Same old song and dance
Well I just spent the last hour typing a very long message only to lose it all...Ugh. Maybe it was a bit harsh and shouldn't have been posted in the way I wrote it or it was too long and needed to be shortened. Anyway, I will try and recreate it again as best I can.
I am so sick and tired of bible verses being pulled out of context in order to prove a point. So let me give my opinion.
Matt 16:24 was taken out of context and the inference the young lady suggests is that in order to take up our cross and follow Jesus, we need to deny our identity and personhood. That is NOT the context and if she had backed up 1 verse, the context for Jesus statement would be clear. Peter had just rebuked Jesus for telling his disciples that he would be going to Jersualem in order to die. Jesus rebukes Peter in return by saying "get behind me satan, you are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but mans." And then he goes on to tell the disciples that in order to follow him they need to deny themselves. The context here is NOT denying ones identity, but denying the selfish man interests. He's saying that denying yourself is about trading the interests of man for the interests of God. The context is about who is in control, who sits in the seat of authority of ones life you (the self) or God (Jesus Spirit)? Denying yourself does NOT mean you have to obliterate your identity or personhood. Denying yourself is about WHAT you do, not WHO you are.
God is invisible, astoundingly diverse, unfathomable, and unsearchable in his ways and characteristics. And as such, he has so much love to give and share. Because he is invisible, the only way for him to do this is THROUGH his followers. When we accept Jesus, we are denying ourselves. And when we accept and embrace ourselves (our identity, personhood, and all that makes us us) we are giving God room to live and breath in us. God lives in and through us, so when we deny our identity to take up something else, we also deny God his identity and expression through us. I would like to add that the concept of denying ourselves is also described in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus denied himself in that garden when he cried out "Not my will, but yours be done." He didn't deny his identity when he cried that out. In fact, by crying out this way, he was in fact TRULY accepting and embracing his identity. And by doing that God had the ability to express himself THROUGH the identity of Jesus at that moment. Jesus (and therefore God) was being who he was created to be, not rejecting or denying it. What he was denying was his own personal interests. He was denying the "what" he (Jesus the person) desired to do (or had interest in doing) he wasn't denying who he was in order to take up His cross and follow God.
The young woman also quotes from James 2:10-11, again taken out of context. If you go back several verses, you will see that James is encouraging his readers to remove all those things that divide people. He's telling them to quit being partial about people. Give up the cliques and groupings of people. The context again for verse 10 and 11 is setup in vs 8 and 9.
"If, however, you are fulfilling the ROYAL law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Then vs 10 and 11 shows the examples of adultery and murder, and James basically is saying if you commit one sin (using the old law as the standard) even if you don't commit other sins, you are still sinning.
The remedy for all this is in the two verses that follow. I'll explain in a minute what I'm after here. James has just told them, stop dividing yourselves based on the law because if you commit one sin and not the others, you still are sinning. He's telling them, stop being so high and mighty by dividing yourselves and then showing partiality to others because of that stance. Don't stand there calling yourselves righteous, and snicker at others you deem are unrighteous because you use the old law as the standard of measure, especially when that's not the law God uses as the standard anymore. And he gives the examples of how this is so based on the old law. Then in verse 12 and 13 he tells them "So speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment."
What James is rebuking and condemning here is judgmentalism. He's telling them stop pointing out someone elses sin based on a standard that God no longer uses. James is showing the difference between the two laws that are at work. The old law and the new law. And the new law is the LAW of LIBERTY. He specifically identifies this. And he also told them what that law of liberty is. We no longer live by the old law, we live by 2 commandments given by Jesus. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And James tells them if you live by THAT law, you are doing well. But if you live and judge yourself and others by the old law, then know that the judgment for you will be harsh because judgment is merciless to those who show no mercy. Mercy ALWAYS triumphs over judgment.
There are many writings on this website and others out there, that show that we no longer live by the old law of right and wrong, we live by a higher law. Jesus fulfilled the old law, the written law. So we no longer live by moses law, the written law, the 613 commandments and other jewish laws that were written. If that's the case and the woman who wrote this is wanting to use old testament laws to live by, then she would have to stop eating pork products, she would no longer be allowed to go to the funerals and wakes where the bodies of the deceased are, she would have to quit watching football if she's a fan (the ball is made from porkskin) and she would have to quit wearing most of the clothes she wears. This website and others have much to say about the old testament condemnation of homosexuality and how we no longer live by those codes. And as far as the NT verses she quotes, there again are many materials about what those verses actually say and what they mean and I don't need to reinvent the wheel to place them here.
If we live by right and wrong, then we are living from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. And that's the wrong tree to eat from. We were meant to live from the tree of life. That's freedom, that's God's spirit/life within us.
1 John 2:1 shares with us that we will not be perfect beings while still in our bodies and on this earth. When we accept christ, we don't just magically become perfect beings, never to sin again. In fact John writes "My little children, I am writing these things to you that you MAY not sin (it doesn't say will not, do not, or cannot sin). He goes on to say And if anyone sins (uh oh, does that mean that maybe just maybe after we are christians, we might just in fact make mistakes and sin, even though we try our very best not to?), And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Oh boy, we are righteous because Jesus is righteous, not because we accept christ and all of a sudden become perfect and never sin again or be righteous or do righteous things in our own selves and power.
I'm so sick of people being shoved back into the chains of bondage living out of "right" and "wrong" and then putting that on others as well, and then worse yet, judging them as a result. We were made free in christ from the bondage of the law. I so desperately wish that we would give ourselves and others a break. We can't keep putting these expectations of perfection on ourselves or others, for if we do all we will bring upon ourselves or others is condemnation, despair, hopelessness, guilt and all those things Jesus came to free us from.
Please, please live free in the law of liberty. Be free of the chains of "right" and "wrong". Don't deny God by denying yourself. Don't deny God the chance and expression to work in HARMONY WITH your identity instead of because of it or in spite of it. Be free to be you and in doing so, God will be free to be Him IN and THROUGH you.
I'm sorry this is so long or harsh, I don't mean it to be. I just get so angry at how the grace of God has been perverted into a twisted idea of judgment and law. The spirit (life) of God is where it's at, not do's and don'ts, rights and wrongs...
Be who you were created to be and allow God to share himself with others through that diversity and uniqueness, not in spite of it...
That's my two cents for what it's worth, spend it wisely!