I Want More Religion (Part 1)

One of the biggest lies you hear these days among the “hip” crowd goes like this: It’s not about religion, but a relationship.

Folks, sometimes your “relationship” with Jesus – especially when it becomes insular and consumed with your own sensibilities – is a stench in God’s nostrils.

If that offends you, get over it.

A Little More Religion

Oh, I know, I know. Your “relationship” with Jesus feels warm and fuzzy. But if that’s all you have going for you or your concept of “ekklesia”, trust me on this: it won’t last. God will tolerate it for awhile, but not forever.

Here’s what Jesus tells us in His own words (aka, that inconvenient thing called “Scripture”):

Religion that is pure and good before God the Father is to help children who have no parents and to care for women whose husbands have died who have troubles. Pure religion is also to keep yourself clean from the sinful things of the world. (James 1:27, emphasis added)

I think it’s time for a little more religion – you know, the kind that gets you off your self-consumed, lazy-assed Jesus “trip” and your self-consumed idea of “ekklesia” and gets you out into the world making a difference.

I know that may seem harsh.

But in my own defense, I keep trying to engage the hipster Christian crowd with questions like:

Hey, I suspect that when everything is all about how Jesus makes you feel, it may sooth your hurts and it may even initially draw folks together, but is it really succeeding at building mature believers?

And has it succeeded at building a healthy, sustainable and functional fellowship that is making a lasting difference in your area?

Their respond is either some hollow excuse like “root before fruit” (ok, so then why can’t you ever seem to tell us about any actual fruit after root?), or else it’s deafening silence.

Oops.

Inescapable Works

Again, here’s what Jesus says:

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17)

(Side note: I see no “root before fruit” precondition here. Such pithy slogans confuse “fruit” with external growth. Jesus says that root – at any stage – without externally evident growth in the form of deeds is dead. But I digress…)

Certainly I am not advocating religious hypocrisy or salvation through works. Nor am I defending a church system which seeks compliance with someone else’s programs, mission or vision. We’ve all had enough of that.

But this increasingly “me and Jesus” focus – which more often than not is really “me and the Jesus I’ve created in my own image so I can feel safe and affirmed in my own comfort zone and sensibilities” – has simply gone too far. It has turned into introspection and navel gazing, with little in the way of external, tangible results.

Yet some keep insisting that it is all about us “being” in Christ, and continue to discount the “going” and “doing” that Christ commands.

But Jesus, again, says differently:

Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ … Anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. (Matt. 7:21-27, emphasis added)

“Being in Christ” Without “Doing” Is A Lie

For sure, “being” in Him is important. But the final test of really knowing Him, Jesus says, is whether we live our lives “obeying” Him and “doing” the will of the Father – with the resulting, tangible evidence of external works. And if we don’t, Jesus (not me) says our supposed relationship – and all of our “spiritual stuff” based purely on our own understanding of Him – will not stand and will not save us.

Wow, ain’t that a trip? Those who become so focused on a relationship with Jesus based on their own subjective feelings and understanding of Him – rather than doing His will (as known by His commands and teachings) – are condemned to eternal judgement and separation from Him.

It’s kind of like Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

Exactly!

Taking Back the Gates

And Jesus? What does He say?

Simply this: That His true church will kick down – here on earth – the very gates of Hell. (Matt. 16:18)

Ok, my hip friends who are so wrapped up in a Jesus defined by your own sensibilities: Put that in your introspective pipe and smoke it.

Maybe, if you finally start to “get” it, you’ll join me in kicking down Hell’s gates. Doing so means fulfilling Christ’s comprehensive call to make a difference in our culture – as well as in individual lives – as we advance the Kingdom of God by busting Satan’s strongholds.

You see, in Jesus’ day a city’s “gate” represented the center of commerce, power, justice, rule, politics, social cohesion and interaction – and all the other things that were essential to the life of a city – because they all had their focal point at the main gate and its courtyard.

That’s where the city elders sat to hear disputes, generally where justice was administered (although more likely just on the other side of the city gate), where troops were garrisoned, where merchants sold their wares, where folks went to catch up on the latest news and socially interact, where the King’s decrees and other important events were announced, etc.

By kicking down the gates of Hell, we re-assert Christ’s authority – as Lord of all – over all those cultural mandates that Satan otherwise wants us to think are his domain.

