Sermon on the Parameters We Prefer For Jesus to Work Under

 

You gotta love Dan Erlander’s drawings.

 

2013-08-25 NBW HFASS Sermon<—–Click here to listen along (and delight yourself with how much I botched one of the paragraphs) :)

I have to say, one of my very favorite things about Jesus is how he does whatever he wants to and could really give a hell about how other people feel about it. Yeah.  I just find that endearing. Especially when he irritates the nice religious people. That’s secretly my favorite.

In our Gospel text for today Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on a Sabbath when he sees a woman with a crippled back. He saw her, called her over and said “Woman you are set free from your ailment” He reached out and touched her and she stood upright for the first time in 18 years and praised God. Which seems like a win.  Except for that then the leader of the synagogue throws a little tizzy about how that kind of thing should not be happening on the Sabbath.  Further proof that super religious people can just be so helpful, can’t they?

Especially when they seem to value parameters over people – which should sound like a familiar story…

Stories of churches denying your call to ministry because you fall outside the parameters of which gender is allowed to be ordained and stories of churches denying you the Eucharist because you fall outside the parameters of what kind of sexual orientation is allowed to receive the means of grace and stories of churches denying you a place in community because you just weren’t sure if you believed in God and that falls outside the parameters of doctrinal purity – well, these kind of stories are sadly bordering on cliché around here. We hear them all the time.

So I’m really grateful that Jesus has always tended to disregard people’s preferred parameters for how he should do things, and that he always just seems to keep seeing people, touching them, healing them and then thumbing his nose at anyone who says he really should be more discerning about his cliental and his tactics.

Because I, like many of you, relate to the woman with the crippled back. We who have, at times in our lives, felt crippled by spirits that weaken us, that keep us from standing upright as children of God. And I, like many of you, are happy to have a space like this where we have pretty loosy goosey parameters for who gets access to what…where we, despite the parameters so much of the church wants to place around Jesus, can still experience divine love and healing and grace.

Which is why this week when I was invited to a dinner at the house of a church leader I just felt so uncomfortable.

The invitation came from a group of Evangelical pastors here in Denver who have invited me to be part of various conversations on several occasions.  I believe in that kind of cross-pollination even though it’s not easy for me.  And it’s mainly not easy for me because of the extreme effort it takes for me to get over my indignation at being the only female clergy person in a room full of hip young evangelical pastors and their pretty wives.  This discomfort only grew Monday night as I thought about my fancy seminary education and ordination and the fact that my denomination had, the week before, elected a woman to be our presiding bishop and yet not a single one of the churches represented had a female pastor. Add to this the fact that, the dinner with the Evangelicals was in Highlands Ranch of all places so of course I couldn’t help but mention what a Loooong drive it had been from the city.

I finally started talking to one of the wives and immediately liked her because she said something snarky and I’m a sucker for that.  And I eventually told her how hard these kind of events are for me and why – and she very kindly asked “but don’t you still think we are all on the same team?”

Before I knew what I was saying I said “Oh my gosh, of course not”

And then when I came to my senses, I answered that personally it doesn’t always feel that way but that in terms of the Body of Christ maybe she’s right.

Which is why this week:

when I had such a hard time having an open heart with my Evangelical colleagues

and when I struggled I with how divine love or healing or redemption could possibly happen in Christian communities where there is so little concern for equality and  inclusion and the celebration of all God’s children,

as I studied this story of Jesus and the woman and the religious leader

that struggle I was having felt less like a criticism of them and more like a confession about me.

Because that’s when I stopped relating to the woman who was healed and started relating more to the hypocritical Sabbath-keeping religious leader calling foul.

Because I noticed that in the text, Jesus rebuked the religious leader for valuing parameters more than people – not for defending the practice of Sabbath-keeping.  Sabbath was still a valid way in which divine love, and healing and grace happened. The leader of the synagogue was not wrong in his love for keeping Sabbath. He was wrong in assuming that if God works within the parameters of Sabbath keeping that God cannot also work outside the parameters of Sabbath keeping.

