Tuesday, 23 June 2015

of Subtle Conformity to Worldly Values

"For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son."
(Romans 8:29; NIV).

I remember once reading the story of how a psychologist brought several groups of ten students at a time together in a room for a little experiment. The instructions were simple enough; raise your hand when the psychologist pointed to the longest line on a series of charts. However, unbeknown to one student in each group was the fact that the other nine students in that group hand secretly been told ahead of time to raise their hands on the second longest line, regardless of the instructions given to the group.

In virtually every case, the one student who knew nothing of the ruse would glance around in confusion and ultimately, despite his/her better judgment, also raise a hand at the second longest line instead of the obvious longest line like the group had been instructed to do. This happened time after time; rather than confront the error of the group, that one poor self-conscious student simply went along with the rest of the group.

As I reflected on that psychologist’s experiment, I wondered if the same doesn’t also often happen with the church; not the institution, but rather individual Christian lives. Do we too tend to sometimes self-consciously go along with the group, even if we know deep down inside that they’re wrong? As I wondered about this, I was reminded again of one of my favourite Scriptures, Romans 12:1-2, which in the ESV reads:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by the testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I don’t know about you, but every time I read those verses, the one thing that stands out loud and clear is the question of exactly who is being “conformed,” or “transformed,” by whom? Sometimes I feel like that one lone student being duped into raising my hand at the second longest line, rather than the longest line that I know is correct.

Sometimes, instead of being beacons of light that, with the Spirit’s leading, draws the unsaved to Christ, I cannot help but wonder if the reverse is not true instead. Like that lone student in the group of ten, could it be that the world has subtly “conformed” and “transformed” many Christians (myself included) into its version of pseudo-light instead? After all, sometimes it seems virtually impossible to tell the believer and the non-believer apart. It’s almost as if everything now somehow has become acceptable and there is no longer a recognized morality versus immorality, even in the church. Have you ever wondered about that?

I think about these things every now and then.

Now I realize that I’m talking about outward appearances, which obviously does not necessarily represent the condition of the heart within, but is it not logical to assume that the inner condition would somehow also manifest itself externally? If the joy of the Lord is truly in my heart, then why does it not show itself more than it does? Is my faith a secret? Am I self-conscious too like that lone student in the psychologist’s experiment? If so then haven’t I seriously misread my New Testament and seriously misunderstood the teachings of my Lord and His apostles? Jesus once told His hearers,
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Let’s take that verse apart a bit.

“Let” is the same as saying to “allow” or “permit.” It’s something that we have control over. It’s a choice we make; I choose to “let” it happen or I choose not to “let” it happen. It’s completely up to me. If it were not so, then Jesus would not have given us the admonition to make it so. But He did; He said, “Let your light shine.” Still, the choice is mine, but how I choose then also brings with it the question of obedience versus disobedience to my Lord.

At the risk of digressing too far, this begged another question and that is, if I choose to deliberately disobey, then can I still rightly call Him Lord? Hmm, I wonder, but that’s a topic for another post.

“Shine” is more than simply being lit. There can be light, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bright. We can drive in the light of the day’s sun, on both cloudy and non-cloudy days, and see reasonably well; certainly better than driving at night. But try driving east as the sun comes up over the horizon, or driving west as the sun begins to set, and it “shines” so bright in your eyes that you can hardly see anything else around you. It’s in that sense that I think our Lord would have us to shine; so that the world can barely see anything else because the light of the "Son" is right there in their faces and in their eyes that they are essentially blinded to everything else.

This kind of reminds me of Moses who used to have to cover his face with a veil after having been in the presence of the Lord, because his face just radiated God (Exodus 34: 29-35). Ever meet Christians whose faces just seem radiate Jesus, no matter what the circumstances? I know a few like that. One would almost have to veil their faces too in order to keep from being “Son-burnt.” I confess that sometimes I’m even a little envious, wishing I too had such a witness.

