Where is God Not?

When a person calls another person or group names expressing hatred, condemnation, and derision, God is not there.

When a person threatens another person or group with violence or vengeance, God is not there.

When a person attacks another person verbally or physically over their beliefs or opinions, God is not there.

When a person lies, repeats what they hear without checking the facts, or gossips, God is not there.

(Clarification: I know God is everywhere. So when I say “God is not there,” I don’t mean a place outside His presence. What I mean is a place where He chooses not to be involved or to abide. He says in Isaiah 1:15: “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” 1 John 4:12 says “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” To me, that implies that if we don’t love one another, He doesn’t abide in us. In other words, He’s not there.)

It doesn’t matter the label:

Republican or Democrat

Conservative, Liberal, or Independent

Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian

Gay, Straight, or Both

Male, Female, or Other

Atheist, Christian, Jew, or Muslim

White, Blue, Pink, or Green Collar

Rich, Poor, or Middle Class

Baby Boomer, Millennium, Generation X, or Z

If there is hatred, bitterness, and intimidation, God is not there.

Watching the news, scrolling through social media, and listening to people as they talk, I can see just how many places God is not in our country today.

Which is understandable with all the non-believers – not excusable, but explanatory.

But it is not understandable or acceptable for those who profess to follow Jesus. 

Jesus said some hard things when He was walking the earth – to people who were living in dangerous times. Like we are today.

Things like…

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Matt. 5:9) 

 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:21-22)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matt 5:38-41)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:43-48)

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12)

Paul had some more words…

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another, you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same thing.” (Rom 2:1)

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good and you will receive his approval.” (Rom 1:1-3)

“To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers.” (1 Cor 6:7-8)

Hard words. Very hard words. In our humanness, we cannot do this. But when we professed Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Spirit came to live in our hearts enabling us to live by the spirit and not by the flesh. Enabling, nor forcing. We have to choose day by day, sometimes moment by moment, to follow His way.

If we profess to believe and follow Jesus – then we need to follow all of what He said, not just what we like or is easy. If we don’t, then how are we different than non-Christians?

Maybe we aren’t really followers at all.

Something to think about.

Weeding Through My Feelings

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Psalm 43:3

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

John 8:31-32

The Truth Will Set You Free  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Bella, part 1 –  Heart VS Brain

Bella paced in her small apartment. She wanted to go, but then, maybe she didn’t. What if that had been a onetime thing? What if they weren’t happy to see her again? Worse, what if it had all been her imagination?

She remembered the kindness in their eyes. Kindness and love. No one had ever looked at her that way before.  And her heart was crying out for another encounter with that love.

After leaving the church, she had gone straight home. She hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone until she had had time to process her experience. What was that place? Who were those men? How could such a thing even happen?

Not finding the answers inside herself, she began searching on line and reading everything she could find on churches that are bigger on the inside. She was amazed at how many references there were to that.  And how many opinions there were about it – from awe such as she had felt to passionate condemnation, and everything in between.

How was she ever going to find out the truth?

“I’m just going to have to go back,” she thought as she paced.

You don’t want to do that.

She stopped as a new thought entered her mind. The thought itself wasn’t too bad, it was the fear that accompanied it that made her pause. Maybe I don’t want to go back there. Maybe they won’t be the same. Maybe they won’t even let me in the door. After all, I had trespassed that day. They might be angry at me, now that they’ve had time to think about it.

And they’ll force you to talk about Disneyworld.

Fear continued to build in her as she thought of Pastor Toby’s question about Disneyworld. What if he tried to get her to talk about it again? What if he wouldn’t let her go until she did?

Shaking now she decided not to go back. Ever. Not knowing what would happen, she couldn’t take the chance that things wouldn’t turn out so good a second time.

That’s a smart decision. You are so wise.

Feeling self satisfaction creep in, replacing the fear, she tried to ignore the cry in her heart. Her heart had led her wrong at times. It was her brain, her intelligence, that she needed to rely on. And her brain was telling her the wise thing to do was to forget about the church.

But way down deep inside, she could hear another voice.  One calling to her heart as if responding to its cry.  “Come back,” was all it said. But it was enough.

Undecided, she stood in the middle of the room.  What should she do? Should she chance returning to the church? Or take the safe road and stay home?

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(Bella’s first visit to the church is found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 2 )