A couple of weeks ago Greg preached on the fact that if you’re going to love people, you have to lose labels. In the time since then, that message has stuck with him and he felt the pull to continue to preach in that direction. The brain needs repetition to really get something, and this is so foundational to the kingdom that it is worth preaching again. It can make such a massive difference in how you view yourself and others. And the world is so opposite of this, that without repetition we become complacent, so we need to hear this again and again.
If you want to love people the way God loves, you have to lose labels.
We start by reading Matthew 21:7-11.
They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
For the people, this was all about deliverance. They were longing for the messiah, who they had imagined would free them from the cruel, heavy rule of the Romans. They acknowledged that Jesus seemed to have supernatural powers, and he spoke with a kind of authority that people had not seen before. These things convinced people that he might really be the messiah they had been waiting for. So when he rode into town on a donkey like the prophecy, the people cried out “Hosannah!” It means “Deliver us.” But it’s like a prayer of gratitude ahead of time. He is coming to deliver us. They wanted Israel to be restored to where it was under king David. So they put branches on the ground – this was a sign of anticipated victory.
But Jesus also had some quirks that did not fit the bill — for one, he kept preaching to love your enemies. Praised faith of a non-religious centurion pagan, and he hung out with sinners. None if this was what messiah supposed to do. The messiah is supposed to trample our enemies, be super-religious and only hobnob with the holiest of the holy. And, more than anything, the messiah was NOT supposed to get arrested.
So, a week later, this same crowd is saying something very different. Pilot asked the crowds who to release, and they chose the other, saying about Jesus “Crucify him!” Mark 15:12-13.
Why? What changed is that he got arrested and that is not what a messiah is supposed to do. They had poured all their hopes into him, and they felt beyond let down, they felt betrayed. If he’s not going to use his power to help himself then he certainly won’t use it to help them, so what kind of messiah is he? Just kill him.
Jesus was not the kind of Messiah anyone was looking for. The religion of the time (and arguably what we continue to do today) was to Make God in our own image to do our bidding. We believe that our god is more powerful than other gods, and will protect us, give us some of his power, so that we can crush our enemies. People think fighting for God and country is a uniquely American thing, but is the oldest motivation in the book!
This is why in Psalm 50:21 the writer quotes God as saying, “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.”
We assume God is just like us. Our self-righteous brain so loves to be right, we assume God agrees with us and is just like us. It’s the same old Us Vs. Them polarity that the world revolves around. We do this as part of establishing our identity — because as they say, in every “you are” there is an “I am.” We use slogans and banners and flags to rally people together around a common cause which is almost always against a common enemy. In fact sociologists say it’s part of the very definition of a group — there can’t be a group with out having another group to be against.
Well Jesus is here to prove them wrong! There is no Them, there is just US.
This is why Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 —
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
What he is talking about is removing labels of Us vs. Them and Better vs. Worse. From now on, we shall regard no one from a human point of view, where we let our five senses or social strata or physical form define reality. From now on we look at everyone in a new way, because everything has passed away everything IS new! The cross has changed everything for everybody.
The kingdom is an “us” without a “them”!
And from God’s perspective, everybody is in. (Romans 5:18) Our call is to see everything and everyone from the lens of the cross. To die to our fallen mind always judging and comparing and contrasting and measuring — these behaviors are antithetical to the kingdom. When you learn how to catch your mind doing it, and reverse course, this is where we begin to change. We start to see people as worth dying for, as insiders.
For the second part of his sermon, Greg invited up Dan Cashman from the TAP, which stands for Tapping All Possibilities. It’s a ministry where people of ALL different abilities come together to hang out, play games, dance, sing karaoke, and just generally have a good time. This group demonstrates what it means to get rid of labels, and the profound effect this has for people.
The #1 problem of people with disabilities is a lack of social inclusion. This can be deadly, people suffer from suicide, depression, addiction and worse. But being freed from these labels and being accepted can be the most healing experience for people.
You don’t even realize how many judgements and labels you have for yourself and others until you go to one of these parties and are free from them. This is why Jesus said when you have a party don’t just invite your friends, invite people you don’t know.
Removing these labels saves lives. Dan shared a couple of stories from people that attend the TAP — Like Paul. He was an alcoholic, and had anxiety, depression, and debilitating agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) to the point that Paul spent most of his time living in a closet. The first time he came to TAP he only stayed 10 minutes. The next time he stayed longer, and eventually he opened up more and more, and now he plays Santa every Christmas and leads the Better Together recovery group at the Refuge on Thursdays.
Another example Greg gave was his own son, who has the label of “high functioning autism” and with this, he suffers from terrible social anxiety. He went to TAP a couple times and before long he got up there singing karaoke! This was nothing short of a miracle.
At TAP we get to see the beauty of a person without fear, expressing who they are freely. Jesus describes the kingdom as a party, where everyone is welcome and everyone is free — and it must look something kind of like this.
If you want to join in the kingdom-looking party with TAP, you can join us at Woodland Hills on Monday nights 6-9PM, attend one of the monthly “Friday night dance parties” or go to http://yourtap.org.
If you want to love like God loves, the first thing you have to do is remove labels. There is no “normal” or “special” or “us” or “them” — there is simply a FREE person who is loved! God’s love does not pick and choose, it comes in the way the sun shines or like the rain falls, like a blanket on ALL.
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7 thoughts on “Wonderfully Unorthodox”
So, in a Woodland Hills group that discussed this sermon, the facilitator said that EVERYONE is in Christ, but some just don’t know it. It was also said that God is not offended by sin. I heard that evangelicals are wrong for wanting to influence people to accept Christ. I heard that we don’t need to receive Christ to be saved. I heard that there is no us and them. I heard that evangelicals are just trying to get people to agree with them. I heard that homosexuals do not need to repent of sin in order to be saved.
The judgment and hate I heard for evangelicals in this group was alarming. Absolutely contrary to what Woodland Hills is supposed to be about. The statements that were just flat out contrary to Scripture were astounding. Everyone is NOT in Christ…only those who have His Spirit living within them, through their repentance from sin and faith in Him and the sacrifice He made for them. Being in Christ is a possibility for everyone because of Christ’s sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean everyone is already in Christ. Scripture says IF someone is in Christ, they are a new creation.
God is deeply offended by sin. It grieves Him. But, He still loves the sinner. Evangelicals have an urgency to reach the lost that probably should put many of us to shame. How many people have come to Christ because of OUR testimony?They want people to know that Christ died for them and that they can be saved from their sin. This is not trying to get people to agree with THEM, it’s trying to get people to agree with CHRIST.
People DO need to receive Christ. John says, “as many as RECEIVED Him, to them he gave the power to become children of God”.
Paul has a long list of sins we need to repent of, and “men having sex with men” is one of them. If that is one of the sins with which you struggle, then you need to repent of it, which means to change your mind about the way you view it so it is in line with the way God views it. It may be awhile before you can live in victory over it, but you must start by agreeing with God that it’s a sin and have a desire to leave that lifestyle. This is true for all other sins of which we repent as well.
And finally, there IS an us and them. It’s not us VERSUS them, but there is a clear distinction in Scripture between those who have faith in Christ and those who don’t…those who have the Spirit of Christ and those who don’t….those who are of Christ and those who are of the world. those who are adopted into God’s family, and those who aren’t. They are not our enemies, though. They are our mission field.
Repentance from sin is something we rarely hear from the pulpit at Woodland Hills, but Jesus preached it, why can’t we? I spoke with someone this week who has been attending Woodland Hills for years. She knew God loved her and Jesus died for her, but she had no clue that she needed to make a conscious decision to turn from sin and turn to Him to accept His gift of salvation and eternal life. I find it alarming that someone can sit under the preaching of Woodland Hills for years and years, and still not know this. God did His part by loving us and dying for us and making the gift of salvation available to us, but we MUST DO OUR PART by repenting of sin and accepting His gift.
Mike I hear you brother. I feel your pain. Let me share some thoughts about what a think Greg and others are trying to communicate.
From Greg’s sermon:
Using one part in 10*(37), the cosmic constant ratio of electrons to protons, the following analogy might help visualize fine tuning:
Cover the entire North American continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 miles.
In comparison, the money to pay for the U.S. Federal debt would cover one square mile less than two feet deep with dimes.
Next, pile dimes from here to the moon on a billion other continents the same size as North America.
Paint one dime red and mix it into the billions of piles of dimes.
Blindfold a person and ask them to pick out that painted dime.
The odds that they will pick the red dime is one in 10*(37) that’s a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth X 10 of one percent .
