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August 16, 2004

Misplaced intentions

Many people have good intentions with false ideas. I’m talking mainly about false Ideas as to what God really wants us to do. Many people are confused about what pleases God and what doesn’t. Often it is because of teachings within their churches, synagogues or temples that are interpreted with a bias. Our biases come in many forms and are at the core of our beliefs and views about life.
In one Religious sect’s literature that I read today, there was an article titled, Beliefs and Customs that Displease God. The first sentence says, “Not all beliefs and customs are bad. But God does not approve of them if they come from false religion or are against bible teachings.” Then they quoted a bible verse Mathew 15:6 as proof that this is a true statement. However if they truly understood that whole chapter 15, they would realize that their own teachings are like those of the scribes and Pharisees who were called hypocrites by Jesus for trying to twist the meaning of their teachings to profit themselves.
To make this article more unpalatable, they proceeded to use the argument that because birthdays were only mentioned a couple of times in the bible, and were celebrated by non-Christians, that this is one practice that God is displeased with. They also said God is displeased with people celebrating Christmas, because it’s a birthday, and Easter, because it came from pagan beliefs. In this article they state, “The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or Easter, nor do true Christians today.”
Jesus said that people like those that wrote this article were prophesied by Isaiah, saying, “These people come close to me with their talk and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching the commandments of men as my doctrine.” The same chapter that the authors of this article use to support their claims actually condemns their teachings as being misguided. Nowhere in the bible does God say he is displeased with the celebration of Christmas, Easter or birthdays. Nowhere in the bible does it say to be a true Christian, you must not celebrate these things. To end their article, they proceed to use fear to convince the reader that they will displease God if they do not change their beliefs: “It may be very hard to abandon some of these beliefs and customs. Relatives and friends may try to convince you not to change your beliefs. But pleasing God is more important than pleasing men.” They then quote Proverbs 29:25 and Matthew 10:36 and 37. to substantiate that final statement. Those verses are also misquoted to support their claim but actually condemn their own teachings. For instance in Proverbs 29:25 it says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts their trust in the Lord will be safe.” And Matthew 10:36 and 37 says, “And a man’s foes will be from his own household. Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: And he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” These two verses are quoted out of context of the whole chapter where Jesus is talking about misplaced fear of men and the need to Love God above all. In Mark chapter 6 there is the story about the execution of John the Baptist. King Herod was seeing his brother’s wife Herodias and John the Baptist told him it wasn’t a good thing. King Herod liked John the Baptist, thought of him as holy and wondered at the things he did and said. But later at Herod’s birthday celebration Herodias’ daughter danced for him. King Herod was pleased with her performance and offered her anything she wanted. The daughter went to Herodias to get help in deciding what to ask for. Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Fearing reprisal after making a promise like that to his lover’s daughter, he ordered the execution. This story is a better example of doing something to please other people regardless of what our heart says. This is putting the pleasure of other people above what is right and good. This is what Jesus meant by setting family members against family members. When our hearts are touched by the spirit of God we are no longer influenced by the fear that other people try to hold over us. We should love God, which is all that is right and good, above all else.
I did not write any of this to condemn a particular religion, but to highlight the misplaced intentions we can all get when our hearts are not soft. The second commandment, only second to ‘Love God above all else’, is to love everyone else. This is the filter we need to view other people in this world, not fear. This is also the tool to use when we view other people, not fear. This is what pleases God. Birthday, Easter and Christmas celebrations are occupations of our time, which done in the spirit of Love, giving and remembrance, cannot displease or be wrong in the sight of God. When our hearts are in the wrong place we often condemn others and use fear to justify our claims. This is a practice that displeases God. In Matthew Chapter 7 Jesus talks about Judging others. We often look at what other people are doing and get legalistic about it, but Jesus asks us why we are nit-picking over that when we should be looking at our own hardened hearts.

Posted by carl1236 at August 16, 2004 9:56 PM | Knowing God

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