What influences your life and growth? These trees, having grown with a constant ocean breeze, look as if the breeze is blowing even when it’s not. So too, our lives take on the shape of the influences we surround ourselves with. The things we look at, listen to, think on, associate with… They all influence our internal character which plays out in our external lives. Unlike the trees, however, you have some choice in what you allow these influences to be. Choose wisely.
There is another way to live and there is another country to live in…
This other country and it’s way of life was in the works from long ago. It started when God, as he interacted with some of the first people who acknowledged him said, ‘I will build a nation for myself.” In an account later given about future times God says, “I have built a nation for myself.” And in the middle of then and the future, a messenger named Jesus came saying, “God’s kingdom is here and is open to ALL people.:
Jesus proceeded to teach about this nation and what it would mean to live in it. He taught it would be a country governed by love, a country with no walls, and a country open to all people. He taught its citizens would not be controlled by law and order but by a spirit that encompassed all that was good, fair, and just without showing partiality.
Then, similar to many leaders today, the leaders of Jesus’ time felt their status, security, and privileged lives being threatened by Jesus and the ideals of the nation he was building. Not wanting to open their walls to anyone, they sacrificed Jesus so their privileged lives over others could be maintained. This was not to be the end of the fledgling nation though.
Jesus, truly being a man living with God and having power over life, rose from the dead and carried on teaching about God’s kingdom. After 40 more days Jesus left for his life with God. Promising to return and not to leave his citizens on their own, Jesus then sent an ambassador to dwell within each person seeking to live in his kingdom. The revolution had begun.
Having ultimate wisdom and foresight, Jesus warned that his infant nation would often be infiltrated by those seeking to take advantage of it. He kept it no secret either that many who chose to live in the love he taught would face a similar end as his own. Yet Jesus proved in his actions that love trumps all else, even death, and he laid the foundation for another way to live… a better and eternal way.
So how does one enter into this other way of living as a citizen of God’s country? The immigration process is straight forward. Start by reading Jesus’ declarations of independence from things that keep us from a life of love. Join the revolution by becoming his student. Go to the source of Jesus’ teachings and stay clear of the con-men and the spinsters.
Next, ask for your passport. Your passport, and proof of your citizenship, is the ambassador Jesus promised to send to those seeking to live by love in his nation. This spiritual ambassador will dwell within you, advise you, and teach you how to navigate life in the love of God. You will never live alone in His country.
There is another way to live, and this is it… in God’s kingdom… in the way of love.
Do you have a life coach? All of us do actually, many life coaches, whether we realize it or not. Some of our more famous life coaches are Oscar Meyer, Coke, Maybelline, Nike… Or how about the ones we consciously listen to: Oprah, Trump, Hillary… There are so many people and organizations telling us what we should want and need, it’s a wonder we aren’t more confused than we already are!
But where then do we find a GOOD coach for life? Assuming, of course, we aren’t content to drift along on the sea of conflict and confusion, or bury our heads in the sands of pleasure and escape.
Let me suggest a coach who’s often overlooked because of what others inaccurately say about him. He himself would probably even be the first to say that if you can find a better way than his teaching, follow that instead! He’s a little known Jewish man named Jesus (sure, many know caricatures of him, but few really know him.). He never actually wrote anything about himself, but many others wrote down what he taught and did; and his teaching has changed many lives.
One prerequisite for working with this life coach though, is the desire to be in alignment with reality. If one is just looking for a coach to help them bring their own desires into reality, then admittedly, Coach Jesus would not be a good choice. If you are curious, give him a try. Test out one or two things taught by him (as they’ve been recorded in the first books written about him and NOT necessarily as it’s often misinterpreted by others today), to see if they actually line up with reality while bringing about some peace, meaning, and fulfillment.
