Don’t Need Religion; but Could You Use Some Love?

A young person told me not too long ago that he “has no use for religion.” While my initial thought was, “neither do I. In fact, I have less use for it and interest in it than you do,” his comment got me thinking. I have proclaimed for decades that Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship; and, no, I didn’t originate it, nor am I the only one who holds that position.

The word religion commonly refers to some concept of reverencing God, or gods. It can refer to a particular set of beliefs, or a system of beliefs, or set of behaviors revolving around a concept of deity. It can also refer to “any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.” In other words, one can be “religious” about pretty much anything. Frankly, some of the most religious people I have ever known are atheists who fervently seek out ways and opportunities to deny the existence of God. Some pursue science with a passion more intense than that which drives most Christians. Many are aggressively “evangelistic” in proclaiming their message.

Here’s the kicker. The word religion comes from the Latin word “religare,” meaning to bind back, to restrain. It suggests the use of strong force or authority to hold back, prevent, suppress or control.

Jesus said He came to give us abundant life. He said we would find freedom in Him. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul said, “the love of Christ constrains us.” Of the three Greek words that could be translated “constrain,” two hold the idea of using force or entreaty to make something happen, even against nature, somewhat like the Latin religare. The one Paul chose means “to hold or keep together, confine [as opposed to allowing to fall apart], to secure.”

In other words, we are not forced or manipulated or otherwise made to believe in Jesus, we have found His love, and it embraces us, hold us together, and we revel in it. It is a relationship, not a set of rules or beliefs, not a system of beliefs or behaviors. It is not law, it is Spirit and life and grace. Rituals, systems, or methods can be used to help us learn and grow. They may help some enrich and better understand their relationship. But when these things get in the way of grace, when they become laws to live by, they are just dead works without any positive, eternal effect. (That’s why Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, see Gal.5:4).

The apostles were willing to die for their risen Lord. Religion didn't make them do that Click To Tweet

The apostles all died for their faith, most by cruel, unthinkable torture. They did not die for a system of beliefs. They did not die to defend a set of rituals, or even a way of life. They certainly did not die just to hide a lie. Do you really think if they had stolen Jesus’ body from the tomb they would have allowed themselves to be persecuted, tortured and killed without confessing? They knew the resurrection was real, and they were willing to die for their risen Lord. Religion didn’t make them do that.

So, to my young friend, believe me, while you may say you have no use for religion, no one has less use for religion than one who has experienced the love of Jesus. Do you have any use for love? You will never find deeper, wider, higher, longer love than the love of Christ. You will never find greater, more lavish, more intimate, more liberating love than you will find through Jesus.


God Is Faithful

God is. And, He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. If you are seeking Him, what are you looking for? Him, or some material reward. He is the reward.

Seek Him first and all these things will be added to you. Are you seeking Him, or all the things you are hoping will be added to you? Material things? Health? Happiness? Family? Security? He will supply all your need in proportion to His riches in glory. But, we don’t seek the supply, we seek Him – and, oh, by the way, He is the supplier.

Resurrection Day

The newsletter the  church mailed out had an article reminding everyone that April 20th is “Resurrection Sunday.”  The purpose of the article was to remind members to invite people, because it is one of the most attended Sunday’s of the year.  And, because of that, protocols are needed to make sure the guests feel welcome.  For example, park near the back of the lot so guests can find spaces closer to the building.  Sit near the back of the auditorium so guests aren’t shunted to the back and can sit closer to the front.  That’s all well and good.  I was mostly just kind of excited they were calling it Resurrection Celebration and not “Easter.”

Still, it begs the question:  If this is the “resurrection celebration Sunday,” why do we gather on Sunday the other 51 weeks out of the year?

The early Christians understood Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, so they considered themselves to still be Jewish.  As such, they still met on the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week.  Until they were thrown out, they met in the temple or synagogue with other Jews.  They also met on the first day of the week, because it was on the first day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead.  They didn’t do this once a year.  They did it once a week.  In other words – every Sunday was a resurrection celebration.  That was the whole point of meeting on the first day of the week.

It’s really a little sad that the modern church misses this, and gives a nod to the resurrection once a year.  When they do, they blur it even more with Easter egg hunts, etc.  Now, I understand, and see the value in activities like this engaging the community and getting more people in to hear the message.  Even so, I can’t help but acknowledging that we wind up celebrating a pagan fertility idol instead of the Creator of life.

