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Natural Christianity For Kids


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Guest billmc

As many of you know, I tend to see myself as a Progressive Christian on most days of the week. :) But my wife is fairly happy to be a Southern Baptist and our daughter, 15, is very involved with the youth group at our local SB church. For the most part, this is not much of a problem in our home as I love and respect their right to practice whatever faith works for them. We do occassionally have some interesting...conversations. Thankfully, my wife is a good listener, even if she doesn't agree with me. I wouldn't trade her for anything. More than anyone else in my life, she has shown me the unconditional love of God. And, for the most part, I try to let my "more progressive bent" of Christianity be something that I live out through my attitudes and actions rather than something I try to indoctrinate into my children.

 

But...

 

But I also want my kids to know what I, as their father, believe. I, meddler that I am, refuse to leave all of their "religious training" to the Southern Baptist Convention. :lol: So I spent quite a bit of time working on this fairly short course that I call Natural Christianity that is designed to briefly share what I believe and my reasons for those beliefs. However, I approached this course from the reference point of stressing my similarities with much in traditional Christianity without openly attacking it. Only in the last couple of pages do I mention three areas where my beliefs are significantly different from what traditional Christianity holds to. In "real life", yes, there are many more differences. But, again, I wanted to emphasize the similarities and keep the differences to a minimum. Then, should my wife or children want to know more, they are, of course, free to ask or, better yet, explore on their own. This course was well-received by my family and we only have the last three "differences" sections to go. I'm trying to get my courage up. I feel like Martin Luther getting ready to challenge the Church. ;)

 

Anyway, I thought I would offer this to you good people here at the forum at PC for your own use, should you find it helpful. I am also open to suggestions/corrections as to *how* I say things. There are 10 Lessons and I will post them separately and in order.

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NATURAL CHRISTIANITY

 

1 – The Big Questions

 

As human beings, there usually comes a time in our lives when we ask ourselves two Big Questions:

 

Who am I?

 

Why am I here?

 

These questions are good for us to consider because they help us with our search for understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. We naturally want to make sense out of life, to try to discover some “Big Picture” that acts as a grid or framework to help us understand our experiences -- both the ups and downs -- and respond to them in the best way possible. Without a Big Picture, we may feel like a little boat on a large ocean, without a compass to give us a sense of direction. In trying to answer the two Big Questions, we need both wisdom and honesty. A wise person is honest with himself about what he knows and also what he doesn't know.

 

Life can often seem to us like a big jigsaw puzzle with hundreds or thousands of pieces. If you have ever watched a jigsaw puzzle expert put a jigsaw puzzle together, what does he do first? Almost always, he first frames the puzzle with the straight pieces that he is sure about. Then he uses that frame to help him put the other pieces in their proper places until finally the whole picture appears. The puzzle expert uses his wisdom and reason to solve the puzzle. He uses what he does know in order to help him what he doesn’t know.

 

A person's religion or philosophy of life is something like a frame that helps a person put the pieces of life together in a meaningful way. A particular religion or philosophy often gives us a Big Picture of what it thinks that life is about. This is why our choice of religion or philosophy is an important one.

 

A. Discussion Question – What do you think is the difference between religion and philosophy?

 

The word "religion" comes from a Latin word which means “to bind together.” In a good way, religion can refer to how we’re “bound together” with God and with each other, in other words, connected together. Therefore, religion tries to tell us "how we should live" or “what is the right thing to do" as people who live in community with one another.

 

When we look around us, we see many different "organized religions" in the world such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many others. In their attempts to say "how a person ought to live" or "what is right to do", these organized religions often have many different rules and practices that they teach to and place on their members. Since these organized religions began at different times in human history and in different cultures, we can expect these religions to tell us different things about how we should live together, bound together, with God and with others. But they each try to give us a Big Picture in order to help us make sense out of life.

 

The Big Picture that we are given by religion or philosophy will affect how we answer the two Big Questions. For example, some people believe that a human being is only a physical organism which came about accidentally and stops existing at the time of physical death. If this is the answer that a person accepts to the question "Who am I?", then the answer to the second question "Why am I here?" is simple: there is no real meaning, except to maybe just have as much fun as we can while we are here.

 

There is, of course, nothing wrong with having fun. But for many of us, we feel that there is something more to life. We feel that we are more than just physical organisms that got here by chance or dumb luck. We feel that we were designed or created to be here and that there is a purpose to life. Our answers to the two Big Questions go back to something or Someone who made us for a reason. And we believe can discover that reason if we are wise and honest.