I think what we are so prone to do is to think that if there is an experience of the Gospel within a particular set of circumstances, that means that only under that particular set of circumstances can the Gospel be experienced.  As though God’s agency is limited to the ways in which we happen to experience God.

And I wonder about the ways I might do the same thing. I wondered if for me this week, I wasn’t guilty of valuing parameters more than people when my heart was not open to the Evangelicals who invited me to dinner.  To be clear: This is not to say that gender equality and inclusion of all God’s children is not important, or that many of you don’t legitimately have a right to be upset with how you have been treated by those who say they follow Jesus, it’s just that we have to allow that God might actually be powerful enough to work outside of the parameters of how we attempt to live out the Gospel in this community.

Because in the end, faith is so much more about this kind of freedom – this kind of resting in the power of God’s love than it is about defending positions and monitoring parameters.

Because I suspect that God does God’s redeeming work in ways and through means with which I disagree.  And yes, I find this endlessly irritating, but I think more is to be had by relaxing and seeing that this might very well be true than there is to be had through pretending it’s not.

A couple weeks ago I got to hear Catholic theologian James Allison talk about how we think faith is about striving – keeping parameters, calling people out for not having it right, spiritual practices, doctrinal purity… whatever – but that really faith is about relaxing. Specifically, relaxing in the way we do when we are with a friend who we know for certain is fond of us.  We don’t have to strive around them and we somehow still become our best self – funny, spontaneous, free. Allison suggests that faith is trusting so much that God is fond of us that we just fricken relax.

I think that is what Jesus was saying to the religious leader, not that there is anything wrong with Sabbath keeping, but that Oh my gosh, just relax.

And if that’s true…if faith is akin to relaxing and if relaxing about stuff is hard for us, I wonder if on some level that’s because It’s hard to relax when we think that grace is limited, or there is only so much divine love to go around. Which is when we should remind each other that divine love, healing, grace….. these are not economic categories.

Divine love is simply not a limited resource and it is most certainly not something that happens only here or only in this way or only among us or and… I can’t wait to see the blog comments on this one…only among Christians.

And if the divine love of Christ is powerful enough to heal outside our parameters for how we believe that happens then the divine love of Christ is also powerful enough to heal outside the parameters of how others think that should happen.  Which also is perhaps grounds to relax.

Because if Sabbath is about rest and relaxing it means that there is Grace enough for all of us. Grace enough for the homophobes and the queers.  Grace enough for the Sabbath keepers and the Sabbath breakers. Grace enough for me and for the people who don’t think I deserve grace.  Grace enough for the Evangelicals and the Lutherans. There’s enough. Thanks be to God. There is enough.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

About Nadia Bolz Weber

I am the founding Pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. We are an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination. Learn more at www.houseforall.org

  • LRZ

    Nadia, I so agree . . .He is all about abundance and our challenge as flawed human beings is to try to comprehend and relax into that thought/understanding. Our challenge, that you captured so well here, is relaxing into the solid knowledge that we ARE His children; that He is a good parent with love enough for all; that He has our back, so we can proceed with the business He designed us to do, secure in that knowledge. . . even when things don’t make perfect sense to us.

  • Michael Moore

    Excellent! You hit the nail (and me) on the head… thanks for your honesty and, yes, sometimes snarky candor ;-) I am a fan of that!

  • k_Lutz

    Has the war against ‘religion’ overcome your love of people, even when they seem to represent your chosen enemy?

    • SamHamilton

      I think that’s the question she’s asking herself here. I say, good for her for having the courage to question herself.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Very powerful! And I needed to hear it; I needed to be reminded that we believers are not enemies. Even though Jesus sometimes set the Pharisees straight, he still loved them; he came to remove their burdens and alienation as much as he did the common sinner’s.
    Thanks for this sermon and for the audio; it seems so long since I have heard your voice.

  • DrewDowns

    I am so with you–so in need of the reminder to relax, so in need of that knock upside the head that says: just sit! Be still! I am thankful for this. My own focus was on the radical transformation of Sabbath that Jesus is doing, but I love how you chose to embody the struggle of Sabbath at a base level. Perfect.

  • Reina Ueno

    Amen! I love the part you noticed “divine love, healing, grace….. these are not economic categories.” Also “Divine love is simply not… ONLY among Christians.” As a Japanese Christian, most of my friends are non-Christian and I would have been hurt by the message of many pastors who talks limited Christian God’s love. Preparing ordination, my opinion might be a bit foolish though, I do not want to set limit on divine love as you spoke. Thank you for sharing the sermon.

  • Luke Lindon

    Wow… Amen to that. Thanks. Really spoke to where I often come from. That crazy Jesus… he leaves not one of us off the hook. And that’s how it should be.

  • bailey

    Convicted and comforted. Thank you so much.

  • Pr. Owen Griffiths

    Thanks, Pastor. I needed that.

  • tkdcoach

    Do hip and evengelical really ever follow? Not in my experience.

    • SamHamilton

      That’s a good thing. People who chase whatever is hip end up running an unending race. It’s better to stand still and hipness will find you. Most everything is hip at some point and will be again.

  • Joe Plumber

    Hi Nadia, it’s your “Village Atheist” stopping in. Having been an ordained minister myself — 20 years — before seeing the (en)-light-(enment) of reason, I think I can stir the pot for you as most of your commenters are so agreeable. (Where’s the fun in that?) As always your sermons do not disappoint, but I must take issue with the “there-is-enough-grace’ part of your sermon at the end. Sure, it ties things up in a neat bow from a devotional point of view, (everybody goes home thinking positive thoughts over their Sunday fried chicken – not so positive for the chicken) but life’s not neat and tidy, is it?

    So, tell me was grace enough for those kids down the road from you Columbine, the ones that didn’t t make it? Was grace enough the children of Sandy Hook? The victims of Katrina or hurricane Sandy? What about the 6 million plus exterminated under Hitler? Was grace enough for them? How about a mother whose child is dying of cancer or born with genetic defects (“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” Psalm 139. One verse you won’t see in a Sick Kids hospital.)

    You said, “Divine love is simply not a limited resource and it is most certainly not something that happens only here or only in this way or only among us…” But the examples I mentioned above, plus innumerable more, disagree with you. The “god of grace” you portray, if it exist (and I’m predisposed to think it doesn’t) is fickle, and if fickle, untrustworthy.

    We would be better off staying home on Sunday, than believing in a fickled god. The chicken would be better off, too.

    • Merikay

      You are confusing free will and grace. People caused Columbine, Sandy Hook and global warming that results in Katrina and Sandy. That has nothing to do with grace.

      • Joe Plumber

        “Free Will” is a theological construct which the church devised when Jesus failed to return as promised – Mark 13:20 – and the church was left holding the bag. The church had to reconcile inconstant theological issues, e.g. “We believe in an all powerful god. Plus, we believe god is all loving. But shit happens which an all-powerful, all loving god could prevent.”

        So not wanting to lay the blame at god’s feet (if god has feet) they lay it on “free will.” You’re not going to find “free will” in the bible any more than you will find “trinity.” The construct, as with most theology, is a result of carefully cherry picked verses, and then ignoring verses which say otherwise. Ask any Calvinist. They have a doctrine of predestination which slaps “free will” in the face.

        To be clear, I have a total of 10 years of theological training plus 20 years of pastoral ministry. I’m not confused. I know where the cow paddies are.

