In necessary things unity; in uncertain things liberty; in all things charity.Unknown
With all our differing theologies
Where we claim this about God
And that about enduring to the end.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we focus on Jesus,
The Author and Perfecter of our faith.
It matters, most importantly,
That we focus on Unity in Christ,
Because all that matters, ultimately, is that we are saved.
We have been renewed, set apart, freed from sin.
We are free.
Thanks to the cross,
Nothing else matters.
Doctrine doesn’t matter.
Arguments of theology don’t matter.
What matters is Jesus,
And his enduring love for us.
May we love him and all others back.
Because what matters most
Is Jesus and our love for him and all creation.
Alleluia and Amen.
A response to my theological focus in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). As Pastor Penny told me, all that matters is Jesus and that we are saved.
Once, I was being evicted from my apartment.
It was a horrible time.
But I knew that God had a plan of good in my life, and that this could very well be part of the plan.
I also knew that God used bad times for good, and might have even allowed them to use for my betterment.
It was a complicated time. Still, theology is complicated for me. For the past year, my theology has shifted so much I worry I won’t be able to recognize it a year from now. Am I becoming Calvinist? NOPE! But, I do think God has a plan for our lives. I believe he ordains a plan of goodness for our lives, which includes using bad stuff for our goodness.
God does not ordain pain. He just allows it and uses it for his greater purpose.
When I was being evicted, I knew God has a plan of goodness for my life. I knew he was using this as part of his plan, his teaching for me, his ultimate goal. What is his ultimate goal for me now? I think it is to become a pastor and chaplain, who is resilient to housing troubles and can be of help to those in the throngs of eviction.
Eviction is a terrible experience. Let’s face it, it’s a b*tch. I wouldn’t wish that on my enemy.
I’m still Arminian – I just believe in both God’s sovereignty and our free will. I do believe we can’t mess up God’s plan for our lives – I think he just hits the “reroute” button on his “god desk.” Plus, I’m hoping that our rerouting is God’s plan of goodness all along. God, knowing all things from past, present, and future, uses our future decisions and upsets as part of his “plan” to help us get to a better future, one we couldn’t have imagined at all.
God does not ordain, cause, or wish the bad stuff. Yes, the bad stuff could have been used for our good, but I don’t think God could plan bad things for us at all. He just uses the bad for good.
What good came out of my eviction? Resiliency, I’m sure of that. Other than that, a positive attitude in times of trouble, because I know one way or another: God is always there helping. No matter what, God’s got my back someway, somehow.
He’s the all powerful God and we’re semi-powerful human beings; beings that have made choices that altered history forever (i.e. Holocaust, 9/11).
And the multiple times the Bible speaks of God ordaining believers or events before the beginning of the Earth? An explanation in hindsight that comforted the Jews and early church. To them, if God ordained all this bad stuff, then it was okay.
I imagine we are still giving ourselves that explanation – even I still do it.
But I remember: God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. Forever and ever.
Alleluia and Amen.
EDIT: I asked my pastor yesterday, and realized all beliefs are welcome, including Arminian. I even asked my pastor if she was Calvinist, and she said no!! She said she follows mostly Wesleyan beliefs, and that she takes comfort from each church in Christianity – United Methodist, Presbyterian, all. I misunderstood everything for York FCC! As always, I am always learning. I took out the wrong parts about my church in this essay.
I just wanted to share a small testimony of my future in faith:
While I don’t know what the future holds, I know Christ holds me in his arms.
Just this past year, I’ve moved away from works and grace theology (Catholicism-like theology) to just being saved by grace. I’ve also moved from my sacred Unitarian faith, which made me feel alienated from all other Christians, to the Trinitarian faith. There are still some days that I struggle with the Trinity, I just know that I have to press on and continue to believe. I can do this.
Now, what does the future hold? While I am and always be Arminian in faith, I’ve been looking at Calvinism. I’m still hung up on certain things, such as God ordaining the Holocaust and pain and death. I mean, even Jesus cried at Lazarus’ funeral. Although, a Calvinist could argue that Lazarus died to give God the glory (by resurrecting him). So, I’m not sure. I just don’t see anything glorious about the Holocaust happening, and the rape and murder of women of genocide in Africa. People are endowed with freedom of will, and there are times when we really screw up and abuse our free will.
I’m kind of looking for a happy medium, where God ordains all things, but also allows for freedom of will and apostasy. I know, multiple times, the Old Testament tells us of a God that ordains both good and punishment, but I know from my OT classes that that was the Jewish people’s way of understanding their situations and pains. Unlike what literal biblical studies tells us, the Bible wasn’t written by 40 men, but hundreds of authors who struggled with the terrible things that happened to them. I bet most of the Bible was written in hindsight, not by current events.
Alleluia and Amen.
Love, Leigh Todd
We are forgiven leaders. Sinners by nature, saints by grace.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, three times, whether he loves him, and if he does, to care for His Sheep. Each time coincides with the times Peter denied Jesus. Each time, Peter seems to be forgiven on the account of his repentant love for Jesus. Each time, Peter is reinstated as the Rock and Leader of the early church. He is also reminded of his future death: on the cross, upside down.
We are sinners by nature, saints by grace.
As for my sin, I’ve dealt with serious rage. Anger that could hurt others and damage my relationships with all. While God looked down on my rage, as I did not love my neighbors, friends, loved ones, myself, as I should, he did not cast me from his presence. Instead, he lovingly opened his arms to me, enveloping me in his grace in the waters of baptism. There, I was rinsed clean, even if it was just by pouring. Even by baptism of pouring, every sin was poured from my head into the baptismal waters, forever erased like bleach to stains. I was forgiven. I was and am considered a saint.
Worthy was the Lamb to receive honor and blessing and wisdom. And worthy are believers who accept the Lamb, too. Because when we join God’s people, we receive, albeit slowly, all the honor, the blessings, and the wisdom. We gain new insight into the Kingdom of God in the here and now, seeing others as Beloveds of God no matter their spiritual status. All are Beloved.
How many times I’ve cried for help from the Lord, and he has healed me. He was erased all my fears and their monumental desire to kill my spirit. He has, having already wiped my slate clean from his eyes, helped me grow in relationship with Him and further work on my anger issues. He has helped me become medicated, work through therapy, and work on not just apologizing, but making those apologies count the first time.
Saul is one of those forgiven leaders.
He sinned greatly against God’s people, but Christ saw him on the a road to a larger city. Paul was on a mission to destroy the church, and God’s mission was to destroy Paul’s ego, pride, anger, and prejudice.
God does that to a lot of people.
God used Paul and created in him a better man than ever, more than his previous religion could.
Because it isn’t religion that saves us – it is God in Christ. We are sinners by nature, but by grace, Christ saves us and endows us with all the wisdom, love, honor, and a multitude of blessings. More than any person could handle.
God loves that much. Jesus, the God in the flesh, loves us so much.
Today, in church, we sang about how much Jesus loves us, and how much we love Jesus. In the multitude of hymns we sang today, we learned that we love Jesus because he first loved us! As future Christians, we might have cried to God to heal us. Before we were Christians, we were sinners, but Jesus loved us so much that he helped us enter the waters of baptism on our own free will, eager to join the church’s covenant.
We are still eager to serve Jesus, by loving God and loving others.
Alleluia. How could you be a forgiven leader in this day and age?