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The Moral Argument for God’s Existence.

  An atheist might say you can be good without believing in God. However the question isn’t can you be good without believing in God but can you be good without God? Here’s the problem if there’s no God. What basis remains for objective good or bad, right or wrong? If God does not exist objective moral values do not exist. Here’s why. Without some objective reference point we    really have no way of saying something is up or down. Gods nature however provides an objective reference point for moral values. It’s the standard which all action and thoughts are measured. However, if there is no God then there is no objective reference point. All we are left with is one persons view point as opposed to some other persons view point. This makes morality subjective not objective.  It’s like a preference for vanilla ice cream. The preference is in the subject not the object. Therefore it doesn’t apply to other people. In the same way subjective morality applies only to the subject. It’s not va

Does My Desire to Belong Outweigh Jesus' Call to Follow Him?

 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” - Luke 14:25-27

 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;” - Matthew 10:37

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” - John 12:25

There are times in people’s lives where they are confronted with a truth of who they are and this truth demands a change. The particular truth for me was the fact that, in general, people are social creatures. We desire to belong. We desire to be loved. We desire not to be alone. We desire the security that comes from numbers. Because of this desire to belong, we will seek out someone or a group of someone’s if we are not getting this desire met where we are at. This desire is so strong in us that once we see this desire being met with a person or group of people we will conform to the codes or values they have, even if it means going against our own personal convictions. Even if we are confronted with certain facts about that person or people, that by continuing with them or the individual we would bring unrest to our very soul or even bring a high probability of harm to yourself. So strong is this desire.

We see an example of this in the Gospel of John were Jesus heals a man that was blind from birth. The Jewish community was a religious community. Its codes, values and traditions were overseen by the religious leaders of the day. When these leaders declared they didn’t like someone, as members of that community, you were expected to adhere to their determinations or you would have to find another community. Now in regards to this story, in the gospel of John, the people involved had to make a decision that would require them to confront this strong desire to belong.

The religious leaders have already marked Jesus as a subversive. If anyone openly accepted him they too would be considered a subversive, therefore, they would no longer be allowed to be a part of the community, whether friends, family or business associated were not to have anything to do with them. The decision that would be made would affect every aspect of their life physically, emotionally and psychologically. We read this in John 9:22 “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.”

The parents of the man born blind sided with the religious leaders however, the son of the parents chose to go against this strong desire to belong and suffer the consequences. He was already marginalized, disenfranchised and overlooked. He didn’t know Jesus at the time. He only knew what happened to him. He didn’t know if he would ever meet this person that healed him. This could also be said of the parents. They knew their son was blind. They didn’t know Jesus. They only knew what Jesus did for their son and indirectly for them. But the desire to belong was more important to them then to acknowledge Jesus. So they chose this desire to belong over Jesus. Where this son chose the person that healed him over the desire to belong. Because of his condition his desire to belong to that particular community probably wasn’t that strong. Especially after the way the religious leaders just treated him.

This is what Jesus was speaking to when he made statements like: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life… Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

To be a follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus must trump a person’s desire to belong. I was confronted with the power of this truth not too long ago in my life. The circumstances of life led me to separate from the community I belong too in order to fulfill a goal. This goal was to get a Master in Theological Studies. I had been actively involved in ministry for the past 15 years from laity to pastoral in nature.  I had one year left to finish so I went on sabbatical for that year in order to concentrate and finish well. I was an ordained minister within the Wesleyan denomination and an associate pastor at a local church. I was primarily involved with Men’s Ministry.  This was a 12 plus year process of getting ordained and completing my masters. It was during this year, as I was spending time in prayer and fasting, an assessing what was taking place in my inner most being. I believe it was the Holy Spirit taking my experiences over the years, the personal state of my soul and His word as revealed in the New Testament and challenging me to whether I was truly following Him. All this against the backdrop of this particular truth - my desire to belong. I came to find out that my desire to belong was trumping a life completely surrendered to following Jesus.

What was revealing in my life is that I was fulfilling my own personal agenda to belong in Jesus name. So outwardly I might have appeared to be a good tree that bore good fruit. But the reality I was an anemic tree bearing anemic fruit. I was like that tree in Psalm 1. I was planted by a stream of water but the water was polluted. I bore fruit but it was sporadic and lean. I had leaves but there was minimal shade. My prosperity was probably more wood, hay and stubble then precious gems.

