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For many who feel they can’t relate to God, there’s wonderful biblical encouragement which, I think, we don’t hear often enough.

For others, who talk much about a relationship with Jesus, I think they’ve missed the full impact of what that means. After four decades as a Christian, I know I certainly did.

It’s almost as if, had it not been for sin, man has no reason to relate to God. Jesus is only good for his blood and gig on the cross; so, other than getting people to heaven when they die, there’s little need to follow him.

At the start of this series, we saw that a soul is a whole person, the self, the essence of personhood and being. God is also a Soul, a Person.

“Soul” conveys a totality of spiritual and physical, visible and invisible components. The Greek word psuche is variously translated as life, self, heart, mind, soul, and person. Even when we shed our mortal bodies at physical death, Scripture indicates that the soul gains some type of spiritual body. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1Cor. 15:44)

For example, those in the afterlife are described as wearing clothes, although this could be a figure of speech. Nevertheless, they do speak and act, which indicates more than a floating, disembodied state of existence or merely telepathic interactions. The resurrection at the end of this age definitely reunites us with recognizable, yet better, physical bodies.

My point is that physical things always relate to spiritual things; and human souls are a microcosm of the unavoidable link between physical and spiritual, human and divine. (more…)

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There’s a perception in the church that all people at all times continually “miss the mark” and will always miss it no matter what we do. Straight from the womb, we hear, humanity falls short of God’s perfection, glory, and virtue. There are no exceptions, ever, even after we come to Christ.

It’s based on a partial Scripture: “…there is no one righteous, no not one,” usually coupled with “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” (Rom. 3:10, 23) Some Christians quote these as if God has nothing else to say.

But, (A.) there’s at least one exception: John the Baptist. “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” (Luk. 1:17) And, (B.) nearly every verse on human wickedness is immediately followed or preceded by a contrasting verse of human virtue. The Psalms and Proverbs alone hold dozens of examples of the wicked doing such and such, but the righteous doing something else.

So if there were no one righteous ever, those Scriptures would be false. And wouldn’t it fly in the face of Abraham, Noah, David, Rahab, Job, Mary, Joseph, and others whom God describes as upright, blameless, or righteous?

We can’t use partial verses as the whole truth; and we shouldn’t confuse the words righteous or perfect with “flawless.” That only delivers shame-perpetuating bad news and produces all sorts of treasure-stealing accusations. There’s better news! (more…)

Scratched wooden plank of house facade.

The 6th and final saboteur of well-being and healthy relationships are judgmentalism and hypocrisy. They’re the unavoidable result of embracing the culprits in steps 1-5. I may sound like a broken record, but sequence is the first key to success. Jesus doesn’t want us to fail. He wants us to win, so he laid it out in optimal order in his Sermon on the Mount.

If you wonder why people can be judgmental or difficult, it’s because they’re still full of willful anger and contempt, obsession over others, swearing or proving, score-keeping, or outer appearance.  Accordingly, people can’t not be judgmental or difficult!

If you don’t want to be this way yourself, you don’t start by trying to fix neighbors. You fix yourself. But you can’t start here; you start further back with the stuff that forms a judgmental, hypocritical spirit.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there’s a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Mat. 7:1-5)

Double-Crosser

A fine line separates judgmentalism and discernment. To distinguish differences is discernment—a good thing. To judge only by outer appearance is to pass judgment—not good. When you add the element of contempt, it’s double disaster.

For example, when my mechanic says that my Mustang’s fuel pump is going bad, he doesn’t condemn me as a terrible car owner. His motive isn’t to rake me over the coals, but to get maximum performance out of my car. He simply tells me what’s wrong and lets me decide if I want to make repairs. That’s discernment and good judgment. (more…)