“Good deeds” implies just that; our actions matter and we will be doing good deeds for the benefit of others. In other words, our walks will line up with our talks. Someone once said something to the effect of, “I won’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” Deeds do matter. James went so far as to say that “faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Furthermore, if we can speak of “good” deeds, then it stands to reason that there can also be “bad” deeds, or maybe better yet, “evil” deeds. As Christians, ours are always to be of the “good” variety.

“Praise your Father in heaven” is the ultimate purpose of what Jesus was driving at. The goal is that my life and profession of faith be of such a nature as to lead others (and by that I include non-believers) to “praise your Father in heaven.” Again, please understand that I do not mean this as a guilt-trip for others, but rather I see this as an exercise in my own walk of faith. Does my day to day lifestyle, my “deeds,” my activity and “light” lead others around me in my circle of influence to “praise your Father in heaven” or not? If I were honest with myself, I would have to admit that it probably doesn’t happen as often as it should. I wonder why that is.

Where do I go from here? Well it’s a good thing that Jesus isn’t a baseball umpire; I would have struck out long ago. Where I will go from here is to not dwell on the "would-have’s, should-have’s, could-have’s," but to move on in His grace and love, striving to listen a little more to the leading of the Spirit, and to let my light shine a little more before men, striving to excel a little more in the “good deeds” department, all so that God may be glorified a little more as others come to the place where they too “praise your Father in heaven.”

I wonder how many experiments that psychologist would have had to perform before she found one student to stand up and choose the longest line, regardless of the fact that the other nine chose differently? Furthermore, despite their earlier instructions, I wonder if some of the other nine might not then have “transformed” their earlier vote and become “conformed” to the vote of the one lone student.

It’s easier to go along with the masses, there are plenty of examples in society of this, but it’s better to “not be conformed to this world.” Something to think about. Peace & Blessings.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Are You Just Another Brick in the Wall?

Are you a Mason?

Yes, I'm talking about a secret society, but it's not the Freemasons. This society is so secret that most of its adherents don't even know they are members.

Has anyone ever said to you "you wouldn't understand?" Have you ever said something like, "He has built a wall around his heart?"

What if I told you that you might have contributed to the construction?

I have recently found out that I may have built a wall around someone else's heart, or at least contributed a few bricks. You see, I found out that someone that I care about dearly has been suffering in silence. This person has made some choices and mistakes in life, and has been regretting them. Unfortunately, I have been rather outspoken about my opinion on these subjects. So, while this person was hurting, I was probably one of the last people to be considered for the role of confidante.

Can you relate? Have you ever found out that someone close to you has done some of the things that you preach against? If so, then you might know the feeling of shame that I must now endure. It makes me realize I have been far less like Christ than I should have been. So what do we do with that?

How do we express our thoughts on subjects that we feel are important without contributing bricks to someone else's wall? There must be a way to express our opinions without causing someone else to feel that we are not approachable. After all, the situation is not improved if we are the ones behind the wall. I think the key may lie in one detail from the situation that sparked this post: I have known this person for almost half my life. You see, I have been making a concerted effort over the past several years to tone down the religious rhetoric, but this person has known me during a part of my life when I was regularly opening my mouth long enough to change feet.

It seems to me that the problem may lie in the use of absolutes when discussing what we understand to be "truth." We Christians can be the worst at this. We make statements, often publicly, based on the combination of our personal story and our reflections on scripture. While those statements and observations may be valid, we must remember that the only way to prove that matters of faith are correct (or false) is to die.

Perhaps we should learn a lesson from Socrates. One of the things that have caused him to remain relevant over the years is that he would ask probing questions that would cause his fellow interlocutors to consider evidence and eventually discover "truth" on their own. This has become known as Socratic Questioning. So instead of saying some vice or choice is wrong, we should perhaps lead those around us on a journey of questioning that will help them to find the truth. Occasionally, we may even find out in the process, that it is what we understand to be the truth that needs correcting.

I hope that people who have gotten to know me over the past decade or so would find it hard to believe that I might be unapproachable. I am still a work in progress. To the person who sparked this post (you know who you are), I'm sorry. Please forgive me, and give me a chance to pull down the bricks that I have laid.