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2 – In the Beginning…God

 

Ref: Genesis 1:1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…

 

B. Discussion Question – Who or what do you think God is?

 

C. Discussion Question – What does Genesis 1:1 tell us about God?

 

Many different people have many different ideas about who or what God is. In the Bible, the book of Genesis tells us, and many people agree, that God is the Creator or the Source of the universe, of all that is. God is what many scientists call, “The First Cause.” The Bible tells us, and many world religions also share this belief, that we and our universe ultimately come from God. If this is true, if the universe or nature came from God, then doesn’t it make sense that creation would be able to tell us something about the Creator? Some people put it this way, “A design points to a designer.” But what can we tell about God just from considering nature? What can we know about the Designer by just looking at the design?

 

D. Discussion Question - If we consider nature alone, what do you think we can discover about God?

 

If we look at our universe around us, from the structures of galaxies to the structures of atoms, we can see that there is order and purpose to existence. Our universe seems to be designed in such a way that it leads to life, to creatures that can appreciate and enjoy each other and our world. This doesn’t mean that we live in a perfect universe, of course, but we do live in a place that seems to be created for enjoyment and growth. We know that we didn’t make any of this. And we seem to know that it didn’t just make itself. It seems to have a Source, a beginning. We call this source or beginning, "God".

 

If God created the universe, we can know that God is very powerful. And if we consider the laws of physics that govern the universe, we can assume that God is very intelligent.

 

For instance, think about your body. Your body is a complex "machine" consisting of many complicated and interrelated parts and organs that function together in an amazing way to enable you to live. Even more amazing is that you have "consciousness" or a sense of self within your physical body. Is it likely that an intelligent and complex being – you! – ended up here by pure chance?

 

Now, think about where you are. At this moment, you are literally standing on the side of a large round rock --called the Earth-- that is spinning around at about a thousand miles per hour. Also, you are currently zooming through space at 67,000 miles per hour in orbit around the Sun. What keeps you from being hurled off of the Earth and into space as you fly along? Something called gravity. What keeps the Earth in its orbit around the Sun so we aren’t too close to the Sun (where we would burn up) and not too far from the Sun (where we would freeze)? It’s reasonable to conclude that things were designed to be this way. Our universe, the Creation, tells us that God exists. It doesn’t prove God’s existence, but it does provide us with a lot of evidence that makes it a reasonable belief.

 

E. Discussion Question – What is reason?

 

F. Discussion Question – What is evidence?

 

So as we think about our own personal existence and the existence of the universe around us, it’s not difficult to recognize and appreciate the reality and power of God. And this reality and power is visible to everyone. This is the first basic principle in Natural Christianity:

 

God created our universe and is the ultimate Source of life.

 

We don’t believe this just because the Bible says so or because we have blind faith. We believe it because there is reasonable, convincing evidence for it.

 

But we don’t believe in God as Creator and Sustainer of life just because of outward evidence, because of what we see around us with our eyes. We can also find inward evidence for God inside ourselves. This is where we consider the natural religion of Jesus.

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3 - The Natural Religion of Jesus

 

As we’ve mentioned, religions try to help us with the two Big Questions – Who am I and why am I here? Jesus’ own religion tries to answer these questions also. So let’s consider what he believed:

 

Question 1 – Who am I?

 

Jesus, being a Jew, believed in God. He believed that God was the Creator and the Giver of life. He had a high regard for nature. He would often go off alone into nature to spend time alone with God. And most of his parables have something to do with nature - fields, plants, trees, vines, water, fruit, etc. But Jesus didn’t believe that God was just a creative force, he believed that God is a person and that God relates to us personally. In fact, Jesus described God as being like a father, not only to the human race, but to the entire world. He knew that God cares about and for the whole world. So God was, for Jesus, a Father. Because God is our Father, he wants to help us with our Big Picture and with our two Big Questions.

 

G. Discussion Question – If, as Jesus taught us, God is our Father, how does that help us answer the question of who we are?

 

God, as our Creator, is the Father of us all. That makes all of us God’s children. And that makes all of us brothers and sisters, part of the human family, part of God’s good creation.

 

Question 2 - Why am I here?

 

Let’s put the question another way, "How should I live the life that my Father God has given me?" How does God want us to live?