Spring is a beautiful time of the year.  As I get older, I’m learning that every season of the year is beautiful, even brown, barren Winter.  But there is no denying that Spring is special.  I love it when the redbuds begin to bloom with a soft pastel mist of green from all the billions of little seeds covering the elm trees.  It means it won’t be long until Spring actually arrives with its array of colorful blooming flowers and layer upon layer of shades of green.  It is a time of wonder and delight.

Rom.1:20

Spring is a season of opportunity.  The greatest opportunity is that of pointing to all the new growth and changes and beauty and teaching our children of the amazing creator who made it all.  The beauty of creation testifies of His eternal power and divine nature.  It isn’t about appeasing an idol in order to have an effective planting.  It isn’t about worshiping some “lesser” god or goddess of the season who is bringing an end to winter.  It really is just another revolution of the seasons.  But it is beautiful to our eyes, and that does make for a unique opportunity to tell of the handiwork and majesty and love of God the Creator.  Click here to see the description my 2nd great grandfather gave in the 1860s.

Bottom line:  We need to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus year round.  Without it, the grave wins.  Without it, death wins.  Because of it, we have eternal life.  Because of it, we can abide in the presence of the living, holy creator God, the one true and living God.  It is our victory.  On the cross Jesus paid the price for our sins.  Spiritually, His death there is our death, our penalty paid, our death because of sin and our death to sin.  But what then? Resurrection!  New life in Christ.  The resurrection is what separates Christianity from all the religions of the world.  In no other religion does God Himself take on humanity, live a sinless life, die because of the sins of man and because of His love for man (not because of the sins, failure, foolishness of the god himself) and rise from the dead for the purpose of making man holy and pure and able to enter into a relationship with God (not in order to bring an end to winter and make the land fertile for Spring planting).  It is what makes relationship with God possible, and is why many assert that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion.  It is a once and for all atonement, not an annual, recurring event.  We should celebrate it every time we gather, and not just once a year.

Years ago, I was talking with a co-worker who claimed to be an atheist.  However, when I spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, he said, “The resurrection is the strongest argument in favor of Christianity.  If it’s true, then what the Bible says about Jesus is true.”

It’s true.  And we, as Christians, need to live in the joy and fullness of it year round, not just one day a year, buried under the trappings of eggs, bunnies and chocolate.

As Christians, we need to live in the joy and fullness of the resurrection year round, not just one day a year. Click To Tweet

Glued Together

When you glue two pieces of paper together, you cannot get them apart again without some tearing and without each one losing a part of itself – forever a part of the other.

I do not usually deal with specific issues on my blog.  I would much prefer to present the spiritual principles and truths and let you learn to apply them in your own life situations. However, this is one I want to throw out because people about whom I care have recently dealt with or are dealing with this.

I’ve been there, too.  I know the pain of marriage that just doesn’t seem to be working, of an unfaithful spouse, of facing my own failures and inadequacies in a relationship, and of going through a divorce.  When you commit to someone in marriage, you are like two pieces of paper glued together.  You cannot divorce without feeling torn, tattered, and hurt.  You feel the loss not only of the other person, but of part of yourself.

In Genesis 2:24, in the story of creation, God created woman out of man and “for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  That message of Scripture is the same and it is true whether or not you believe it is historical or just part of the “creation myth.”  The principle was established in the beginning – husband and wife were made to be one.  Referring to this passage, in Matthew 19:6, Jesus says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Yes, we could argue specific cases involving adultery, abuse, crime, and so forth.  Even in those cases, my point isthere is still going to be tearing and hurting and loss caused by the divorce itself, in addition to the pain and hurt that led up to it.

I am not telling you to not divorce.  That is something beyond the purpose of this blog and I will not be baited into that discourse in this context.  That is something you need to work out between you, your spouse, and your Heavenly Father.  Just be aware that a divorce is not a quick fix to the problems of your marriage.  Divorce brings pain all its own.  You need to be very sure that your marriage cannot be fixed, that you are aware of the additional pain and problems that come from ending a marriage, and that it is really worth more to you and everyone else affected by it to end it rather than fix it.

