HEBREW BIBLE LESSON Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
GOSPEL LESSON: Matthew 5:38-48
SERMON: “God’s Kingdom Ethics-Part 2”
Exacting revenge when we have been wronged seems to be a strong part of human nature. As the story goes there was once a man who was bitten by a dog, which was later discovered to be rabid. The man was rushed to the hospital where tests revealed that he had, in fact, contracted rabies. At the time, medical science had no cure for this disease and so his doctor faced the difficult task of informing him that his condition was incurable and terminal. “Sir, we will do all we can to make you comfortable. But I cannot give you false hope. There is nothing we can really do. My best advice is that you put your affairs in order as soon as possible.”
The dying man sank back on his bed in shock, but finally rallied enough to ask for a pen and some paper. He then set to work with great energy. Later, when the doctor came back, the man was stilling writing vigorously. The doctor commented, “I’m glad to see that you’re working on your will.”
“This isn’t a will, Doc.” said the dying man, “this is the list of the people I’m going to bite before I die.”
How many times have we heard, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” The phrase can be found in Exodus 21, which is the chapter just after the giving of the Ten Commandments. Many have interpreted this to mean that one is required to give as good as one gets. If someone knocks out your tooth you are obligated to knock out one of his teeth. Biblical scholars suggest it is more likely that Exodus 21:24-25 which says, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise,” was intended more as a limitation on reaction to injury than a requirement to exact revenge. So if a man had his tooth knocked out in a fight, he was not permitted to escalate matters by do anything more than what had been done to him.
But Jesus surprises us once again by turning things upside down, and says that not only are we not to make matters worse by doing more to someone than what they have done to us, we are not to do anything to hurt them. “I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
One interpretation I have heard over the years of this injunction to “turn the other cheek” is that a slap on the cheek is basically a challenge to a fight, a duel. To turn the other cheek was not meant to invite the aggressor to hit you again, but to say, stop and think about it. If you still want to fight with me tomorrow, come back and hit me on the other cheek. So often anger that flares has cooled by the next day, so turning the other cheek avoids acting out in the heat of the moment. But if you insist, we can fight it out . . . tomorrow.
Marcus Borg points out that both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi said that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provided the foundation for their political protests. And yet when we hear “turn the other cheek,” we hear a recommendation of passive acceptance of injustice and oppression. This is one of those times that examining the text in its cultural context becomes essential and every word counts.
Note that Jesus specifies that the person has been struck on the right cheek. If I were to reach out and slap someone with my right hand, I would hit their left cheek. To hit someone on the right cheek, I would either have to use my left hand . . . or . . . if I used my right hand, to get their right cheek, it would have to be a backhand blow. Here’s where context comes in. In that world, people did not use the left hand to strike people, because the left hand was reserved for “unseemly” uses. So being struck on the right cheek meant that one had been backhanded with the right hand, and a backhand blow was the way a superior hit an inferior. In that day one fought social equals with their fists.
New Testament scholar Walter Wink says that the situation Jesus is describing is one of a superior is beating a peasant. What should the peasant do? “Turn the other check.” The only way the superior could continue the beating would be with an overhand blow with the fist, which in effect would mean treating the peasant as an equal.
Perhaps the beating would not have been stopped by this. But for the superior, it would at the very least have been disconcerting: he could continue the beating only by treating the peasant as a social peer. As Wink puts it, the peasant was in effect saying, “I am your equal. I refuse to be humiliated anymore.” That is not all. The sayings about “going the second mile” and “giving your cloak to one who sues you for your coat” make a similar point: they suggest creative non-violent ways of protesting oppression.
In God’s Kingdom ethics “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28).
Roman law permitted soldiers to force civilians to carry their gear for one mile, but because of abuses stringently prohibited more than one mile.
If they ask you to do that, Jesus says, go ahead; but then carry their gear a second mile. Put them in a disconcerting situation: either they risk getting in trouble, or they will have to wrestle their gear back from you.
Under civil law, a coat could be confiscated for non-payment of debt. For the poor, the coat often also served as a blanket at night. In that world, the only other garment typically worn by a peasant was an inner garment, a cloak. So if they take your coat, Jesus says, give them your cloak as well. “Strip naked,” as Wink puts it. Show them what the system is doing to you. Moreover, in that world, nakedness shamed the person who observed it.
Thus, these sayings from the Sermon on the Mount, these seemingly mild sayings, are actually potent ways of confounding and exposing injustice.
