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The Cost?

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Guest wayfarer2k

What does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus today? Is it the same cost that the disciples paid in Jesus' day? Is it the same cost that the early church paid?

 

I've wondered about this question most of my life. In evangelical terms, I was saved when I was 12 years old. The "cost" of being a disciple at that time was 1) believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus and 2) giving my life to him in order for him to do with me what he will.

 

The problem is, neither of these "cost" match the cost that Jesus' disciples paid. According to the gospels, they initially had to leave their vocations and families in order to be one of his disciples. Is this cost still necessary today? Does Jesus call us to leave our loved ones and jobs in order to be his disciples?

 

Another cost that Jesus laid down was for the rich to sell everything they had and to give the money to the poor. The early church (described in the book of Acts) did just this. They sold their posessions and distributed the money so that, according to the text, there was no one needy among them. I have never, NEVER seen this done in any church that I have attended. Most Christians that I know don't tithe, let alone sell everything they have and give the money to the poor.

 

Another cost that I will mention is the cost of martyrdom. If Christian history is correct, all the disciples, except for John, died for following Jesus. Is this cost still applicable today? If we read the Faith Chapter of Hebrews (12, I think), we see many people who died for their faith.

 

I'm now almost 50. In a very general sense, I know that the cost of following Christ is loving God and loving others. But I am sorta clueless as to the specifics of HOW this cost is lived out. Is the cost handling snakes, drinking poison, and raising the dead? I've done none of those, except for maybe picking up a garter snake and drinking coffee. Oh, I do get my adolescent daughter out of bed which might qualify. :P

 

I never been in any church where the specifics of the cost of following Jesus were made known. Altar calls are usually focused on repentance, confession, and surrender. Good things, I'm sure. But I have never heard an altar call where potential Christians were told that they would need to sell what they have, give the money to the poor, leave their jobs and family, and possibly give up their very lives in order to follow Jesus. Have you?

 

What does it mean to follow Jesus in the 21st century? Should we go by the criteria that Jesus laid down in the 1st century? Or do we take a "kindler, gentler" approach? What does it mean to carry one's cross in our culture? What is the minimum cost that must be paid if we want to call ourselves disciples of Christ?

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The love of Christ presents man’s spirit with an intuitive understanding that the mysteries of faith can be brought into existence and appreciated. These mysteries are given to us to be mastered, and they seek understanding, not only in reflection, but also in prayer and contemplation. God is everything, which we try to represent for the intellect and is infinitely more so we pass from philosophical understanding to faith, and then we pass from faith to spiritual understanding. Spiritual understanding is an intensification of faith transforming it into a vision and an experience. This spiritual vision has a cost and I feel it is accomplished by sacrificing the personal ego into total submission, a moment where we give ourselves totally to God. Ego is a kind of anxiety that ties the spirit down to the physical plane and allows no enlargement of consciousness. Thanks to the death and sacrifice of Jesus and his physical form, we can achieve wonderful spiritual heights. Jesus by his grace died for us and then rose again spiritually to resurrect our consciousness from our egos.

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"What does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus today? Is it the same cost that the disciples paid in Jesus' day? Is it the same cost that the early church paid?"

 

Since Jesus called for a shift in the way we think about the world, I would say the cost is that we have to really work to love our enemies, to be humble, putting others first, etc. I have found that sometimes I feel compelled to learn new skills or do things I wouldn't choose for myself because I feel God "calling" me to do them. The world is no longer about ME. Giving up old patterns of behavior that are destructive feels like a price when you're going through it, but it ends up being a reward.

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Guest wayfarer2k
The world is no longer about ME.

 

I think that is great insight, AITNOP. Although I don't recall the exact date, I do remember the day that my eyes were opened and I saw how selfish conservative Christianity was. It was all about ME:

 

1. MY salvation

2. MY sins

3. MY destiny

4. MY relationship with God

5. MY theology

6. MY church

7. MY bible preference

8. MY gifts

9. MY sanctification

 

My whole journey, up to that point, had been about me and what God could do for me. In fact, the invitational call of conservative Christianity is about a "personal" savior, sort of like a "personal" computer.

