Faithful or religious?

re·li·gious adjective \ri-ˈli-jəs\

: of or relating to religion

: believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion

: very careful to do something whenever it can or should be done

faith·ful adjective \ˈfāth-fəl\

: having or showing true and constant support or loyalty

: deserving trust : keeping your promises or doing what you are supposed to do

Earlier today someone posted the question to me as to whether it is better to be faithful or religious, or if they were in fact the same thing.

My knee-jerk answer is absolutely it’s better to be faithful, and no, these two are not synonyms despite many seeming to use them as such.

Of course, I will explain.

Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person.  Psalm 31:23

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.  1 Corinthians 4:2

There are over 130 uses of the word “faithful” within the Bible.  Most, as expected, refer to the faithfulness of God to His people and in keeping His word.  The remaining uses of the word refer to those that are found to lack faithfulness and therefore require chastening from the Lord, or those that are found faithful to reward.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Matthew 25:21

Conversely, if you search for uses of the word “religious” within the Bible, you will come up with a whopping four uses.  Two if theses that came up in my search are not even Scriptures but rather, headers that were added within the chapters for ease of use and reference.  That leaves a mere two verses!  The first one is in Acts 17 where Paul is addressing the Athenians to share the Gospel, stating that he knows them to be religious in all things.  The second drives home the difference between faithfulness and religion though:

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless  James 1:26

That verse alone is pretty clear.  But when one takes a step back to look at the verse before, it becomes even clearer:

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25

So we’re admonished to “continue in” and to be “a doer of the work.”  Sounds like that could just as easily be translated as “be faithful” if you ask me.  Followed by a warning not to rely on being religious.

So why’s being religious a bad thing?

While it is now recognized as a word that refers to things pertaining to a system of beliefs and of faith, but one cannot overlook the fact that it also refers to a methodical system for doing something; a ritual if you will.

Before I go further, let’s take a look at the word used in Acts 17:22 in the original Greek.

δεισιδαίμων at best is pious or religious, at worst, superstitious.

I am religious about my morning consumption of coffee.  If I do not consume adequate amounts, I find it hard to type straight at times, and type much slower than normal.  This can border on a superstition in that it is my belief that coffee helps me communicate better earlier in the morning.  The thing with superstitions is that they are beliefs held by people which are not necessarily based on fact.  I can assert to my coffee consumption being a religious action/ superstition because I know there have been many times where I did not consume caffeine in the morning and yet, was able to type and communicate just as normal.

Yet on the other hand, I strive to be faithful in my attendance at church, my daily reading of the Bible and in prayer.  Rather than just following a hollow routine, it takes effort to be consistently faithful.  It’s a conscious decision.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  Luke 9:23

It’s a daily choice that you must make when you wake up.  Are you going to go through the day, filling it with motions that in the end are meaningless, or are you going to chose to stand for something more?

Matthew West: The Motions

CPB

I’d prefer sticks and stones

We all know the school yard saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  It’s a lie.

When bones are broken, they heal.  In most cases, there is no residual sign of there ever having been a break.  The same cannot be said true of words.  While words leave no physical sign of their presence, (talking long term signs, not crying for a few minutes, etc,) there is also nothing that can directly be done to heal and repair the damage.  Once they’ve gone out, there is no recall button, and you most certainly cannot delete the experience from the memory of another.

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:8

So what’s got me riled up over something that seems so obvious?  I was the recipient of a message recently that caught me very off guard, set me on edge, physically upset me, and sent me questioning myself.

So, before I post the message itself here, a little background info.

My husband’s grandmother is on social media.  She got a tablet earlier this year and so, initially got sucked into it by the flash games, but eventually took to it due to the ability to ‘check up on people’ (paraphrase of her words, not mine.)  At some point in time, we ceased being “friends.”  Being part of the generation that was raised with technology, I am comfortable enough with social media to understand the ins and outs; how to “unfriend” from news feed or from their page.  Using something for an extended period of time will foster such a level of comfort and understanding.  So when it became clear to me that we were no longer “friends,” it seemed fairly logical to me that the “unfriending” likely happened on her end.