I began to see that what was passing off as Christianity today in the USA was not what I was reading in the bible therefore not what was in my life. I was personally compromising the truths of scripture all for the sake of belonging to a community that advocating these compromises. Whether knowingly or unknowingly.

One of these areas was what the church calls giving. I was taught that as a Christian I must give a portion of my income to the local church because this was God’s will for the believer. This giving was described as tithe and offering. Scriptures like “Malachi 3:10 (NIV) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” were used to justify this demand. The tithe was the goal and responsibility of every believer and if you had more to give then that would be considered an offering. Then there was the teaching, if you can't tithe now then work up to it by giving 1% to start with and work your way up to 10%. This was God’s will for those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ. This was the truth I was taught and I taught the same thing.

I remember early on as a believer as I read through the New Testament I saw people giving but no tithe was mentioned other than by Jesus in Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42. None of the apostolic writing taught a tithe. There were two things I came to realize about giving when it came to the body of Christ. Giving was to meet the needs of the believers and tithing was not required of Christians because it was part of the Levitical Priesthood of Old Covenant.

When we survey the NT giving was to meet the needs of believers. The needs that are spelled out in the bible are very clear. They are food, drink, clothing and shelter for those in need of these things. We see this being first mentions by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He tells his disciple not to run after food, drink and clothing because God will meet these needs for you if you just believe. Paul echoes this when he writes to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6:8 Paul tells Timothy “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Paul includes himself in that declaration. This declaration was in the context of money. This declaration was for every member of the body of Christ. However, the giving we see today within the local “church” goes almost exclusively towards staff salaries, buildings and programs. On occasion a collection may be taken up to help a brother or sister in need. We have “pastors” making six figure incomes, telling people in the local church to tithe, whether they are rich or poor, because it’s God’s will.  And if you tithe, God said in Malachi he’ll give you back more. We have people redefining a verse that was meant for a particular people at a particular time and then saying that God wants us to use this verse for our church today. This is bad exegesis. Here we have the desire for money redefining a verse.

Here’s another verse people love to quote to justify paying people outrages amounts of money. Matthew 10:10 (NIV)…; for the worker is worth his keep. However, they conveniently forget about the verse just before this phrase. Matthew 10:8 (NIV) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. But someone might say what about what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:14 (NIV) In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. Paul uses the illustration of the Levites to make a point. This verse was in reference to the Levites in the OT were their “needs” were met from the meat that was brought to the altar for sacrifice. The operative word here is “needs” and nothing more. If they wanted more it didn’t come from the people but by their own hand.

Yet today we have sister Sally standing in line for food stamps while pastor Bob is standing in line for the next iPhone. Not because he made tents and sold them but from the money God’s people put in the offering plate. The people thinking it was going to further God’s kingdom not a person’s desire to possess the latest technology. All the money we see collected in the New Testament was to meet the needs of the believers. It was not used to build buildings or pay salaries or buy sound systems or Christmas decorations or outreach programs. It was people giving what they had to meet the needs of brothers and sisters in Christ who did not have. This was an avenue by which the world would look in and see the citizens of the kingdom of God loving on one another. Not creating empires of wealth by twisting the scriptures to justify this ungodly money grab.

It’s funny how the pulpit disregards the scripture that tells the body of Christ how to live in regards to giving. When Paul says, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 (NIV). We see leaders in the Christian community today live as if this passage didn’t apply to them. Somehow they have convinced themselves that Paul wouldn’t have lived like this and neither would have Jesus therefore why should they. Paul really meant something else then what it really says.

This money issue then leads to taxes. With my desire to belong I was complicit in being dishonest about taxes within the body of Christ thereby diminishing Jesus’ name all for the sake of money. While sitting of the local board of a church I was to vote on the annual budget which included the pastor’s salary. In the tax code a pastor was allowed to claim a housing allowance which was tax exempt. There was a limit to this housing allowance. At the time it was $4000 a month. If we wanted to pay the pastor a $65,000 a year salary but this amount put him into a higher tax bracket we would bring his salary down to $17,000 to lower the amount of taxes he would have to pay and then declare the maximum amount of housing allowance. However, the real amount of his monthly housing allowance expenses was about half that amount. And I would vote to approve this deception. And I would justify it, along with all the other board members, because it was technically legal and within the boundaries of the tax code. It was legal but it was dishonest and I knew it at the time but my desire to belong trumped my desire to follow Jesus. If I couldn’t be trusted with a little how could He trust me with much? This board was a requirement of the state, the kingdoms of man.