In fact, Jesus – immediately after proclaiming that Hell’s gates would not prevail against His triumphant Church – assured us that we had the authority needed to fulfill this mandate:

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:19)

Notice that word “whatever”. It means, well, “whatever” – whether it be ministering to broken lives in your homeless community, feeding the poor, bringing freedom to addicts, raising strong families, showing love to orphans and widows, help others, growing healthy fellowships, proclaiming salvation, making disciples, redeeming the culture, or whatever else He calls you and others to personally go and do!

In all this, and so much more, the forces of Hell are playing defense against a Church which is victorious, engaged and involved – as we each are equipped to fulfill our various callings, each according to His grace and the gifts He’s given us.

Yes, we must “be” in Him. But we also must “participate” in all He bids us go and do. If that’s religion, then I’m all for it!

Blessed Balance

Balanced integration, folks. That’s all I’m saying.

Maturity in Christ comes from appreciating the perfect symmetry between what we feel in Christ and what He bids us go and do. If they are out of sync or out of balance, then there is either a problem with what you feel or a problem with what you think Christ commands.

Likewise, if only one but not the other is operative in your walk – or in your church – or you are listening to those who promote one at the expense of the other, then there also is a problem.

My earlier sarcasm aside, we do need to know Him subjectively and relationally. That is critical.

But also critical is the objective obedience of going forth as He commands and doing as He commands. And the resulting good works and external fruit as we obey Him is the ultimate test of whether we in fact really know Him or only a version of Him created in our own image.

Be wise and discerning, my friends. Many talk a good talk. But where are their external positive results and good works?

Can they show evidence of actually kicking down Hell’s gates – beyond simply pointing to some success at forming an insular, introspective expression of “ekklesia” that is more about their own sensibilities than about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Again, as Jesus says:

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” (James 2:18)

So next time you say it is all about a relationship and not religion, forgive me while I step around the corner to puke. I, and God (I suspect), have had enough of your self-consumed spirituality. It’s time, folks, to grow up and go out.

~ Jim

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29 responses

  1. Your’s is an excellent piece, Jim, …except I’d debate with you that the New Covenant anywhere commands “kicking down Hell’s Gates”. Isn’t that Jesus’ job!

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    • Thanks. The passage I reference in Matt. 16:18 clearly says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. So yes, that is within the authority – and mission – Jesus has delegated to us.

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  2. Good piece! Many of the old hymns have a lot of doctrine in them–‘Give Me That Old Time Religion’, etc… If we could just stick to God’s Word, and yet it seems to not ever be enough in this age of promotion, slick ad campaigns and the world wanting to create in each of us this thought, ‘you need more’ or ‘don’t you deserve this?’ It’s the same basis for temptation that the serpent used in the garden to deceive Adam & Eve: ‘God is holding out on you, why if you do this, you’ll be like Him!’ and probably…’You’re worth it’ or ‘You deserve to be like God, don’t you?’

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  3. We’ll agree, Jim, to sidagree! I feel having the demonic not prevail against us is not the same thing as us attacking them. Ephesians 6:10-19 reads to me that our ONLY job in spiritual wafare is “to stand” in Jesus’ “Unbreachable Spiritual Armour” as I comment at http://diigo.com/0jl35

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  4. One of the most disheartening trends within Organic Church movements for me, centers on this issue. The propensity to push into others passivity and accuse the active of not abiding astounds me. (Good Alliteration huh?) :-)

    Even a grape on the vine practices cell division.

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  5. Jim, new to your articles and find them well considered and expressed. It seems you have a particular group in mind who have justified not growing into a servant’s mind set. After 30+ yrs in ministry I had to give up my frustration with “believers” who are the dead sea ie everything goes in and nothing comes out. Yet I do understand and agree overall with your rant. I would say that we all need a boot to the backside at times but my experience is that God is much better than I am at administering it. I used to put the hammer down on the congregation until God began to hammer on me for bullying His children. Root must come before fruit but true root leading to maturity always produces fruit. Maybe the best question to ask is what is fruit in God’s eye?. In the James passage you used, the first work produced is endurance as we trust God in multiple adversities leading us to a mature man in Christ (1:2-4). Finally, your point is well taken but I find myself insufficient to determine if another believer is fruitful. Is the stay at home wife/mom who submits to her husband and raises her children in the Lord, but doesn’t serve in a ministry of the church fruitful? When she cleans the toilet because she loves the Lord and wants to please Him with her service to her family, does God consider her fruitful? I say Aye and the Lord is possibly more pleased with her service than many who do and do to gain recognition and praise. Thanks for doing what you are doing!
    Al

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    • Hi Al.