 

I agree that we may not be called upon by God to leave our families, jobs, and cultures. We may not have to sell everything we own and give our money to the poor. But we are called upon to lead a sacrificial life for the sake of others. That call has never been recinded. I think Jesus' invitation to deny ourselves and take up our crosses still applies. We still lay down our lives. And it is in doing this that we find true life, eternal life.

 

I can't begin to count the number of altar calls I've heard that invite people to come forward to see what God will do for THEM. But I can count on one hand the number of sermons I've heard where the preacher says, "Following Jesus will cost you EVERYTHING."

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I just logged in today after a while away, and your reply made me smile! God never promised his followers the easy life, but in my personal experience living for God and loving others as God commanded, even if it is very difficult, is the most rewarding way to live.

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Fred Plumer’s blog on the tcpc website:

 

“Have you noticed what an amazing time in history we are all living? I am not referring just to the fact that we elected our first non-Caucasian individual to the office of Presidency, although I do think that is a reflection of the shift. I suspect that we are now going to have to go through a painful period of withdrawal. I know of few social commentators or economists, who believe that things are going to go back to the way they were. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I see a silver lining in all of this. I have heard more and more people talking about what is really important in their lives and coming to some very different conclusions than they might have a year ago. Somehow all of this chaos got our attention. It woke us up, in a sense, and will continue to wake us up for some time to come. Maybe we have broken our addiction to consumerism and will have more time to meet our neighbors and find out how they are doing. Maybe we will be more sensitive to the plight of others and we will begin to take action, both politically as well as personally. Just maybe we will discover that the real purpose of Christmas is birthing the Christ that is always within us.”

 

Sometimes I think God made us able to conceive of Jesus’ teachings – but unable to follow them, ultimately – the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak – producing and consuming is our programming, if not our basic human nature. Did God give us enough wisdom or strength to coexist peacefully, constructively? or only to talk about it, argue about it?

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I firmly believe God wants us to try to live up to the teachings (yes, even love your enemies) because it teaches us and causes us to grow. Giving up because the flesh is weak is not an option for me. I'm feeling weepy and vulnerable today, so it probably won't be my best morning ever for loving others, but I'm still here trying...

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Yes, you make a good point.

 

It just seems overwhelming sometimes, all the areas that desperately need improving in this country alone--financial institutions, health care systems, the environment, the endless “war” on terrorism. I’ve been down about some things this month also--my older son was laid off from his job, my brother’s cancer has returned, my mother was ripped off by an insurance company….anyway, sorry if I sounded negative.

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Yes, you make a good point.

 

It just seems overwhelming sometimes, all the areas that desperately need improving in this country alone--financial institutions, health care systems, the environment, the endless “war” on terrorism. I’ve been down about some things this month also--my older son was laid off from his job, my brother’s cancer has returned, my mother was ripped off by an insurance company….anyway, sorry if I sounded negative.

 

:( I'm terribly sorry to hear about your month! Especially about your brother... :( I hope your holiday season goes better - merry Christmas!

 

I can understand the point of view that it seems impossible to attain those lofty goals we set for ourselves. In fact, I agree. I don't think humanity will ever reach a state of complete peace, love, and happiness (not in this world anyway), just simply due to human nature - not just our natural selfish impulses, but also our constant desire, as a group, for improvement. I don't think we'd ever be satisfied, we'd always want more, there would always be something we'd want to fix or improve or whatever. If that makes sense.

 

Regardless, I agree with AITNOP all the same. I don't think we should set our sights on those goals with the assumption that we'll actually be able to reach them; I think that's naive and probably only leads to disappointment. But to face each day with the goal of making the world just a little bit better, and doing the same for ourselves - that attitude adjustment can really make a huge difference. And I don't think doing God's work in the world is ever in vain, even if it won't ultimately get anywhere, simply because I buy into the old saying that it's not the destination that's important, but the journey.

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McKenna,

 

Thanks for your sympathy. It’s good to see other women posting on this board.