Some of us are encouraged by some very practical observations, especially when Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies. Has anyone tried it? Does it work? Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
Former Boston Red Sox Hall-of-Fame third baseman Wade Boggs hated Yankee Stadium. Not because of the Yankees; they never gave him that much trouble but because of a fan. That’s right: one fan. The guy had a box seat close to the field, and when the Red Sox were in town he would torment Boggs by shouting obscenities and insults. It’s hard to imagine one fan getting under a player’s skin, but this guy had the recipe.
One day as Boggs was warming up, the fan began his routine, yelling, ‘Boggs, you stink’ and variations on that theme. Boggs had enough. He walked directly over to the man, who was sitting in the stands...and said, ‘Hey fella, are you the guy who’s always yelling at me? The man said, ‘Yeah, it’s me. What are you going to do about it?’ Wade took a new baseball out of his pocket, autographed it, tossed it to the man, and went back to the field to his pre-game routine. The man never yelled at Boggs again; in fact, he became one of Wade’s biggest fans at Yankee Stadium.
Love your enemies. It might change them, and we know it will change you.
In his book The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner says that “The love for equals is a human thing — of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
“The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing — the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
“The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing — to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.
“And then there is the love for the enemy — love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer.
This is God’s love. It conquers the world.
HEBREW BIBLE LESSON Deuteronomy 30:15-20
EPISTLE LESSON: Matthew 5:21-37
SERMON: “God’s Kingdom Ethics-Part 1”
Rules of grammar
Rules for playing sports and games like baseball, football, basketball, Golf Monopoly, Hearts, Solitaire, Bridge, and Euchre’
Rules for the Internet
Rules of the Road
Rules in school, at home, at the office
As babies one of the first words we learn is “no” as mom and dad try to teach us not to touch a hot stove or eat the food that’s in the dog’s dish.
Google “rules” and you may discover a site called 1001 Rules for my unborn son, which includes life rules like this from Babe Ruth: Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games or one of my favorites, “Never underestimate the power of taking out the trash without being asked.”
A few more good rules include:
Never turn down a breath mint.
If you need to explain a joke, it probably isn’t very funny.
Don’t play the ace when you can win with the king.
Stay in your seat until the credits have rolled.
When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
We are such a people of rules that we elect people and pay them big salaries to write more rules for us, and then we hire people to make sure that we obey the rules and to discipline us when we don’t.
The scribes and Pharisees knew the law backward and forward, and, as the self-appointed legal conscience of Israel, they were bound and determined to make sure everyone obeyed the law to the letter. The scribes acted as lawyers for the Law of Moses, and the Pharisees believed that God's kingdom would come only when the people of Israel all obeyed that law perfectly.
We have speed limit laws that require that we not drive faster on 131 than 70 miles per hour. Many drivers figure that if they don’t go any faster than 74 or 75, don’t change lanes too much to get around those who are going the speed limit and don’t hang in the left lane for too long, they can probably get away with driving over the limit. The Pharisee on the road would tell you, “The Law says “70,” drive “70.” There’s a reason behind the law that has to do with safety and saving lives. There’s a probability factor of someone driving 100+ miles per hour, weaving in and out between other cars is likely to cause an accident, perhaps even kill someone. There’s a probability factor that if you drive at the lawful 70 mph on icy roads, you’ll likely cause an accident. That’s why we have laws about safe speed for conditions.
How many times have we heard people say that Jesus died for our sins and that the Law no longer applies? In reality, in his commentary on the Law, Jesus took it to its roots, the radical love of God for the well-being of God’s people. He didn’t dismiss the Law, he tightened it up.
The first in today’s reading comes from the “Big Ten,” The sixth commandment says, “Thou shalt not murder.” Jesus’ commentary says, 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”
Murder obviously destroys a person, does great harm to their family and loved ones, and is something to be avoided at all costs. Jesus takes the commandment to the spirit behind it, ruling out a deadly anger that dehumanizes the object of our anger, and in fact dehumanizes the person who holds such anger. Every time we decide to allow anger to smolder inside of us, we become less than fully human, less than the people God created us to be. Instead of merely avoiding murder, we should embrace reconciliation. It's the difference between following the rule and engaging a relationship -- the difference between avoiding doing something with the hands and doing something with the heart.
In a similar way Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s a pretty strong statement! Jesus calls us not to just avoid breaking the law, but to avoid objectifying and dehumanizing people for our own pleasure. Jesus calls us to a standard that recognizes that God’s ethics call us to faithfulness in our relationships.