    • Barry Hoerz

      This doesn’t cut it for me. Do bad things happen? Certainly. Did God cause them to happen or “let” them happen? We’re on shaky ground here. But what does happen is that God reaches out to hold our hand when this shit happens and professes and undying love in spite of the crap that flies into the oscillator. Are you saying that God wasn’t involved in the aftermath of Columbine, or Sandy Hook, or Auschwitz? Bad stuff happens and I am not about to lay that all on God’s shoulders. No one ever promised this life to be roses and champagne. I am thankful that God walks with me and that I am not alone when the unthinkable happens. I am amazed when I think that God has enough divine love that not only are the victims in these tragedies brought into God’s embrace, but that this divine love is so outstanding that there is even love for the ones behind the trigger that brought down the calamity. This is more love than I can imagine. It is also that love that I need to know exists.

      • Joe Plumber

        If any of us, or a group of us, such as a nation, stood by and permitted atrocities to happen, we would be guilty of crimes against humanity. And yet, throughout the bible, god commits genocide, infanticide, allows rape and slavery and Xans shrug their shoulders. “So what? That was a long time ago.” But, the people who died and suffered were husbands, wives, children. They had dreams of a better life and many of the longings and cares you and I have. Yet, god commanded them to be snuffed out just because they believed differently. I’m thankful we live in an age more tolerant than that. Who wants to follow a god who advocates smashing babies heads against rocks (Pslam 137:9), advocated child sacrifice (Ex. 22:29-30; Ezk. 20:25-26), and condoned rape (Judges 21:10-24; Num. 31:7-18; Deut 20:10-14;22:28-29, Ex. 21:7-11).

        And yes, I’m saying god was not involved in the aftermath of such tragedies as Sandy Hook, etc. because if s/he/it could show up for the aftermath, then s/he/it could have showed up before the tragedy happen. If “grace” is there only for the aftermath, who needs that kind of grace? I rather have it at the beginning, a kind of preventative medicine.

    • Sandra Orrick

      Once again, “Our God is able to deliver us, BUT IF NOT…” He walks with us through the fire, through the valley of the shadow of death, Emmanuel, God with us, to the end of the world and beyond.

      • Joe Plumber

        I would strongly suggest you read your bible, and not just the familiar parts. Isaac Asimov said, “Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

        • Sandra Orrick

          Your assumption that I have not read the unfamiliar parts of the Bible has no basis in fact. Furthermore, properly read, one can support any number of isms by combining a literal bibliolatry with chosen proof texts. We would do well to approach the nature and activities of God in a humble spirit. We don’t know what we don’t know.

          • Joe Plumber

            “We don’t know what we don’t know.” That’s no reason for having a “god in the gaps” approach to things. Science is narrowing the gaps at an incredibly rapid pace. We no long think thunder and lightening as god’s anger (although there are a select number of Xan sects that still abide in that kind of ignorance.) What most xans “think” is knowing is merely wishful thinking…no, wishful believing.

            We’ve given up on the idea of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as a reality. Now with the same enlightened mind, people need to abandon the various and contradictory writings put to pen 2000 plus years ago. When you say we should “approach the nature and activities of God in a humble spirit” all I hear is you asking me and others to leave our brains behind and accept more superstition.

            If people approached Xanity with the same critical mind as they approached other religions, such as Islam, or other quasi-xan groups like the Mormons or the JWs, if people placed Xanity under that same kind of scrutiny, they would reject the judeo-xan myth and our world would be better off.

          • Sandra Orrick

            I suspect that you have suffered deep hurts in the name of God. What if your angry, violent God were a misrepresentation of His true nature? What if the cross were a means of healing those wounds and bringing you peace and stubborn joy? What if you could use something like Mimetic Theory to explain the violence in the Bible, particularly at the cross? I recommend Derek Flood’s Healing the Gospel which I have only begun but it looks promising. Blessings.

          • Joe Plumber

            An ad hominem attack. Got to love them. People assume because one’s passionate about exposing the lie, something painful “MUST” happened to them. My journey away from religion was more intellectual than emotional, but my passion, such as it is, comes from having wasted 30 plus years believing a superstition and then seeing people mindlessly gobble up the stuff like I did. I suggest you read anything by Bart Erhman, but especially his book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer. I’m going to be on the road for a few days. Look forward to continuing our discussion.

