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Churches are teaching the wrong message

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Again, I don’t normally talk about religion (or politics) as they are subjects that almost always start an argument. But I feel this needs to be said, so please bear with me. Or you can just skip this one and catch up again tomorrow.

Nearly every week, in ninety-five percent of the sermons, in ninety-five percent of the Churches, the Pastor of the Church will emphasize that Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. The famous John 3:16 verse will be quoted:

John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Yes, this is a good message. A valid message. An important message.

But I think it is the wrong message.

It is a good message in that it tells us that God loves us and wants us to be with him. He sent his son Jesus to be sacrificed to wipe out all our sins.

It is kind of passive. There is nothing asked of us, except to accept Jesus. It puts no onus on us to be better.

The better message I think is in Matthew, when Jesus is asked what is the greatest Commandment:

Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This puts the emphasis on us, to take action, to do something. Something that would make the world a much better place, to make a world worth living in. How many of our current problems would be solved if everyone followed these two commandments?

Then again, these two are very hard to do. We aren’t taught how to love. We have stories and hopefully we glean instructions from them on how to love but we don’t have it boiled down to something you could put in a curriculum and teach in schools. About the best we’ve come up with is the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated. From discussions with kids when I was driving a school bus, that concept is not being taught in schools as none of the kids had ever heard it before. And even the Golden Rule is not prevalent in society, or if it is, everybody wants to be treated like crap.

I know I am guilty of not loving my neighbor. I don’t actively wish my neighbors harm, or ill, but I don’t love them either. I’m an introvert. Dealing with people is stressful for me. On the whole, I’d much rather spend my time by myself.

I admit, there are time when my frustration levels when dealing with other people approaches the point where I desire the Sun to explode, destroying the entire solar system in the process so it wipes the scourge of wooly human thinking from the Universe. I’m pretty certain this is the opposite of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’.

If we all loved God, and loved each other, then we’d all be looking out for each other, and doing our best to help each other out. Instead it seems that far too much of the world is only out for themselves, which makes a lot of trouble for the people who are trying to help out their neighbors.

I don’t know that this is coming out they way I intended. I think the upshot is that if Churches spent more time preaching about loving God and each other, instead of preaching that God gave his only Son to pay for our sins, then the world would be a better place overall.

If nothing else, let me steal a line from Webb Wilder – ‘put love above everything else, and the rest will take care of itself.’

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