In this article, “Which Neighbor Should Evangelicals Love?“, you can clearly see the satanic mechanism at work in the preservationist mentality of Franklin Graham and a big portion of the Evangelical community. We must start to see that we are not battling a literal created being call Satan, but the satanic principles that are capable of coming out of each and everyone of us, even those who cast out demons, prophecy, and perform miracles in Jesus name (Matt 7:22-24). When we draw a line in the sand and define the “enemy other”, as if God is on our side and not theirs, we have very clearly become the satan ourselves. All the while, we can stand behind a pulpit and say the name of Jesus….yet the satanic mechanism is deeply at work. Just think about it…do we live in fear of death? Or do we live in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who loved his enemies and gives life?
We get together every Sunday with the assumption that all people are welcome at our churches. At a very surface level…I would say that this is true for most religious institutions. However, something goes on inside of us that causes us to then put stipulations on those who want to be in the inner circle. Something makes us think that we need others to be fairly similar to what we think, believe, and live. What we really want is others to join our tribe….with every belief that God has blessed our tribe more than another tribe, which usually looks alot like our tribe since we copy each other. Read the cartoon…What we don’t seem to realize is, we pile up our rocks (metaphor for the box we put God in) and tell everyone around us that our pile of rocks is where God is…all the while we exclude everyone else that we dont deem worthy or who doesn’t even want to be in our tribe. Ask yourself….do you feel that your church (tribe) is where God is because they only “teach the bible”? Have you said…”Come to my church if you want to hear God“. If you said yes, you may want to think about how that feels to those who are rejected by your tribe. It hurts…and Jesus is different.
If God is Love, then maybe this should change everything we think about God? What do I mean by change everything? What I mean is, if God is Love, then that should change the way we see God…see Jesus…see each other…and even see ourselves relating to God. We are obsessed with judgement and wrath, yet we talk of love and compassion in the same sentence. We want to see human versions of justice exacted on our enemies by God, all the while, we want to say that God will stand up and defend our rights and our freedoms. The results we really want is the hope that those who threaten us will be taken down under the wrath and judgement of a holy and righteous God, which we of course is on our side. But I want to ask…who has a problem with this view of God? Should we be OK believing in a God that would answer our prayers of vengeance on our enemies? We want to see justice served and we want our enemies that refuse to believe like us to experience the flames of hell and eternal torment. But if God is Love, are we not asking God to deliver something that is contrary to his very divine nature? Are we not asking God to think like us? In addition, what if our enemy’s god answered their prayers about our destruction…what then?
We see pastors that say things like this from the pulpits to stir the pot of fear,
“Hell is a literal place of torment for those who consciously and willingly reject the matchless, sacrificial love of God found in Jesus Christ. Hell is not a state of being; it’s not a metaphor; it’s not a symbol. Hell is a real place.”
My first question is…how would this person know? The answer…this person doesn’t really know the above statement to be true. They may think it to be true based on subjective denominational statements of faith and certain evangelical translations of verses in the bible, but when we get to the very end of the line, this person does not know if there is a literal hell or not. So why do pastors take the liberty to make statements that are most certainly unknowable at this stage in human existence? The answer…control, which is absolutely the opposite of Love. But I don’t want to talk about control. However, I do want to get you to ask yourself questions like…if God is Light and in him there is no darkness…in him there is nothing but the manifestation of Love, then is hell really the place that we think it is? Is it the place that all these pastors behind the pulpits say it is? Do they really know anything at all about something they have never experienced?
I loved the movie Interstellar. I thought the movie was well thought out and the filmography was spectacular to watch. I was completely engulfed in the movie from the start and I was thrown out the end of the movie thinking how small we are in such a vast universe. One conversation just floored me when I saw this movie…it made me think about Love from a new point of view for the first time. In this scene, the conversation is between Cooper and Dr. Brand on the Endurance space craft as they are deciding which move to make next. What Dr Brand says is what was so eye opening me. Dr. Brand is in love with a college that is on a potential planet for them to visit to see if it will sustain life. Cooper is letting all those involved in the decision to know that Dr. Brand may be driven by love, instead of science alone, for the college on one of the potential planets. The conversation goes like this…
Cooper: She’s in love with Wolf Edmunds.
Romilly: Is that true?
Brand: Yes. And that makes me want to follow my heart. But maybe we’ve spent too long trying to figure all this out with theory.
