Sidewalk Bends

Exploring the soul and it's reaches.

The Kingdom

with 27 comments

Jesus teaching If we are all God’s children, why do some choose to hold one above another? Some might call me a heretic and others might call me blasphemous, but was Jesus not a man? Did he not bleed? Did he not die? Though it is certainly true that he lived his life by his virtues, and he shared his life with many, why do some choose to hold him on a pedestal? Can we not all stand with God? Can we not all do God’s will? Can we not all share God’s grace? Can we all not speak with God? Some say we are only human, and to that I say, so was Jesus. We may try to create excuses for ourselves as to why we do the things we do. We might try to weigh our beliefs by what we can gain, and we may compromise our self-worth for the worldly attributes of this life, but Jesus has shown us that the kingdom of heaven is not across the river of life. It is life. It is in this life and the next life. To live in the kingdom does not only mean to love and to have compassion. It means to live it. It means in every thought and in every action, we should remind ourselves of who we are. We should remind ourselves from where we came to where we shall return. Jesus was a great man and did wonderful things in his life and through his life, but we are no different than him. By our choices we become who we become.

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27 Responses

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  1. Jesus was a man like us in all things, except sin.

    Russ

    April 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm

  2. Good question. So I will ask you. What is sin?

    Russ

    April 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    • My simple answer is I don’t know.

      I’m not sure I believe in sin. I know there are things that lead to harm. There are things that I know are hurtful. Sometimes we can do things that inadvertantly hurt others, and there are times when people knowingly go out of their way to hurt others. To me the fine distinction is intent.

      My ultimate goal is to lead a life where I do no harm to others, to live peacefully with love in my heart. I can honestly say I have quite a way to go.

      How about you?

      sidewalkbends

      April 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm

  3. If we are the product of random chance and we are truly living in a “survival of the fittest” world then I would agree that there is no sin. However, if we are created by God then sin is any act or thought that is contrary to the nature of God. This is why Jesus said that if I hate my neighbor, even though I have not harmed him at all, it is still sin because my thoughts are contrary to the very nature of God for God is love.

    If we understand that God is pure and holy then we also understand that we are not pure or holy. We are sinners and the Bible condemns all of us to hell for we are all sinners. Regardless of how many good things I might do I remain a sinner for I also think and do wicked things as well and the soul that sins shall die.

    In short, you or I cannot define sin. Only God can define sin – and He has – in His word and in our conscience. We have all rebelled against His commandments and against our own conscience. This is why the Bible insists that all of mankind is condemned.

    Russ

    April 19, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    • Why would God create from Himself a creature only to be doomed and condemned? Would it simply be to entertain Himself?

      Surely if God is love, which I believe Him to be, then would He not create us with the ability to love? I believe we are given free will, to either choose a path towards or away from him (so in that sense I agree that we should ideally go towards Him). Surely there are also those who choose a path of destruction and hate, but later come to find themselves on a path back to God. That is love no? I can’t imagine those folks to be condemned.

      I liken it to that saying that goes something along the lines of, if you love something, set them free, if they come back it was meant to be? In that sense, I see it as though God set us all free, to our own devices. He’s always there in case we choose to return, but he has given us the free will to choose our path. And although we may choose a path that might be harmful to ourselves and others, He’s always there, willing and waiting to accept us again. I see God as forgiving, not out for retribution, because if God is God, He would have no need for retribution. Afterall, He created all? He is all?

      sidewalkbends

      April 19, 2010 at 11:14 pm

  4. God is love but love is not all that God is. God is also just. If God does not judge sin then God is not just. And we have all sinned and therefore we must all be judged.

    Recently a serial killer was captured in San Diego for the murder and rape of two innocent teenage girls. He is guilty according to his own confession and multitudes of evidence including his knowledge of the location of one of the dead girl’s body. Should he be judged? Should he be punished?

    Until we understand that we are separated from God by our sin we cannot understand the gospel. You may see yourself as a good person who has made a few mistakes like everyone else but that is not how God sees you. The Bible says that the heart of man is deceptive and desperately wicked.

    You cannot have a relationship with God until issue of sin is resolved. Just like the serial killer is separated from society because of his crimes, you are separated from God because of your sin. Mankind’s destination is Hell not because God takes pleasure in punishing innocent but because God is just and He must punish sin.

    Russ

    April 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

  5. I recently wrote my first post on WordPress on a related topic. If you are interested you can read it here:

    http://thegreatdanger.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/heaven/

    Russ

    April 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

  6. By that token, does that mean all are condemned to hell from the beginning?

    Is the heart of man wicked or is it the desires of the mind? Does God create us as seperate or is it by our own doing? If it is by our own doing, cannot we then choose a path back to God? If our destination is hell as you say, then why try? Then why become a better a person? Perhaps the relationship with God is already there, and it is not sin that must be resolved, but rather a dialogue that must be openned? I don’t believe God ever turns His proverbial back, but I do believe we can be stubborn.