      I totally agree that no one is able to judge another’s calling. But we are able to assess their mindset. I am more interested in changing mindsets and attitudes than seeing anyone do a particular this or that. If the mindset is a mature reflection of all the Christ wants us to be, then – as I try to articulate in the blog – we will go and do as He commands. What I don’t say in this blog, but have addressed many times in other blogs, is that our going and doing will be very individualized based on the unique gifts, callings and grace He bestows on us.

      So I agree TOTALLY that the mother devoting herself to raising her children – when doing so as unto the Lord based on the grace He’s given at that stage in her life – is going wonders and bearing beautiful fruit for the King.

      And I have cleaned many toilets myself in service to the King, and felt His smile and favor in doing so.

      I hope the total context of my writings makes that clear.

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  7. ‘Rant’ was a poignant choice of words in one of the comments. Despite some of your feelings about some organized churches, I had to picture you up in one of those old New England pulpits (without a sound system) thundering out your message. No question where you feel on this one.

    Two observations or mid-course corrections:
    1) When I have used the ‘religion vs. relationship’ phrase, the religion in view is man’s system that emphasizes works…for standing before God…either for salvation or for rewards or even just to hold on to your salvation…if I lived better God would love me. THAT is the ‘religion’ I envision in the comparison,

    2) Matthew 16:18-19(NET) “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” NET translator note:23 Or “and the power of death” (taking the reference to the gates of Hades as a metonymy).
    Kicking in the gates of Hell is an expression of some of the more outspoken Charismatics of my experience and, to them, it seems to imply very bold (and usually obnoxious) action in the public arena that seldom reflects any understanding of their opponents. If the NET alternative is right, Jesus could have been referring to the future growth of His kingdom despite the presence of Death. (hate to remove such a useful prop, Jim), but even if the reference is to Hell, Satan is not the Lord of that place (despite Dante’s imagination) and will be put there contrary to his wishes.

    Having said that,I agree that all believers should be alert to the activities of the enemy and not passively withdrawn to the spiritual equivalent of the police officers’ donut shops…but don’t knock the ‘warm fuzzy’ when you have been wounded.

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    • Thanks, Tom. I always value your very insightful comments.

      Certainly, as I say in the blog, I am not advocating “religion” as it has been misused. To certain extent, I am using the word to grab some folks by the lapels and help break them out of their spiritual stupor. So maybe your “rant” observation is warranted. ;-)

      Most translations, unlike the NET, present the Matt 16 passage as the church on offense (the gates of hell will not prevail against the church) rather than defense. I know enough Greek to be dangerous, but don’t claim to be a scholar in Biblical languages. But my understanding from others who I respect is that the sense here is of the church on the initiative against hell rather than fending off hell. So I stand firm on my use of the Lord’s own prop!

      My imagery of kicking down the gates of Hell is not intended to ratify obnoxious engagement with the world. Anyone who knows my history knows that I have been both engaged and also constructive, even when needing to deal firmly with real evil. (See my blog “I Am Content“.)

      Finally, I know that warm and fuzzy is good for season, and even part of the Lord’s healing process. It is hard in a single blog to cover all the nuances, and frankly this particular blog was not intended to be nuanced. My concern is with those who remain stuck in their warm and fuzzy stage and never seem to get healed and grow up beyond the hurts and wounds. They remain limited by a faith that is consumed with needing subjective validation. Healing from emotional pain, I have found over years of counseling others, is always a choice. (See my blog “God Shows Up“.) For some – and in particular for certain segments and bloggers in the organic church community – it is time to make that choice.