 

H. Discussion Question – What do you think were the most important teachings of Jesus on how we should live?

 

The religion of Jesus’ day, the religion of the nation of Israel, was Judaism, and it was very complicated - complicated about God and complicated about how people should be faithful to God. Judaism had not only the 10 commandments of Moses, but 613 other laws that Jews were supposed to follow as part of their religion. Can you imagine trying to keep 623 laws? The natural religion of Jesus reduced these obligations to two commandments: love for God and love for neighbor.

 

Ref: Matthew 22:37-39 - He (Jesus) said to him (Pharisee), "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 

Jesus referred to these two commandments as God's laws. Jesus taught that these two laws are known by everyone because they are planted like a seed sown in the heart of every person (Matthew 13:18-23). So Jesus wasn’t really teaching anything new, he was simply reminding people of something their Creator had already placed in their heart as part of human nature.

 

I. Discussion Question – What does it mean to love someone or something?

 

When Jesus talked about loving God and loving others, he didn’t mean “love” in the way of going around hugging and kissing each other. What Jesus meant by love is "to value" or "to appreciate" or to “seek the best.” We love whatever we believe is valuable or has worth to us. Our love for other people is shown by our respect or appreciation for their value or worth. We want what is best for them.

 

For Jesus, loving God meant valuing and appreciating the life that God, as our Creator, has given us. God has given each of us various amounts of time, abilities, and opportunities for investment as gifts from him. These gifts are “on loan” to us from the Creator to his creations. A person can complain that he or she didn’t get a fair share, and refuse to use whatever that person has received. We sometimes see people who become "drop-outs" in life. They waste their time and abilities, blame others, and wallow in self-pity or bitterness. Their failure to invest their life as God intends is disrespectful to God. After all, if God has given each of us our life as a free gift, we shouldn’t waste it. Wasting our life is clearly a failure to "love God".

 

For Jesus, loving God also meant loving what God has created. This includes other people and even our natural world.

 

Ref: Matthew 7:12 - “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.” (see also Luke 6:31)

 

This is known as the "Golden Rule". Jesus taught that it is God's will, or law, for us to love our neighbor. In fact, Jesus said that we’re even to love our enemies - “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27) To "love your enemies" does not mean that we should accept their wrong behavior. But we must always be ready to have compassion on anyone who suffers, even our enemies. We must not respond with hatred toward those who hate us. To cause human suffering or to ignore human suffering is a failure to love, and, therefore, disobedience to God.

 

So we can see that the natural religion of Jesus - his understanding and experience of spirituality - was centered in loving God and loving others. This means that we value and are compassionate with each other, believing that we are all created equal by our Creator. If we do this, we will do justice, love mercy, and do our best to make our fellow creatures happy and our world a better place to live for all.

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4 – What is Natural Christianity?

 

Many religions hold to a complicated set of beliefs, usually about a certain person, a certain book, a certain place, or a certain object that they believe is sacred (a word that means “sent from God”). These beliefs are often put into what religion calls “creeds”. Simply put, creeds tell us what we should believe if we are members of that particular religion.

 

Some Christian churches use written creeds that have been around for centuries such as the "Nicene Creed" or the “Apostles’ Creed.” Other Christian churches have a “Statement of Faith” or a “Church Covenant” that a member is expected to agree to. Churches generally prefer that everyone in their church believe pretty much the same things, so this is why they use creeds and other forms of agreement. Therefore, if you don’t agree with a church’s particular creed or statement of beliefs, it is probably not a good idea to go there.

 

But there are a lot of different beliefs in the Christian religion. Because there are so many different beliefs, there are many different churches and denominations (there are approximately 38000 denominations in Christianity right now). It can be quite confusing to try to figure out which church is the right church for us or which denomination is the best one to belong to. They have just enough similarities to each other that they all fit within the Christian religion, but they also have enough differences from one another that they don’t often want to worship or work together. Nevertheless, there are many good Christians in these traditional churches, as well as many good people in other religions on than Christianity. Institutional religion works well for many people.