10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 3×12 36 zeros + 1
Let me add:
Lawrence M. Krauss, chapter 4 page 43, from the book The Creator and the Cosmos: Theologically, the space energy density demonstrates that for physical life to be possible at any time or place in the history of the universe the value of the mass density of the universe must be fine-tuned to within one part in
1060, and the value of the cosmological constant must be fine-tuned to within one part in 10*(120). To put this in perspective, the best example of human engineering design that I am aware of is a gravity wave telescope capable of making measurements to within one part in 10*(23).
So if we do the math is implies that the Creator at a minimum is ten trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times more intelligent, knowledgeable, creative and powerful than all of us put together. Where does that leave us and where did that put people 2000 years ago? We’re just God silly little kids, for the most part dumb as a brick, that he loves very deeply, all of us, and is just meeting us where we are at, kook-a-boo thinking and all, and patiently helping us move forward.
From Greg’s sermon:
To know how to engage lovingly, as Jesus followers, we need to understand how the brain works in moments of conflict. Evolution has affected the brain in that hundreds of thousands of years ago, the brain had one function to protect the person/rider. Our brains and societies have evolved, so we need to evolve with them, meaning we cannot rely on the rush of adrenaline and chemicals that come into our brain to physically protect us, though we’re in less danger than cave people, whenever we’re in conflict our brain, unattended, still thinks we’re in the same caveman peril.
The heart emotions are like an elephant with a pre-conscious instinctive ID having evolved for hundreds of thousands of years. The most fundamental job of the reptilian/mammalian brain was to protect the person, with that two layer brain, so you’d look for a threat or advantages in your environment that will create fight, flight or accept. That brain helps the elephant get what it
wants/needs to survive.
Let me add:
Automatic processes have been through thousands of product cycles and are nearly perfect. You can have bits and pieces of thought through images, but to plan something complex, to weigh the pros and cons of different paths, or to analyze the causes of past successes and failures, you need words.
Controlled processing requires new software, Rider version 1.0, language. The language parts are working ok, (well relatively Krauss above), but there are still a lot of bugs in the reasoning and planning programs. Are they fixable?
Your heart rate and breathing are regulated by an autonomic nervous system composed of two subsystems that push your organs in opposite directions. The sympathetic system prepares your body for fight or flight and the parasympathetic system calms you down. Both are active all the time but in
different ratios. Your behavior is governed by, two opposing motivational systems, an approach system which triggers positive emotions and makes you want to move toward certain things and a withdrawal system which triggers negative emotions and makes you want to pull back or avoid other things. The
withdrawal system can quickly shoot up to full power overtaking the slower weaker approach system.
The withdrawal system is so much quicker because all neural impulses from the eyes and ears go first to the thalamus a kind of central switching station in the brain. From the thalamus neural impulses are sent out to special sensory processing areas in the cortex and from those areas information is relayed to the frontal lobe where it is integrated with other higher mental processes and your ongoing stream of consciousness. If at the end of this process you become aware of, example: a hissing snake, you could decide to run away and then order your legs to start moving. But because neural impulses move only at about thirty meters per second, a fairly long path including decision time, this could easily take a second or two.
A neural quick path, a tenth of a second, would be advantageous in this situation and the amygdala is that shortcut. The amygdale, just under the thalamus, dips into the river of unprocessed information flowing through the thalamus and it responds to patterns that in the past were associated with danger. The amygdale has a direct connection to the part of the brain stem that activates the fight or flight response and if the amygdala finds a pattern that was part of a previous fear episode, such as the sound of a hiss, it orders the body to red alert. Not only does it reach down to the brainstem to trigger a
response to danger but it reaches up to the frontal cortex to change your thinking. It shifts the entire brain over to a withdrawal orientation. The elephant reacts before the rider even sees the snake. The problem is it doesn’t know the difference between a snake and a poorly performing 401k. The snake you can run from and the problem ends. The 401k may plague never perform well and the elephant, left unattended, will just endlessly perseverate. The driver needs to hold the elephant captive but how?
The point is it appears that left to ourselves we can’t control the elephant. I believed Paul arrived at this.
Romans 7:15-24 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Is your elephant and rider on the same page? Take a test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
From an evolutionary standpoint we have a build in reciprocity, an ethological reflex, that wants to repay, tit for tat, a favor. The do to others what they do unto you, along the way, got connected to moral emotions ending in favor for favor, insult for insult, tooth for tooth and eye for eye. Jesus came to simply the whole process with just one moral law with one emotion. John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
What’s this look like? Romans 12:20 On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. The coals are messing with the elephant in a good way.