God help me to abandon this society of Masons.

by Guest Blogger: Waldo Rochow
Photo Credit: Rose Morelli, Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Graciousness: Leaving the Stones at Home

Friends, here's another guest blogger post that we've entitled:

"Graciousness: Leaving the Stones at Home."

A big "Thank You" to my little brother for sharing. Peace & Blessings to you and yours.
__________

Are Christians called to be gracious? I suppose it depends on what you mean by gracious. I asked Google to "define: gracious" and interestingly, it provided me with two definitions for the adjective "gracious." One in common vernacular, and the other from a Christian perspective.

gra·cious
/’grāSHəs/
adjective
1. courteous, kind, and pleasant.
"smiling and gracious in defeat"
synonyms: courteous, polite, civil, chivalrous, well mannered, mannerly, decorous;
2. (in Christian belief) showing divine grace.
"I am saved by God's gracious intervention on my behalf"
synonyms: merciful, compassionate, kind;

I believe we are, but not specifically in the common definition (though, I do believe that the second builds on the first). We are not merely called to be the "hostess with the mostess", but gracious in the way that Christ was while He was with us.

Now obviously, Christ didn't walk around the Middle East being followed by a stenographer who was feverishly writing down his every word; so we have limited data from which to draw our opinions. However, it seems from my readings of scripture that the only people that Christ criticized were the people in the religious community. He lambasted them regularly, I believe, because they should have known better. I think the only time that Christ used harsh language was when he was addressing the church. Toward the unchurched and uneducated He was soft and tender. He used language that was simple, and non-confrontational.

Many people have made a big deal about the fact that Jesus ate with various "sinners". We have (...ok, I have), always viewed that as an example of how tolerant Jesus was toward the lost sheep of Israel. But it occurred to me today that He was invited to their table. It doesn't seem to be very likely that Christ knocked on the door and said "let me bless you with my presence." It was more likely that he was speaking to some of them close to mealtime and they invited Him to dine with them.

I can't imagine the religious leaders of the day being invited to dine with prostitutes and tax collectors. Of course, it wouldn't be a problem since the religious folks wouldn't likely have accepted such an invitation anyway. But my point is, the "sinners" felt comfortable enough with Jesus to invite Him to dinner. They obviously didn't feel that they would be "lectured at" for their lifestyle or the choices that they've made. They likely felt a rapport with Him. When I think of the people I've met, whose company I enjoyed the most, they were the people who let me tell my story. Chances are good that Jesus was the same way. (Can you imagine being in the presence of the living God incarnate, and having Him ask you about the things that are important to you?).

So here's the bite: Do we follow in the footsteps of Christ, or in the footsteps of the "good" religious folks? Do we have pet sins about which we cannot keep silent? Is there a particular group of "sinners" who would never invite us to dinner? Alcoholics? Drug users? Profaners? Homosexuals? Transvestites? Adulterers? The corrupt? The inhumane? Convicted criminals? Moslems? Jews? Jehovah's witnesses? Atheists?

If you ask most Christians today, (and they answer honestly), I'll bet that they feel that God wants them to point out the error in such sinful lifestyles. But my question is this: Why would God expect that of us, if He didn't expect it of His own son? If His own son could make these people so comfortable that they would invite Him into their homes, why would God expect us to shame the same types of people into repentance? Now, God does expect us to root out such lifestyle choices in the body of Christ. Of that I have no doubt.

When we see someone professing to be a follower of Jesus, especially if they are leading others, and they have obvious sin in their lives, they should be lovingly corrected, and coached to bring restoration. But even there, I feel that the rebuke must be gentle and compassionate, because none of us deserve the salvation that Christ offers. (Let him without sin cast the first stone). But those that are sinning against a God in whom they don't believe first need to be introduced to Him. They need to experience His grace first hand... and since we are His hands and feet (and mouth), it falls on us to show them the mercy, compassion, and kindness that Christ himself would have shown had He been here today.

May God grant us a tongue that is still enough, and ears that are open enough, to hear the concerns of His elect; and patience enough to make the introduction.