I agree that attitude is more important than achieving results, though like many of us in this culture I was programmed in the opposite direction, taught to value doing more than being. We’re not always able to cure, but we can always care.

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Rivanna,

It's been a tough year for many I am close to, and I suffer along with them. I have felt like a failure for not being able to "fix" their problems, but it probably would have given me a savior complex if I had. Your words and McKenna's were very helpful!

 

Thanks,

Janet

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AITNOP,

 

Thanks for your kind words. As you said -it is a constant challenge to be thoughtful of others’ needs and feelings – but always worth it.

This month I gave up a part time job I liked, when the owner was hit hard by recession. It hurts to feel more isolated - but a small price to pay in comparison with what others are going through these days.

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I think the cost requires our very lives. It requires us to bury the old man, and to be recreated in the likeness of Christ. It requires a genuine care and concern for those we share our world with. It requires that we not only love others in heart, but that we show that love by our actions. We don't have to quit our jobs to do this, but I think we DO need to realize that life isn't just about "Me", but also those we share this world with. It means we need to reach out and help to make a difference (a very real and positive difference) in the lives of others.

 

That is our duty as disciples, but it 'should' also be our honor to further His vision for the human race. (to love others as we love ourselves). This is not an idle command, nor should it be stale, but rather a very real and daily part of our existence ... to simply help those who need help. Love is action. What good is love if it is not shown?

 

GK

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What does it mean to carry one's cross in our culture? What is the minimum cost that must be paid if we want to call ourselves disciples of Christ?

 

Good questions, Bill.

 

I think you may have this one back to front, though, if you don't mind me saying so. Someone once explained the 'cost' to me in different terms. As far as I recall, he said that every time someone in the NT asks the Lord the equivalent of, 'what is this going to cost me?' there is a different answer. For the rich man it is, 'give away all that you have.' For Joseph of Arimathea it is, 'be born a second time'. In effect, the Lord's answer is always, 'do that which it is impossible for you to do.'

 

In other words, if he were talking to you, he might say, 'walk to the top of Mount Everest.' Then, you might take a literalist approach, and start packing your rucksack and phoning Sherpas. Or you might realise that this comment is a metaphor, and means, 'you cannot effect your own salvation; it is all by Grace.'

 

The paradox of our faith is that we actually have to do nothing. We have to be who we are, in the place where we are. We don't have to move, we don't have to give anything away, we don't have to recite a magic formula. What we have to do is to accept God's love for us, which in turn will reciprocate love in us for those around us and also for God. And by love I mean the kind of love Christ first shows for us; the self sacrificial kind.

 

Having done that, there is nothing more to be done, in terms of our relationship with the Lord; it is all accomplished. What remains before us, however, is our journey, with him beside us. That journey is not payment for our relationship, nor is it a condition of it. The journey is how our relationship deepens and becomes more meaningful, as we grow and mature. It is also how Christ reveals himself in the world; through us.

 

In the process of that journey, we may encounter many very good times, and we will certainly also encounter some terrible times; times that test us way beyond our strength, and may even lead us into despair. We may lose our families, and our homes. We may lose worse than that. And some few of us may die for our faith. All of this is part of our journey of faith, leading to our ultimate home.

Edited by Anglocatholic
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I firmly believe God wants us to try to live up to the teachings (yes, even love your enemies) because it teaches us and causes us to grow. Giving up because the flesh is weak is not an option for me. I'm feeling weepy and vulnerable today, so it probably won't be my best morning ever for loving others, but I'm still here trying...

 

Another paradox of our faith is that the smaller our resources, the more valuable they are when offered to God.

 

As for, 'love your enemies', that is paramount. It is the single most important aspect of Christian love. Anyone on earth can love a friend. It takes a follower of Christ to understand what it means to love those who hurt us, and to then make a conscious choice to do just that.

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Yes, you make a good point.

 

It just seems overwhelming sometimes, all the areas that desperately need improving in this country alone--financial institutions, health care systems, the environment, the endless “war” on terrorism. I’ve been down about some things this month also--my older son was laid off from his job, my brother’s cancer has returned, my mother was ripped off by an insurance company….anyway, sorry if I sounded negative.