Now, I have heard of the “bug” that randomly “unfriends” people.  In some digging, however, I am not so convinced that it’s as rampant as some wish to claim.  (It does make a good cover for those that genuinely wish to stop seeing posts that they deem annoying but do not wish to deal with the confrontation that may come from being called on “unfriending” when the other party asked what they did and wishes to make amends.)  In this situation, I never doubted that it was an accident, regardless of how it happened.  Never once did the thought that it was actually malicious cross my mind.  I’ve known her nearly as long as I have my husband and have always gotten along with her.  So I didn’t think there would be any harm in joking with her some about the event before confirming the resent “friend” request.

I see that you want to be friends again… but I’m not accepting until you tell me what I did to make you remove me in the first place.

I’d think that anyone that has known me for any amount of time, would not take that as serious under any circumstances.  Putting aside the fact that the use of the emoticon with the tongue (by internet protocol) makes the joking intent clear to anyone that has been online for any length of time.  Evidently I was gravely wrong because two hours later I received her response.

I did not remove you! I have two friends that I didn’t request to be friends but somehow a request was sent them when I was scrolling their pages. These things happen which I’m sure you know. If you’re done with me that’s your choice but I won’t play these kind of games with you when the person who would be hurt and put in the middle is [my husband].

Once I read that, I remember blinking a few times and putting down my cell as my stomach churned. I had been hungry moments before, (logical since I hadn’t eaten all day to that point- about 2pm,) but that hunger had evaporated.  For the first few minutes it felt as though I had just been kicked in the gut.  I didn’t know what to think or say.  Eventually I told my husband about it and read her comment to him before telling him how her response made me feel.

Within a few minutes I was asking him if I was wrong.  Was I the one that, in fact, was overreacting?  Was I the one that was making this into a big deal?  Was I seeing something where there was in fact, nothing?  He reassured me that it wasn’t me, but that wasn’t enough for my brain.  It actually wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that it seemed to finally click with me as to why this affected me so much.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:34b

Hate to admit that it took me almost 24 hours to realize that was the heart of why her response hurt me so much.

To elaborate, I realized that the person that I thought I presented to the world is one that is loving, easy going, friendly, quick to take an opportunity to joke and consistent.  Her response made me realize that clearly, that’s not what she has seen from me, evidently.  It seems that she has instead, seen someone that is judgmental, quick to cut people off entirely, spiteful, derisive, and looking to drive a wedge between my husband and his family.  I spent the most of yesterday questioning whether or not my own view of myself could possibly be so far askew from the reality of what she experienced.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
1 Corinthians 11:31

In the end, the only thing that I found going through my head was:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

And suddenly it made sense to me why it was the man that had to do the leaving.  Women are drama.  (Okay, stop laughing, I know it’s obvious.)  But truly, where there are women, there is drama.  But if, by chance there is none, just give it time and they will create it.  Bringing a new woman into a family structure creates a power struggle where each one must complete against the others to assert their power and importance.  Especially when there is a man that is being “competed” for.

But God directs the man to step away and be joined with his wife.  Not to have her mesh into his family, but to have him create his own family with his wife (the two become one,) thereby becoming more a part of her family than it appears she would become of his family that he left.

So before long, I understood that the problem was on her end.  She had an issue with me where I saw none.

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24

I want to be reconciled with her, but right now, I truly am not sure how to go about that.  Later in the evening after getting her message, I wanted to reply, but I felt I needed to gird my tongue or well, in this case, fingers. (Proverbs 21:23).  I couldn’t bring myself to respond directly to her comments because escalating things is not something I ever care to do, but I also felt that I couldn’t reply with anything along the lines of, ‘I’m not sure you realize what you’ve said, but know you’re forgiven,” because I felt that that as well could escalate things.  So I remained silent and just “confirmed” the request.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about how last night would go.  It was Bible study, which she had her husband have only rarely missed since starting to attend.  Since she has not always had the best concept of appropriate times and locations for discussions, (she once delayed a women’s Bible study class for several minutes to tell me about a discussion she had with her husband about kittens my husband and I had been fostering,) I was concerned that she would wish to do the same thing last night to clear the air.  While I wasn’t concerned so much about getting things cleared up, I didn’t feel it was something that needed to be discussed in front of close to 20 other people.  Of course I went to God with my concerns, and it turned out I was worried for nothing; they didn’t show up last night, and there was, (I guess not surprisingly,) not text to say they were not going to be there.

