I've been blessed recently to have a few conversations about God with a few people (including the Big Guy Himself).
Whenever we stop by Anthony's grandparents' house, we end up talking theology. You know that I believe that we are saved by grace. God sent his only son into this world to die for each and every sin that you and I have committed, will commit, and are committing. It's only by accepting his gift of salvation and turning your life (and a new leaf) over to him that you shall be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. I know diddly squat about many denominations. There are a lot of them, too (Lutheran - Missouri Synod, Lutheran - ELCA, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, LDS, Baptists, charismatics, evangelicals, etc. you get the idea). I can't say that I identify with a single one. I feel that even being raised (and I use that term very loosely because my family was never a church going crowd) as a Lutheran - Missouri Synod, I see loose ends in their theology. It doesn't add up to what the Bible tells me. There are just too many things added in traditions and other aspects of denominations I don't understand. We go to a church (or rather went to one and will start the other this coming Sunday) where the gospel is preached and all else is out of the Bible. This is what I long for. But I get confused by the extras - is it right? is it biblical? if it is, where can I find it? I know that I have at least one Catholic, a few LDSs, and probably some other denominations (and some who are like me, just plain ol' born agains) who maybe can answer questions. What traditions are in your church? Do you agree with them all? Are they biblical? Have you ever questioned whether they are or not?
One thing that was brought up was that Grandpa's pastor disagrees with me when I say that 'God hates the sin but loves the sinner.' I know this to be true, however. "For God so loved the world..." not 'for God so loved non-sinners or only those choosing to follow Him or only those predestined for heaven (for you Calvinists).' Right? His pastor told him that God hates sinners (and by this I'm guessing he means those choosing not to follow His ways as this is a supposedly Christian church so they believe as I do about grace and it being a gift, etc) and it shows because he sends them to hell. What? I think I understand what he's saying but I think he's wrong. I believe that God loves each and every person, even those headed for that cold and lonely place called hell (or firey place, I'm not sure which - thanks for my preconceived notions, John Milton). I think it breaks his heart when they don't choose him (which is ultimately choosing...not heaven). I believe that God loves us BUT does not love our sins (our alcoholism, our addictions, our sexual immorality, our pride, our selfishness, our gluttony, etc). I believe that is how he has called us to love one another. I'm not a person who condones sin (or judges it, however, because I know I fall short same as the next person) but I will not dislike or hate someone based on their sins. I believe a church should welcome all into their congregations, but should preach and talk with people about their sins (homosexuality, gambling addictions, pornography addictions, sex addictions, lust, pride, hatred, stagnancy in their faiths which is not necessarily a sin but I think should be discussed) and how to turn from those sins and repent as the Bible teaches. Not necessarily by confessing to a preacher, which I don't think is necessary as the Bible says 'if we confess with our tongues' we are saved (sorry, I'm writing this off the tops of my head so I don't have biblical addresses) not 'if we confess to our pastor alone or our spouse or our mothers.'
Anyway, then today in church part of the sermon focused on breaking the patterns of sin in our families (addictions, sexual immoralities, pride, etc). I was thinking about my family and the sins that seem to be passed on from generations before. There is an addictive behavior in my mom's side of the family, some pride issues on both sides, some sexual immorality on both sides, taking the Lord's name and cursing on both sides - which is a personal struggle of mine - and some other things. I have been praying today that the Lord helps me break those patterns. Obviously they are strong or else they wouldn't be passed down, but I know that with Him I can do all things, even break the cycle. I did break one cycle in my family, I'm happy to say (I was married when I first got pregnant). But there's more to work on in my walk, as always. I hope there always is...
The sermon also talked about how Christians sometimes think that if we walk with the Lord, our lives will be June Cleaver-ish, perfect. And that's not true. We have pasts and presents and futures that present us with trauma and pain and suffering - not always but we aren't safe from those things. And if we don't work through those things and learn from them and realize that the Lord intends them for a purpose, for good (as in the story of Joseph in Exodus when he's sold into slavery by his brothers - they intended him harm but the Lord intended it for good). If we keep our faith and have the Lord with us during those hard times, He'll use it later on - even if we don't see those works, we can be sure of it. Apparently, even Paul was afflicted by a demon (for his whole life or during his missions - I'm not sure but it's somewhere in the Corinthians, I think?). And look at all the good he did in spreading the Word.
Well, those are my Sunday thoughts. I've been up since 4:50am so don't hold me to making coherent thoughts (i.e. if this post doesn't make sense, forget it). But if something speaks to you, pray about it and I'll pray for you.