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  8. Its misleading to talk of ‘objective’ obedience as if what is required of us on a day to day basis is all spelled out in black and white… sorry not everyone reads the bible that way so it is no wonder if that is how you read it, you would end up misjudging the motives and actions or inaction of others… though i’m not saying your observation is completely off… just that there is significant plurality in interpretation of what it means to hear and obey or respond to god daily… each with our own particular giftings and spheres of influence.
    You know what some people are going to get to the end of their lives and realize they invested a heck of a lot of busyness into the wrong activities… good activities… with seemingly all the right motives. Its really risky to judge someone at one particular point in their journey… the person seemingly just trying to hang out with jesus and have relationship may have been on a ministry treadmill not so long ago.
    What I have seen is generally people emphasize either right feeling, doing or thinking and pretty much no one gets it all right all the time, let alone most of the time hence we need each other.
    Personally if someone feels god has called them to do nothing for a season so be it, or maybe to reach a lost people group thats great. Jesus just did life for some 30years. Some christians need to detox from so called ‘ministry’ in order to learn to do life and integrate their faith so they can get out of the christian performance rat race.
    There is a time and season for everything
    ‘external positive results and good works’… honestly that smacks of an insecure need for self promotion and keeping track of accomplishments for the kingdom. I really do wonder who this group of people are who are wrapped up in ‘relationship’ with jesus but have no time for other people… especially since its a false dichotomy to say fellow believers are internal and everyone else is external. That almost sounds like certain institutional performance thinking where value is often only placed on what is done towards unbelievers or strangers… and service+love towards friends, family, coworkers etc is minimized.
    Yes there are ‘insular’ groups but that does not mean what they are doing is of no value… for all we know given the chance the same judgements we pass on them they would pass on us… ie missing the mark, not obeying gods revealed will etc.
    I love your blog but I think your point is lost in translation because your terminology is too rigid… which makes you sound very judgemental even though my hope is you only have a certain extreme segment of christians in mind as opposed to judging everyone through the lens of what you personally consider to be valid external/outward ministry and good works. I’ve spent much of my life around busy christians and i’ve seen them judge others by their seeming lack of doing and going time and time again… in the end we all miss out.
    shalom

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    • Maturity in the Lord, I have found, comes from knowing the perfect symmetry between our subjective experience of Jesus and what He tells us to go and to do. Where feelings and obedience are not in sync, then there is a problem either with the feelings or the things we think He commands.

      As I say in the blog, balance.

      I make no apologies for insisting that the Body of Christ grow up, because there is no hope for the lost or our culture otherwise.

      Yet understand that if one’s feelings in Christ are not confirmed through going and doing – by external fruit, good deeds and obeying – then your feelings likely are false.

      By changing our attitude on that, there is hope. Ignore it, and we are trapped in our own sensibilities.

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      • interesting, i mostly agree. by the same token if people are going around doing ‘good deeds’ yet their heart is not in it and they have mostly run ahead with ideas about what god requires that can in the end be just as fruitless and unproductive.
        The rub is we each have our own idea of what going, doing and obeying is.
        Anyways ultimately the ideal is we are passionate in word and deed about all things pertaining to life and love… but we all have a long ways to travel.
        I have found balance is only in christ and as he is manifest in his body not in individuals or even small groupings.

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  9. Pingback: I Want More Religion (Part 2) | Crossroad Junction

  10. I typed this response and saved it the other day… I decided that I should sleep on whether or not to reply. When I saw your second post today I decided to go ahead and share my thoughts… here they are:

    I’m disappointed in this article. While there are some good things within it, the heart, spirit, or tone is angry and ugly. Seems to be fruit of something other than love. I hate to say hurt or bitterness, but something seems to have really hurt you, Jim. I’m sorry.

    A relationship with Jesus WILL naturally lead toward caring for the orphans and widows, I agree that real followers of Jesus WILL obey and do… but people deciding to obey and do because of this rant won’t be a good thing. Trying to obey because we’ve been guilt-ed into it isn’t good and it isn’t healthy.

    Imagine if you were an orphan and someone took you in because they felt guilty for not doing enough for God…. that person may never have the love necessary to give you. Widows and orphans don’t need to be visited out of guilt or pity… they need to be loved because love is overflowing in you and you’ve known God long enough and intimately enough that loving others begins to infect your person.

    Jim you are a good guy who is clearly frustrated with something you’ve been hurt by… I pray that your anger doesn’t cause you to blow a fuse. Relax a bit, and do what you can. Care for a widow or take in a foster child, maybe living as an example will do more for your agenda than these kinds of rants.

    Thanks for this article, reading something like this helps me to see how hateful we sound when we don’t like the theology of others.

    By the way, I think a better word for religion in James 1:27 would be the way that Greek word was translation in Colossians 2:18, worship.