The denominations in America today and the local churches in America today cling to money. They serve money. They serve money so much that they are willing to yoke themselves to the state through 501C3. This is an agreement a local church body makes with the state to get out of paying taxes. Part of this agreement between the church and the state is that the state requires the church to produce a constitution and requires board members and the state dictates what those board members are. I don’t see the NT requiring this of a body of believers. Even if the construction of this board goes against what the New Testament says in regards to how the body of Christ is to function. The state tells the church who is supposed to be a voting members of the board even if it’s not what a local body wants. This is what the bible calls being unequally yoked. When we let the kingdoms of Man dictate how the citizens of the kingdom of God should govern themselves all for the sake of money. Who is the god of this age? Who is the god of this worlds nations?

1 John 5:19 (NIV) We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

 Luke 4:6 (NIV) And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.

The churches in America have invite the enemy to have a foothold within the church and the church is blinded to this fact because of their love of money. Paul tells us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit if you owe taxes then pay them. The church should not value money as the world does. Luke 16:15 (NIV) He (Jesus) said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.” Jesus tells us to give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesars. In other words just pay taxes. Don’t try to get out of paying taxes and compromise the gospel message of the kingdom of God by being yoked with the world and compromising the integrity of Christ.

Then there was when my desire to belong was so great that I create Jesus in the image of my patriotism. In churches all across America today we see the American flag on stage behind the pulpit. We have Christian radio stations whose motto's are God and country. In what might be called mainstream Christianity in the USA we hear people declaring that the USA is a Christian nation. I went along with this for years because I wanted to belong more then follow Christ. However, when I read the New Testament the only nation I see mentioned as Christian is the bride of Christ. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. When Peter wrote this he was speaking to people from many nations. We read in Revelation John describing a seen before God’s throne of people from every language and nation from all over the planet. Revelation 5:9 (NIV) And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to go out and make the Roman Empire a Christian empire or even restore the nation of Israel. We weren't sent to make societies follow Christian values. Jesus sent the disciples out to invites all people into His kingdom and to come out of the kingdoms of man. The mainstream American church has convince the people in the pews to take up the political causes of the nations of man so much so that we’ve become so politically party minded we’ve become no gospel good. If you’re a Christian you’re a conservative. If you’re a liberal you’re really not a true Christian. I don’t want to be liberal or conservative but in America today that’s what we’ve done with Jesus. We’ve created him in the image of our patriotism. Jesus is a conservative that wrapped in the red, white, and blue. 2 Timothy 2:4 (NIV) No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. The politics of the nations of man are civilian affairs that creates barriers to the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Jesus told his disciple and by extension us, to go and invite people from the nations of man into His kingdom. He told them to share the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. He’s offering people a new citizenship into his kingdom which is not of this world. John 18:36 (NIV) Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

This means we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ and how he taught us how to live. However, today we are taught it’s acceptable to kill in Jesus name for the nation we live in. That Christians can take up arms and kill other Christians if the nation they are living in tells them too. What if the 12 disciples were living during the civil war? Six lived in the south and 6 lived in the north. Would they have taken up arms and killed each other for the kingdoms of man? Remember what the NT teaches us. Colossians 3:17 (NIV) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Can you imagine John raising a musket and aiming it at Peter and say I kill you in the name of Jesus as I thank the Father for the cause of the kingdom of man I’m living in? This is what Christians in America are expected to believe and live for. Instead of love your enemies, the church today says it’s okay to kill your enemy even if they are your brother or sister in Christ. No wonder the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God has diminished. We are no different than the nations of man around us. People on the outside of the church looking in and see no difference then the world they are living in. We are not really strangers or aliens. We are a people that live like the world does and Jesus is nothing more than an attachment to our lives instead of being our life. Our salt has lost its taste. And our light is under a bowl. All because our desire to belong is greater than our desire to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.


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