Soooo ... God runs a democracy, and listens to those who vote/pray the most? Competitive prayer...?
I thought I might share this email conversation, between an anonymous friend and myself ... in case it would be helpful to anyone else... My friend will be in italics, and I shall be indented.
I always appreciate your thoughts and input, Dena. I always have to think and question deeper.
Others have said I "give them a headache"...! ;)
I'll add my thoughts to yours, below ... just for conversation. I want to honor your perspective ... and perhaps offer another perspective to consider ...
I don't see this as an us and them situation either. I don't see it as who get more to pray -- the word says the prayers of "a" righteous man avails much power. It only takes one. My concern is would our current administration allow Christians to come and pray as the Muslims have been allowed. He (Obama) has openly declared that we are not really a Christian nation and certainly his policies on gay marriage and abortion have not upheld Christian values.
I agree with Mr. Obama that we're not a Christian nation - certainly not in the way in which Christians of today think. The nation was founded by a combination of various types of Christians, and a lot of Deists ... who wanted to provide religious liberty for all ... which would include those with whom we may disagree.
I've personally had to do a bit of scrutinizing of my views of homosexuality, and abortion ... God has brought some rather amazing homosexual men into our lives ... people we admire and care about. These men are Christians ... I've had to re-dig into what the scriptures actually say, and what they mean, rather than to continue to allow other humans to tell me what they say, and what they mean. Things are not as they appear on the surface ... just as they're not as some declare regarding women, either. As for abortion ... I had to face that unless I was "pro" the life of every man, woman, and child, including those on death row for murder (& I had a grandfather assassinated in the 70's, right here in Oregon, on the capitol steps), I had to face that I was *not* really pro-life ... there's been much for me to unlearn and relearn in those areas ... I no longer see either one as a black and white issue ...
As far as seeing people in terms of "us" or "them" -- I think the very mentality that we're at "war" with other humans is part of the problem ... the war is over -- and it was only in the minds of man anyway...
I feel that is not as much that we are at war with other humans as they are at war with us and the American way as well as the Christian.
Yes, there are the extremist fundamentalist Muslims who have declared an active jihad against the US... against our "demonstration" of Christianity (they have no problem with Jesus Himself). But, the vast majority of Muslims are just like you and me ... people who want to live in freedom and peace with our neighbors. PLUS, there are Christian extremist fundamentalists who are just as dangerous ... and have always been throughout history (thinking of those who declared others as "heretics" and killed then; thinking of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch-hunts, slavery ... as well as the folks who carry "God hates Fags" signs to the military funerals of homosexual soldiers ...). Trust me, if we ever had a Theocracy in this nation, I'd be in the first wave of those killed -- and they'd be thinking they'd done God a favor...
It's fundamentalism -- of any and every religion, including Christianity -- that is causing the problem.
Sure, I'll pray, but prayer is never to get God to do something (as if we have to tell God how to be God) -- it's to get my mind aligned with His -- for I *have* (present tense) the Mind of Christ (no fear), and it's only my vain imagination that thinks there's even anything to be afraid of.
I don't agree that prayer is never to ask God for help (ie to get Him to do something) But I do agree fully and whole heartedly that the purpose of prayer is more about getting ourselves aligned with God. If one of your children were in danger would your first prayer be for God for your to get your mind aligned with His or HELP!..
Believe it or not, I'm desiring, and learning, for my first reaction to be to get my mind aligned with His ... so that I would have the Presence of the Mind of Christ to guide my responses. I would want to react with confidence and strength ... both of which evaporate when fear overwhelms.
The thing is -- most of what we fear to be as 'danger' never happens (though I notice that our fear can bring about the very thing we fear! we might want to wake up to that one!) ... and, since He has said that He IS our protection, I don't ask Him to be what He is. I thank Him for however He manifests His very nature. I no longer dictate to Him, how He should perform in any given situation. He is utter goodness, He is love, and HE can't but be that, towards me, towards everyone (the sun shines on the repentant [changed-thinker] and the unrepentant [old-way-thinker] alike).
Christianity as the organized church is not "The Way, The Truth, and The Life" Jesus is...........
I would take it further -- Christianity as the religion, period, is not the Way, Truth and Life. I no longer believe that Christianity was ever Jesus' idea ... it's an invention of man, designed to label, define, confine, control, and "franchise" the teachings of Jesus. And it's done horrendous harm ever since ... it's far more like the pharisees, than it was ever like Jesus. There are many, many folks who love and follow Jesus, who are not Christians ... I'm one of them. Christianity is my past, my heritage, but I've shed it like a skin that no longer fits ... it no longer defines me, though I certainly thought it once did. I had to let go of Christianity in order to better see, and become one with, Christ.
The word declares that IF Jesus is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him. Today I have asked that Jesus be lifted up and for the Muslims
He already was ... the lifting up was defining/prophesying the crucifixion. It's done, it's happening, despite appearances. Like Elisha, we need to have eyes to see from God's perspective.
