Jesus loves you! This is a true, simple and potentially life-changing statement. Once we accept what that three-word sentence actually means, it can become a steering mechanism for everyday of our lives, pointing us to righteousness, godliness and self-sacrifice. Jesus loves you. Pointed and refreshing, but what does it really mean? Does Jesus’ love for us guide us in our everyday experiences? Yes! Does his love for us mean that he wants the best for us? Of course! Okay, so if he wants the best for us does that refer to comfort and abundance in our lives? Does Jesus’ love for us bring us to better living conditions, more financial stability, a much better present and a brighter future? The answers to these questions will vary wildly depending on whose brand of Christianity you look at and this just confuses the matter. Instead of asking different Christians about the role of comfort and abundance in a Christian’s life, let’s find the answer from Jesus’ own teachings and the Apostle’s own words.
As Christians, we pin all of our hopes on the belief that Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. This is the bottom line core reason for our coming to Christ for it speaks of him doing something for us out of pure love that we in no way could do for ourselves. To us the sacrifice of Jesus represents the ultimate gift. Those outside of Christianity often look at this belief with disdain and even sarcasm for to them it is foolishness and evidence of a blood thirsty god. One question that is probably not talked about much is about the breadth of Jesus’ sacrifice – who did it cover and how do we know? In the present conditions of our world, the Muslim faith is often thought about and referenced. What do Muslims think of Jesus? While they do believe in him, they don’t see him as a redeemer. Does this mean that they are not covered by his sacrifice?
When do we stand as an immovable force and when do we bend and acquiesce to include the preferences of others? Fortunately for us, these very issues existed in biblical times so we actually do have a pretty clear set of guidelines to follow. Is compromise good? Yes! Is compromise bad? Yes!
What would you think of a powerful leader who sanctions rape, pillaging, the destruction of thousands of lives for the wrong doings of one, racism and genocide? No matter who we are, if we have a conscience in any way tuned to the sanctity of human life, we would have to label them a monster – a maniacal psychopathic egotist. Sadly, there are many who read certain parts of the Bible and handily conclude that the God of the Bible – the Creator of all things - is such a being. They call Him out for the horrible and harsh things written in the Old Testament and boldly claim that a God who presides over those things is no god at all – He is instead a monster. Now look – there are terrible things written in the Old Testament, but do they point to a heartless dictator or is there another explanation?
How would you like access to power? This power can change your life, give you things, protect you and even heal diseases! This power is from a source that is unlimited, a source that is generous and a source that truly has your best interest in mind. Sound intriguing? For many Christians, this power is the Holy Spirit and these enticing claims come across as very real. But are they real? Is this what the Holy Spirit is really about or does the truth of the matter look entirely different? Who “gets” the Holy Spirit? When you get it, what does that mean? What does it change? Can we, should we be trying to have the Holy Spirit working in our lives?
A goose that lays golden eggs. King Midas and the ability to turn things to gold through “the Midas Touch.” A winning Powerball Lottery ticket. Confessing Jesus as your Savior and inheriting an irrevocable one-way ticket to heaven. What do all of these things have in common? First of all, they all sound really good at the outset as they all provide a way to find some kind of wealth without work. It sounds like fun, though if you know the stories of the goose and King Midas, things didn’t work out so well. Secondly, they are all not based in reality, even Powerball. With odds of winning placed at over one in 175,000,000, this translates to “not gonna happen, so don’t hold your breath.” Wait a minute; did I just imply that a one-way ticket to heaven is not based in reality? Yes and no! Let’s look!
We all do wrong. We all hurt other people. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is the result of oversight, ignorance or immaturity, or careless words and actions or sloppy and selfish thinking. We hurt someone, but we don’t really mean it. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is a result of anger or vengeance or jealousy and we absolutely mean to create havoc and turmoil. Either way we do hurt others and we therefore do need forgiveness. So how do we receive forgiveness from others and especially from God? What do we have to do or say or think for forgiveness to take hold? How can we truly know that we are forgiven? Is forgiveness really worth the effort?