 

If your son has been laid off, your brother is unwell and your mother has been cheated, you are entitled to sound negative. If you were cheerful in the face of all this, then I would worry about your ability to connect with reality, or deal with it appropriately.

 

In the real world, bad things happen. When bad things happen, we are allowed to feel bad. More than that, we are allowed to feel bad for other people as well. I am really sorry that all of this is happening to you - I don't know why we never just get one hit at a time, but a whole series at once.

 

Forget the politics; let someone else worry about terrorism etc. Just remember that if you are going to be strong for your family, you need to allow yourself to feel the anger, the grief and the pain. And you need to look after yourself. This is not being selfish, but gathering strength for a difficult road ahead.

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Hello Anglocatholic, and welcome

 

A couple of responses --

Jesus told Nicodemus (not Joseph of Arimathea) he had to be born from above.

Also I think Jesus response to the rich young ruler was really suggesting he do something for the poor, rather than following petty rituals and purity codes. The young man was trying to be saved by the law, by his own performance. Jesus wasnt necessarily saying Do what is impossible for you to each person who asked for guidance. In his parable of the good Samaritan he meant help the neighbor, the one you can identify with. To me that seems like the direction we do best to follow. In the different kinds of volunteer work Ive done in my life, that has been my experience.

 

The bible gives us mixed messages on how being called should affect our lives or rather, its an individual thing, varying widely. I think God wants mercy more than sacrifice; also as Paul wrote - in whatever condition you were when you came to believe in Christ, there remain.

 

I liked your point on the paradox of faith. It reminded me of this passage from Tillich:

 

Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness, when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 'You are accepted, by that which is greater than you. Do not seek anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!' After such an experience we may not be better than before. But everything is transformed. And nothing is demanded of this experience but acceptance.

Edited by rivanna

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I have a paradoxical stumper for you all--what if in your case the "cost of discipleship" turns out to be the loss of your very faith? And I don't mean your faith changes but you at least stay some sort of Christian either. I mean you become totally and apparently permanently hardened against any involvement in even progressive parts of the Church and that your previous love for Christ becomes at best a distant memory.

 

I'm thinking very much about my wife as I write this. I've told you before about my wife having converted to Wicca from Christianity, after we originally met in seminary. I haven't told much about why.

 

At the time I met my wife, she was working towards ministerial candidacy in the United Methodist Church. Her maternal grandfather, who basically raised her after her birth father left, was a Methodist minister who pastored several parishes in the Midwestern state where they lived at the time. I doubt he was particularly liberal, but he did impress "God is Love" on his people wherever he pastored; he certainly did so on her. She believed it, and she lived it; and actually in a different way today she still believes it and lives it. As for me, even though I was Baptist at the time I strongly considered switching to the UMC after we got serious, so we could be in ministry together. I even talked a lot with the seminary's Methodist student advisor about it.

 

They ultimately rejected her candidacy, after stringing her along through years of seminary work, on top of her trying to raise and support her daughter and to that end working any sort of odd, low paying jobs she could find and fit around her classes. In fairness, as with me, there in retrospect were psychological issues which may have unsuited her at least for being a pastor.

 

That said, however, I think a lot of the reason they dumped her was that whatever else she was or was not, she was an unashamed and unafraid advocate of GLBT and women's rights in the church. As many of you know the UMC, along with other churches, has suffered a serious fundie backlash over these issues the past several years. I say this because her own home church pastor, who actually served on the ordination committee that dumped her from candidacy, supported in my wife's stead a fundamentalist couple from the same congregation, in the husband's case even after the he had been caught plagiarizing a term paper. And also because, after my wife spent several years all but begging her district supervisor for a student pastorate (many UMC seminarians serve their seminary internships as small church pastors), he stuck her in the worst possible church he could picked for her. It was an all-white fundamentalist church in a gentrifying area of Philadelphia, which hated not only the racial minorities who had supposedly "taken over" their neighborhood, but even the young whites who were re-gentrifying it. (The latter being "liberal" and "immoral" don't you know.) They had chewed up and spit out at least the previous three pastors, all experienced, for various things. And he put her, a student. THERE. I don't know, of course, but I can't to this day think anything but that he put her THERE specifically to break her and get rid of her. And this ersatz "church" did break her, spiritually and even with regard to professionalism, and her ordination committee seized on that to get rid of her. They said she might be considered for alternate ministries, but she didn't believe them and I sure as hell did not either.