(BTW, did you know that the Word pertains, not to the Bible - "in the beginning was the Word ... the Word became flesh" there were no scriptures in the beginning ... the Word is the very presence and essence of God ... That which fills the universe - Omnipresence - and each person with Life ... it is that which speaks to us through the Spirit within us ... it is that word, and not the Bible, which divides even soul (egoic thinking) and spirit (the Mind of Christ), showing us where our thoughts originate ...)
to see the Glory of God and the price that Jesus has paid even for them.
Ah, I've come to see the Atonement differently ... more of a revelation of what had always been, from God's perspective, than of anything being achieved...
Do you believe that Jesus is the one that saves and that ALL men must come to that conclusion or do you believe that there are other ways to find salvation?
I don't believe that it depends upon us, particularly since we "know not what we do" ... for I see that no man comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws them ... and Jesus says that He is drawing all men to Himself.
But I believe now that this is about awareness, and not us "making the right decision" (which is just another good work we would do). I no longer believe that we were ever separated from God, nor enemies of His ... as Paul says, we were enemies of God *in our own minds* ... I believe that God has never had a problem with us ... but our fear and shame and dark thinking caused us to *believe* that we were separated from God, and that it was up to us to fix that problem ... thus all the sacrifices (even as God said, "I never wanted sacrifice -- I wanted mercy" -- and Jesus repeats that). So, God came to show the ultimate sacrifice -- to bring an end to all attempts to earn God's approval (which we had never lost).
The problem is that we've projected our dark thinking onto God, and imagined His nature to be all manner of awful. God created us in His won image, and then we returned the favor. He kept telling us that He didn't want to be our master, but our husband ... that He never wanted sacrifice ... that mercy triumphs over judgment ... that apparent destruction was always restored ...
Are you aware that our literal thinking, so prevalent in Christianity today, was unheard of until the 17th century? Prior to that, the scriptures were believed metaphorically ... which is how I now believe them, seeing as how that's how they were intended. We've come up with some horrendous stuff in reading them literally...! I see that God wants His reputation back ... and wants truth to flood our minds ... so that we are no longer enslaved to what our minds think.
As far as being saved ... I see that we never needed to be saved from anything, other than our own lie-based thinking (as a man thinks in his heart, so is he). How does anyone manage to be separated from Omnipresence ...? ("If I go to Sheol, the place of the dead, You are there...")
The statements in the NT, about salvation, are specifically about being saved from the destruction that came upon Israel at the end of the new covenant age (the end of the age, never was the "world"). It was never about life after death ... Jesus never spoke of "hell" ... that's a bad translation ... He spoke of Gehenna -- the literal garbage dump south of Jerusalem, where "unclean" dead bodies were dumped ... Jesus warned that they would end up there, unless they repented (changed their minds). He said that this would happen while some of them were still alive, within that generation ... and it did ... it happened just like He said, in 70AD, when the armies surrounded the city of Jerusalem (He had warned them to run from the city, to pray that it would not be the Sabbath when they were forbidden to run, and to go to the hills outside of Judea -- which they did).
Rome kept Jerusalem in siege for 42 months (or 3.5 years -- sound familiar?) ... 10,000 Jews were crucified around the city wall -- never before or since has such horrendous things been done ... women forced to cook and eat their own children, men/women/children raped, run through with a sword, tortured and starved ... and then the city was burned ... and eye-witnesses (Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius) all said that there were uncanny signs ... including seeing "soldiers" and "chariots" running on the clouds over the city, and a booming voice declaring that the time had come (this is all documented historically).
THAT was what they were warned about, so that they could be saved from that destruction ... those were the last days, the last hours, that the NT writers wrote of ... that was what John wrote, in code, in the book of Revelation, when Nero (who was known then as "the beast" for his utter cruelty) was on the rampage ... to encourage them that their salvation (from their suffering) was *soon* to come (the author of Hebrews told them that Jesus would return a second time, bringing salvation) (& how cruel to them, suffering then, if the salvation hasn't yet come, nearly 2,000 years later...!).
We've taken it all literally, and misunderstood, and have told a story that is not true, not even *sane* ... trying to frighten people into a relationship with God, as IF fear is the basis for a relationship...! We have not yet learned that love is the most powerful force in all the universe ... but we will. For we come from God, live through God, and return to God ... everyone. It's irresistible. It's inevitable. That is the good news for ALL mankind ... not the good news for a select few, and terrible news for the vast majority...
Anyway -- don't know if any of this makes sense ... if I'd heard it just five years ago, I'd have run, screaming about blasphemy ... and yet, I notice that all truths have first appeared to us as "blasphemy". After all, that's why the religious folks killed Jesus ...
Keep following the Spirit's promptings ... remember, Jesus said He had "much more" to show His followers, but they could not bear it. What it is that we cannot bear today? What traditions of man do we cling to, not realizing that it's nullifying the word of God (the Spirit's leadings within us)...? How are we squelching and grieving the Spirit by not listening to what He's wanting to show us?
Could it be that man has warped and tainted the truth...? Gee, it has, countless times in the past...? What will history reveal about what we believe today...? If what you have been taught is not truth -- would you want to know...?