 

Some people, though, believe that the natural religion of Jesus works best for them. It’s important to know that Jesus was not a Christian and never taught Christianity. So these people believe, along with Jesus, that simply "love for God and love for neighbor" is all that God expects from human beings and it is this love, not a set of beliefs, which should bind us together. Therefore, these people don’t follow the creeds, Statements of Faith, Church Covenants, or doctrines and dogmas that most churches insist are necessary. Many of these people still believe in an afterlife, but leave it up to our Creator, who takes care of us in this life, to also take care of us in whatever awaits us beyond this life. So, for these people, they simply want to focus on what Jesus said, “Love God, love one another”, the natural law that God has placed in each of our hearts. Those who follow this natural religion of Jesus often say that they are “Natural Christians” or are part of “Natural Christianity”.

 

So what is Natural Christianity? It’s a religion (a way of connecting) or a philosophy (a way of thinking and living) that focuses on two central truths:

 

1. Nature itself, both inside of us and outside of us, tells us that God exists, created the universe, and rules it through natural laws. We use our God-given reason to learn more about God, ourselves, our world, and our universe.

 

2. We are connected to our Creator God and to each other by love. Jesus said that his followers would be known, not by our beliefs, but by our love for each other. God is love, so the more loving we are, the more we are like our Creator.

 

The focus of Natural Christianity is not so much on “beliefs” about religious things as it is on the truths that we should love God, love one another, and try to make our world a better place. This, we believe, is what makes us Christian.

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5 – Beliefs of Natural Christianity

 

Even though those of us who follow Natural Christianity are committed to following God's natural laws, as summarized in the two commandments to love God and love our neighbor, we, like other kinds of Christians, still believe in certain things. But we believe things because they either make sense to us or they seem moral or right to us. We don’t believe things just because we are told that we have to. We feel that God has given us reasoning capability and an internal moral compass that we call a conscience, which can help us to determine the right beliefs that we need to live by. And because we are Christians, we believe that many of Jesus’ teachings are wise, that they make sense, are moral, and would make us better people and the world a better place if we followed them.

 

It is important to know that while we, as Natural Christians, might enjoy sharing what we believe with others, we don’t force our beliefs on anyone. We believe that people have the right to believe as they would like to, as long as their beliefs don’t hurt others.

 

Here are a few beliefs that are common to Natural Christianity:

 

1. God exists and created all that exists.

2. God rules the world through natural laws, both the physical laws and the moral laws.

3. God's moral laws for humanity are known to every person because these laws are within the design of human nature.

4. Jesus taught that God's laws, that we love God and each other, are planted like a seed in the heart of each and every person.

5. Jesus preached the good news that the kingdom of God becomes a reality on earth as human beings obey God’s laws of love.

6. Jesus taught that causing human suffering or ignoring human suffering is a violation of God's laws of love.

7. By obeying God's laws of love, a person experiences life on a higher level which Jesus described as "abundant" and "eternal" life.

8. God created us as creatures with free will in a free world. Therefore, we are responsible for our own actions. Because we live in a free world, bad things can happen to people by accident or as the result of bad human actions. We must accept the fact that accidents happen in our world and we should oppose wrong human actions.

9. Although God doesn’t directly intervene in human affairs, God can and does work through us as his creatures in creating the "kingdom of God on earth." For example, God can heal through the efforts of doctors and nurses. Or God can teach us about ourselves through teachers and scientists. Each of us should do what we can to work for the kingdom of God on earth.

10. If we try to live today as God intends for us to live in this world, we can trust God to take care of us beyond this world. The fact that we have life now through no action of our own is evidence that God has the power to give life at any time and in any place. Many of us hope for a joyful afterlife, but we don’t think it is a reward for only those of a particular religion.

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6 – Practices of Natural Christianity

 

So, going back to Big Question 2, how should we, as God’s children, live? As we’ve already said, many different religions and philosophies have certain rules and practices that members of those religions or philosophies try to follow. Natural Christianity is based upon the natural religion of Jesus which says that we should love God and love others. Because we value Jesus’ teachings about this, we, too, have certain practices that we think are wise and moral. We know that “practice does not make perfect.” After all, we’re all humans and we all fail sometimes. But practice can make us better. So the following practices describe some general things we do to try to become better people and to make our world a better place:

 

Don't harm them others unless it is in defense of yourself or loved ones; don’t murder; don’t rape; don’t enslave fellow human beings; don’t vandalize; don’t steal; don’t lie; don’t unnecessarily antagonize others; don’t conceive unwanted children; don’t commit adultery; don’t marry or have sex with someone else if you are a child; don’t force someone to marry you; don’t show favoritism; don’t slander; don’t pollute more than you must; don’t waste money or resources; don’t use dangerous intoxicants or get intoxicated; don’t unjustly kill a plant or animal; don’t unnecessarily enslave, imprison, or domesticate an animal.