Twelve Life Lessons from Noah's Ark

I came across the following recently, and while its authorship remains unknown to me, I thought it worth sharing. It's not overly profound, nor is it theologically deep, but it is cute. And besides, sometimes I think it's healthy to insert a little cuteness, fun and simplicity into all that seriousness that we call life, and sometimes likewise, into all that seriousness that we exhibit in our Rethinking Faith and Church.

Having said that, what are the twelve life lessons from Noah's Ark? They are these:

1. Don't miss the boat.

2. Don't forget that we're all in the same boat.

3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

4. Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone might just ask you to do something really, really  big.

5. Don't listen to critics. Just get on with what has to be done.

6. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.

7. Two heads are better than one.

8. Build your future on high ground.

9. Speed wasn't always an advantage. After all, the snails were on the same ark with the cheetahs.

10. When you are stressed, float a while.

11. Remember, the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals.

12. Remember that the woodpeckers inside are a larger threat than the storm outside.

Photo and List Source: Unknown

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Can A Real Christian be Depressed?

Rethinking Faith and Church started a discussion on its Facebook page on Thursday May 7th, 2015 with the following:

"Is 'Blessed' the opposite of 'Depressed?' If so, and at the risk of over simplifying the problem, does that then imply that a potential biblical answer to depression may be found in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5? Why or why not? Thoughts?"

Thankfully, at least in Canada, the stigma attached to mental illness is gradually being removed, and for many people with chronic depression, it is becoming easier to get treatment. I don't feel that this discussion was intended to include those for whom depression is part of their over-all mental health. Neither I nor Rethinking Faith and Church, would ever want to make light of the living hell in which people with chronic depression must live.

However, many people do go through short periods of depression... sometimes lasting several months. And before you say “several months” doesn't sound short, consider that there are many people who enure depression for years. I myself, have endured depression for several months. My life wasn't going the way I thought it would be going, and in my mid to late forties, I slumped into a very dark time ... more than once.

Before going into the thoughts that this discussion stirred up in me, let's review the Beatitudes:
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12; NIV)
As an initial observation, I don't see Blessed are the Depressed.

The responses to the Facebook post were swift. Mostly stating that the question of Blessed and Depressed being opposites was in fact over-simplifying it. And I tend to agree. I suspect that Rethinking Faith and Church was trying to stimulate conversation on a subject that many Christians try to avoid. Many Christians do feel that being depressed is an indication that one's faith is weak, and perhaps even non-existant. It's sad, but during my darkest days, meditating on how blessed I am, only made my depression worse. That meditation would introduce feelings of guilt for my depression in the midst of such blessings. I would often ask a brother if he wanted to join my “pity party”.

I added to the discussion the following. What was missing in our discussion were the preceding words to the two words that were being considered. Both of these words are typically preceded by one of two verbs: "to be" or "to feel."

As Christians we are (ie: "to be") always blessed. That blessing will (at least) be manifested when we leave this rock and avoid the eternal damnation that we all deserve. However, we don't always "feel" blessed. Feelings are temporary states of mind that come and go throughout our stay on this rock. Sometimes we feel depressed, sometimes we feel blessed, and (if we're honest) sometimes we even feel damned. So, yes ... one could make an argument for these two words being opposites, but only in combination with the verb "to feel." However, one must avoid using a reminder of our blessed future as a tool to "snap" someone out of depression. As I said earlier, in my experience that only exacerbates the depression.

If you are suffering with depression, I would like to encourage you with this:
1. Your feelings are not “bad” feelings. There is no such thing as bad feelings. Even Jesus asked why God had forsaken Him. (Matthew 27:46). 
2. Your depression is temporary. Yes, even chronic depression for the Christian is temporary, because there will be no depression when we go to be with our Lord. (Revelation 21:4).
3. There is help. Reach out to your family, friends, church, doctor, dentist... whomever. If you are seriously thinking about hurting yourself to make it stop (I understand), go to the emergency unit at your local hospital, or call 9-1-1. 
4. Know this: You are loved. Though right now, you may not “feel” loved, you are a child of the most high God, and He knows what you are going through. And, He will sustain you.
And though I may not know you, I love you.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14; NIV)