    I do not doubt that the serial killer that you mentioned or us for that matter must answer for our actions, but how we answer may not be what people think. I do not know God’s will, but I feel it is love. My relationship is a personal one. Perhaps yours is too.

    sidewalkbends

    April 20, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    • How do you know that the path you are choosing leads to God? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the path that leads to God. All other paths lead to Hell. As unpleasant as that is to say it is the truth. When a person rejects Jesus Christ they are rejecting the only path that leads to life.

      Do you really want to become a better person? Can you become a better person by your own efforts? Can you reach down and lift yourself up by your own shoelaces? God sent His Son to lift you up so that you may become all that God intends for you to be. God will make you someone far better and far greater than you can ever make yourself.

      Can two walk together unless they agree? Can you walk with God and at the same time not agree with God? God says that your sin has separated you from Him. First agree with God and then you can walk together with Him.

      Russ

      April 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      • This is interesting actually. I agree with you in that nothing is possible without God. I believe God can will us in any direction He wishes, and so I agree with you that my own efforts mean nothing without God’s will.

        As for whether one walks with God or not, regardless of whether one is “good” or “bad” I believe that God walks with all of us. Unfortunately not all necessarily listen to God.

        As for how do I know the path I choose leads to God, the same can be asked of you and others as well? How do any of us know? It’s a valid question. My answer is I do not know. I only know what I feel.

        What if someone said they felt they heard God’s message, would you be able to believe them? What if it opposed some of the ideas in the Bible, or is it incontrovertible? What if one day you heard God speak to you and it opposed the Bible, which would you choose to believe? Thank you Russ for the conversation btw.

        sidewalkbends

        April 20, 2010 at 8:12 pm

  7. How is God able to walk with two men who hate each other? In order for God to walk with the first, He must hate the second and to walk with the second, He must hate the first. He must hate them both in order to agree with both. If He hates them both why would He walk with either? Sin and hatred separate from God.

    Was God walking with Jesus and with those who murdered Him at the same time? Sin separates us from God.

    Was God walking with the serial killer and with the women he was murdering at the same time? How is it that God walks with all people? Sin separates us from God and keeps us from the love of God.

    While it is true that God loves sinners it is also true that God hates sin. God must and will judge sin. If a person rejects the cross of Jesus Christ, where God judged sin, they have not choice but to pay the penalty for their own sin.

    If you believe that God speaks with you without first dealing with the sin issue I would say that you are hearing from someone other than God.

    Russ

    April 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    • Or Maybe God walks with both in the hope 1 or both will refrain from sin, after all, many sinners turn to God after they find thier lot is not a happy one,
      He would not make mankind love him but I feel prefer them to Love him on their own conesence.
      After all its never to late to find God either with the help of Jesus’s teachings or finding their own way.

      Watcher

      April 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    • I believe that human beings turn to dogma and division and their own (yet attributed to God) notions of “sin” when they find themselves unable to love as God does. It is easier to judge than to love; Jesus made that clear, yet subsequent renderings of his story reverted back to just the things that he spoke so vehemently against. He made it all so clear, and so simple and loving and life-affirming, yet his message was turned into something dark and bloody and full of condemnation for others.

      Learn to love–that’s all Jesus asked. Don’t think that you hold the keys to the kingdom in your own hands, and that you determine who will enter, and who won’t, because you are not qualified to act on God’s behalf beyond acting out of selfless love, as Jesus did. Do you truly believe that “hell” is reserved for those who don’t see the Bible as the only authoritative revelation of God, and yet strive at every turn to love their neighbors as themselves, and that “heaven” is reserved for those who condemn those people?

      Nancy
      http://saradode.wordpress.com

      saradode

      April 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

  8. Where did you learn that Jesus taught us to love? Did He not also teach us to believe in Him?

    Perhaps when you are willing to lay down your life for the lives of others I might consider you words but until then I choose to listen to all of what Jesus said and did.

    Russ

    April 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  9. I do believe in him,and listen to him, with all my heart and soul. And I’m a devout believer in a loving God. But I’m not a Christian. Christians don’t have a monopoly on the teachings of Jesus, or on God.

    When he was asked in Mark 12 and Matthew 22 what the most important commandment was, what was his answer? Was it, “Be a Christian, and damn the rest to your idea of hell”? No. He was rather to the point on that subject.

    I have not, so far, been in a position in which it was necessary to lay down my life for another person, but I can’t say that it wouldn’t happen. Have you sold all your possessions and given the proceeds to the poor?

    Nancy

    saradode

    April 23, 2010 at 12:12 am

  10. Nancy,

    Do you really believe in Jesus or do you believe in yourself and your own opinions? There is no doubt that when Jesus says something that you like you agree with him but what about when he says difficult things? Are you really interested in believing all that Jesus teaches or only those things that you agree with?

    Russ

    April 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

  11. I suppose that I could ask you the same thing, but of course we’d go back and forth, tossing bits of scripture at each other and trying to “catch” the other to prove a point.