Next the Lord further tightens the law in his teaching about divorce. We live in a “no-fault” divorce state that isn’t too very different from the law in that time that allowed a man to simply give his wife a certificate of divorce and that was that. Sadly there are faith communities that take this teaching to justify turning their back on divorced men and women. God does not hate divorced people. If God hates divorce it’s because faithfulness, community and love are strong building blocks for society. If God hates divorce it’s because God knows how much pain it causes to those who are involved. The only exception Jesus allowed was sexual immorality. Do we teach that a person is required to stay in a marriage where they are physically or emotionally abused or where children are endangered? No. In this diverse congregation, we will have different understandings of what constitutes appropriate biblical grounds for divorce, but Jesus’ point here is that it is a serious matter that affects not only the couple involved, all of society and that once again it isn’t just about the letter of the Law but of focusing on our relationships with God and others.
Finally in today’s passage, there’s the law about making vows – promises. This one also has roots in the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not bear false witness. Under Jewish law (as in the law courts today), swearing something under oath by sealing it with something like the phrase "so help me, God" is common. If you swear an oath in court, then what you say has to be true or you are a violating the law. The implication, then, is that when one is not under oath, one may not have to be as truthful in what one says. Jesus takes the law and goes to its root. We shouldn't just be truthful under oath, we should be truthful all the time. Telling the truth is the basis of community. Lies and falsehoods tear a community apart (vv.
Looking toward the Promised Land that he will never enter, Moses implores his people to act as God would have them. "Choose life," he says. They will not only determine their own fate according to their faithfulness. The lives of future generations depend on their decisions. Choosing obedience to God's commandments is the single most important choice they will ever make. Faithfulness is absolutely a matter of life and death -- life lived in the midst of God's promises, or death through gradual cultural decay and extinction.
God’s rules are given not to subject us earthlings to the whims of a petty God, but to protect us and make life better. We can obey the rules enough to not get caught, or we can seek to live by the spirit of God’s love and compassion. Are there human-made bad rules that should probably be broken and discarded. I’m sure. In Gods Kingdom ethics, for our well-being and for the benefit society we have a blueprint for faithful, compassionate, loving living.
Now God knows our weakness, our inability to keep the Law and this is why he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. In Christ we receive forgiveness for the times we fall short and a promise of life in his eternal kingdom. But Jesus establishes here that his followers are more than people who refrain from infidelity, murdering and being truthful only when it's convenient or required. The people of God's world follow an ethical program that requires a purity of intention beyond anything the people had previously been taught. In God’s Kingdom ethics our deeds come from clean hands and a pure heart.
1 Bob Kaylor, Homiletics, 2-16-2014
HEBREW BIBLE LESSON I Samuel 16:1-13
EPISTLE LESSON: Matthew 15:1-21
SERMON: “After God’s Own Heart”
There is an old story about two hikers along the Appalachian trail, one of whom shouted, “Look out! A pit!” Both leaped aside in time to avoid falling into a pit covered by vine.
“What was the most important fact about that pit?” one asked the other.
“The fact that someone carelessly left a danger like that?”
“The fact that we smartly jumped aside?”
“The fact that we saw it.”
When Samuel sat reviewing the parade of Jesse’s sons, he began with all the old criteria in order to pick a new king. He was looking for someone who was tall, strong, skilled in battle. But God reminded Samuel that the divine perception of reality differs significantly from our limited human view. God looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart. The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” When Samuel stopped using just his eyes and relied instead on the spirit of God, he immediately “saw” that the “ruddy,” harp- playing, dancing, shepherd-son of Jesse offered the spiritual strength and leadership that Israel would need from its next king.
In one of his famous escapades, Winnie the Pooh, tries to trap an elephant--or, as he calls it, a heffalump. So Pooh digs a hole to catch the heffalump, and decides to bait the trap with some of his own favorite food: honey. But of course, it is very hard for Winnie the Pooh to part with honey, and he just can’t bear to leave a whole jar of it in the trap, so he starts to eat some of it himself...always the master of rationalization, he excuses himself with the thought that it’s important to make sure it really is honey, all the way down. It wouldn’t do to have anything else, perhaps cheese or something, at the bottom. And so of course, by the time Winnie the Pooh is finally sure that it was honey all the way down the jar is empty!
For Pooh, what matters is what the jar really contains, all the way down to the bottom. If it’s only got honey at the top, but something quite different underneath, then what’s the point? And this is what lies at the heart of what Jesus says about the Pharisees and their purity laws. What’s the point of keeping all the purity laws if underneath one is not the kind of person God always had in mind?