    Also it may be worth noting that the word religion is also used in James 1:26 where is says that some religion is worthless.

    I think we agree that some religion is worthless. I’m going to go and practice true religion tomorrow by visiting a widow, however I’m doing it because I enjoy it. I’m going tomorrow with my whole family. We won’t be doing it because James said that it was a key practice in “pure religion” and we won’t be doing it to impress anyone nor as a part of a planned ministry by an institutional church. We are going tomorrow because we love this widowed friend. We aren’t doing anything worthy of accommodation, we aren’t suffering when we visit widows, we just happen to be going tomorrow because we want to. Religion (the modern day understanding of religion) obeys and does because we are supposed to. Relationship obeys and does, because we’ve learned through knowing God that obeying and doing is the BEST LIFE. It is essentially Christian Hedonism.

    Yes, call me a Hedonist if you want to but I don’t serve and obey God to please Him, I serve and obey Him because it makes me happy. My joyful service is true worship. So the only way I can truly do something for God’s pleasure is when I do it for my pleasure – see even my good deeds come from Him.

    Call me a Christian Mystic too because I believe that God still speaks directly to me through His Holy Spirit and I believe that that communication (HIS still small voice) is better than scripture.

    Today I’d add – my wife suggested yesterday that we go and see that widowed friend around 10:30 and I think she was attuned to God with that timing… some may think it was just luck, but I think it was God’s timing. We arrived and she needed help within five minutes of our being there. We got to repair fences and capture 3 horses that got out of her pasture… we had a fun adventure chasing horses and were able to help someone in need. It was a lot of fun and ministry and DOING something, but it didn’t feel like work. I believe His yoke is easy and His burden light.

    Jim, we can serve Him and encourage others toward love and good deeds without guilt. With guilt we can only encourage others toward works and more worthless religion.

    Jim, I believe in you and your journey…. we just see things a little differently.

    Josh

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    • Josh –

      Thanks for your very considered thoughts. I can assure you I have – like all of us – had to deal with hurts over the years. But this is not one of them. I think it is too easy for some to dismiss what others are saying by relegating their concerns to the world of hurts.

      My motive is not out of any personal hurt, but rather my passion for seeing the Body of Christ emerge into all her glory. Short of that happening, our culture – and a broken world of desperate people – have little hope.

      I am also motivated by the growing alarm over some who seem compelled to say it’s all about Jesus, while then repeatedly going out of their way to minimize or contrast our “being” in Christ with all that Christ has commanded that we go and do and all that Christ has given for us to grow up.

      The fork in the road, as I’ve said before, for the Church in the West (and especially for the organic church community and the emerging generation of millennial) is simply this: Will we remain stuck in our sensibilities (which can include hurts, postmodern attitudes, inordinate affections, whatever), or will we embrace All of Christ – His being and doing, His living word and written word, His love and His commands, His soothing presence and His fierce Lordship? Will we embrace the real Jesus, or remain trapped in a Jesus of our own creation?

      I plead innocent to any motive of hurt. But I plead passion for seeing a mature Body of Christ emerge, and my life has been dedicated to that in many practical, hands-on ways as I see fruit in the form of His life emerging not only in others, but also through others to a hungry world.

      Jesus in us, among us and through us. Real and authentic. That is my plea.

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      • I read jim’s piece like you did, Josh, and agree with your comments because I suspect, Brother, you check your voices against Scripture!

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  11. Jim wrote an article/blog/letter to make one main point: your actions reveal whether you really have a growing knowledge of and relationship with Jesus… period. He wasn’t trying to write a commentary on the entire New Testament folks.

    This is about the guts of our faith, not the hair-splitting minutia or slow rot of those who refuse to grow up.

    I’m not bitter either. I just don’t think we should expect 5,000 word dissertations from everyone. Can we not let someone make a point clearly and briefly?

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  15. Jesus said:
    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. . . Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    Paul of Tarsus said:
    “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.”

    James said:
    “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his sister or brother or judges him or her speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.”

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    • Kat, you would do well to heed your own post.

      You seem to have discovered my blog. Great. But I also need to put you on notice that I am setting limits on you here. This is because you have been among the most blatantly judgmental persons I ever seen online – especially on Facebook. Again and again you showed this compulsion to call people “unloving” and “judgmental” – and even publicly tried to blacklist them – if they expressed in a civil manner perfectly valid views that nonetheless triggered your extreme existentalism/mysticism. And what triggered you was nearly everything.

