Thursday, October 23, 2008

KISS...PT 2

Love God and allow Him to transform your life. If you love God, you will not only read His Word, but you will also live it. You will love your neighbor. Your love and faith in God will compel you to take an active role. You will be compelled to serve God and your neighbor.

The above paragraph was my attempt at a simple summation of the Christian faith. As I originally typed it, the first sentence stuck in my craw. Not because it is wrong, but because this seems to be where we mess it up the most. That singular mistake, from where I’m sitting, is the biggest barrier to us truly adhering to “K-I-S-S”…Keep It Simple Stoopid.

I was reminded of the Spiritual Warfare class I’m currently teaching. A couple of weeks ago during the lesson on “The Helmet of Salvation” there was a section in the textbook headlined by the following, “In Christ We are Loved, Forgiven, and Changed.” I remember clearly giggling when I read that. We are most certainly loved. We are most certainly forgiven. There’s absolutely no denying either of those two statements. But the reason I giggled? As Christians, we are so good at being loved and forgiven. We cling to that, we proclaim that, we are comforted by that…but we ain’t so good at being changed :) (Yet, on the flip side, we aren't always very good at loving and forgiving, but boy, oh boy, can we be good at trying to change others...but that is a piece for another day)

For too many of us we stop at being loved and forgiven. For too many of us, that is the very basis, the backbone on which our faith is built and extends…I AM LOVED. I AM FORGIVEN. And the critical mistake in this? We then try to create, contort, and conform God, His Word, and our Faith to those two points. When our faith extends no further than being loved and forgiven, we truly miss out on the ability to KISS. We change that which is unchangeable, God and His Word, rather than allowing that which needs to be changed, to be changed…US.

What was Jesus Christ’s words when asked what is the greatest commandment?

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (emphasis mine)

Love God with the entirety of your being. Why? Because you are loved and forgiven. But it must absolutely, positively start and stay with loving God. It’s a two way street. In one lane is a love that is unimaginable, unquantifiable, unending, and most of all undeserved. But that other lane was never intended to be empty. If you recognize the fact that you are loved and forgiven, despite the wretched, foul critters we all are when compared to our Holy Father, then that other lane needs to be a steady stream of never-ending, never slowing traffic. That other lane needs to be filled with a love that is charged, joyous, obedient to a fault, yet, wild, unabated, raw, and desperate. It needs to be the most powerful, persuasive, irresistible force in our lives.

If our love and our focus is squarely in and upon God, how much simpler and basic would the Word and God’s commandments be? Where we run into trouble is when that two way street of love between us and God, becomes a two lane, one way street. I AM LOVED. I AM FORGIVEN. By God…and by ME. Sometimes by ME, and then GOD.

How many times do we find the Word difficult and confusing, not because it is difficult and confusing, but because it makes us uncomfortable? Because it compels us to do things that we don’t want to do i.e.…forgive and love? Because it gives us a truth that is difficult for us to share with the world around us i.e.…Jesus is THE way, not A way? How many times is the word black and white, obvious and plain, and we try to manipulate it and conform it to fit with our comfort level? It is then when it become difficult and confusing, because we try to make it something it is not. Where is our love focused? On God? Or on ourselves?

At it’s most base, the Bible is a very simple, easy to understand book. I can hear it now :) WHAT!?!?!? Are you kidding me!?!?!? Why then, Mr. Smarty Pants are there so many commentaries, so many studies, so many arguments, so many theologies? Beats me.
I stand by that assessment. Questions of right and wrong? Clear as a bell. Good and evil? Clear as a bell. Rewards and punishments? Clear as a bell. Expectations? Clear as a bell. Instructions for leading a Godly, Christ centered, Christ focused life? Clear as a bell. Prophecies? Those already fulfilled? Mostly clear. Those still unfilled? DOESN’T MATTER! God is going to do, what God is going to do, when God chooses to do. The question is simply…Will you be found ready and obedient when He does?