 

Okay, that is enough of the “Dont’s.” Let’s talks about a few of the positive “Do’s”:

 

Always try to do what is best for everyone; honor and worship the Creator in a way that is meaningful to you; treat others with dignity and respect; insist that others respect your dignity as well; live life in a practical way and use reason as the cornerstone for all you think, say and do; be honest, with yourself and with others; help others; treat others as you want to be treated; take responsibility for your actions; have faith in yourself; honor and be faithful to your parents and your loved ones; learn from the mistakes that you make; look for inspiration and beauty in the creation and the natural order of the universe; search for truth and be willing to accept new ideas based on reason as you are exposed to them; when in doubt about the right actions to take, choose kindness.

 

As Natural Christians, we also recognize that God communicates with us spiritually. Jesus taught that God is spirit and that we are to be led by the Spirit.

 

J. Discussion Question – What do you think the word “spirit” means?

 

Jesus wasn’t saying that God was a ghost, like the spirit of a dead person, but that God’s presence was everywhere. Christians call this God’s omnipresence. So God isn’t just on the outside, he’s on the inside too! Jesus said that if we looked deep inside of ourselves, in the place we call our heart or our spirit, we could discover our spiritual link with God and that we communicate with God by that link. Jesus taught that God is spirit and that "the spirit gives life" to us (John 4:24; John 6:63). We have a sort of “wireless connection” to God built right in and we should be “led by the Spirit” as we listen to God in our heart.

 

We recognize that we, as God’s creations, are on a journey and that we learn and grow along the way. Therefore, we feel that it’s important to always evaluate our beliefs, practices, and leadings from God using our reason and conscience to ensure that we stay on course. That course is a life of love, which Jesus said would be demonstrated by “good fruit.” In other words, if we follow the natural religion of Jesus, then we, like him, will sense our oneness with God and with others. We will be known by our love and we will have good deeds to help make our world a better place for all. This is the essence of Natural Christianity.

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In this last section of our study, we will look at three fairly important areas of religion where those who follow Natural Christianity take a different view from most traditional Christians. As stated previously, different Christians have different beliefs and this is okay. Natural Christians, because we rely heavily on reason and our own internal moral compass, take a different approach to these specific areas. These areas concern the role of the Bible, prayer, and churches.

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7 - Natural Christianity and the Bible

 

In traditional Christianity, the Bible is considered to be the “Word of God.” Traditional Christians feel that the Bible was, in some sense, written by God and is the main way that God speaks to them. But for those who follow Natural Christianity, while we agree that God can and does speak to us through the Bible, we feel that God most often speaks to us through creation or through our conscience or spirit or heart, all words describing the inner self or conscience. For us, it is creation that tells us about God’s power and intelligence. And it is his moral laws inside us that tell us how to act toward one another and how to be responsible people in this world. Jesus said that God’s spirit, our Creator’s presence in us, would lead us into all truth. Natural Christians believe that Jesus was right about this.

 

When it comes to studying the Bible, our focus is usually on the teachings of Jesus as found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in what Christians call the New Testament. Why? Because we feel that Jesus’ understanding of God best reflects the Creator-Father aspect of God and that living in relationship with God calls us to live in compassionate relationship with others. Because most Natural Christians believe that men wrote the Bible concerning their ideas about God and they were as human as we are, we don’t feel that the Bible is error-free. For instance, contrary to what the Bible authors thought and wrote, the sun does not go around the earth, does not stop in the sky, and the earth is not flat. Nor do we believe that God would tell his people to kill their enemies, cut away parts of their bodies, sacrifice their children, or enslave other people. These things either make no sense to us or seem immoral to us. We feel we need to use our God-given reason, intelligence, and wisdom in understanding and interpreting the scriptures just as we try to do in all the other areas of our lives.

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8 – Natural Christianity and Prayer

 

Let’s now talk about prayer. In traditional Christianity, prayer is often seen as a way to get God to do something that he would otherwise not do. But for Natural Christianity, prayer is simply awareness of our communion with God. In prayer, we become aware of our spirit-to-spirit connection to God who gives us life and this helps us to see things from our Creator’s perspective.