 

I actually drove my wife down to the ordination committee meeting that day (though I didnt. obviously, sit in on it), because my wife suspected what was coming and was emotionally too much in stitches even to drive out of the seminary parking lot safely. And when we got back, with one or two exceptions even the Methodist students didn't try to comfort her.

 

She quit being a seminary student, there being no point in her mind to continue, and probably too devastated to be a decent student anymore anyway. She did encourage me to continue, and I did, since I at least wanted my degree to show for the years I'd put in and basically all I had left was my CPE requirement. I remember I also took my NT Greek course at this time, and really screwed up my final exam. I got a B in the class anyway if I recall correctly, but I was so ashamed, because he was one of our few progressives and as such was one of my favorite teachers. But I was going downhill mentally at this time, thanks in large part to the stress from all this, and even getting through CPE was more hell than it needed to be. We also got married the summer after this went down, which in some ways was a mutual comfort to both of us but obviously presented its own challenges.

 

I don't think she ever fully trusted a Christian church after that. The closest thing was a Baptist church with a liberal pastor near our current residence. But I was actually so mentally screwed up as to be on SSI disability by this time and even listening to organ music was difficult, which hurt a lot because I've always loved pipe organ music. And my wife never got past wondering when the church's "dragons" would show up. So since we couldn't really go to church together, even at this last place, I gave up on it.

 

I think local UMC could have had her executed down at Independence Mall (I live near Philadelphia) and not have devastated her as much. They took her very faith from her because she tried her best to be a disciple and...I apologize to PCs who are Methodist, but you have no idea how much I still hate the UMC for that.. I don't know if I ever will totally forgive them.

Edited by ParSal190

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I have a paradoxical stumper for you all--what if in your case the "cost of discipleship" turns out to be the loss of your very faith? And I don't mean your faith changes but you at least stay some sort of Christian either. I mean you become totally and apparently permanently hardened against any involvement in even progressive parts of the Church and that your previous love for Christ becomes at best a distant memory.

 

(snip)

 

.. I don't know if I ever will totally forgive them.

 

Perhaps one might ask them-self what is their faith in and to whom or what is their discipleship. How can one become hardened against anyone or anything for simply acting out conditioning except one lose sight of their own? What have i that i have not received? And if i have received it then why should i act as if i had not or that somehow by my own power i am more than that which i might find fault with? It seems to me that each at this moment could in reality be no other than they are. Does not 'what is' speak for itself? To me, faith can not be lost but only covered and hardness of heart is merely the condemning of oneself that in the concept of time exposes itself as such time and again until conditions are favorable to a choice to surrender it so that peace might surface.

 

Anyway, those are my comments on the above and i remain confident that all will work out in the fullness of time. As far as "what if" for me goes, personally i find 'what ifs' are hypothetical and have no basis in reality.

 

Joseph

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Guest billmc

I have a paradoxical stumper for you all--what if in your case the "cost of discipleship" turns out to be the loss of your very faith?

 

It is said, ParSal, that the Church is the only organization in the world which does not exist for the benefit of itself, but for the benefit of others, namely for the benefit of the world. I wish this were true, but based on my own experiences and the experiences you (and others) have shared here, I don't think this maxim holds true. Experiences such as these show us, in a negative way, just how human people really are, despite any labels they may wear. Christians are just like everyone else, only more so. :)

 

On the other hand, experiences like these can show us, in a positive way, how, yes, we can misplace our faith, even when we do so from good motives. And these experiences can offer us opportunities to make course corrections to our lives, something we probably all need from time to time.

 

Although I have traveled a different road, I, too, have given many good years of my life in service to the Church (some of it UMC) which was, in reality, serving itself. I've wasted many Sunday mornings, Sunday and Wednesday nights, and quite a few dollars helping churches build their own little kingdoms that, when it came down to it, weren't really about doing what Jesus said to do. I can't go back and fix any of this, but I can make course corrections.