Beyond any shadow of doubt, what I have shared throughout this blog about trusting God and giving thanks will see you through whatever crisis you face.  It isn’t a magical quick fix.  You are still going to deal with hurts and sorrows and all the other emotions of life.  By no means am I discounting the pain you feel.  Cancer, divorce, loss of job, loss of loved ones, PTSD, illness or injury, abuse, bullying, loneliness….  There’s no way I could list every possible hardship.  The ultimate answer is the same.  It comes down to learning to embrace all of life – the good and the bad, and trust God to bring you through.

The principles don’t change just because the experiences differ!  We all have a limited number of emotions with which to respond to life.  (You did see the movie “Inside Out,” right?)  And, quite frankly, all this stuff about “You don’t understand because you haven’t been through what I’m going through” is a bunch of malarkey.  If you want to define “what you’re going through” narrowly enough, then no two people have ever had exactly the same experience.  So, you can find away to isolate yourself all alone in your misery if you want to, and refuse anybody’s help.  The truth is, there are a lot of people who have been through similar things.  And there are many more who have been through things just as intense.  We all had to figure out how to respond based on the basic list of emotions available to each and every one of us.  Find people who have dealt with their crisis effectively and learned valuable spiritual truths from them.  Don’t look for people who share your despair and will encourage you to make the easy, self-centered, and self pitying choices.  It isn’t nearly as important that you become “emotionally stronger” as it is that you become spiritually stronger.  Spiritual strength will lead to emotional, and even physical renewal.  Focusing on the emotional or physical allows you to make the wrong choices, but temporarily feel good about it.  Eventually, you’ll realize your still a torn piece of paper, and you lost a few pieces of yourself along the way.

When Peter got out of the boat and walked on water, yes, he looked around and saw the storm stirring up the waves.  Yes, he got scared and sank.  Yes, Jesus reached out and pulled him up.  No, the storm did not stop immediately.  The Bible says the storm stopped “when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”  Jesus walked Peter back through the storm to the boat, asking him along the way why he doubted?  He’s asking us the same thing.  The problem is still out there.  But, He’s walking with us, asking, “Why did you doubt?”  The storm hasn’t stopped, but it will.  Walk with Him.  Know Him.  Trust Him.  Be thankful.

Why Thankfulness?

If you’re not familiar with west Louisiana, it is beautiful country of rolling hills, streams, rivers, and forests.  In earlier times it was part of the vast pine forests that covered the deep south region of North America from the Atlantic into what is now East Texas.  Much of that area still has remnants of that great forest, though much of it now has hardwood forests, and most of the pines are grown by and for the lumber industry. In early October, I attended a family gathering near Florien, LA.  There is a family “farm,” about 6 miles east of town.  No one farms the family farm any more.  It is a gathering place for the cousins from my Mom’s side of the family.  The heirs collectively own quite a bit of acreage there.  Most of it is forested, some still cleared from when some of our ancestors did farm it.  There among the trees and fields are an old house and a family cemetery.  The cemetery has graves dating back to before the Civil War.

Papa’s House

My great grandfather, John C. Sibley, Jr., lived in the old house.  My mom and her family lived there with him for several years during late 1920’s.  I mentioned him in an earlier post.  He would put my Aunt Jean on his shoulder and take her for walks.  She was blind, and he would describe to her the beauty of God’s creation.  So, when I was there in October, one of the things I really wanted to do, was go sit on the porch of that old house, get out my guitar and music, and just worship the Lord in that place that embodies a significant part of my family’s legacy.  That Saturday morning, at day break, I did just that.  It was all I hoped it would be and more.  The Father met me there on that porch with the lush green grass in the fields, the rich browns and deep greens of the surrounding woods, the peacefulness of the country road, a rich blue sky and a glorious sunrise of reds and golds streaking through the trees.  I felt His presence and His love, and I sang and loved Him back for over an hour.  And I knew this was where Papa Sibley had held his little, blind granddaughter and taught her about a loving God through the beauty of His creation.