And I’ll end with Greg:
It’s an intentional practice every single day to choose Christ-likeness over self-righteousness/self-justification.
Let me add:
From Process theology , confirmed by the Nobel Prize for discovery of the Higgs Boson, God takes ALL the say-so’s of a plethora of spirits, principalities and powers, that includes us, and creates ex nihilo out of nothing the unseen, from atoms, the next now moment using the history of say-so’s, (our subconscious mind and emotions using current sensory input plus past perceptions of reality, a library in our hippocampus referencing all the stored scripts via the interconnections of our neurons, to accumulate and combine millions of partial truths and volumes of incomplete data sometimes aided by voices from the dark kingdom and, for Jesus followers, promptings from the Holy Spirit so as to manage to put together a somewhat cohesive pattern of reality), and then whispers, if we are listening, our best choices forward not about the details, he loves creativity, but the overall nature, embracing Gods’ modus operandi as others orientated, the center of his will as not being self indulgent.
So Mike I think what they mean by in Christ is that Jesus delivers ALL our possible choices, every now moment, and then whispers/knocks at the door of everyone’s heart.
God is so present and apparent but yet we miss him if only he could just do a miracle to fix something broken in our lives we’d know he’s real.
What if he could just create a rock and fine tune it so it could support life, everybody could live on it and stand in stark contrast to all the other floating rocks in the universe. Well he did that.
Well how about dual 576 megapixel cameras connected to a 3000 gigahertz computer with enough neurons memory indexes, (100 million neurons each with 10,000 connections), to exceed the requirements, (1086 elementary particles in the universe), for the passing of knowledge between an eternity of atom, (10 billion photons of intelligent energy to 1 quark material ratio), generations. Well he did that too.
Consider 50,000 cells will die and regenerate before you finish reading this sentence with no conscious effort on your part. Our subconscious brain is way smarter than our minds doing stuff all the time to which we have no clue. When something goes wrong we pray for a miraculous healing but thanks to that 3000 gigahertz computer and the spies, your cells, God created, (100 trillion of them living organisms each 1 a million times more intelligent than a quantum computer), capable of healing deceases all by themselves all you need to do is, live by faith, not worry about it the original plan from the beginning. But yet we worry, we fear and the sad thing is, in so doing, our every now moment God given Imago Dei mind say so confuses the hell outta those little guys and everything else in the universe and that’s the HELL of it.
A little more about the now moments. (warning nerd alert)
There are an infinite number of probabilities you can choose from, good and bad, which in quantum theory, Erwin Schrödinger’s probability wave, is just a prediction so there is always a degree of resulting uncertainty however, even though we don’t know the details, we do know God’s plans for us are good and that he wants to give us a hope and a future Jer. 29:11.
So as we choose, in quantum terms we collapse a probability wave, in neuroscience terms our choice generates a signal that causes genetic expression. The wave function of all the probable possibilities does not objectively describe the world rather it subjectively describes a persons’ unique choices so each of us has our own wave function, our own reality and our own set of probabilities or beliefs, attitudes and choices from the possibilities He provides. God has a specific plan for our lives and we participate in that plan as individuals with the ability to freely choose.
Prior to the collapse of the wave, which is our choice, the wave function incorporates a number of probabilities. These probabilities are not actual waves but rather waves of probability in a conceptual space, termed Hilbert space, so the collapse of the wave is the updated knowledge of the observer, you, as you go through the process of thinking, feeling and choosing from the range of probabilities.
As you are thinking and feeling you are in superposition. On an atomic level this means two particles are in a 1 and 0 at the same time, a quibit, and are being held together by quantum entanglement before they collapse into either a 1 or 0 as the result of a choice. This means the brain, as a quantum computer, can calculate different computations simultaneously while the process of decision making is taking place. This mind action has a physical reaction on multiple levels from the waves of energy to the atomic level and right up to the level of our choosing to believe one reality over another. Information choosing a holiday destination, a medical diagnosis, a situation at work, an opportunity, anything enters your brain through your five senses and activates electrochemical and quantum actions in your neurons.
