As we live in an imperfect society we need some rules and laws to combat the worst forms of evil. Religion has its own sets of rules, but Jesus showed us that if we follow his way, love transcends rules. He was born into a Jewish society which had built up a complex set of rules to moderate and control how people lived their everyday lives. We will see in this article how Jesus broke many of the rules and traditions that religion imposed. [Read more…]
Faith is like a window. We can think of a window in many ways. We could concentrate on the construction, the design, the curtains, the glass but fail to realise that the purpose of a window is to actually look out and enjoy the view. A window brings the outside in and exposes the inside to the outside.
Faith is a window which enables us to see God clearly and enables us to have a direct relationship with him. God can also see us clearly and yet because of his great love for us does not look upon our imperfections.
Religion, on the other hand, can prevent us from really seeing God. We argue about the window style, and say that unless our window conforms in construction or rituals it is inferior or even not a window at all. Religion puts obstacles in the way of seeing God. It makes rules and regulations and says that unless we conform we cannot know God. [Read more…]
When I was a child I attended Christian churches, which, although they preached the good news of the Gospel, nevertheless taught that we had to strive all of our lives to please God and conform to certain rules. So I was taught not to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, visit the cinema or to dance. We had turned Jesus into a religion.
Now we can drink as long as we don’t get drunk, and we can even dance in church. However there is still a risk of encouraging religion by expecting people to conform to our standards and rules.
For two thousand years, we have turned the good news into a religion. The process started with the early church when some were told they needed to be circumcised to really be saved. Others were told that they mustn’t eat meat which had been used as an offering to other religions. Others were side-lined into worshipping angels. Some tried to reconcile the Old Testament law with their new-found faith. [Read more…]
Yesterday we were having a get-together of a support group for a small charity. We were discussing the challenges of supporting our partners work in combating poverty and creating opportunity for people around the world. There is no avoiding the fact that we need money to meet the needs. We discussed “Do we fundraise or do we activate the generosity which we know is out there?” [Read more…]
The word “grace” has many meanings such as a prayer before a meal, courteousness, or the elegance of a dancer. But the word takes on a totally new meaning when we talk about grace in the context of God’s relationship with humanity. I respectfully submit my definition:
“Grace is the unconditional love of God extended to all men and women. Grace forgives us for the wrongs we commit towards our creator, his creation and one another. Grace includes us in the love relationship which God the Father shares with Jesus Christ his son.”
God is love: and the fact that he loves us is truly amazing, fantastic, mind-blowing, and whatever superlative you can think of. [Read more…]
The people of the United Kingdom are about to make an important decision. Should we leave the European Union or should we stay in and try to reform it? I am appalled at the level of debate so far.
- Scare stories about the economy if we leave.
- Talk about an overcrowded island because of immigration.
- Politicians insulting one another.
- Total polarisation of views as though there weren’t good points on both sides.
- Talking down the 5th largest economy in the world.
I have been undecided but now must admit that I have made a personal decision but this article is not meant to be a one-sided presentation or tirade against the alternative point of view.
If you have read any of my blog posts then you will know that I care deeply about justice for the powerless and for the voiceless of this world. The principal of justice is very important, but we need to be very careful about how we apply justice. How often have we heard people effected by crime cry out, “We want justice” when they really mean that they want revenge and to see perpetrators suffer. This may be a natural response but as followers of Jesus we should not seek revenge and retaliation. [Read more…]