UI – Part 500 – ‘Striving’ Differs for Religions (3 of 4)
This is a totally different process than for the Muslim. To begin with God and Love are synonymous. The objective for a Christian is a life eternal with the heavenly father. It is an individual matter, not a collective liberation contingent that as a whole achieve a life eternal as part of a collaborative.
Ideally a world that is all Christian would be wonderful, but that is not the objective of Christianity itself. Christians are not an army formed to fight to the death those that do not believe in God and Christ. Although Christians do strive to build a kingdom for God, in heaven and on earth, it is according to the will of God, not according to the will of man. Christians are to pray for those who although they know God, they do not accept what God has done. God’s wrath is his own. Humans are aware. From Romans 1, beginning at Romans 1.18 thru 32 (Italics my own, for emphasis),
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
The example for a Christian is Christ, one who lived a perfect life, never sinned, and died for the sins of mankind. He was tolerant, kind, caring. He was not a warrior. Examples are also other Christians. Each Christian is to be an example to others. Commanded in Matthew 28.19, “go and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Share what you believe, what you know, and encourage others to live according to God’s purpose, “…and (God) called us…according to His own purpose” (2 Timothy 1:9 KJV). Christians may be an army for the Lord, for their faith, but not a militant contingent commanded by God or Christ to ‘fight’ non-Christians, non-believers. Being victorious would mean a person accepted Christ, their heart changed, they became a new person, reborn knowing the truth of God’s saving grace.
Christians seek to be unified in their faith, a oneness, sharing and encouraging others, believers in Christ, past, present and future. It’s a call to walk with your friends and family. Not only that but a call to gather new people in and invite them along the journey. Community is important. An individual matter in many respects, the journey however is not to be taken alone.
There is no coercion, no violence, no terrorism, no threats. Even with the prospect of persecution, Christians are to be aware and not respond. Christians around the world are experiencing extreme and violent persecution by those who hate, hate Christ. The persecutors are aware of Christ, but do not want their lives to be controlled by Christ, they resist, and hate. They’re not happy people. How a Christian responds is in total contrast to that of a Muslim.
Striving in Christianity is not Jihad.
The Bible reminds Christians, 1.) – (John 15:18-21), “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me (Christ) before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you… If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… because they do not know Him who sent Me.” 2.) – (Matthew 5:10-12), “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….” 3.) – (Romans 8:35-39), “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 4.) – (Matthew 24:8-14), “… you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake... And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” 5.) – (2 Timothy 3:10-14), “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned …”
Most upsetting to Muslims who do not try to comprehend the oneness of God, as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and to secularists and others, there is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is not for them. They will resist this truth as if accepted their lives would change. They might even find happiness and peace.
As for ‘striving,’ from the Bible, 1.) – (Luke 13:24 ESV) “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” The focus is obedience to God, not acting for God. 2.) – (Galatians 5:19-21), “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 3.) – (John 8:31-32), “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Christian are free. God loves them. Even when they leave, as did the prodigal son, they are loved. God’s home, heaven, awaits their return, praying for them, not seeking them out to kill them as an apostate.
If salvation is what you seek, as does a Christian and a Muslim, a life eternal with God, Christians are reminded, (Ephesians 2:8-9), “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” And to be noted, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). From John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
For the Christian there is joy, hope, fulfillment and love. Salvation is assured for those who have ‘faith.’ That ‘faith’ is in Christ who fulfilled God’s promises and made those who believe in his saving grace right with God. It is not by ‘doing’ that Christ followers are saved, but by what was ‘done’ for them by God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit that lives within them. The result, the outcome for the Christian, the fruit of the spirit, of loving God and having faith in Christ, (Galatians 5:22-23), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
From 1 Corinthians 15:2-4 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” He was witnessed by many.
“The Gospel of the Resurrection is the action, the supreme miracle, by which God, the unknown God dwelling in light unapproachable, the Holy One, Creator, and Redeemer, makes Himself known” (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (translated), Oxford Press 1968, pg 35).
God, the Biblical God is knowable.
Jesus, having died on the cross for our sins, according to Scripture, was buried and after three days rose from the dead, according to Scripture, and forgave us of our sins, making us right with God. Reborn as a child of God we are to be renewed by the spirit of the Lord and live this life filled with joy and hope and aware that ahead of us is a life eternal.
The objective of a Christian, justified in their faith in Christ, is to strive for a life lived with Christ as the example, thankful for God’s gift of grace, and as if a new birth, reborn, in and by the Spirit of the Lord, and filled with joy and hope. God is Love.
The final concluding blog (4 of 4) on the topic of ‘Striving’ is tomorrow.
Grace and Peace