Papa Sibley was only 5 when his dad died, and just 9 when his Mama passed away.  His Mama had kept the letters her husband wrote to her during the Civil War.  At the time, they had one daughter, Belle; John Jr was born after the war.  Here’s his advice to her on child-rearing:
“Lizzie dear, have you ever learned her yet that there is a God who rules over her destiny. I fear this is a subject that you avoid.  But dear, beware that you do so while she is yet young.  Show her the rising sun, the bright moon, the growing plant, the stately tree, the fragrant flower, the falling rain and such things, and teach her that they are made by a great and good God who loves her and who will save her in life and after death.  Teach her to love the name of God and worship him while she is young and she will not forget to do so when she is old.  Learn her to love everything that is good and beautiful.”And, Lizzie did.  And I think her mother, Matilda, carried it on after Lizzie died and she adopted Belle and John, Jr.  And Papa did, particularly for Aunt Jean, but I’m guessing for others, too.

Pretty cool, huh?  But, here’s the real deal.  In Romans 1:18-21, Paul says that none of us has an excuse for ungodly or unrighteous actions, or for suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, because God has made known His “invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature.”  He made these attributes “clearly seen,” evident to even those who seek to suppress the truth.  Where?  How?  In His creation.  In the things He made – the rising sun, the bright moon, the growing plant, stately tree, fragrant flower, and falling rain.

The problem is, according to Romans 1:21, “Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks….”  It was because they refused to honor Him, and could not find it in their hearts to be thankful to Him, that their hearts became dark and hard, and they turned to sin and then tried to alleviate their guilt by suppressing the truth.  And people still do that today.

They could not find it in their hearts to be thankful, and their hearts became dark and hard. Give thanks, and let Him soften your heart Click To Tweet

Just look around you.  If you have to drive a few miles out of town to see anything besides bricks, steel and glass, then do it.  But look at the world around you – that God made.  Be awed by it.  Recognize where it came from.  It really wasn’t by chance.  Honor God as God.  And be thankful.

Applying the Lord’s Prayer

Religious activities, like giving to the poor (Mt 6:2-4), prayer (vv. 5-8), and fasting (vv. 16-18), are not for public spectacle. That’s how they become “religious.” They are meant to be spiritual activities, between you and God. They are meant to honor and show love for the heavenly Father. “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” When we allow expressions of our spiritual relationship with the Father to become ritualistic, religious activities paraded before the eyes of men, we dishonor the name of our Father. There is nothing holy about giving, praying or fasting in this way, and it reflects poorly on the name of the Lord before the very audience we hope will be impressed by our efforts. We glorify ourselves, not the Father.

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So, don’t store up treasures on earth…, but store up treasures in heaven, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (vv.19-21). What are you looking at? On what are you focused? If you are focused on earthly, temporal things that corrode and rust, that can be consumed by insects or stolen by thieves, then you are looking at the dark, dismal, temporal world and missing the light of life, and the light of heaven in your life. If your eye is focused on the dark, then your whole body will be affected by it. Instead focus on the eternal. As Paul put it, “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.”[1]  No man can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and wealth, the eternal and the temporal.

And, on that note, “give us this day our daily bread.” Do not be worried about what to eat or drink (vv. 25-34).  Rather than seek earthly gain, or be concerned with earthly loss, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. He’ll take care of your temporal needs so that you need not be concerned with them. Life is more than food and clothing. Life is not about temporal needs or acquisitions. Life is about a relationship with the Living God, and life is found in seeking Him, and trusting Him to reward your search, by giving you Himself, and everything else you need. He gave us His Son, “how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”[2] God provides food for the birds. He provides beautiful “clothing” of flowers for the fields. Your worrying about these things or anything else is not going to add anything to your life. People who don’t know God worry about temporal needs. Why would you, knowing God, settle for anything less than more of Him? Seek Him, and don’t worry about tomorrow. It will bring challenges, but God has grace for those challenges, too. You don’t know what they are, or when or even if they will come. So, worrying now isn’t going to help. When they do come, worrying won’t help then either. Trusting Him will. He has grace for every need, for every situation you will face. If you aren’t going to face it, you will never have the grace for it. But, then, if you aren’t going to face it, there is no reason to worry about it. If you are going to face it, He won’t give you the grace for it until you need it. So, there is no need to worry about it now. When you do have to face it, there is no need to worry then, because He will give you the grace you need to make it through. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.[3]

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Right, because we surely have forgiven everyone who has ever owed us anything or offended us in any way. In the model prayer, Jesus follows up the request for daily bread with a request for forgiveness as we forgive. In the sermon, He follows up his admonition to trust God with the imperative, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” The standard you set for measuring and judging others, is the standard that will be used in measuring and judging you. Chances are really good that you don’t measure up any better than those you are criticizing. Do you not realize there is a 2×4 sticking out of your eye? If you try to get that piece of sawdust out of your brother’s eye, you will only succeed at smacking upside the head with your 2×4. You will only injure him with your hypocrisy, and neither of you will be better off or any closer to God as a result.

