Some of the most basic concepts of Christianity and Biblical knowledge are often skewed by organizations that take over your thinking, individuality and personal responsibility. For instance, I existed for 15-years in an echo-chamber. I was forbidden from following other pastors and learning from them, even pastors in our organization. I was to ‘learn my shepherd’s voice’ and no one else’s.
We even had songs we sang often that said, I’m claiming my Promise God has promised to me…I’m standing my ground, His word I believe. The devil can’t stop it, blessings on the way, I’m claiming my promise today.’ And we would sing that chorus over and over again until everyone was getting a raise, a Mercedes and whatever else they could conjure up in their heads to pray for.
It is the silliest thing to be now, to believe that my personal obedience, which is still expected, by the way, is what would make me righteous. That it somehow is more necessary and powerful than what Christ has already done on that Cross… That it would save me, or even keep me saved. The system of religion I left believed that their ideals of Holiness (which is code for dress standard) would not save a person, but in the absence of obedience to them, a person couldn’t be or stay saved.
Too often prayer is me complaining. Sometimes, prayer is me wishing for something else. Sometimes, prayer is me wishing God would change so and so. Sometimes it is me wishing God would change me. Sometimes it is me wishing God would do something for someone else. Sometimes…
I’ve known people, with no religious connection at all, who said their ‘calling’ in life was to do X, or Y, or Z. Feeding the homeless? To be a counselor? To write? To be a lawyer? Your calling is YOUR desire. Your desire is what you were made to be!
The truth is – we are emotional creatures – God made us that way. We respond to life with emotion. It is emotions that help steer us. Fear, angler, Joy, and Love. We know certain music can stir our emotions. It’s known that when women watch a good Romance, you better have a box of tissues nearby – they become overcome with emotion.
And finally – we know that early historical Apostolic and Church fathers still very much believed in moral purity, holy (righteous living as directed by the Spirit of God) and, what the conscious tells you, which we know was a valuable tool, otherwise there would have been no need to talk about having a seared (immune, dormant and ineffective) conscience. (1 Timothy 4:2)
That Grace IS, as notated in the Amplified Bible version quoted above, God’s unbelievable, and unmerited, unearned drawing, that isn’t warranted by any outward holiness, works or sacrament we perform, or pompous self-righteousness (that as best is as filthy rags to God) that we can do.
That would make God very contradictory and, as Christians, we do not believe He contradicts himself. So – we realize our understanding must be wrong. So what did Jesus really mean? It may honestly require another study to fully dissect this passage completely, but the very basic sense, knowing Jesus was a Jew and the entirety of His audience were Jews, was that Jews who converted to Christianity would be hated by those who rejected Christ.