What sort of person did God always have in mind? A person who is pure, not just on the surface, but all the way down to the very depths of their being. And Jesus is saying that the purity laws of what is “clean” and what is “unclean” miss the point entirely. What God is offering through Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him is a cure for the deep-level impurity all human beings suffer from. Being right with God has nothing to do with trying to follow a bunch of external laws. Some of those restrictions may have had some physical health purposes, some disciplines of obedience to submit to God may help us grow spiritually, but strictly adhering to the letter of the Law will ultimately only make a person a hypocrite, eventually falling into a pit. Jesus Himself is the only remedy for the wickedness and uncleanness that infects us all.
It is so easy to look at people in terms of size - he is short, she is tall. Or, she is attractive, he is not. This one is fat, that one is just skin and bone. Have you ever noticed how some people will come up to you and say, “Hi. Are you losing weight?” Instead of saying, “Has anything significant happened in your life lately?” That would be better. It is so easy to look at what a person is wearing or is not wearing and whether it is appropriate for the occasion. OK, I confess I’ve been watching Downton Abby the past few weeks. Set in England starting in the19teens, it is the story of an aristocratic family and their “servants.” My goodness, these people change clothes at least five times a day. They are shocked when someone shows up for dinner without the appropriate attire. But they never seem to get the struggles of the human spirit.
It is easy to look at a person’s manner, behavior, what he is driving, or where he lives, and to decide by appearances that this is who that person is rather than taking the time to look into his soul to really know who he is. The Lord was right. Not only then but also now, we human beings tend to look at each other and see outward appearances. Is there something we can learn from how God sees us? God saw David and what he saw in him made him choose David to be king. David was called “A man after God’s own heart.”
David absolutely was not a perfect person. He stole another man’s wife and then sent the man off into battle so that he would be killed. He had problems with his kids. He knew he wasn’t perfect. He wrote
Have mercy on me , O God, according to your unfailing love,
According to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
A grandfather found his grandson, jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up his little chubby hands and said, “Out, Grandpa, out.” It was only natural for Grandpa to reach down to lift the little fellow out of his predicament; but as he did, the mother of the child stepped up and said, “No, Johnnie, you are being punished, so you must stay in.”
The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and chubby hands reached deep into his heart, but the mother’s firmness in correcting her son for misbehavior must not be lightly taken. Here was a problem of love versus law, but love found a way. The grandfather could not take the youngster out of the playpen, so he crawled in with him.
God did not keep the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace, but He went into the furnace with them. God did not spare Paul and Silas the suffering and imprisonment, but He did come down into the prison with them. God did not rescue David from the consequences of many of his poor choices, but he was always with him. God will not always deliver us from trouble and heartache, but He has promised grace for every situation of life.--
So what do we do with that, especially when we find ourselves in a position where someone is deeply hurting us. We let the Lord take over in every situation, because Jesus Christ is the one with the power to change even the most hateful heart.
I recently read about an African woman who gave her heart to Christ. Her husband was the chief of a Zulu tribe. When she told him that she had become a Christian, the chief beat her brutally. As she was lying in the floor bleeding, the man mocked her and said, “Now, what can your Jesus do for you now?”
The woman picked herself up and tearfully said, “He can help me to forgive you.”
As we grow in Christ, we too learn to look on the heart instead of any outward appearance. Then we become men and women after Gods own heart.
HEBREW BIBLE LESSON Psalm 96
EPISTLE LESSON: Galatians 1:1-12
SERMON: “Will the Real Gospel Please Stand Up”
I’m curious how many of you remember a game show that began in the 50’s called, To Tell the Truth.
Those of you who remember it will recall that there was a panel of four celebrities whose job it was to correctly identify a contestant who claimed to be a celebrity, have an unusual job or to have had an unusual experience. Contestants included famous musicians, authors and politicians. The contestant was joined by two imposters who could lie or say just about anything to try to convince the panelists that he/she was the real person. The contestant however was required to tell the truth. After the panelists had questioned all three, they attempted to guess which of the three challengers was the real one. Each incorrect vote was worth $250 (in 1950’s dollars!) to the contestant. Then came the dramatic moment when the host would say, “Would the real ___________ please stand up. Although I can enjoy a good theological debate, sometimes I wish what is gospel and what is not were as clear as that moment when the “real” celebrity stood up.
The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Galatians with a standard greeting accompanied by a mini statement of the gospel: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. But it doesn’t take him long to express his dismay that they have allowed themselves to be led astray.
