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I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.
Paul just reminded us yesterday that the plan from the beginning was for God, through Jesus, to rescue us from this evil world. That we have freedom – salvation – in him. That is the Good News. God has made it possible to “share the eternal life he gives through Christ”. But apparently, even so soon after Jesus was walking amongst us, some people were twisting the truth. Presenting untruth as the Good News.
Paul said he was shocked… and I suppose I’m with him to a degree. But, I have seen too much of this in my life. We are presented with the grace of God, completely unearned favor with him, and then we proceed within a very short time to attempt to “keep” that which we never earned. We know we “got in” for free… but we need to work hard to keep our place here, or we might lose it. We try our best to “live the Christian life” for the benefit of others, perhaps to keep up our reputation if we are long-standing members of the church, or even to impress God? Sometimes we feel it’s our duty, since he has “paid so great a price”.
But is that really grace? Are we living out the Good News? Is it Good News that Jesus came to get us into this party for free, but once you’re in you have to work really hard to meet all of the expectations he and everyone else has or else you might not just get kicked out, but be thrown into hell as a result?
That doesn’t sound so good to me.
I much prefer the real Good News. “He died for our sins just as God our Father had planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world… [and] to share the eternal life he gives through Christ.”
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.
We live in Palmyra, NY. If you don’t know your church history (or general US history, I suppose) you might not be familiar with that tiny town in central NY. It was the home of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormonism). It all started one day when Joe was trying to figure out which church to join (Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc) and was asking God accordingly. Then, BLAMMO! He was overpowered by a vision in which God the Father and Jesus told him that in fact all of the various churches were wrong. An abomination to him. They had a form of godliness but denied its power. (This is taken from Joseph Smith – History, Chapter 1.)
After the vision, he was persecuted for his views. But God was with him (so he says) and he later was shown the ancient Scriptures inscribed on Gold Plates by Mormon and Moroni (historians in early America – before it was America), who appeared to him as a gloried, resurrected being and helped him translate them to English. (That was kind of him…) You can read about this here.
What arose from all of this is a rigidly structured institution where there is nearly zero freedom. There is such a hierarchy as would rival any religious institution ever. There are holy temples, prophets, mandatory missionary service… all sorts of things. And, have you ever met a “bad” mormon? NO! They’re squeaky clean because you have to be! They’re some of the nicest, most polite, law-abiding people around… cause that’s part of their code. That’s their version of the Good News. Be really, really good and maybe God will graduate you to the next level when you die.
Is that the Good News?
Paul said “even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message”. Moroni appeared, though not an angel, as a glorified being and helped present a “different” message. That all the others were wrong. And… thus was born an entirely new religion. (They say they are Christians, but as they feel they are the only right Christians, well… I’d say that’s an entirely new religion.)
How do we get so caught up in this sort of stuff? So led astray? Why must we work so hard to create these systems and structures to neatly and with great tidiness house our faith lived out for God?
It is our way, I suppose. It is our way.
Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.
“Dont’ wanna be a man pleaser… just wanna be a God pleaser!” – Petra (circa 1989)
He is most certainly not a man pleaser. Paul definitely told it like it is, and that nearly got him killed many times! 🙂 But I think I lean towards that too. I speak truth, even when nothing need be spoken. God is teaching me to be wise and discerning in my spoken offerings. (Jen is helping him do that!) 🙂
Paul touched on one more thing I wanted to comment on. Two words, “Christ’s servant.”
I have had some discussions with other brothers about this recently. The idea of being a servant, and he our Master. It is quite biblical. But what I have seen us do with it is to religious-cize it and create another level of separation between man and God that may not be intended (by Him). God speaks so much of us as his children, of his love for us, and even calls us friends… I just wonder what he thinks when we refer to him as master?
Not that he shouldn’t be. To the contrary… look at his response to Job. He claimed all of his God-ness and put Job “in his place”. He is most certainly God. The King of kings. To be sure.
But he specifically says, “I no longer call you servants… Now you are my friends…” (John 15:15)
I will be interested to see what else Paul says about that in this book. Stay tuned.
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