Our faith is simply and perfectly defined by Jesus…Love God. If we truly adhere to that, practice that, and live that, things become much simpler. Does that mean that we won’t be faced with difficult situations? Decisions? Absolutely not. But when we are faced with such things, especially when we turn to the Word, the questions that hold the keys to our understanding is simply this…Where is my heart? On God or on me?

God does in fact ask and expect of us some pretty tough stuff, there is no denying that. But it is so much easier when we can say to the Father, “God, you know what, I’m not happy, I don’t want to do this, it makes me uncomfortable. But you know what else? I love you and I will do what you ask and expect of me, I just pray for the strength and wisdom I will need to do it.”

KISS…KEEP-IT-SIMPLE-STOOPID…Love God with every fiber of your being and existence…The rest will take care of itself.

Love God and allow Him to transform your life. If you love God, you will not only read His Word, but you will also live it. You will love your neighbor. Your love and faith in God will compel you to take an active role. You will be compelled to serve God and your neighbor.
 
 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

What exactly does it mean to love God?

- Gordon

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Hey Gordon! Long time, no see round these parts...

What does it mean to love anyone? What does it mean for you to love your beautiful wife?

Loving God, to me, is putting Him first. Following His Word, putting His demands and expectations for us, above our own. Following His will against our own. Doing our best to live a life dedicated to Him.

Obviously these are pretty broad generalizations and of course we can and do build abuses into these, but to me, this is the gist.

Now, does that mean that we don't love God is we falter, fail, or fall short in these aims? Absolutely not. Do you love your wife any less or not at all when you fall short of her standards/expectations for you? I think how we respond to situations like this says a lot about our love/dedication to God. Do we address it? Or do we accept and rationlize it? Do we try to change the rules to suit us, even though God still disapproves of what we are doing?

No matter how many times I tell myself and my wife that it is okay that I leave my dirty drawers on the floor and that she does in fact find it acceptable and part of my whimsical charm, and that it's just a part of my nature, it does not change the fact that the sight of my dirty drawers in the middle of the floor irritates her to no end.

Anonymous said...

Jesus' comment on the subject was that if we love him, we will keep his commandments.

Anonymous said...

That last was from me

- Gordon

The Cantankerous Christian said...

That's why I highlighted "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" from Matthew 22:40 and was what I referring to when I said "Love God with every fiber of your being and existence…The rest will take care of itself."

True love of God and Christ will naturally lead us to keeping the commandments and the Word. Too many of us lose sight of this and to me, this is where faith and God become complicated to people. It was never meant to be so.

Kind of like the concept of "Faith without works is dead." People struggle/argue with that so much, yet it is the natural progression of faith/love/dedication.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it's the opposite - we don't love God and then automatically keep the commandments, but rather show our love for God by keeping the commandments, and thereby receive all the benefits of our faith.

- Gordon

Angel said...

Wow! You can be quite profound. This is a really good post. I have read it twice now and agree with everything you've said. Actually, it has convicted me, so I have to thank you for that. I definitely need to focus a bit more on expressing my love back to God instead of being content in just basking in His love for me.

Anonymous said...

Dear christian,

Yes. Love Allah. Realize that there is no other God but Allah and seek to do His will.

I laugh when I read you say, "We change that which is unchangeable, God and His Word, rather than allowing that which needs to be changed, to be changed...US."

What we think is funny when you say that is so many christians have changed the "Word of God" when it no longer suited them. For 500 year now many of you have read incomplete bible. Your friend Luther removed many of the books from complete bible of the greek because they said what he did not want to hear. And you americans continue to read Luthers words and do not think for yourselves. HA!

Holy Quran has never changed.

Anonymous said...

Well, anonymous . . .

Your point of view displays a woeful historical ignorance. Luther never removed any book from the Bible, although he did - like many in the Church up to the Council of Trent in the 16th century - view the apocryphal books as not canonical. The books were mentioned in the proceedings of the Synod of Carthage in 397 that is often cited as the council that established the canon, but many (including St. Jerome, who translated the Vulgate) viewed them as non-canonical. In fact, the Roman Catholic church only claimed they were canonical after the Council of Trent in 1560. Even then, neither the Synod of Carthage nor the Council of Trent accepted all of the books of the Septuagent as scripture, just some of them.