          • D.e. Bishop

            I’ve got to agree with Joe here. People are not Xan without having suffered traumatic religion-related experiences.

            Joe, I am a pastor and I really appreciate your knowledge. When atheists and others argue Xanity they too often go after Genesis. You are right there at the heart of it – theodicy. Pious language, gauzy sentiments, ad hominem attacks – those just don’t cut it.

            I haven’t led a congregation for 7 years, in part because I am unable to come close to orthodoxy. Chaplaincy is a great fit! Anyway, I still believe in something, based solely on my own sense of a tremendous force for good. I don’t know anything else about this force, but I truly do feel its presence.

            That’s all I really know. The bible is not authoritative for me. Too many agenda driven men have played with it over hundreds of generations and translations.

            Nonbelievers such as you have great arguments and you may be right. But I know that I can add to people’s lives in a positive way in my daily movements and I believe that, as a human being it is my honor and responsibility to do so. It is not, and never was my job to evaluate and judge anyone else’s belief system unless they requested my services.

          • Joe Plumber

            Thanks for chiming in, D.e. I was Lutheran pastor back in the day, too. You’re spot on regarding theodicy. Most xans haven’t thought the issue through, mostly through blind trust, a little from self-induced ignorance. Have you heard of The Clergy Project? Its a support group for clergy and former clergy who have reached stages of atheistism, agnosticism or free thinking. Although I’m a member, I’m not as active as I should be, but it is a fine private forum where each member has been vetted to assure privacy.

  • D.e. Bishop

    Joe, love your comment! I’m a Lutheran pastor, and often wonder WTF God is up to. Challenging and questioning are such good ways to grow – or shrink one’s faith, or lack thereof.

    I wonder about the same questions and have massive doubts. I don’t know if God’s job is to fix problems or vanish suffering. The vanishing part what I want and am totally in favor of.

    If God is on the side of the suffering, then why do those tv preacher/politicians get so rich and have so much power and do such great harm? Makes me extremely angry and very afraid. I hate being afraid.

    Is it that ‘there is enough grace’ to survive the horrors life can bring? That’s the kind of answer I normally hear, but it’s so namby-pamby! Then there is always, God didn’t cause the suffering; sinful humans did. Okay, true, but where is God? Why doesn’t God, if God is truly all-powerful, stop it?

    Theodicy: The study of God and evil. Damn, I don’t know, and not being able to figure it out with a neat and tidy answer is really frustrating to me. That’s one of the hardest things about faith, few hard-edged answers.

    Maybe that’s why it’s Faith, rather than learning a set of Rules? I truly don’t know.

    (How’s this for a non-answer answer? Nah, I’m not satisfied with it either.)

    • Heidi

      Thanks for an honest non-answer. I think that asking the hard questions is all part of the journey and that answers are not part of that equation, but the questions keep pulling you deeper in and sometimes that is into doubt and sometimes to comfort.

    • Sandra Orrick

      Could we be informed by the three Hebrew worthies in Daniel 3?: “Our God whom we serve IS ABLE to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, BUT IF NOT…” and the king saw in the midst of the fire, the Son of God walking with them.

  • Elizabeth Keith

    oh man. in my gut. amen. indignation.. lol. turns around and bites me in my unloving ass. you are wonderful. don’t ever change

  • Anon

    Thank you for posting your sermons every week. I always get something from reading them, and feel grateful you take the time to post! I always get a sense of relief from reading your thoughts on Jesus.

  • Anne Smith

    “He was wrong in assuming that if God works within the parameters of
    Sabbath keeping that God cannot also work outside the parameters of
    Sabbath keeping.” Great sentence, and a great sermon, Nadia. There is enough, and more than enough! Blessings to you.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello Nadia thanks for this sermon!