 

Therefore, for Natural Christians, prayer isn’t usually about asking God for things. God has already given us everything that we need to build happy, meaningful lives if we would use these resources wisely. So prayer is, for us, an attitude of thankfulness for all that God has given us. Prayer also involves fine-tuning our human will to what God wants us to do, to the way that God wants us to live. Therefore, prayer is more than just talking to God; it is also listening to God. This doesn’t mean that God's voice will come out of the clouds, but we believe that God can help us think of some solutions to our problems and can guide us in wise actions in response to life’s challenges. So prayer provides a means of focusing our attention on problems in a way that may open our minds to possible solutions. There is nothing wrong, of course, with expressing our best hopes in prayer to our Creator. After all, he has planted those hopes in our heart. But the heart of our prayers, rather than asking God to act, is asking God how we should act, how we should be involved to see his will done on earth – learning to love God and to love others.

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9 - Natural Christianity and Churches

 

You may wonder, "Why haven’t I seen any Natural Christianity churches?"

 

It has been jokingly said that America is a country with a church on every corner. In modern times, the word "church" usually refers to a religious organization that has a professional minister and staff and buildings for public worship. Those who follow Natural Christianity don’t have these. Why not?

 

There are a number of reasons, but mainly because, for us, worship is something personal, between us and God. Traditional churches seem to focus on public, corporate worship and this is something that we just don’t find in the teachings of Jesus. Churches are not necessary in the practice of Natural Christianity. Consider Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well:

 

Ref: John 4:19-24 - The (Samaritan) woman said to him (Jesus), "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

 

Jesus' view about “places of worship” is seen in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. She was interested in learning from Jesus which place or building was the right one in which to worship God. But Jesus responds by telling her that true worship takes place "in spirit and truth". This means that we worship God from our inner self, in honesty, being open to all that God is so that we can be all we can be through his power for the good of the world.

 

For those who follow Natural Christianity, we agree with Jesus that buildings for worship are not necessary. We worship (honor) God from the heart, not from certain locations or buildings. This doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy getting together with other people, because, like everyone else, we do enjoy good fellowship. And many of us may go to traditional churches with our families and friends out of respect for their own religious beliefs, spirituality, and community. But many of us believe that it is the attitude of our heart, not the location of our body that constitutes true worship of God.

 

Why don't we have professional ministers or pastors?

 

Ref: Matthew 10:7,8 - “As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”

 

We believe that everyone is responsible for "ministering" to, or serving, others. But we don’t believe that a person should be paid money for doing this. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the coming of the kingdom of God, the disciples were allowed to accept only room and board from their hosts, they were not to accept money payments. This sounds like good advice to us. It helps us keep our motivations in the right place - ministering out of compassion instead of out of greed.

 

What about good works?

 

Ref: Matthew 6:1-8 - "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

 

Jesus did his good deeds publicly, of course, but not so that he could demonstrate how much holier he was than anyone else. He did his good deeds in order to make a difference in people’s lives. Unlike the religious leaders of his day who wanted to be noticed for their supposed holiness, Jesus wasn’t interested in applause or worship. He simply wanted to make people’s lives better.

 

In summary, we believe that worship is a personal and private matter. When we gather together, it is usually not for public “worship services,” but for fellowship, religious education, and to help one another.

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10 – Conclusion

 

We hope this discussion has helped you to understand what Natural Christianity is and what some of the similarities and some of the differences are between this religion/philosophy and traditional Christianity. Again, Natural Christianity is “natural” because it believes that God has revealed himself to us in nature, both inside and outside of us. It is “Christian” because it holds to Jesus’ teaching that God has put his laws, the commandments to love God and to love others, deep inside us, in our very heart. We learn to love God, to be appreciative and thankful for the life that he has given us and to make the most of it. And we learn to love one another, to understand that we are all connected and that we should do what we can to help others in life. If we can learn to do these things, perhaps the kingdom of God will be seen more and more on this earth. And perhaps we will also be more prepared for whatever life awaits us beyond it.

Edited by billmc
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Guest billmc

Thanks, Joseph. I do work for the enemy because, much of the time, I'm my own worst enemy! :D

 

Anyway, this is just, I trust, a "positive bridge." I tried to focus on what I still have in common with traditional Christianity while, at the same time, offering my family "food for thought" for further exploration should they so choose. Hopefully, someday they will be ready for the Eight Points! ;)

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