Photo Credit: Don Hankins, Flickr Creative Commons
____________________

POSTSCRIPT:
Guest blogger Waldo Rochow is, of course correct, when he stated: “I suspect that Rethinking Faith and Church was trying to stimulate conversation on a subject that many Christians try to avoid.” We believe that any discussion, if done in the right spirit and with grace and love, can be a very healthy thing, and may even help to promote healing. This blog post was titled, “Can a Real Christian be Depressed?” Of course they can! But perhaps that’s where the Body of Christ comes in and truly shines; not with a bunch of accusations and finger pointing and “thou shall not’s” and the all too common practice of poor eisegesis (as opposed to exegesis), but with genuine and non-pretentious LOVE and CARING and COMPASSION for our brothers and sisters who often struggle just to make it through another day. Something to think about. Thanks for sharing, Bro. Peace and Blessings.

Friday, 1 May 2015

of Antique Bibles and Dust Collectors

Tonight as I took a break from my studies (yes, I'm back in school yet again), I glanced around my home office and noticed how many Bibles I had on my shelves. On top of that, I also have a few more favourite versions scattered around my favourite chair in the living room. Clearly, I am not a Scripture deprived person!

As I dwelt on that, I became almost ashamed, as I also pondered how many Christians around the world would absolutely love to have even one Bible to call their own, but who do not.

However, to be fair and before I beat myself up too much, we have also been directly involved in shipping New Testaments overseas. I remember acquiring a few cases of New Testaments some years ago, one case of which was in the French language. As we have friends who have served as missionaries to Haiti, and as they were returning for a visit, we tucked all the French New Testaments we could into their luggage. After all, most Haitians are Creole speaking, and many of them read Creole's cousin language, French. It only made sense to send these to Haiti. Others I continue to periodically give away here and there as the Spirit leads.

But back to my own collection. As I perused my plethora of books and Bibles, I saw one little old Bible that I forgot I had. Many years ago, in an institutional church in which I served as bi-vocational pastor, someone came to me one day and presented me with an old Bible he found in a garage sale. It was a clearly an antique.

As I carefully opened up the Bible, I saw a hand-written inscription inside that was barely legible, but the date was still very much discernible. It was dated 1896. As I reminded myself about this treasure, I thought about how someone, now some 119 years ago, was presented a gift of this Bible.

I wondered about who she or he was. I wondered if he or she actually read this Bible, or if it simply ended up on a shelf, collecting dust, as it has in my home. I wondered if the recipient of this gift came to know Jesus, of whom this book is all about. I wondered if one day I will meet its original owner when the Lord calls me home and I too cross from this life into the next. Will she or he be there? Let's take that one step further; will we know each other? Who knows?

In our day and age, many of us do have multiple Bibles in multiple translations in our collections. There is no question that some of these do sit on shelves collecting dust, whereas others become our favourites that we read regularly. The important thing is that we are in fact reading.

How about you? Do you have a favourite Bible that you read regularly? Or are all your Bibles simply aging on a shelf somewhere collecting dust? If so, maybe at the very least, you should at least write this year's date inside the front cover. At least then, after you're long dead and gone, someone from some future generation may come across your now ancient Bible and be in awe at just how old it is.

Now I'm not suggesting that the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that one reads a Bible whereas the other does not. Certainly not! But maybe in all fairness, the person who one day finds an old Bible of ours in a garage sale somewhere, may also ask a similar question, wondering if its original owner really knew the Lord, or was just a Bible collector.

Something to think about. Peace.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Agree to Disagree (but Live in Peace Anyways)

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” (1 Peter 2: 11-12; NIV)

Recently a friend posted a comment on Facebook that got me thinking and which, as often happens, raised several other questions for me. He said,

“I can’t expect the rest of the world to obey God
when Christians won’t.”

Now I’m not sure what you think about that statement, but I think I understand where he’s coming from, and to a point, I agree. Here are a few random thoughts and musings that went through my head after reading that.