    I’ve devoted a large part of my blog to Progressive Christianity and one of my purpose is to “reach” :=) people with a fundamentalist background:
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/category/progressive-christianity/

    That said, I also try to have a loving communion with Evangelicals, provided their belief in Biblical inerrancy doesn’t lead them to defend atrocities in the name of God.

    I also feel deeply bothered to see so many churches where women cannot use one of their God-given abilities and preach.

    Greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • hillmad

    Wow! Once again, you have hit the nail right on the head for me! I am so looking forward to your book. I just wish your book tour could make it to NYC. Peace.

  • Dallas Reader

    I am so glad that you blog your sermons because I always enjoy reading them. What this sermon made me think of is trust – and made me wonder if we can ever truly “relax” if we don’t truly and totally trust?

  • pastordt

    Wow. Thank you for this beautiful sermon. ALL of us need to be a bit more relaxed about it all, don’t we? Just loved this.

  • Shelley Simmont

    I preached a similar sermon at a funeral recently. I was blessed to be taught this lesson by the person who had died. The Holy Spirit was truly breaking all bounds this week. I serve in a rural Texas town. Far from the city, but humans will be humans and we all struggle with this. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • marty_jones

    >I can’t wait to see the blog comments on this one…only among Christians.

    Thanks for the invite… I’ve been struggling with Evangelical thinking for 40 of my 61 years. Not having been raised in the Church, Christianity has always seemed somewhat peculiar to me; in spite of my belief that it is True.

    While I believe that we are redeemed ONLY through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, I also believe that there is only ONE Creator of all the Universe. Consequently, anyone who worships the Creator, no matter in what form, worships the same Creator that I worship. Do we all/any of us worship the Creator correctly? Probably not.
    “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
    While I’m not certain what “the right time” means in the span of human history, at that time the Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of Jesus; and took upon himself the wrong of all mankind and provided a Way in which we can turn our life around. He took upon herself the consequence that follows from humans not obeying this ‘game’ called Life, with which we are each presented. She created the ‘rules’, and took the punishment for not following those rules upon Himself. We can’t accomplish anything Eternal by accepting those ‘rules’; the most we can do is enter into a life defined by the rules that generally work without any assistance on our part.
    To me this seems to say that the Creator is at work throughout the Universe, not just within a denomination or way of believing that was Codified a few centuries after Jesus walked the earth. The Codification isn’t necessarily wrong; but it’s a little presumptive to say that it is entirely comprehensive for all of human history.
    For most of my adult life, I have worked at applying the Building Code in a variety of situations. The Building Code isn’t the only rule by which one can build a structure; but if one follows the Code, there’s a strong probability that the structure will withstand most of the turmoil that a structure will encounter across the span of its life. The Building Code has to be adopted by a legislative body before it has any authority.
    We have Codes that are inspired by the Creator. I don’t believe a Hand came out of the sky, and wrote on parchment [the best parchment was lamb skin, which is an interesting commentary on the modern eco-world:"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them" My guess is that Adam and Eve were present when the Creator slaughtered the animal[s] Adam had just named…]. Moses’ tablets were carved by the Creator, but they even had to be replaced, after Moses got mad….
    If someone can be devoted to an image of a bearded man with fair skin, blue eyes and light brown hair; and believe that Jesus looked like that guy, I don’t have a problem with people who believe that to create a representation of the Almighty is wrong; because it dishonors the Creator.

    Responding to a need to worship the Creator is responding to a need to worship the Creator. Even if it means sitting on a mountain in Colorado, and needing to be thankful to Something that such a beautiful day exists.
    Following the Way of Jesus, to me, makes the most sense; but who am I to judge the Creator of the Universe and determine how She should be worshiped? We enter into Grace, we don’t create Grace. That was done on the Cross; regardless of whether someone believes it works that way.
    –thus endeth the sermon…

    • Sandra Orrick

      Regardless. Amen.