Word on the street has it, this Coach Jesus is running a special right now too, first half hour is free, then only $0/hr. And if you don’t mind, could you mention I referred you? 😉
“And the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” ~John 17:14
To my fellow humans who think you are loosing your rights, are being persecuted, or think that the world hates you: maybe they do. The real question that many likely aren’t taking the time to ask, is why do they hate you? Do they hate you because you hate them, or because you love them? There is a difference. One will spur on further hatred and anger in the persecuted, the other will produce joy.
Jesus says the world will hate them, “because they are not of the world.” And here is where the distinction is to be made. Much of Christianity as it is known today IS “of the world.” As much as any other entity in the world, Christianity today is fighting for power, possessions, and position in order to enforce its perspective. Essentially there’s a yelling stance saying, “You are wrong! We are right!”
So what does “not of the world” look like then, and how would it inspire hatred referenced in the above quote from John 17:14?
- SOCIAL HIERARCHIES – When one is truly “not of the world,” all are equal, with equal rights and dignity. People are not owned, women have voices, and both rich and poor receive justice with genuine care.
- ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH – Again, when one is “not of the world,” s/he focuses on accumulating acts of kindness and generosity with an attitude that says, “If I have enough, and my fellow human is found lacking, I will share with them.”
- LOOKING GOOD – When a person is “not of the world,” actually BEING good is more important than looking good. This person can move past the facade of supposed neighborhood status, type of car ownership, and appearance in swimwear (to name a few examples), to focus on the spirit of another human being. S/he will work on becoming genuinely loving, desiring good for all – even their enemy.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
A person or community deeply moved to LOVE, would inspire the true kind of hatred Jesus is talking about. I believe there’s a hatred that comes from challenging the status quo, and I believe hatred arises when those benefiting from oppression potentially see their “benefits” slipping away. If Christians are being hated, it should not come as a result of preaching AT the world, but if anything, the hatred should come from displaying unfathomable, nonsensical love TO the world.
So, my fellow earth dwellers, if/when you are hated, make sure it is not because you are busy being “of the world” trying to gain some heavenly real-estate in the name of God, but because you are living in such a way that confronts the world with ridiculous amounts of love, bestowing dignity upon all people.
This could be a very long and complex post, but I’m going to try and keep it simple. I am a Bernie fan first and foremost. There’s that. I know without a doubt I could not vote for Trump. So there is that. But recently (yesterday) I gave our current political state some personal thought and gladly came to the conclusion of voting for Hillary. Here’s why:
I recalled an exchange I saw between Hillary and a young woman. Essentially, the young woman made a reference about the need to change people’s hearts. Hillary’s response was, “we can’t change hearts, but we can change laws. That’s what we need to change.” I remember not liking Clinton’s response. I’m a firm believer in the need for hearts and minds to change, but realized that needs to come through the church (and we are not doing a good job of it, but that’s for a different post). Then it struck me (yesterday), Hillary is right. In lieu of the church being able to change hearts and minds, one needs the government to change laws. And ideally, to change laws for the betterment and protection of ALL people. Then I thought, who would be better positioned and better intentioned to be able to do that? This made it a simple decision to not only vote for Hillary as an anti-Trump vote, but as a PRO-Hillary vote. A life of service to others VS a life of self-service… A life of being in the political battlefield fighting for others VS a life of being in the business world trying to screw others… A life of sacrifice and being humiliated for it VS a life of luxury and lawsuits against anyone whom you feel offended by… You get the idea.
So here’s my point. I would hope hearts and minds would change towards the many who need support, help, and love from their fellow mankind, but I don’t see that happening overnight. Instead, I see more abuse of the poor and taking advantage of the weak and powerless happening. What will stand against this behavior if hearts and minds stay the same? A government that protects the poor, stands up for the weak, and gives shelter to the homeless refugee. Then, if the church will drop its personal agendas and seek God again, we can work on changing hearts and minds. But until then, I hope you, too, will take a serious look at WHO you are voting for this November and come to the same conclusion I have. Don’t just vote anti-bully, VOTE PRO-PUBLIC SERVANT.