I got to thinking about our Christian values, ethics and doctrines. Most of us hold dearly to them; they are pretty much “non-negotiable.” They define us and they define our faith and understanding of who God is and what He expects of us (or doesn’t expect of us). We’re good with them, and if we have a problem with them, it is only in that we cannot understand why there are other Christians who apparently cannot see these things the way we do.

The fact that on many issues even Christians are not united, such as the recent hoopla over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana and the alleged discrimination that it brings to the LGBT community, brings us back to my friend’s post. When it comes to a specific theological position or worldview, regardless which side of the fence we’re on, we’re quite possibly going to see our neighbors on the other side of the fence as not obeying God. After all, how can they be if God obviously sees the situation the way I do? ... I’m being facetious. (For more on the Religious Freedom Restoration Actsee my earlier blog post)

All this begged another couple random questions. How “Christian” are those values, ethics and doctrines that we’ve embraced anyways? Secondly, how do we reconcile the fact that some of our brothers and sisters clearly do not hold to them like we do? Let’s pause for a moment and think of the implications in those loaded questions.

Either they’re wrong or (heaven forbid) we’re wrong … or one of us isn’t actually a real Christian (a sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing) … or God was mistaken … or those “Christian” values, ethics and doctrines are actually “pseudo-Christian” … or God changed His mind. But which one is right? Which ones are wrong? Does one have to be right or wrong? In and of themselves, none of the options are particularly comfortable. Furthermore, the whole question hinges on a judgment call that leaves an equally bad taste in most of our mouths. Some will no doubt ask, shouldn’t I be more focused on the plank in my own eye rather than the speck in my neighbor’s eye (Matthew 7:3)? Maybe I should.

There is another equally disturbing question that I found myself musing upon. My friend’s allegation is that Christians do not obey God. Obviously that’s somewhat of an unfair generalization, and I’m sure he meant it somewhat “tongue ‘n cheek,” but let’s work with it for a second. If that were true, and building on everything we’ve already said thus far, could it be that some of us have developed a rather subjective view of what it means to be a Christian? I’ve often wondered about that. Though I really don’t want to go there, I think the question logically follows. If that were not true, then my friend is perhaps right, and some of us are deliberately being disobedient to God. Is the word of God … subjective?

One final question the comes out of my friend’s post, and one which I’ve stewed on a number of times before, is this: Do Christians really have the right to expect the secular world to live according to Christian values, ethics and doctrines? It seems to me that this question becomes even more profound when we recognize that even within the church we cannot see eye-to-eye on what is truly non-negotiable in the Christian faith. The famous “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind as a non-negotiable, but even there, many of us seem to have added a list of exceptions to the rule of “love one another.”

While I do not believe that we Christians should expect non-believers to embrace and live their lives according to our values, neither do I believe that the non-Christian world should expect me to embrace its worldview. We’ve all heard people say, “Don’t push your religion down my throat,” and yet the irony is that the world does that to the Christian too, expecting us to kneel down and “worship” its values, even though they often contradict ours. Obviously we all still have a lot to learn about how to treat one another on this rock called Earth.

I don’t want to be militant about these things. I do want to “make every effort to live in peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14), keeping in mind that Jesus said I “do not belong to the world” (John 15:19). Once I came to grips with that, I also began to understand a little better Peter’s admonition that, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). As such, I have stopped concerning myself with how the other guy chooses to live his or her life, knowing that they too will one day have to give an account to God, regardless whether or not they believe in Him today.

But then again, I suppose that not everyone believes that either, and that’s okay. Maybe the old adage of "Agree to Disagree" is enough. Maybe we don't need to fully understand the mind of God on these things. Maybe the old children's hymn is enough,
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
Maybe if Christians spent a little more time focussing on that, it would be enough to live in peace with one another, despite our disagreements and misunderstandings. Maybe that's the one Christian value, ethic and doctrine that really matters. Maybe ...

Peace & Blessings.

Photo Credit: Philip Bitnar, Flickr Creative Commons
Quoted Friend: Ransom Backus (Identified with his permission)