  • Diana Wright

    It seems that quite a few of the commenters think God, or a god, should make nice. As a reluctant Christian, my fundamental theology comes from the last lines of Sophocles, The Women of Trachis:

    “You have seen many terrible things, but there is nothing here that is not god.”

  • Margit Hubbers

    Thanks Nadia! Refreshing, honest and just how it is. And isn’t it great that Grace knows no bounds! God created all and loves all – not just the Christians. Or even the Lutherans!!!

  • Jackie Skell

    When you look at Jesus, or the Holy Spirit if you’d prefer. Reaching to people who have never been influenced by the Bible, or others of faith around them. It shows God truly does not have any barriers.

    I believe he provides us with many different ‘voices’ (or should that be congregational flavors) to feed our self made walls, or designs.

    I am not saying there are a ton of different methods of being saved, or disregarding what the bible claims. I am merely saying (while not truly knowing all forms of the Christian faith) that some hear scripture better when cried out in a hell fire and brimstone cadance, while others embrace it more when it’s given with grace and the incredibly open love that Jesus and God show all throughout the Bible.

    Though, sadly, I do believe many churches should look in at themselves through unbelievers eyes to see if there is anything which will reach those non believers. I truly hurt for those people that religion does not embrace, due to their own fragile self beliefs, or inability to understand the message God seems to be delivering. (Jesus’ willingness to dine with the tax preparers, administering to the sick etc. We are called to feed the poor, and administer to those in need! While continuing to grow and fellowship with one another. I consider this going from milk to meat.)

    I have heard many times, love the sinner, not the sin. But, honestly, when you stand in judgement of the sin, without the love of God wreathing you with his acceptance, the sinner can feel the condemnation. (Heck, even I, saved and a helping member of the congregation I attend, feel that lack of acceptance. So… I have to either believe I’m that messed up in the head, or some ‘sinner’ who isn’t a regular attendant within the church, or potentially unsaved, surely has to feel it as well. [disclaimer: no I am not saying I live without sin.])

    Thank you, Nadia, for a refreshing look. I will be looking more completely into the Lutheran flavor of Christianity. Currently I’m ‘non-denominational’ have as well been within baptist and another I can’t recall. All triune Christian religions, but, I have also always felt some things were misunderstood by many within the churches I attended. Or, perhaps I was reading a different Bible than the rest of the congregation ;))

  • Molly Mebruer

    I’m reading this as I wait for my daughter in her First Communion class at the rich, conservative Catholic Church to which we officially “belong”. I resisted the temptation to put her in a “God is not a boy’s name” t-shirt. She is only 7 after all and I don’t want to force her into the fight.

    So this hits me at the right time. I have been struggling and the best I have been able to do is remember “Jesus loves these idiots too.” Web as I sit here I am clenching and holding my breath. So I will attempt to relax into this.

  • Allison Sebastiani

    The Pope just gave a sermon last week, he said us Catholics need to stop worrying about all the “rules”. I think he meant we all just need to “relax”. He said just stop talking about “rules” and follow Jesus. It was kind of awesome.

  • KingGeorge

    A leader of a church should represent God to the world and especially to the people of the local church he is leading. God has not left us to rationalize what that character should be. This revelation from God regarding the character of his leaders is clearly written in the Bible and not left to public opinion or personal machinations. Encourage your leaders to be godly people aligning their life to God’s word rather than repeatedly excusing themselves for behavior unbecoming of a Christian. Otherwise after some time they will only be emboldened to tell you that you must accept them for who they are and you will have found an excuse for why you can continue to live a life of sin.

  • Justsaying

    Being raised Southern Baptist, you have no idea (actually you probably do) how much this resonates with me. The stories I could tell of how people were literally turned away from the church for not being “what a good church going, God fearing baptist should be.” I never fail to be amazed by how much religion can screw up a relationship with God.


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