Tonight is another women’s study.  As things sit right now, (after last night,) I would be surprised if she shows tonight.  Right now I am concerned that she will use this perceived “issue” as an excuse to not attend Bible study or even church.  Nothing and no one should ever be able to come between your relationship and your obedience to God.

I will say though, that I have already witnessed some good coming from this.  My husband called me this morning just before 6:30 am.  He begins work then, so you can imagine my first question of “What’s wrong?”  He expressed that it seemed as though this whole thing with his grandmother was affecting him physically and asked for me to call her to try and work things out.  I told him that I had thought of going over to their house to talk to her face to face, (because I was concerned that, if she could so easily misunderstand an online communication, I was concerned that the same could happen over the phone,) but I didn’t feel that would be received well.   He concurred, suggested calling to see if it was okay for me to go over and talk to her, and then recanted.

He started to open up about his own frustration with his family; not just his grandmother, but his own mother as well.  He explained how their obsession with protecting him and trying to make sure that nothing hurt anyone within the family was actually causing more pain.  Then he said that he personally (not wanted,) but needed to talk to her about it.  I hadn’t thought it possible, but in that moment, I think I started to love him a bit more.

but, speaking the truth in love,
Ephesians 4:15a

We cannot hide in a hole our entire lives, afraid of causing a hurt or for fear of being hurt.  Hurts will happen in this life.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.  They are unavoidable.  What makes the difference is how one responds.  Will you lash back, or will you seek to cover the transgression with love, showing compassion and continuing on?

He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
Proverbs 17:9

Because hurt is inevitable, that is not permission to conduct yourself as the bull in a china shop, (despite Mythbusters debunking).  We should always still conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and shows love for others.  But you must still live and fulfill the mission that God has for you.  Just pack a box of band-aids.

 

CPB

 

No harm in making nice…

First off: in this context, YES, there is.  There is eternal harm in this kind of “making nice.”

By this time, we’ve all see the headlines splashed across all kinds of media outlets: “Pope says atheists can go to heaven.”  If you happen to have somehow missed it, here are a few links:

Pope Francis assures atheists:You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven  (The Independent)

Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences   (The Guardian)

Don’t feel like clicking and reading?  Here are two quotes:

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
-The Independent

Expressing the belief that it was important for Christians to engage in “a sincere and rigorous dialogue” with atheists, Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those “who do not believe and do not seek to believe”.
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
-The Guardian

Now, this isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out about the redemption of atheists, either.  Earlier this year, in May, there was some backlash over a homily that he gave.  NPR covered the story:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”

If this is not your first time skimming through my blog, I am sure you already know where this is going.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18

He who is not with Me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
Luke 11:32

If you try to be a “good person” apart from the salvation offered by Christ, it’s not good enough.  Sorry, no passing go and collecting $200.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

But we are all like an unclean thing,
All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
Isaiah 64:6a

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked,
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

So pretty clearly, we can do what seems to be right, and give it our best effort, but even that is nothing more than a filthy rag.  It’s a pretty desperate situation, this human condition.  Thankfully:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6

Now one thing that Francis said, I do agree with, based on Scripture.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge this: that if One died for all, then all died;and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Romans 5:15-16

So yes, I do agree that Jesus did die for everyone; those that were alive, those that are alive, and all that are to come in the future.  BUT- if we accept that, then we accept that fact that we were bought with a price and that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

“But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:45

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

So clearly, apart from Christ, there is no salvation; no justification.  Yes, it is a free gift to all, but as with any gift, it must be accepted and then you are to respond accordingly.  With gifts from friends and family do you not respond with an attitude of gratitude?  Why would you give any less to God who offers you a gift that you could never hope to earn on your own, freely?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:7-8

So why do I cite these two verses?  Because of something that I recently became aware of; the belief by Catholics that the Pope is infallible, that he speaks for God.  That truly scared me.  Let me say this plainly: he is human.  Those verses about hearts being desperately wicked and the very best a person can muster being nothing more than filthy rags?  Guess what- they apply to the Pope as well!

