His disciples for not following the right religious rules. We should rebuke those that judge and condemn others for not following their own religious rules. If we are not spreading the Good News with love then we are entirely working against the message of the gospel. We should weep for the lack of faith in Him like He did. And the only time He ever got angry was when they turned their places of worship into market places. We should, in the same vein turn over tables and chase out the corruption of commercialised religiosity. Those multi millionaire profit making charlatans not only give Christianity a bad name, but they are a direct abuse of the ordination of church. And the fact that they use His name for their corruption will make no difference when they come to Him. He will say to get away from Him, because He never knew them.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Judgment

I realise how ecumenical I am with my approach to theology. I wonder what I really believe about repentance, and our own judgment. Jesus talks quite clearly in Matthew 7 about how we should "Judge not, that ye be not judged." It seems odd that He would be so liberal with judgement on the sermon on the mount when He later goes on to clarify that it is only by His righteousness that we can pass with perfection at the final judgement. Being judged by my own standards would be so easy. Of course Jesus is merely telling us to not be hypocritical. Self discernment is clearly more important than discernment of others. The problem is that we are all separated by this world by the very nature that we are here. Nobody is without the separation of sin, so is any discernment at all of anything outside of yourself hypocritical?

I still maintain that it is possible to determine the nature of someone's soul just by looking into their eyes. You can see past the thin facade of social interaction and see the battleground of the spiritual war going on inside them. You can see all the pain and the suffering they're all going through, desperately trying to feel needed, feel wanted, and not to be alone. Even in the people that are clothed most brightly in the righteousness of Christ it's still there. The demons may be subdued but you can still hear them whispering with their Psiren sweet voices of despair and emptiness. Willing us all to give up, to think you're not worth it, that it's all so entirely pointless. Don't speak up. Just be quiet. It doesn't matter really.

Repentance, whatever it's nature, be it reunification of our relationship with Christ, or merely a reminder of that relationship through a changed nature, it's still calling on God for that reinforcement. I despair most of all for the souls that simply don't know that the battle is going on. The souls that are so overwhelmed with those demons, and the deception is so strong that they aren't even aware of the war is going on. A soul that is so manipulated that it believes that the love shown by the Holy Spirit is in fact hatred. And while I also maintain that a soul's spiritual journey to being born again is far more complicated than simple evangelism I find it hard to understand why a believer wouldn't have a heart for the lost.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Alcohol

I spent most of last night at a bar in Scranton watching my future sister-in-law and the rest of the band she's in along with some other bands playing. I thought considering I knew full well I'd stand out like a sore thumb I thought I'd live up to the peculiar people title of 1 Peter 2:9 and go the full hog by wearing a shirt and tie, and carry my Bible around with me. I was also able to sample some of Scranton's finest filtered tap water while I was there.

Being in a bar brought back memories of going to pubs and nightclubs in my university days. They are dark, incredibly loud, uncomfortably hot, and full of intoxicated young adults. I remember my old friend Ali commenting about incredibly sinful these places are, while we were in a nightclub, and I wondered what on earth he meant, considering I didn't consider alcohol to be sinful back then. It was clear to me last night that it is. Not because of the corrupt behaviour that it creates but because it deceptively mimics the fellowship that we enjoy as born again believers. I speculated on the nature of the place as I sat watching these musicians dancing around with so much enthusiasm that I was concerned I was going to mistake them for Pentecostal worshipers.

One of the bands had merchandise that clearly had pornography with Satanic symbolism on it. It made me consider if these musicians were in fact in some sort of Satanists. But this wasn't the Church of Satan that I was enticed by in the past.

There was no drinking of blood. There was no casting spells. There were no black candles.

While there is clearly a glorification of satanic worship this wasn't that. These were merely devices to try to incite shock, and fortunately for me they didn’t.

This was more a Church of Alcohol.

And it is clear to me that they are entirely complicit in that. Intoxication meant being filled by spirits instead of the Holy Spirit. The effect is temporary and short lived. It's the exact opposite of the church I went to and joined today. Everything about it is designed to desensitise. Darkness, alcohol, loud music, a hot sticky atmosphere.

Anything possible to desperately take away from the reality of a world full of pain and suffering and separation.

While I contemplated this doctrine of darkness and how born again Christians are comforted by the Holy Spirit in a similar way I noticed one of the patrons was consuming an alcoholic beverage called "Free Will" and given my theological thought process I suddenly burst out laughing, which was luckily drowned out by the loud music. That was the only time anyone really took any notice of me.

The music itself was entertaining, and there is clearly a lot of musical talent in their performances. However I think if I'd have understood most of the lyrics I might not have found it quite as entertaining. Although I was entertained more than I should be by the performance of a song called "That's what Jesus said". In the brief conversations I had with the patrons outside they seemed agreeable, although it was awkward because I am so very different these days.

Two things occurred to me. The first being that I would like to be able to experience some involvement in the street pastor program, a program where groups of Christians go around helping intoxicated people get home after leaving bars by giving them water, helping them up if they're being sick in the street and giving them the gospel. The second is, would the church I'm now a member of be quite as inviting to someone if the roles were reversed and one of them, in that condition, tried to attend one of our performances in the same vein. I'm inclined to think we wouldn't, at least universally, despite the command for us to show love to everyone by Jesus Christ.

I wonder if I'm being judgmental. And if my thought processes are offensive. I don't think I am, I'm just explaining my understanding of the perception I have of the reality I see around me. I’m also aware of how I may well be rebuked for even attending such an event, due to the dangers of the enticement of sin and that I am somehow endorsing such activities. However I’m pretty aware of what enticements I seem to fall victim to, so there are some groups of sinners I really should keep away from, especially if they’re carrying alabaster boxes.