I think about religion a lot. Usually my thoughts take the form of debates with specific people about their religious thoughts and attitudes. Those debates take place only in my mind. I am one of the most liberal members of my congregation, so there is a lot to debate. It would not be productive to have those debates for real. Neither of us would be spiritually uplifted, and neither of us would convert the other. I have been thinking lately that a weblog might be a good place for me to share my thoughts in a non-confrontational way. If you disagree with me, you can comment or walk away – the choice is yours.
I am a Christian. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, as I understand them. When I hear other people talk about His teachings, I sometimes think we are following two different people. I follow a man who preached love. Jesus told the rich to give up their wealth; He did not preach the Gospel of Prosperity. Jesus told his followers to practice nonresistance; He did not preach the conquest of His enemies. Jesus told his followers to love their neighbors; He did not preach hatred for those that were different. Jesus made it clear that it is not our place to judge others. We are to love like He loved.
I am not perfect, and I think that is okay. I strive to do what is right, and I consistently fail. That just means that I am human, not divine. I believe that we will be judged based on our desires and efforts, not our accomplishments. I also believe that we will be judged as individuals. I will be judged based on my situation, which may be very different from my neighbor's situation. Maybe that is why we are not to judge each other; we do not truly know each other's situations.
My views of sin differ greatly from those of the conservative majority with whom I worship, particularly in the areas of sex and violence. I would rather my daughters see two men kiss than two men kill each other. I disagree with those that will play violent video games but are greatly offended that a movie contains a scene with a topless woman. I am not advocating promiscuity, though many of my fellow worshippers would disagree. I think that sexual activity is a sacred event and should be treated as such. I do not think that fornication is worse than violence, though I am often reminded on Sunday mornings that sexual immorality is second only to murder. Those who say that are wrong. I know that is a bold statement.
The prevalence of violence in my society bothers me a great deal. Even in my congregation, violence is treated lightly, even glorified. There is an elderly woman that carries a gun on Sunday mornings. Those that know about it think it is funny. There is currently a debate in my county about zoning ordinances. One of the congregational leaders was lamenting that it was a crime to kill those that favored the ordinances. He said that his only consolation was that he knew they would burn during the Second Coming.
Circumcision is a weird ritual. Usually people wouldn’t really talk about it. I wouldn’t want to talk about it. Yet, God talks about it in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it’s a huge deal. Everyone who was a Jew was circumcised. If you weren’t circumcised then you weren’t a Jew. Hence, if you’re circumcised, are you automatically a Jew? In other words, are all the circumcised Jews?
While Abram grew with God, inasmuch that Abram’s name transformed into Abraham, God gave him orders. Were these orders to receive love? No, God’s love is always unconditional. The reason why God ordered orders, is because there is a certain way to respond. Putting it in current terms, just like anyone could get circumcised but not actually have a relationship with God, as so many Pharisees, anyone can get baptized as the Apostles did and not have relationship with God. It is faith. Abraham was a man of faith. Faith is essential. With faith, they’re actions included, they come hand and hand. What are the actions that are included with faith? At the time of Abraham it was circumcision. After Jesus, the new covenant came into play, and baptism is what is included with faith.
Today understand that faith is our salvation. Our belief in God causes us to do things. The literal foreskin being cut did not mean anything, but the faith that was behind it did. The waters that we get baptize in means nothing, but the faith that was behind it does. Anyone could go through the waters. However, not everyone believes. Because of the relationship you have with God, ask Him what He wants to you to do.
You believe? Great, so does the devil. Now that you believe, what are you going to do?