Paul accuses the Galatians of having turned to a different gospel. Much of the rest of his letter deals with the requirement on the part of some Jewish Christians that Gentiles must become Jews first, that is they must be circumcised and obey Jewish Law. Paul wrote, 26 In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (3:27-29).
It seems as if someone is always discovering a new “gospel” that gives us truth about Jesus of Nazareth. Some want to tell us that Jesus married, that he had children. There are a host of “Gnostic Gospels” that have been unearthed in recent years including the gospels of Judas, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene. But it’s not just first century gospels that attract attention. Go to amazon.com’s web site and enter “Gospel According to” in the search line and you will get “The Gospel According to . . . Pixar, Star Wars, the Simpsons, Dr. Seuss, Coco Chanel, and Starbucks. Some of these titles are just reflecting a book’s attempt to find themes of the Christian gospel within certain shows and characters, but others put forward a gospel that presents their own understanding of God.
Even churches engage in the promotion of counterfeit gospels. Consider the Gospel of Hate spewed forth by ‘Christians’ from the Westboro Baptist Church who picket soldiers’ funerals, believing that people who don’t follow their agenda deserve whatever tragedy befalls them.
Then there’s the Gospel of Prosperity through which certain televangelists tell their audiences that God wants them to be rich. All they have to do is “name it and claim it,” and God will give them what they want – more quickly if they’ll just send a check today to this ministry.
Pastor and author Dallas Willard coined the phrase, “"The Gospel of Sin Management"-- to describe a gospel that produces what he calls “vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else." This gospel is only concerned about getting people into heaven and makes salvation and God irrelevant to daily life."
I grew up in a church of the Social Gospel, which grew out of the Enlightenment idea of progress and reason, believes that humanity can rid itself of social evils, and that human progress will continue to make things better and better. In this gospel, Jesus provides a good example of how to make the world a better place, and his death and resurrection are mere metaphors for living sacrificially --more good advice than good news. The Social Gospel is the opposite side from the Gospel of Sin Management, claiming that it’s all about what we do to make society better and the eternal life of the soul is irrelevant.
The Apocalyptic Gospel is all about watching the sky for Christ's return and waiting for the Rapture that will suck all the right-believing Christians into the great beyond like some kind of Heavenly vacuum cleaner, leaving the rest of humanity behind to stew in hell.
There may be some elements of truth in all these other gospels, just as the imposters were coached so that they could answer some of the panelists’ questions with accuracy. Bob Kaylor writes,
God does hate sin, but continues to love sinners. God does want us to be prosperous, but in the richness of his grace, not necessarily the wealth of our bank accounts. Jesus' blood does save us, but it doesn't just save us from something, it saves us for the work of God's kingdom. Yes, God desires our participation in making the world look more like what we pray for in the Lord's Prayer ("on earth as it is in heaven"), but we can't make that a reality that without Christ's redemptive death for the world and his resurrection promise of the ultimate defeat of death. We do, indeed, await Christ's return, but he's not coming to take us away -- he is coming to take over!
The "different gospel" that the Galatians had bought into was one preached to them by some Jewish Christian missionaries who required Gentiles to be circumcised as Jews before they could become Christians (v. 6). Paul regarded this message as a non-gospel because it was based on the Law and not on reconciliation between humankind and God through the grace of Jesus Christ.
So now you are one of the panelists. What will you keep in mind as you get ready to cast your vote for the real gospel.
First, the Gospel Needs No Additions. It’s not that the false teachers are flat-out denying the gospel. They’re just trying to add some things, to improve the message by adding to it – new requirements, new ceremonies. The implication is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is somehow insufficient. Something more must be added. The Gospel doesn’t need any additions. Paul said it this way in his letter to the Romans:
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Secondly, Distorting the Gospel Is Serious Business In verse eight Paul invokes a curse on anyone, himself included, who distorts the gospel, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Paul is saying that real problem of another gospel is not only that it is a bad idea, and not only that it lacks power because it is a fake, but that it is dangerous.
Be careful when it comes to those who say it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. I doubt that those who followed David Koresh in a compound in Waco, Texas to their fiery deaths in 1993; and the followers of Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate Cult who in 1997 took their own lives in twisted attempt to connect with extra-terrestrial visitors who were hidden in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet, will find themselves excused because of their sincerity.
I highly value living in this country with freedom of religion. I don’t
ever want the government to dictate what we must believe or to what church we must belong. That said, Freedom of religion does not mean that all religions are equally true.
Grace is the business of the church. Grace teaches that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). What will you do with the good news?
Jesus loves me, this I know – all the rest is commentary.