O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart form You.”
Psalm 16:2

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you aide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

The only good in me is the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even with His presence, however, I am still a fallible human.  It doesn’t matter how much time I spend in prayer, at church, or singing worship songs.  I will still screw up.  Are we then to take the word of a man that is supposed to be infallible, speaking in what appears to be opposition to a list of Scriptures within the Bible?

Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
Romans 3:4a

When all these comments hit the news outlets and it seemed as though the media was taking Francis out of context, a Vatican spokesman, Thomas Rosica, quickly made a statement to try and clarify things.

“People who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.”

Now at this point, I will raise my hand to say that I know the Catholic Church.  I will never “enter or remain in her” because I know that my salvation is granted by the blood of Jesus Christ not a church of man.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2 Peter 2:1-3

So what I feel needs to be taken to heart here is that either God or man can be infallible.  Not both.  Compare anything you hear to the Bible to find the truth.

 

CPB

♫♪♫ Jesus Christ is on your side ♫♪♫

I realized earlier today that fits perfectly with the Nationwide jingle, which I find rather ironic because well, that’s what it seems many treat Him as; an insurance policy.

We all know those that when put on the spot and asked, will say, “Sure, I know Jesus, and He’s my savior,” but the remainder of the time, act as they always have, showing no outward signs of an inward change having taken place.  Could very well be that I am speaking of you.  (I know I myself was guilty of the above in my life.)

It’s as though they feel protected by having taken a single moment to pray for forgiveness but feel no need to really be changed and instead, continue as they had before, believing that because they told God they’re a sinner and need help, that they’re good.

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:1-2

You know the ones.  When life is good, you never hear them utter a word about prayer or church, but once they scrape along rock bottom for an inch or two, turn back to God and ask for guidance and help.

He’s not an insurance policy that you purchase, set aside, and only call on in case of emergency, and He is most certainly not a life insurance policy that you purchase while alive and only see the benefit of once you die.

“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
Luke 6:46

See that?  It’s pretty simple, really.  If He is truly Lord in your life, you do the things He says, follow His example, and have a regular relationship with Him, thereby showing your love of the Lord.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
John 14:15

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
John 13:13-17

The blessings don’t come merely by knowing of Jesus.  Even Richard Dawkins has heard of him.  The blessings come by following His example and living for Him.  By taking the steps necessary to move from being a sedentary hearer into the realm of actively doing.  Sure, if I stay inside, out of traffic, away from obnoxious drivers, I am most certainly not hating people (thereby committing murder in my heart because of the mere thought, Matthew 5:28) but I am far from showing God’s love for people.  After all, we were not charged with abstaining from becoming aggravated with others, but rather, to love others.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24

So yes, it is a daily choice that each must make as to which master will be served each and every morning; the world or the Lord.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammom.
Matthew 6:24

Pretty cut and dried.  Not to be taken lightly as one does when they get an insurance policy.  Once the coverages and deductibles are set, the premium is oftentimes set up on a direct payment method, (just for the additional discount that grants,) and then not given a second thought.

Rather similar to those that realize at one point that they need God and willingly accept the gift of His salvation through the blood of Christ.  They will even confess their transgressions to God and, for a time, attempt to reconcile themselves not only with the Almighty, but also with others.  Soon, however, the premiums of regular fellowship with other believers, reading of the Bible, and prayer seem to be too expensive a price to pay.

What happens when you don’t pay your insurance premium?

Your policy lapses and no longer has effect.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place- unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:4-5

If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
Psalm 66:18

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:1-2

It’s a daily choice to follow Christ.  We are called children of God, and as with earthly children and their parents, there is regular communication and fellowship.  It is not to be any different between us and our Heavenly Father.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Matthew 22:37

The reality of the situation is that once you fully grasp what Jesus did for you on the cross, it is completely life altering and there is no way you can, (or certainly even wish,) to go back to the way things were before God.  Being on fire for God comes naturally.

You begin to see fellowship, both with other believers, and with your Savior as something that you look forward to actively participating in instead of something that you view more as a job that you are required to check into and punch a time clock at.  It’s the life altering difference between “have to” and “get to.”

