Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter: The Sequel

Our pastor today spoke on the above topic, which was built around John 3:16 and our response to Easter. It was awesome, and I felt like it was a great message for people who are on the fence, so to speak, about following Christ. I'd love to post a link to the message on our church website, but I'm not sure it works. =(

"Christianity" is not really all about what Christ/God did for us... it's more about how we live in response to what He did. For me, it's just so basic as that, which is why I think I really embraced what he was saying today. For me, all other religions are man-made as a response to not wanting to believe in God, in the gift of His son, His love for us - created in His image, choosing to want to live forever with him. I find it difficult to engage in conversations about religions other than those following Christ because to me they are just all false. Maybe that makes me intolerant, or maybe it just makes me a firm believer.

If I can get that message working, I'll link it here.


Kathryn said...

I'm sort of on the fence about whether I should comment on this... ;-)

Well, one short comment. I personally don't believe it is as simple as Christianity being 'true' and all other religions being 'false.' My opinion is that all people have different ways of relating to the Divine. Religion being the outward (cultural/psychological/personal) expression of the spirit.

deanna said...

Yeah... I'd love to hear your thoughts on what was said today. You don't have to be on the fence - you can say anything you want on here!

Kathryn said...

This is an expansive topic--I'm not sure where to start! Without having heard the sermon, I do have these thoughts as to why we cannot expect to all share the same way of expressing faith.

Cultural impact on beliefs. Ideas, worldviews, norms, etc. can be so different globally. What is considered 'normal' in Judeo Christian-based cultures may not be the norm in tribal Africa. Would the former consider African nudity immodest or 'sinful?' If so, wouldn't this be based upon a Judeo-Christian bias?

Let's add imperialism to the mix. If you were among those living in a conquered land...told to abide by new foreign laws, regulations & the religion of your might you react? How might this religion come across to you from a less than compassionate power now controlling your life & livelihood?

I have talked with different Christian ministers and clergy about the impact of violence on women and how this effects spirituality. I've also read up on this topic. Without exception, the female ministers and clergy and those who had worked with abused women were not only understanding of the need for these women to view and relate to the Divine as female, but encouraged them to do so. The one male minister who had no such background or experience with the effects of violence against women could not see this point, or be of any assistance to women suffering spiritually because of such issues.

Another element of belief and religion is personal expression. Even among Christian groups the manner of expressing faith varies widely. Southern Baptist compared to Presbyterian worship, for example. The Second might feel the former is too emotions-based; on the reverse, the S.Baptists might feel the P's are beyond dry in their worship.

You might argue that these differences don't really matter b/c they worship the same god. Do they?

Psychology comes into play. Some people need/prefer a fire-and-brimstone weighted god. Mercy comes second when all is said and done. Other people see the compassion of the Divine as primary. It does make a difference, and in my opinion, these gods are not the same. I'm convinced that the way we see the Divine has a huge impact on the way we treat others, and the way we live our lives. I also find it to be true from personal experience.

God is who God is. I believe that. We, seeing dimly, try to express our faith in the ways that resonate with us. I believe, too, that the Divine speaks to us in our own 'language' as well, coming in the manner that will speak to our individual hearts.

That's more than I meant to say, but it is a topic that I hold dear.

deanna said...

Yup, and yup, and yup.... and I guess I'm looking at all this from a more simplistic or broader - not sure which - viewpoint. I tend to interpret the Bible quite literally, although not necessarily with the same time framework it always suggests. I'm thinking more like this:

God created: earth, water, land, night, day (the universe), all the creatures of the earth... humankind in His image, which separates us from all His creation. He did this and desires to be in an active, meaningful relationship with each of us.

Enter: Satan, sin, which separates us from God. We focus on ourselves more than God, we turn inward instead of outward. How do we get back to God??

Solution: God makes a way for us to be with Him in eternity - a realm beyond our comprehension. He also chooses a nation, Israel, through whom he wants to demonstrate His love for mankind by blessing them so that the world may know His desire to bless His creation. He also promises to send a Messiah, His son, who will redeem us from our sins that separate us from God. (Is there another religion that offers this?)

Enter: Christ, who fulfills each and every requirement to be the Son of God that was promised, who carried every single one of our sins that separate us from God to the cross and puts them to death. How do we respond or accept this reward/gift? By believing.

Our response: Either believe or don't believe. If you don't believe, you find other ways of expressing what God created you to be - a spiritual being, body, mind and soul. If you do believe, you develop a relationship with your creator that is expressed by your spiritual being.

For me, it's not really about judging how others respond to this epic story as much as it is a desire for everyone to know their creator. Do I blame people for turning from God towards other expressions?? Not really, because if you don't search, you won't truly know.

I understand that this mindset I have is based on very strong beliefs that I own, and that it comes across to others as arrogant or "pious" or extremely closeminded. I honestly don't know how else to be! I don't want people to see me that way, but I can't help it that I love and accept Christ, that I'm completely humbled by my own inability to make retribution for what separates me from my creator and that it is so freely offered to me.

As for organized religion, I mostly see that as just getting in the way of God really wants his followers to do - I'm not a big fan. God created us to create, to accept, to work together as a body and embrace His creation, to include each and every human into His kingdom. What other religion offers that? I have not found even one that requires only that you believe and allow yourself to be used to spread God's unconditional love.

Of course, there is a side of Christianity that sets moral boundries and part of believing that asks a follower to view each and every situation through the lens of His precepts, the Bible. The world is full of suffering, of wrong, of injustices and we are called to answer that as believers. It's a huge and divisive aspect of believing that Satan has used meticulously to thwart consistency in belief among believers.

Am I making any sense?? Probably not. There is a lot of bad Christian teaching in the world, but there is also a lot of good. It's our job to individually judge for ourselves using a standard that is easily available to us - the Bible. If you aren't using that as your plumbline, then we probably aren't talking about my God, who I really believe is the one and only. I can't think of any others who have followed through on their promises the way mine has, without fail. (Oh, see, here I go again!)

Well, enough for now. It's a good discussion and I'm very interested in what you're saying. I know there is a lot more going on here and a lot of emotion involved in this. I JUST SO WISH WE LIVED CLOSER!! =) I hate doing this on blogger!

Kathryn said...

I understand your viewpoint, and am glad you are happy with your faith.

I do not take the Bible literally, so this accounts for some of our differences. That is not to say I do not 'believe' it. Something does not have to be literally true to be spiritually true. :-)

Kathryn said...

p.s. If my distaste of cold weather continues, I may start asking you where the good school systems are in MD. Maybe we'll live closer yet! ;-)

deanna said...

My husband has been aruging with me about my "literal translation" comment... so I'll clarify. There are plenty of metaphorical, poetic and contextually inappropriate (to us) parts of the Bible - all things must be read in the context of their time! That being said, I take much of the Bible literally, but I'm not archaic!!

OK - maybe a little!

Move here.... I promise I won't bore you with my religiously fanatical conversation!! ;-)