If you try to get that piece of sawdust out of your brother’s eye, you'll smack him upside the head with the 2x4 in your eye. You'll injure him with your hypocrisy, and neither of you will be better off or any closer to God. Click To Tweet

In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus summarizes. It comes back to seeking God’s kingdom, and His provision. If someone wrongs you, do you see it as a threat to your “daily bread?” Are they somehow taking away what you need to survive in this temporal world? Is your focus on the temporal world, or God and His kingdom and His provision? Are you fully, truly trusting Him? Do you not love your children enough to take good care of them? If your son needs bread are you going to give him a rock? Your heavenly Father loves you more than you could ever, possibly love your children. How is that we doubt that the God who lavishes grace on us[4] will give good things to those who ask Him?

In verse 12, in what we call the “Golden Rule,” Jesus says, “In everything, therefore….” Therefore! Because of. On the basis of what’s been said. How can we forgive our debtors? How can we not judge those who have faults – specks of sawdust in their eyes that make us painfully aware of the 2×4 we are denying in our own eye? We need to know that our heavenly Father truly loves us far beyond what any earthly father ever will or even can. We need to know He truly does supply all our need, our daily bread, our food, clothing, and shelter. We need to know that by taking our eyes off the dark and dismal world of the corroding temporal, and focusing on the untarnished and incorruptible eternal kingdom, our temporal needs will be supplied and we will be filled with the light and life of the living God of heaven.

The next line of the model prayer can be a little confusing. Why would God lead us into temptation? Why, then, would we even need to request: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? To me, it is so obvious that God would not lead me into temptation, that I never really thought of this phrase in that sense. I know that any time I am faced with temptation, test or trial, God is faithful and will with it make a way of escape.[5] I guess I have always thought of this phrase more in the sense of acknowledging that God leads us out of temptation and delivers us from evil. I just need the grace and spiritual strengthening to follow Him. Jesus gives the warning that the gate is small and the way is narrow. If we are thinking we’re following Him and we look just like everyone else that claims to be religious, then chances are we are on the broad path. Those who profess religion and whose religion is about religious rites and rituals and not about seeking Him and His righteousness will not produce good fruit. They will be horribly disappointed when they stand before the Lord thinking they have served him. They will be on the same sinking sand as those who refused to ever follow Him in the first place. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus described a new way of thinking that was different from that of those who promoted religious religion. He described a righteousness that exceeded that of those considered the most righteous. He promoted a heavenly kingdom to those who thought the Messiah would come to establish an earthly kingdom. He promoted a life centered on things above, not on things on the earth. And He ended it by declaring that the only solid foundation for life was acting on the things He said.

[1] Colossian 3:2

[2] Romans 8:32

[3] 1 Peter 5:7; see also Philippians 4:4-7

[4] Ephesians 1:7-8

[5] 1 Corinthians 10:13

Revolution, Revival, and Extremism

We need a revolution in America. Not an armed conflict, but a real upheaval of our thinking and how we approach things. What things? Just about everything – from common everyday life events to social interaction, race relations, social justice, welfare, immigration, national security, foreign policy, etc, to how we do church and live, or don’t live, the Christian life. In the “old days” we called it “revival.” But even back then, our concept of revival fell far short. A series of meetings to get people fired up is not going to cut it. What we need is Christian Extremism.

Why do we need it? In part because we as Christians have lost sight of what it means to be a Christian. We are caught up in the tangible, temporal, visible world and its cultures and life-styles and its “solutions” to problems. We have lost sight of the true impact we can have on the world around us if we will focus on Christ instead of focusing on the world around us.

