February 13, 2013
There are many challenges that we face in life, and many questions that we confront each day. It is my desire that this blog will help the reader to find the strength they need to meet the challenges, and that they will see the answers that God give for the questions.
“All things” is the title and it is taken from 2 Peter 1:3 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him…”
Through God’s Word we have all we need to guide us through this life. Through the good times and the rough times, God has provided his answers. He also revealed to us how we should live, and how we can please Him with our lives. “All Things pertaining to life and godliness” is a phrase that includes our action, our thoughts, our frame of mind, our spirituality, and our attitudes toward life. I pray that this column will be an encouragement to you, and that it will challenge your thinking.
As we think of God, and religion, I understand there is a great diversity of opinions. Ideas about God differ, and there are more religious belief systems than I care to list. There is nothing wrong with strong beliefs, and there is nothing wrong with sharing those beliefs with other people. Two words are often used in speaking about religious diversity; tolerance and acceptance. I am a Bible believing Christian which means the Bible decides what I believe and how I live my life because I believe it is God’s Word. There are others who do not hold this view. I should be tolerant of other views. I can not force others to accept my beliefs. They have a freedom to believe whatever they chose. That is tolerance. A Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, or any other person’s belief’s should be tolerated, but that does not mean they have to be accepted as true, or equally valid. There is nothing wrong with believing you have the true belief or religion. A muslim can believe that they are following the true and right way and that the other ways are wrong. A Buddhist can believe that they have the corner on truth, and the Christian can believe that Christ is the only way. The Hindu does not have to accept my beliefs as being right, and I as a Christian do not have to accept the Hindu’s beliefs, but that does not mean we should hate each other, or seek to throw one another in jail, or kill someone of a different faith. It also does not mean that we should try to mix everything to together in a religious buffet. As a Christian I will stand for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Christ is the only way of salvation, and a Christian will not compromise those beliefs, because if they do then they are no longer following true Christianity. I also expect that the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, and all others would do the same concerning their beliefs, and they have the right to do that. We can be tolerant of religious beliefs, but we do not have to accept them all as truth. This blog will make reference to the Bible, because it has in it “all things pertaining to life and godliness”. Some readers will agree with what is written and some will disagree, but please read it with a open mind.
The Spread of Christianity
Reaching the Individual
Christianity’s relationship to government has varied over the years. When it began it was first unnoticed as just a sect of Judaism. It soon became an illegal religion, and was persecuted by the Roman Empire. Slowly it was legalized and then became the religion of that empire. Over the years Christianity has continued to be either ignored, persecuted, or obeyed as a rule of law by nations. What did God intend for Christianity? Are Christians to seek to rule society, or did he intend for the followers of Christ to be
hated, despised and martyred?
In the New Testament we are told in Romans 13:1 to be subject to the “powers that be”. Christ mentioned to the Jews when asked in Matthew 22:17-22 about taxes he said[ to give to Caesar the things that are Caesars It is interesting that Christ did not say, Throw off the bonds of this evil Roman dictatorship. When Paul wrote for us to obey the government, he was under the rulership of Roman and was later put to death by the Emperor Nero. No where in the Bible are Christians told to seek overthrow government or to rule the nations that we live in by imposing Christianity on others.
What is our relationship to government, can a Christian be active in politics? It is also true that the Bible does not say that a Christian cannot be in government, or be active in trying to form the laws of society, but as Christians we cannot legislate the conversion of individuals to Christianity. True Christian conversion is an individual decision. We cannot say be a Christian or else. We need to say to the individual “Here is the gospel of Christ. It is a free gift if you will receive Christ as Savior, but you must accept it by your own will.” Throughout history the worst in religion has been seen when people are forced or coerced into accepting a religion, and Christianity has not been the only religion guilty of this. We as Christians are commanded by God and preach the Gospel to every one (Mark 16:15). We are not told that we must convert everyone. It is Christ who converts, but we must take the message and live the message. True Christianity will never force people to follow Christ, because Christ never commanded believers to do that. We as Christian are to seek to reach the individual for Christ, and when that is done then true change takes place.Because the Lord tells us in I Corinthians 5:17 “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are past away, behold all things are become new.”