Inside the neurons are microtubules around ten million per neuron. Equate these neuron connection relations to elementary particles in the expanding database universe. These microtubules are made up of proteins called tubulin, which in turn are made up of amino acids called tryptophan, which on a molecular level are made up of six carbon atoms in the form of a ring which is called an aromatic ring. Quantum action is taking place at the level of the vibrating electrons oscillating from side to side in this ring. These electrons because of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle you on a mind level not having made your decision, not having a fixed position yet, don’t know if it’ll be Hawaii or Paris. The electrons spread out like a literal wave of probabilities, options/possibilities/tendencies, and the aromatic rings cross over and share electron clouds, going into super positions of 1 and 0 the quantum bit or quibit, so you are essentially thinking Hawaii and Paris at the same time. There is not just one pathway but several, topological quibits, and because there are a lot of them working together it is called coherence.
The more we listen to the Holy Spirit the more coherence we will have the more we will have access to his infinite wisdom which will positively change our coherence and enable us to make a positive choice. As we choose we select a probability from Hilbert space and collapse the wave which means we have turned a probability into an actuality or a reality. We have turned a nothing into a something. This collapse of the wave function is also called decoherence in quantum theory. We start building this reality into a physical effect in our brains through genetic expression updating our nonconscious mind with new information with increased levels of expertise and wisdom if we choose correctly or if a incorrect choice the knowledge is toxic.
The Quantum Zeno Effect, which is a type of decoherence, describes how when we repeatedly pay attention to something and think, feel and make choices collapse a wave function creating a long-term memory. The repeated effort that allows learning to take place that will become part of our belief systems and influences our choices in the future. Information becomes implanted and if the information is within Gods’ will, it will save your mind James 1:21 but operating outside, repeated and therefore learned memories (QZE) that are incorrect, disrupts the reward/thinking/learning circuit in the brain.
People who listen to Gods’ whisper are the good soil in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1–23. They persist and push through even when they no longer feel like it. They hold on to God’s Word even when life is no longer carefree and happy, or when that great church conference is over and they are back in the throes of everyday life. Yet the parable also includes people who ruminate endlessly on the worries and illusions of life: instead of building healthy thoughts from repeated effort, they build negative mindsets and worldviews that influence their choices on a daily basis.
This is called the plastic paradox and highlights the fact that our brains simply follow the direction of where our minds take us positive or negative. We can choose, our uniqueness pervades these choices, since we act from what we have built in our minds. Our choices literally describe us since they reflect our attitudes and deeply rooted belief systems. Finding the neural substrates of free will have long intrigued philosophers and scientists and the power and reality of choosing being reflected in the brain, the brain being the substrate through which the mind works, has recently been confirmed by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Science is catching up with the Word of God!
Quantum mechanics, with its emphasis on the entangled nature of consciousness and the physical world is about us in the world, others oriented, not the world or us. In one study people who served others who were going through something experienced a 68 percent increase in healing compared to those who only got treatment for themselves. The research showed that helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by changing toxic stress to healthy stress. Many studies indicate that helping behavior can buffer the effects of stress on mental and physical health specifically when people reach out in love with a positive attitude to other people. Furthermore studies show that isolation has a negative impact on mental and physical health.
We are made to interact with each other and help each other even when we are going through hard times. The principle of entanglement shows it’s not all about ourselves but rather how we can get to know God better and serve others. We see this principle clearly laid out in Scripture in Ephesians 4:16: He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
It is through Christian fellowship that we come to know God better. We are the stewards of the world, and all of creation cries out for us to reflect God’s glory Rom. 8:19–21. We cannot escape the intertwined nature of our world. Entanglement is in fact a primary law of quantum physics. God created us to have relationship with him, each other and the earth we are required to steward. Quantum physics helps us understand just how entangled our world is. If a photon comes into existence a billion light-years from here it affects you even if you do not notice it affecting you. John Bell, famous for Bell’s Theorem, observed that there is an inseparable quantum connectedness of every part with every other in our universe. No matter how far apart in distance and time all particles in a relationship, existing beyond space and time, affect each other. Entanglement demonstrates the profound impact our thinking, feeling and choosing has not just on ourselves, spirit, mind and body but also on each other and the world around us.
Forgiveness is a primary example of entanglement in action. By not forgiving, we are staying entangled in someone’s life. Everything they say or do is as real as though they were still in our lives hurting us.
By forgiving we disentangle ourselves from the toxic situation we have experienced, protect our spirits and re-create a healthy entanglement where we are no longer affected by that person’s bad choices.