First, let me say what Christian Extremism is not. It is not fundamentalism. It is not, and never was, going off on crusades to save the Holy Land from the Muslim hordes. It is not churches like the one from Kansas that goes around decrying immorality in America by protesting at soldiers funerals. It is not arguing with atheists, or agnostics, or reacting to narrow-minded non-Christian bigots who make fun of Christians. Extreme Christianity is not having big buildings, or big congregations, or big worship. It isn’t huge choirs singing majestic anthems. It isn’t praise bands rocking out and performing the latest worship songs. It isn’t stained glass windows, high ceilings, and steeples (thank-you-very-much Plato). It isn’t multiple satellite warehouse locations joined by the latest satellite technology. It isn’t a small group of believers meeting in a house.

Let’s see if I can capture some of what Christian Extremism is.

It is faith. Pure and simple, total dependence on God and His faithfulness. It is loving Him because He first loved us. It is loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is turning away from sin and self-will (repenting) because we see and receive His kindness toward us. It is knowing Him. It is knowing by faith that He exists. And, because He exists, we know that He truly is willing to be known by us, and will reward our search for Him. He will make Himself known. Extreme Christianity is being so confident in His love and faithfulness that we can give thanks, always, for all things. It is knowing that He will use everything that happens in our lives to mold us into the image of Christ, and to bring glory to Himself. Knowing that, we can not only accept whatever comes, we can embrace it with a passion – a passionate faith – a confidence in His faithfulness and love.

Extreme Christianity is a faith that began at the cross of Christ and His resurrection, and it goes on daily carrying the dying of Jesus and the victory of His resurrection. It began with trusting in His finished work to save us, and it goes on daily trusting in His finished work to live through us. It began with resting in Him and His efforts and it goes on by resting in Him and His efforts. It began with being called to good works, and goes on by knowing it is actually Christ Himself who is at work in us both to will and to work out His good pleasure.

It has been called “mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis. Watchman Nee called it “the normal Christian life.” Both were using irony to make a point that it is simply the way the Christian life is supposed to be.  However, it is not by any means “mere” in the sense that it might be considered easy. It is not complicated, but it is not easy. If it were, we would all be doing it already. It is “normal” in the sense that it is what is set forth in the New Testament for us, and it is the way Christianity really should look just because that’s what it really is. However, it is not at all normal in the sense that it is the way every, or even most, Christians live.

Jesus referred to it as righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees (supposedly the most righteous people of the day) (Matthew 5:20). He also said He came to give us life “more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
He took don’t kill to the level of don’t even devalue another person by being angry, considering them worthless or calling them a moron or fool.
He took don’t commit adultery to the level of don’t lust.
He took don’t make false vows to don’t make any vows, just be honest.
He took an eye for an eye to don’t get revenge; turn the other person’s wrong into an opportunity to bless.
He took love your neighbor and hate your enemy to love your enemy, too, and pray for him.
He took prayer, almsgiving, and fasting out of the public eye and made them personal interactions with the Father.
He took the Sabbath from resting on the 7th day to a life of abiding in and resting in God. Sabbath is no longer a day of the week. It’s a 24/7 lifestyle.
He took going to the temple as the dwelling place of God, and sent His Holy Spirit to indwell us and make us God’s house (Hebrews 3:6).
He took the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, and became the mercy seat (propitiation) for us (Romans 3:25).
He took the priest in the temple and became our High Priest, and instituted the priesthood of the believer – making us a kingdom of priests.
He took the sacrifice lamb, offered repeatedly and ineffectually, and became the sacrifice lamb once for all.
He took the law, commandments, prophets, rites, and rituals, and made it all very simple (but not easy):

  • the “first and greatest commandment” – love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength;
  • the second commandment (James calls it the Royal Law) – Love your neighbor the same way you love yourself;
  • pure and undefiled religion – visit orphans and widows in their distress and keep yourself unstained by the world

We do not need the government providing welfare, health care, mandating fairness and defining hate crimes, hate speech, mandating integration, defining marriage (or even regulating marriage), or even regulating education, or much of anything else. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the system we have and we are stuck with it. However, what we need is for the church to quit investing in brick and mortar and stained glass and corporate management (in the name of “church staff”) and begin investing in the lives of people – financially and spiritually. The church needs to quit playing church and effectively equip the saints – individual Christians – to be the church, to be Christians, and to do the work of the ministry. We as individual believers need to get passionate about living in the presence of the Living God. You are His dwelling place. That is extreme. If we truly believe that, our lifestyles we reflect it.

You are the dwelling place of the Living God. That is extreme. Believe it, and it will change your life. Click To Tweet