Friday, March 30, 2007

In His Image

Being "made in the image of" the Creator has a special meaning to me -- and it has nothing to do with the physical.

According to scripture, God is love. If we humans were made in His image, we will also be (capable) of love. This helps explain why Christ would say that to love God and others sums up all the law and prophets.

If I am concerned about the helpless, that's love -- if I'm willing to make personal sacrifices to help them. That's being made in God's image. It's the example Christ gave us on the cross.

The Creator could have put that (ability to) love into mountain lions and it would not have made their fleshly bodies any more special than it made ours. If He had chosen the flesh of mountain lions instead of naked apes, I expect Christ would have came to earth as a mountain lion.

Steve

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Great Commission?

Perhaps the "Great Commission" (if such a thing really exists) was to simply spread the good news that death is not the victor for those who love (agape) their Creator and others -- which can be seen as "accepting Christ".

As far as I'm concerned, accepting someone means to accept their leadership -- their way -- (not their name). Such leadership is spiritual, and can easily be seen at work in all humanity, regardless of head knowledge regarding theology.

You want to accept Christ (his sacrifice) as your Savior? Accept his teaching, which was self-sacrificing love. You don't need any particular theological training for that (you might say it's kinda built-in) -- and you don't need to know how to spell "Jesus".

Steve

Monday, March 19, 2007

Are You a Christophile?

"Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty; Greek three; and English only one. English speakers do know the 96 forms of love - they just jam them into one word! That is why we are all confused over what "love" is, since we have dozens of definitions for it!" - N.S. Gill, Ancient/Classical History

Christians are always tossing out "love God" and "love your neighbor".

Non-Christians often observe (accurately) the non-loving behavior of many such Christians. Why does the behavior of so many "Christians" appear to be such poor examples of love? Here's my theory.

Three times, Christ asked Peter, "Do you love (agape) me?" When Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, I love (phileo) you." Christ replied, "Then feed my sheep."

Why did he do this three times?

Phileo -- the love Peter offered Christ -- means to have an affection, attraction, sentiment, passion, or feeling for. We use phileo in words like bibliophilia, audiophilia, and pedophila. Christ was not asking for Peter's affection. He wasn't looking for a buddy or groupie. He wasn't asking Peter to be a Christophile.

The love Christ asked Peter for was agape, which means a mental choice to seek the best for others. Agape love requires behavior, not feelings. The kind of love Christ wanted from Peter was the working kind -- the "doing for others" kind.

Most folks (inclulding Christians) wait until they are emotionally moved to help others. That was not what Christ taught. He asked why anyone should think they deserve a reward for such behavior. He stated that even the "infidels" do that. Sharing bread with others for no other reason than their hunger is the love Christ taught. We call that "caring", but Christ taught that we should do it whether we care or not. He even expects us to do it for our enemies -- for those we hate.

Love is what we do for others regardless of our feelings towards them. In my opinion, this is the most important concept Christ wanted us to understand. During his entire ministry on earth, from the Sermon on the Mount to the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ taught sacrificial, agape love. He taught it with his words, his life, and his death.

John states, "Whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth ..."

If "Christians" had always loved in this way, I doubt if even Mr. Sam Harris or brother Richard Dawkins would have a beef today. If the foundation of every marriage was agape instead of just phileo and eros, far fewer divorces would occur. But such love requires sacrifice -- time, money, etc. Without such sacrifice, love is, like Tina Turner sang, "just a second-hand emotion".

It's unfortunate that so many Christians "feel" and teach Peter's Christophilia instead of Christ's self-sacrificial agape. If agape love was understood and shared, I imagine more Christian" songs would have at least as many "give" lyrics as "prase" lyrics.

Steve

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Does Genocide Shock You?

Research has shown that the amount we can care about others is inversely proportional to their numbers. In typical instances, even going from one to two people results in less interest and empathy. For example, we appear to be able to care deeply and emotionally about an individual being tortured, but the genocide of 10,000 can only be considered intellectually.

Of course, this does not excuse apathy. Our species does not require emotion to do what is right and to condemn what is wrong. However, it does mean that guilt and condemnation over a lack of emotion is unrealistic.

Steve

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wait until they ask -- not!

Many say don't teach children about sex until they ask. Don't wait until they ask!

Start teaching them the biological sciences (including anatomy) about the same time you start teaching them to use the potty. Ensure they understand that they are animals with a full set of animal instincts, and that those instincts are necessary and good. Take them to the zoo and have fun comparing inmate behavior with that of the humans watching the inmates.

Let them know what their animal instincts are for (including the instinct to have sex) and how to recognize them -- how they (will) feel. It's also important to teach them how to recognize those instincts in others. Then, teach them ways to control those instinctive urges and not be controlled by them. Make them aware of the problems and consequences of allowing their animal instincts free rein.

Make sure they understand that most other people (such as boy friends/girl friends) will not have anywhere near this amount of knowledge and will probably think penis, vagina, and copulate are dirty words.

Along the way, be sure and let them know that they are unique in the animal kingdom for a very special reason. They can deny their animal instincts any time they choose. They can even choose to love others as they love themselves.

How can we expect our children to do what they don't know -- and how can we expect them to know what they're not told? Just think! If they had your accumulated, hard-earned knowledge they'd make fewer mistakes, right? So give it to them freely -- and early. Those critters are a whole lot smarter than we sometimes think.

Steve

Judgement Day -- Case 1 and 2

Case 1:

"Lord I'm a born-again Christian all the way. I prophesized in your name. I preached the gospel all over the land and in three foreign countries. I did great things in your name. I built a 10,000 member church in Texas! I even memorized every praise song about you on the radio."

Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, help the sick and visit the prisoner?

"Uh, well, uh, there was this freeloader one time that, uh, well, we had a group in the church that, uh ..."

Depart ...

Case 2:

"Great Spirit, I never knew your name."

Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, help the sick and visit the prisoner?

"Yes. I did all those things. But I was just a dumb old Injun who never heard the Gospel story. I figure I'm lost."

Come ...

Steve