We cannot control the events and circumstances of life since everyone is free to make their own choices even if they negatively impact us. We can however control our reactions to the events and circumstances of life through the choices we make. When we understand how we react, when we understand how we think, feel and choose we realize we can choose to control those reactions and ensure they are true to our wired-for-love image-bearing design. In turn we shape our world bearing witness to the love of God, we truly begin to reflect, like a light on a hill his magnificent image!
If you like nerdy stuff check this out. I’m been working on this for eight years.
Mike, I’m sorry you had a rough time at the group you attended last week. I obviously can’t know if there were some ideas shared there that don’t line up with the theology of WH, or if maybe you misunderstood some things that were said. Either way, it would be good to follow up and clarify both your concerns, and our church’s beliefs. However, doing so in person will likely be more productive than trading messages here. I believe someone from our staff staff has reached out to you to set something up. I’m optimistic that a face-to-face conversation will help provide some clarity.
I believe God is deeply offended by our current obsessions with “Sin” and purity. I cannot help but think future Christians will label the first two thousand years of Christianity – “Early Christianity”. They will, I believe, draw out more and more of the massive implications of the kind of Christ Woodland Hills Church is starting to embrace. They will start to discard the notion of Christian salvation as a private evacuation plan that gets a select group of humans into the next world. How can anyone read John 17 and think that either Christ or Jesus is about anything other than unity and union? “Father, may they all be one”, Christ says in verse 21, repeating this same desire and intention in many ways in the full prayer. I suspect God gets what God prayers for! Did God just abandon the Mayans and Babylonians and native peoples on all continents? Were those children “not acceptable” or not “worthy of His love? No. God was not waiting for His Christian “A” Team to come along before He began speaking with his human creation. The “Early Christianity” period, as understood by future generations, will look like their Christian ancestors – us right here and right now – for some unknown reason made God really small. The fact is our God is a big God! And He loves, like any parent, all His children from Mayan’s of centuries past to the present day Evangelical. Our small scarcity world view is the real aberration here. The God we have been presenting people with is just too small and too stingy for a big heart to trust or love back. A potion of my comments are excerpts from Fr. Richard Rohr’s new book “The Universal Christ”.
What you’re referring to is the great “falling away” that will happen, where sin is no longer an issue, and people look for preachers who will “tickle their ears”. If that seems like a good thing to you, maybe get with God on that, and see what He has to say.
Sin is the only thing that keeps a person from relationship with God, and it’s what caused Jesus to have to die on the cross, so it is definitely a big issue with Him. Jesus preached repentance from sin Does that mean He was obsessing over it? I’m not even sure what you mean by that. We confess (admit) it, repent of it, and move on, with our eyes on Christ, dying to sin each and every day (not obsessing over it), so it doesn’t rule our heart. To try to ignore it completely (which is Woodland Hills preferred method, it seems) is to never grow as a Christian, into the image of Christ (the purity you loathe). Sin is the only thing that keeps us from doing that. We pray David’s prayer, “Lord, search my heart, and let me know if there is any wicked way in me.” Then, when He shows us an area where we are sinning, we work with His spirit in a cooperative effort to live into the victory He has given us over that sin and when others see the change, they will know He is real.
Jesus prayed that all BELIEVERS would be one, in John 17:20…..not that the whole WORLD *(believers and nonbelievers) would be one. He knows this will not happen (see Revelation). Furthermore, this is where He talked about all BELIEVERS being in Him (in Christ), not the whole world being in Him.
Of course God loves all His creation, is working in hearts everywhere, and those who seek Him will find Him. He is not willing that ANY should perish. However, those who turn their back on Him WILL perish in their SIN. Do we pat them on the back as they perish, and say “Don’t worry, God loves you”, or do we let them know that, not only does He love them, and died for them, but He offers them salvation IF THEY REPENT AND BELIEVE!! I think not. Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many are on that road. Narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Does this statement make God “small”?
Hi guys, here are a couple sermons that could offer some clarity on Woodland’s perspective on these topics:
Be Thou My Vision – from God’s perspective, are all people in Christ?
Going to Hell (in a nutshell) – a good overview of how we think about hell (the end game for those who choose not to repent), relativism, and Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.
Hope they’re helpful,
Ummmmm, yeahhhh. That cleared it all up. LOL!