Cooper: You’re a scientist, Brand.
Brand: So listen to me, when I say that love isn’t something we invented, it’s observable, powerful. It has to mean something.
Cooper: Love has meaning, yes, social utility, social bonding, child rearing…
Brand: We love people who have died, where’s the social utility in that?
Brand: But maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade. Who, I know, is probably dead. Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it yet.
This quick conversation has hit the nail on the head when it comes to why we, as humans, even see, or desire, the stories of Jesus to be true. Even though it is hard to understand…we want the stories to be true because we truly desire for something out there, greater than ourselves, to know we exist…to know we have feelings….to know that we matter and have value…..we want to know that we can be saved. We want to know where we came from and we want to be loved. I have faith there is something out there….and it is has to be Love…and it transcends all space and time, yet we can perceive it and experience it. In addition, and more importantly, Love transcends Law….the very Law we use to condemn others to the judgement of God. Did Jesus show this Love in his life? Is Love a powerful force….the most powerful force in the universe? Is God that eternally powerful force that transcends space, time, Law, and everything else that could possibly be knowable? Let’s explore this a little more…
If Jesus is the exact representation of God (Heb 1:3), then God is not only nonviolent, but God does not grasp to be more than he should be. Some would ask, “why would God grasp at anything when he is almighty, all powerful, and everywhere at the same time?” This is an excellent question, but what I would like to propose is that God thinks more about you than he does about himself. Or better yet, God thinks you are more important than himself. That’s a big statement….and I truly think it is possible when we see Jesus representing “God’s very nature”. The verses I will focus on are again in Phil 2, which say,
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
I mentioned in the two previous articles that grasping and Love are antonyms. They cannot be more different than each other in terms of how Paul is describing Jesus in Philippians 2. What follows is that, if Jesus is God, then God also does not grasp…for selfish gain over any aspect of creation. If Jesus has emptied himself, so has God. If Jesus is a bond-servant, then so is the Father. If Jesus is obedient to the Father to the point of death, then the Father is obedient to Love to the point of being completely emptied of all conceit and selfish desire to be with Jesus on the cross (2 Cor 5:17-19). Continue reading
In my last article, I gave my thoughts on how Jesus did not “grasp” for relevance but knew that Love is the only true revelation of the Father. The idea is presented by Paul in Philippians 2: 1-11, but specifically verse 5 saying,
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Most people, in my past experience in churches, would say that Jesus shed his divine nature to become human. I do not believe that this is the best interpretation of what Paul is saying here. In an amazing book called Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology, The author, Michael J. Gorman, makes an excellent point that Paul is saying that Jesus, who empties himself of all conceit and selfish ambition, is showing that this is who God is….The very divine nature of God is “self-emptying”, or Kenotic. This makes so much more sense to me, when reading the Bible, than a lot of traditional interpretations of Protestant Theology. God gives of himself…he shows us the exact definition of Love. The kicker is, a lot of our definitions of love are the exact opposite of the kenosis of Jesus in his life and on the cross. Maybe our thoughts on love and who God is are rooted more in our ideas of who we want God to be? Just think about it….
This is a paper I finished up reading and it has truly challenged me. Its called, “GRASPING GOD: Philippians 2: 1-11 in the Light of Mimetic Theory by Michael E. Hardin and Steven E. Berry. A paper presented to the Colloquium on Violence and Religion July 2005 in Koblenz, Germany”. This paper really put a piece of the puzzle in place for me in my mind on the problems with churches being driven by success and results, like we have been discussing over the last several years. Those who put the effort into understanding Paul, here in the linked paper, are responsible for the thoughts and quotes that come out in here.
The point the article is conveying is that Philippians 2:1-11 has Paul explaining what the Gospel (good news) actually looks like being lived out in the Kingdom of God through positively mimicking Jesus as he displays the true nature of the Father. Paul explains this in verses 1-4 saying,
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
What would make Paul happy is to see those who follow Jesus to conduct themselves and live in a manner that has no selfish-ambition, no conceit, be of the same mind (mind of who?), be of the same love (love of who?), and with humility, regard another as higher than yourself. I won’t make this too long, but the paper is making the point that positive mimesis, in Christ, is a good thing. We all copy something and it is Jesus who has given us the ability to mimic him who is living out the love of the Father. Continue reading