“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Matthew 7:14

“So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few chosen.”
Matthew 20:16

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

“For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

So again, it’s pretty clear.  God desires for all to be saved through His Son, Jesus, but clearly expresses that while He calls to everyone, not everyone will heed His call and find the narrow path to salvation.  One of the reasons not many make it to the narrow path is that they treat God as an insurance policy instead of as Abba, Father.

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Matthew 12:30

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

This is not a situation where you are able to sit on the edge of the pool dangling just your feet into the water to obtain the best of both worlds.  This is either all or nothing.  Either you are fully committed to God, or you are still a slave to sin living in the world.  What happens when you try to mix a fresh pot of coffee and ice cubes?  You get melted ice and coffee that is cold in spots, but still hot in others; overall, a beverage that is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:16

Sitting on the edge of the pool is not going to cut it.  You’re either sunning yourselves on the lounge chairs, or cannon balling into the deep end shouting for joy all the way in.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as the lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:9-16

See that?  God loved you, the broken sinner that you are, so much that He became sin for you and died so that you may now turn to Him and choose to live.  You do not work to earn your salvation.  It’s already been given freely, the moment that you accept that gift from God.  Instead, you now go out and work because of the gift of grace you have been given.  Paying a monthly premium does not cut it, and God will not be treated as an insurance policy.

 

CPB

 

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12:18

In today’s world of social media, it is not uncommon to have “friends” or those in your “circles” that are more truly acquaintances, or possibly even complete strangers.  I know I certainly have a handful of people on my lists that I have never actually met in person; some of whom I have only ever interacted with through various online games.

If there is one thing that social media has reinforced, it is my belief that people truly thrive on drama and where none exists, they will seek it out or create it from nothing.  What I mean is that people have a tendency to assume the worst; to think that things someone posts are targeted at them,  (Course, this goes hand in hand with our tendency to also fixate on self as well,) and then often respond accordingly whether on their own wall or by commenting directly back to their perceived “accuser.”

It would seem as though I encountered just this situation earlier tonight, though I am fully aware that I cannot see the full picture and know that two events which appear as though they could be related could in fact, be just two completely random events that fell into close proximity with one another.

What did I do?  I posted a verse to my wall.  What did I post?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8

So yeah, it just so happened to be one of those many verses that can easily convict a person, and yet one that reassures to the believer.

So mere moments later, someone that I have never actually met in person posted an image from their favorite atheist page presumably trying to paint Christians as whiners.  I cannot say for certain what the pie graph was attempting to depict as there was no title on it, but it showed a full Pac-man portion of the graph as Christians and distributed the remaining between non-religious, other, and Jews in decreasing order of the size of their slices.  The only thing to indicate what the graphic was attempting to show was a speech bubble coming off of the Christian portion stating, “Help! We’re being oppressed!”

To be honest, I think this is the first post he has shared from this atheist page that I actually agree with.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’
Matthew 10:34-36

As the pie graph did not have a title on it, it can be interpreted two very different ways.  While I am fairly sure that they intended it to show that Christians are the largest group of complainers, it could also just as easily signify that Christianity is actually the most persecuted religious group.

Unsure if that’s a valid statement?  Just run a Google search for “most persecuted religion,” and check out the results.  We all know that Christianity is punishable by, (at the very least,) prison time in numerous Arab nations and more commonly, punishable by death.  I don’t think I could actually think of another religion that I know to actually be punishable by death in any other nation aside from Christianity.

So as soon as it popped up, I figured it was a result of my earlier post of Scripture.  Knowing that the poster frequents atheist groups and has posted items that have targeted Christianity specifically in the past, I understood the intention of the image, but also soon saw the truth in the image as well, whether intended or not.  It wasn’t long before I wanted to either post a reply to the image stating that I agreed and the image was not far from the truth, or to post a new verse, namely either Matthew 10:34, or John 16:33

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

In the end though, I didn’t post anything else tonight.  The fact that Christians will be persecuted isn’t something that needs to be debated.  It’s seen in the news, and experienced even in small amounts in day to day activity, not to mention that we’ve been warned it will happen in the black, white, and red of the Bible.  But the truth behind that persecution that we don’t often remember is that we’re to take pleasure in them.

Therefore I take pleasures in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

 

CPB