      I decided to respond publicly here because I’ve said this (along with others) to you in private in the past, but to no effect, and because I’m going to permit you this one last comment above to peddle your online stock in trade – which is to judgmentally call everyone judgmental with whom you disagree. But I’m putting you on notice that much beyond this one comment (and another two that I permitted earlier this week), I am drawing a line and won’t let you cross it again here.

      I have only done this with one other person, but I WILL protect the free flow of ideas on my blog against anyone with a troubling history such as yours.

      To be clear, you are free to engage in actual dialog on actual ideas on my blog, but if you can’t control your compulsion to judgmentally call everyone judgmental who disagrees with you, then I will delete any future comments by you.

      I simply will not let you do here what you have done persistently elsewhere.

      I am taking this action because, from my vantage point, you have acted as a FB bully – but with this “poor me” persecution complex that comes across as helpless. Many over the years have urged you to stop, but you kept it up. It even got so bad that it ended up destroying a FB group (although the group was ultimately resurrected when others stepped in to save it).

      So this one last time, Kat, but no more. Comments that avoid this compulsion of yours, however, remain welcome. For example, you are free to openly disagree here – but with ideas rather than with your standard, dialog stopping accusations of “judgmental” or “unloving” against all with whom you differ.

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  16. Just because this is your blog, it does not give you permission to slander me with such lies. And I quoted scriptures, I made no comment on them at all. I’ll not engage you in conversation again, if you wish to lie about me, you have that freedom, it is not me you must answer to anyway. I am nobody. I wish you no harm, not at all, though I understand that you think otherwise. I am still praying for Mr Wright.

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    • Had some interesting points here, but for me it really never explained the balance between being and doing and never really showed us how to live in that balance. I agree that in Christ we must find the balance between being and doing which drew my interest in reading this. I could have done without the author’s remarks against the “being” crowds as some type of liberal hippy pot smokers who look at relationships in a selfish way, and who can never “get’ what Jesus is saying. It appears that many of his comments come from frustration with a certain type of group, or their beliefs…which does not really promote I think what point he is trying to make — about the junction between being in Christ with doing in Christ. We must be careful in our assumptions about our own brothers and sisters in Christ, with those who are learning to relate with one another in Christ, sharing His Life together…implying that they are like some repackaged hippies movement from the 1970’s with the terms like “hip”, “put that in your smoke pipe”, ect… might not be the best way to describe the body of Christ. I thought I was going to read here about how we learn to “be” in the Lord, and learn how to live from that, and love others. It seemed to be more of doing vs. being than how to live in the balance between the two. I think we are all learning in Christ to find balance in being and doing. I do agree with the point about the need for that though.

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  19. You said: Here’s what Jesus tells us in His own words (aka, that inconvenient thing called “Scripture”):

    Religion that is pure and good before God the Father is to help children who have no parents and to care for women whose husbands have died who have troubles. Pure religion is also to keep yourself clean from the sinful things of the world. (James 1:27, emphasis added)——————->Sir, it’s true… CHRISTianity is a relationship with JESUS himself and not a set of traditional practices, ceremonies, doctrines and rules etc. set by man which are being followed in the hope of pleasing GOD. Good works or deeds (w/ Godly motives) are results of genuine relationship with the FATHER through CHRIST JESUS. The pharisees and the sadducee were very religious. But JESUS called them “brood of Vipers, white wash tombs, hypocrites” etc. (read Matt.23) they followed strictly the “laws” of religion. But were they pleasing to GOD? No. It was because of the intentions of their heart. Connect that now to James 1:27 pls. We need to follow the two greatest commandment that JESUS himself gave us. Matthew 22:36-40

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”————–> We cannot give what we do not have. Only a genuine relationship with the source of love can we know and learn how to love. We may not understand GOD fully because HE is who HE is. But the LORD gave us the scriptures (the Bible) that we may know HIM according to HIS very words. We cannot call GOD “Father” if we do not have a relationship with HIM. Only through genuine faith in JESUS CHRIST; by accepting HIM as our LORD… our GOD and savior can we have that relationship. JESUS opened the gates of Heaven for sinful people like us through the sacrifice he made on the cross…. to pay the penalty of our sins that we may have eternal life. This sir, is what we mean by relationship and not religion. GOD bless!

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