Protestants generally reject these books, a custom that really began with the Puritans in the 17th century. When the first editions of Protestant Bibles were translated they included the Apocrypha, usually as an appendix.

Luther and other Protestants - as well as many in other branches of the Church throughout history - believed that for a book of the Old Testament to be canonical it had to have been included in the Masoretic text, which includes only the 39 books of the Protestant Old Testament.

In any case, not all Protestants take Luther's words for Gospel - only Lutherans, and not even all of them. Corey is not a Lutheran. Nor am I - I am Orthodox, and the Orthodox Church accepts all of the books listed at the Synod of Carthage, as does the Roman Catholic church, but accords them a lesser status to the books of the MAsoretic text. Since the great majority of Christians worldwide are either RC or Orthodox, that means that most Christians never rejected these books, just (some of the) Protestants. Even then, Anglicans and some other Protestant groups sometimes use them liturgically.

In any case, I fail to see how Luther's purported rejection of the Apocrypha has anything at all to do with Corey's post. His post related to the words of Jesus in the Gospels, the canonicity of which no one in any branch of the Church has any doubt.

- Gordon

Anonymous said...

Does not your Word of God mean every book in your bible? If yes then I rmeind you he says "we seek to change that which is unchangeable". Many protestants revere Luther and his opinions on the books such as James and Apocalypse he sought to remove, do they not? These are not old testament books I think? Once again your christianity is a manmade religion because it continues to change as you see fit. You do not doubt the words of Jesus (PBUH) in your bible because they are whatever you want them to be.

Holy Quran has never changed.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I see now your Synod of Carthage. More than one but all seem to agree. A saying I find from it is "Item,that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture.

"But the Canonical Scriptures are as follows:
Genesis.
Exodus.
Leviticus.
Numbers.
Deuteronomy.
Joshua the Son of Nun.
The Judges.
Ruth.
The Kings, iv. books.
454The Chronicles, ij. books.
Job.The Psalter.
The Five books of Solomon.
The Twelve Books of the Prophets.
Isaiah.
Jeremiah.
Ezechiel.
Daniel.
Tobit.
Judith.
Esther.
Ezra, ij. books.
Macchabees, ij. books.

The New Testament.
The Gospels, iv. books.
The Acts of the Apostles, j. book.
The Epistles of Paul, xiv.The Epistles of Peter, the Apostle, ij.
The Epistles of John the Apostle, iij.
The Epistles of James the Apostle, j.
The Epistle of Jude the Apostle, j.
The Revelation of John, j. book.
Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, Boniface, and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church."

So you now know your Synod of Carthage said nothing about apocrypha, but only included all these books as divine scriptures. Your apocrypha is a dirty word luther and protestants have used to neglect that which is bad for them. Again a manmade religion.

Holy Quran has never changed.

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Anonymous,

Is there a point to your ramblings? If you sincerely want to open a dialogue, then clearly state your point, cocnern, or aim.

Anonymous said...

My goal is to point you to the errors of your religion to the one true religion.

Their is no God but Allah, and Mohammad (PBUH) is his prophet.

Holy Quran has never changed.

Anonymous said...

The Synod of Carthage was a local council, not an ecumenical council. Its conclusions are not binding on the whole Church. In any case, you need to research the history of how the canon developed before you conclude that the listing of books gives them all equal weight. No one ever believed that. Many at Carthage, like Luther, had doubts about the inclusion of the Book of Revelation as well as the Book of Jude.

As to how the lack of change in the Koran demonstrates that Christianity is false relative to Islam . . . that is hardly an ineluctable conclusion. It would be possible for a false religion to have a scripture that never changed, just as it would be possible for a true religion to add sacred works from time to time.

- Gordon

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Anonymous,

Then perhaps you should start your own blog. Thus far you have provided nothing but antagonistic, misinformed ramblings. And why not identify yourself? I am more than open to a dialog with you, but I will not continue to provide a forum you to try and sew discord.