 

I still have a "membership" at a local UMC, but I seldom attend. The UMC, as a denomination is a mess right now because it is the closest in theology to fundamentalism but its practices are usually quite social and progressive. The conservatives want to keep it bound to the past and the progressives want to move it into the present and the future. But being mainline, things change very slowly, not something most progressives want to wait around for given the state of our world.

 

I'm a deist now. I get more "spiritually" out of a walk around the neighborhood or a planetarium show than I do out of looking at the back of people's heads while singing "Just As I Am" for the umpteenth time. And I enjoy reading books on cosmology and science more than I do my Bible. And I'd rather listen to the music of God in my own heart than to a preacher tell me what I should and should not do. I still appreciate and try to follow some of Jesus' teachings, but I no longer believe that the Church is Christ's Body on earth. If it is, it is quite lethargic and self-centered, moving only when it feels it needs something.

 

I believe, contrary to what most churches teach, that religion, at its best, is not about beliefs you hold to, but about living a compassionate lifestyle. And, at least for me, I've found I can do that without going to church. On the occasions that I do go, I just feel like Toto, wanting to run behind the machine and pull the curtain back.

 

Like you, maybe I still have some forgiveness to do. But it doesn't keep me awake at night. I have to be honest and admit that, yes, it cost a lot to lose my faith in Christianity and in the church. But I have gained a freedom in doing so that has given me my life back. Freedom from constant cognitive dissonance, guilt, feelings of unworthiness, and, perhaps most important of all, the oppression that organized religion uses to define and control people.

The cost has been worth it to me.

 

I hope and trust that both you and your wife will find a healthy, freeing way forward in all this.

Edited by billmc

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Guest billmc

One final thought on this, and it is based for the most part on just what Point 8 says:

 

"By calling ourselves progressive,we mean that we are Christians who recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege."

 

I'm a person who, at least in some small and growing way, wants to move to "selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege." I believe in these things with all my heart.

 

But in my experiences, I didn't often see these characteristics in the Church and I feel that these characteristics are, at best, spotty amongst Christians. I'm not trying to be judgmental, just honest. So I was presented with a decision that seems to entail three paths to choose from:

 

1. Stay in the Church and try to reform it, whether by example or by speech. I knew this was something that I couldn't do.

 

2. Stay in the Church and just keep my mouth shut, going along with "Christian culture" regardless of how that culture might or might not line up with what Jesus taught and how he lived. I knew I couldn't do that either.

 

3. Leave the Church and try to live my life in such a way that the principles in Point 8 would be seen to those the Church would call "outsiders." This was and is my chosen path.

 

The only downside that I am aware of on this path is 1) it is lonely and 2) it does put me outside of most people's definition of Christian. But that is the cost I have paid and continue to pay.

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Guest billmc

It's been seven months since I wrote that last post. Surprisingly, at least to myself, I am still in church almost every Sunday. Though I'm officially a member of a small UMC, I often attend my wife's Southern Baptist church just to be with her. I guess if I can't be a reformer (and I can't), I can at least fulfill the role of a "ravenous wolf" in the flock. :lol:

 

Seriously, though, it is interesting to be a liberal amongst so many conservatives. My role there, though, if there is one, is simply to love them, to listen to their point-of-view, and to encourage them in the love of Christ. Yes, I often find myself biting my tongue or, inwardly, rolling my eyes. But I also seem to sense that God is doing something there. I don't know exactly what that something is, but the whole church is talking more about a "practical kind of Christianity," about making a difference in our community, and I'm thankful to see that.

 

I missed the Rapture a couple of weeks ago, so I guess I am here for the long haul. :lol: So, in the meantime, I'll just try to love those around me as best as I can, try to see God working in and through them, and hope they might do the same with me.

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I missed the Rapture a couple of weeks ago, so I guess I am here for the long haul. :lol: So, in the meantime, I'll just try to love those around me as best as I can, try to see God working in and through them, and hope they might do the same with me.

