Just Believe?

who-you-are-will-show-in-what-you-do

On Steve’s blog , he recently wrote a post entitled “Just Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Master and . . . Wait.” In response, “grouchyfarmer” commented … and I responded.

grouchyfarmer: The whole “saved by faith alone” thing was always so diametrically opposed to what Jesus actually taught that I always had difficulty understanding how anybody bought into that idea. As the verse from Matthew specifically states you are judged by what you do, not by what you believe, or at least not just by what you believe.

Me: I think you hit the proverbial nail, GF. In today’s Christian world it is ALL about “belief.” You must “believe” to be saved and you must maintain that “belief” throughout the rest of your life or be condemned to a fiery hell. The ACTIONS Jesus said should go along with that “belief” are, for the most part, conveniently ignored in the believer’s rush to teach others to .. you guessed it … believe.

As many of us are more than abundantly aware, the common response from Christians to the misfortunes of others is to send “thoughts and prayers.” (This is not to discount the religious organizations that truly provide help and assistance to those in need, but in this instance, I’m referring to individuals.) Yet all throughout the bible are teachings that tell God’s people to take care of others through ACTIONS …

Feed the hungry … Give drink to the thirsty … Clothe the naked … Care for the sick

More frequently, however, we instead find believers using the power of WORDS to reach others for their Christ: witnessing, preaching, blogging, writing books, etc.

One wonders … have they forgotten that very clear scripture in gMatthew where the writer talks about what it will take to “inherit the kingdom”:

Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 

And to take it a step further, what about the admonition from John in the Book of Revelation:

Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

Instead, it seems many believers rely more on the words of Paul in the book of Ephesians:

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.

There’s no argument that in today’s world it is difficult to find the time to help others, yet based on the book that believers follow, this is exactly what Jesus taught.

Of course, for those of us who have no interest in the teachings of Jesus (or any other religious guru), our efforts towards helping others are not prompted by religious beliefs. We do it because it’s the human thing to do.

Become an Atheist

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Just saw this as a comment on another blog. I think most of my readers will enjoy the thought behind it. The contributor indicated it’s a story from Hasidic literature.

A student asked the Rabbi, “Why did God create atheists?”

The great Rabbi replied. “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all; the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching.

He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his actions are based on his sense of morality. Look at the kindness he bestows on others simply because he feels it to be right. When someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say “I’ll pray that God will help you.” Instead, for that moment, you should become an atheist – imagine there is no God who could help, and say “I will help you.”

Sure beats “thoughts and prayers,” doesn’t it?

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Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Thoughts and Prayers

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Once again this TOTALLY USELESS phrase is being used after the terrible tragedy that took place in Kentucky and surrounding states when a series of tornados touched down in early December. 

Naturally, not everyone can serve as a rescue worker to clear out debris and search for bodies, but there are other available avenues to help those in need.

For example:

  • A person could donate to an agency that would provide resources to help people rebuild.
  • Or perhaps contact a nearby home improvement store and ask them to donate needed supplies.
  • OR if you are someone with “resources” (as Jeff Bezos, who owned a warehouse in the affected area), you could contact local authorities and offer financial assistance to those hardest hit.

But “thoughts and prayers”? Give. Me. A. Break.

For one thing, I highly doubt the average individual who uses the phrase spends more than a couple of minutes actually thinking about the tragedy (Thoughts). And their “Prayers” (most likely uttered only one time) probably consist of little more than … “Dear God. Please be there for these unfortunate people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” And then their “thoughts” are back to their own personal needs.

There’s a very old saying that the “Thoughts and Prayers” people would do well to remember …

ACTIONS Speak Louder Than WORDS (i.e., prayers)

Love-Encouragement-Support

While our dear devoted “Christian” president and his loyal and dedicated vice-president both send the usual “thoughts and prayers” to the survivors of the recent El Paso shooting, I heard one presidential candidate send “love, encouragement, and support.”

Unfortunately, I don’t recall who it was — it was mixed in with all the news reports being broadcast on TV — but it immediately caught my attention and I thought YES! Finally someone knows how to show concern and respect to people in a desperate and frightening situation.

I often wonder if the individuals who repeat the rote phrase have any clue of how meaningless it has become. Apparently not because they repeat it again … and again … and again … and again.

Further, I would lay odds that not ONE SINGLE PERSON who “sent prayers” actually prayed.

I’ve often thought if those people who actually believe there’s a god would do a little preventive praying, maybe such killings wouldn’t occur. Then again, as many of us know, such action is nothing more than a “feel good” effort anyway and it’s going to take a LOT more than “prayers” to stop these senseless killings.

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Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay