Posted in family, God, Love, Tolerance

Loving Others When Issues Divide Us

A person in my family will not entertain any conversation about Donald Trump and they have made it clear how they despise even the mention of his name. They, “Can’t stand him.”

This person has not observed any good in Trump. They have not conceded that he has done good for America on any level. Their mind is completely closed.

There is no point in talking to someone of this persuasion as they are not open to any possible insights. We continue to love one another, and do not allow this to cause dissension in our family. We simply don’t go there. There are plenty of other things to talk about.

In other words, we show mutual respect for difference of opinion. Although they know others don’t see things their way, they too are tolerant of differences, if not of discussion.

Mask wearing is another area where our family members’ opinions differ. There is a little more tolerance for discussion with these members so we have talked about the subject. But, once again, there is a line we don’t want to cross. We don’t want to allow a difference of viewpoint to destroy our relationship, so we let the subject drop before it does that. We stop trying to persuade.

Trump is not all bad. He has made some positive changes in America. Masks provide some protection, depending on the material and construction. A challenging exercise is trying to hold two opposing views at the same time, balancing them against each other.

Another topic of dissension is religion. Religion is not all bad. Jewish law teaches us not to lie, steal, kill and commit adultery. Christ taught us what is considered as the Golden Rule, to love our neighbours as ourselves. Members of our family are not accepting of the religion of others, but they still continue to love one another.

When we love others we give them a lot of room. We have to allow them to make mistakes, to be wrong. We might try to help them, but even with good intentions, we will not always do the right thing. It takes humility to admit this.

Love genuinely wants the best for the other person. Unfortunately, there are a few among us who care little about others, but even in these cases, we must be careful not to jump to conclusions. I recently came across this, “Do not assume malice when ignorance could explain the situation.”

Some people shut you out when your views differ from theirs. You become the detestable “other.” I favor Christianity because it does not leave room for this attitude. In fact, it teaches people to “love your enemies” and to “pray for those who persecute you.”

I had a vision this week. I saw the love of God encompassing the world. I can’t really explain it. It was like giant arms, like a cloud, or a vapor, encompassing the earth. I was in prayer and I asked God if he wasn’t angry with the world and all the evil in it. In the Bible I read that God is often angry with the wicked, so I wanted to know. The vision zoomed in to those individual, private moments when people are most vulnerable and I was impressed with the thought that this is what God sees. This is what he does not forget, even when evil tries to obscure it. He looks beyond. This is who he loves.

We need to be a little more like God, loving beyond those things that annoy us. Loving beyond our differences.

We can allow evil to tear us apart or we can choose to love.

There are evil forces at work seeking to destroy what is precious and what is truly precious is our relationships. We must watch that our views do not become the most important thing. What matters is the other person, their needs, their dreams and desires. We can love, even with differences. But it may take some help from the example of Christ, who laid down his life, rather than persisting against resistance. At this special Christmas season, let’s remember, “For God so loved the world….”

I think the source of tolerance is the family. It is where we learn to care deeply. It is where we learn to be tolerant of differences. It is where we learn it is safe to make mistakes and where we learn to forgive. It is so important to guard these early relationships that will follow us all of our lives.

Posted in Belief in God, faith, God, Worship

Why I Believe in God and How This Changes My Life

“Imagine there’s no heaven, easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.” –John Lennon

It’s attractive–the idea of no religion. Nothing to divide people. No ultimate standard. No God. No judgement.

John Lennon’s utopia was imaginary and impossible. The reason is because people need to understand why they are on this earth and how they got here and who is responsible for their being here and what this implies. Hence, religions.

God-fearing people live their lives as though God is watching. Religion has exploited believers in numerous ways, so I don’t particularly want to associate myself with the common understanding of religion. I want to distill my faith to the basics, one of which is a belief in an eternal God who sees all. From here I move on to his son, Jesus Christ, and the significance of his life, death and resurrection. I am a believer in Christ because my research has led me to the conclusion that the evidence for his life, death and resurrection is overwhelming.

Mine is not a defence of religion, or of faith, or of belief in God. Mine is a call to an honest search. Jesus said, “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.” I cannot find your way for you. You have to find it for yourself. For me it meant casting aside my previously held beliefs and then examining every piece before I decided which ones I would pick up and keep. It is a brave thing to do. You don’t know at the outset what the outcome will be.

I watched a small bird hop around on my balcony and I allowed my imagination to wander to what went into the design of this little winged creature. Then I thought about the seeds it was eating, and the plants that produced those seeds, and the sun that shone on the plants, the rain that fell on them, the soil that nurtured the plants. I thought of the seasons. I thought of the galaxies. I thought of the perfect distance of the sun from the earth so that we are not scorched and do not freeze. I thought about the exquisite balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. I thought about gravity and the rotation of the earth around the sun, and the moon around the earth. And on and on and on. I thought about all the things that are not explained by the theory of evolution. Let’s remember it is only a theory. And it was a theory introduced as a reaction to the concept of religion and the possibility of a Creator. It is a theory that, when you really think about it, makes no sense at all. But people don’t want to think. Deep thinking scares them. It shakes their fabricated reality.

There is no possible way that this earth is an accident that happened over billions of years. So the only other alternative is that we are dealing with a Designer. A Designer with intent. From this point on I think it is reasonable to believe that this Designer wants to communicate with his creation. This is where religion begins. And there are many ways that religions have explained and tried to understand God.

It is the order of the universe that makes me a believer in a Creator. It is the fact that we have a conscience that makes me a believer in the righteousness of a Creator God. Up to this point most religions are similar but from here they begin to branch out with many tangents. I do not believe that all religions lead to God. God transcends religions. Religion is just a series of beliefs organized to understand God and to attempt to know how to respond to him. What I believe is that righteousness is at the heart of true religion. And I believe that God bridges the gap between his complete righteousness and our partial righteousness when we seek him and put our faith in him. However, this does require a type of re-birth, a dying of the old, a seed falling into the ground and a new life springing forth. The nature of God transcends all, even our human understanding. I cannot explain or describe God any more than I can explain or describe the wind and even this is a totally inadequate analogy. But I have felt God. And I worship him. I seek him with all my being. I desire to fulfill the design he had in creating me. My knowledge of God gives meaning to all I do.

My faith journey has been a life-long process and I have discovered many wonderful resources along the way. A book I recommend, and which profoundly impacted my search, is written by the late J. I. Packer, entitled Knowing God.