 

:lol: :lol: :lol: What a good laugh i had with that one. You do have a wonderful sense of humor Bill.

 

If that is all that you have attained over the past year the Cost has been well worth it and you have come a long way....... :lol:

 

Your friend,

Joseph

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Bill, I was so happy to see you back! And, I agree with Joseph, you have a wonderful sense of humor. Made me laugh, about the Rapture...I guess all of us here missed it! lol

 

Way back when, you said: "I have never, NEVER seen this done in any church that I have attended. Most Christians that I know don't tithe, let alone sell everything they have and give the money to the poor."

 

I just wanted to give the Mormons a little credit here and tell you that Joseph Smith did institute the Law of Consecretion, while he was here (back in the early 1800's) and the Mormons lived it for quite awhile, in Kirtland, OH, until they were run out by mobs. They don't live that law today (although, they believe there may come a time when they will have to, again), but they do very faithfully tithe (most of them), which is why that church is so wealthy in resources and able to help so many people...plus, build some of those most beautiful Temples in the world. I was LDS for seven years and left just a couple of years ago...mostly over differences in belief...but, I do have a lot of respect for that church and its' people, still. (I don't agree with them on gay rights, though!). But, this is a people who have suffered a LOT of persecution and discrimination over their faith. It has come at great cost, at times.

 

I also wanted to add, that I smiled when you said you went to a Southern Baptist Church with your wife. First off, I was raised Baptist (and even attended a Southern Baptist Church for a year or so), so I know from whence those "rolling eyes" come! :D Also, I have been attending a Christian Reformed Church (very conservative) for the past two years, with my husband. I have tried to gently coax him into a more liberal church, but he LOVES this church, so we continue to attend. I really don't mind that much, as far as the worship service goes, but trying to attend Bible study has been a bit more of a challenge. We are off for the summer months and I'm thinking I really need to find a different Bible study group.

 

Anyway, just wanted to comment, mainly, about the cost, to Mormons, of following Christ (according to their conscience and beliefs). Some Christians do pay a heavier price than others, even in these modern days.

Edited by Marsha

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Guest billmc

Marsha, as you've said, yes, there are certain groups of Christians who do seem to suffer persecution more than others, and that persecution seems to most often come, not from the "world" but from orthodox Christianity. Despite my "training", I consider Mormons to be Christians. I even suspect that a few Southern Baptists are Christians deep down. :D

 

I don't know if it comes from our human evolution or from the dualism that pervades a great deal of the Bible, but many Christians seem to "need" enemies. One of the first books I had to read in Bible college was "The Kingdom of the Cults" by (I believe) Martin (definately NOT the guitar craftsman). That book, as I recall it, went to great lengths to show how Christianity at large is "infected" with all of these different cults that would, of course, bring Christianity down and send people to hell if left unchallenged. I didn't realize it then, but while, yes, stuff like Jonestown occassionally happens, most of these kinds of apologetics, IMO, foster fear. They seek to divide, not only Christianity, but humanity into "us versus them" categories. And when we do that, it doesn't take long for us to persecute (or worse) "them" because they are a threat to "us."

 

To me, the only thing that can effectively break down these barriers is love. As the book says, "Perfect love casts out all fear." God has pretty much convinced me that he/she loves me perfectly, so I no longer have to fear that all of my theology isn't correct. God is much bigger than my own thoughts or interpretations of theology. How I wish churches would realize this.

 

I chuckled to myself last weekend as I drove down a major highway near my home. Right next to each other are four churches - one Baptist, one Nazarene, one Assembly of God, and one that is, I suppose, non-denominational. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that they pretty much ignore each other. On one hand, maybe it is good for people to find a place where they can feel comfortable. On the other hand, I doubt that God cares which sign is out front and which church does the most to boost his ever-needy ego. :) I suspects he loves all of them equally. Therefore, as a Progressive Christian, I tend to think that the cost so-to-speak to this movement is not that of building more walls, but in taking them down. And many of our churches will not allow this. For now. But then, they said the Berlin Wall would never come down also, didn't they?

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