    Loving selflessly IS a difficult thing. Condemning others who believe differently from you is a piece of cake. We all do it as naturally as breathing. If you honestly believe that Christians are the only ones who can have a real relationship with the Divine, and who can “enter the kingdom,” then it’s foolish of me to think that I can make you even consider opening your eyes to the other possibilities. Jesus would take pity on your blindness, and so that’s what I will try to do as well.

    I know that I have a real and loving relationship with God, and I hope that you have one too. It’s really the only thing that either of us should be concerned with.

    Nancy

    saradode

    April 23, 2010 at 1:10 am

  12. Nancy,

    This form of communication can be difficult and things can be misunderstood but what I hear you saying to me is that I should believe just like you do. What should I do then when you say the exact opposite of what Jesus says? For example Jesus says that He is the only way to heaven but you say there are many ways. Why should I believe your words more than the words of Jesus? Why I am wrong to trust that Jesus loves me enough to tell me the truth?

    Russ

    April 23, 2010 at 1:36 am

    • My point is NOT that you or anyone should “believe just like I do;” it’s that the Christian assertion (and I do understand that such thinking is not limited to Christians, nor is it held by all Christians) that those who don’t believe as THEY do can have no relationship with God, or that they will be “damned”, is arrogant and misguided and sinful in itself. One narrow interpretation of one text cannot begin to plumb the depths of the mystery of the Divine, and much pain and evil has been perpetrated in the world as a result of that kind of arrogance.

      Believe however you wish, but let others do the same. It will all sort itself out in the end. And if you’re going to claim to be a follower of Christ, then do the difficult things that he explicitly asked. You didn’t answer my question about giving to the poor (not using that giving as a means to make them believe what you believe–just giving out of love). You mentioned doing the “difficult” things, but I have no idea what you consider so difficult. Believing that you have a monopoly on the truth is pretty easy. Lots of people do it. Seeing the world in a narrow, black-and-white way is easy. Going to church is easy.

      Go and find a homeless man a buy him lunch and talk to him about his life and where he’s been and how he got to where he is. Touch him and look him in the eyes with respect and compassion, and learn his name, and sincerely wish him well when you part ways. That’s the “narrow gate.” Words about “believing” are meaningless, as are big shows of “piety” and ostentatious religiosity.

      I did not mean to attack you personally. I’m sure that you’re a thoughtful person, and you of course have the right to believe whatever you wish, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. But there is always harm done when we act on our own limited human instincts and try to call them “God’s will.”

      I wish you well.

      Nancy

      saradode

      April 23, 2010 at 11:21 am

      • “Words about “believing” are meaningless, as are big shows of “piety” and ostentatious religiosity.”

        Thank you for the reminder. Let our actions follow our thoughts, and may our thoughts follow our spirit/heart.

        sidewalkbends

        April 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

  13. Jesus says that He died to save me from my sin and from Hell and that if I will repent and believe the gospel, I will be saved. You say that none of this is true but only that I need to love the homeless, etc. Why should I believe what you say and reject what Jesus says?

    Russ

    April 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    • Russ,

      You shouldn’t do anything because of what I say. You should do what your heart tells you is right. But if Jesus “loved the homeless, etc.” (I’m sure that we can both agree that that is pretty clear in the Gospels), can you not consider that following his example and doing the kinds of things he did, rather than just mouthing empty phrases about “sin” and “hell”, should be at least a part of your devotion to him, and to God?

      Caring for the outcasts and ill and what were considered “sinners” of the time wasn’t just an entertaining sideline for Jesus while he sat around telling people to “believe” in him–he was trying to show us how to live. You talk about “believing” in him–what does that mean, if you speak only of his death, and make no effort to emulate his life? And do you think that he just tossed off the phrase, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” because he oouldn’t think of anything else to say at the moment?

      I DO believe in Jesus, and I try to honor him by living as he asked us all to live–not by worrying about my own personal “salvation” through his torture and death. God chose to show God’s self at that time as a poor man ministering to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the marginalized. That was no accident.

      What do words mean, if your actions are empty?

      Clearly you and I will not agree. I am happy, and I know that I am loved by God, and I do not fear death in the least. I hope that the same is true for you, but there really is no point in continuing this discussion.

      Take care,

      Nancy

      saradode

      April 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    • I don’t believe Jesus said to believe the gospel. Those were written long after his death, and many were written/interpreted long after even the apostle’s lives.

      sidewalkbends

      April 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      • LONG after (at least 30 years, and John probably 90 years or so). I believe he had other things on his mind. And then, of course, there’s the question of which gospel. There were many more than four!

        saradode

        April 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm

  14. If you don’t believe the gospel then why do you believe that Jesus taught us to love? Both the gospel and the commands to love were written by the same people at the same time. You only “believe” Jesus when you agree with Jesus which really means that you don’t believe in Him at all. You believe only in yourself.

    Russ

    April 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    • I worship (for lack of a better word) God, not Jesus the man, nor the many men before or after him. That being said, I believe God is in every one of us and so I don’t need to look to the Bible or any other text to find him. I find him in you as I find him in others.

      Peace Russ, Watcher and Nancy.

      sidewalkbends

      April 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm


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