Lately, I’ve been writing only when I have the desire to. Previously, I had to think more on what to write about. In recent weeks, however, it seems there is something I’m inspired to write about almost daily. I try to make my blog as free-flowing as possible, not forcing it into a scheduled pattern of topics that I must post on certain days, etc…Today, these were a few thoughts on my mind.
Prophecy and the Bible
As probably already noticed, one of the topics I’ve developed a desire to know more about is prophecy. A year ago, I wouldn’t touch the subject and it was even scary to read or hear about it. As I’ve grown closer to God, I’ve had a desire to study the Bible more and more. I can say now that I love it! I don’t like a lot of the stuff that went on in ancient times, but I love the ever evolving story of God redeeming humanity and guiding us step by step into a brighter future. My view of the Bible hasn’t always been like this though.
It would seem much of our current religious views revolve around control. Fear is weaved into much of the Biblical message we’re given to keep us obligated in some way. Much of this isn’t intentional and much of this is just following tradition out of fear. Yes, there were (and still are) consequences for actions. God didn’t punish those who were living out love though. Those who were punished within Israel were the ones insistence that their religious rule-following made them more righteous than others. These were the ones who considered themselves better than the rest of society, readily judging every action while hiding behind a defense of “don’t judge” as it pertained to them. Jesus laid out quite plainly what was going on in Matt 23. Are we still following this same pattern today? Are we attempting to control people by our religious views instead of walking out the journey with them, in love, to show them Jesus? Are we attempting to conform others externally while their pain, confusion, etc…are either pushed deeper inside or somehow twisted to be something satanic? Are we regurgitating garbled, often contradictory, cliches to lay guilt on others or are we pursing them through the love of Jesus?
I’ve stopped playing the approval game. For some time, even after I left the institutions, I hoped to still be approved of by other “Christians.” I’ve come to realize now, little by little as it was weened out of me, I don’t need religious approval to develop a real and joyful relationship with God. Many, both inside and outside of the traditional congregations, have tried to convince me otherwise. It seems religious approval has been so ingrained in our society, that many who haven’t set foot in a church building in years still defer to that validation in some form, often without consciously realizing it. However, the beauty of the removed burdens of performance, confusion, and conformance have proven to me personally that a direct relationship with God transcends human attempts to replicate or control it. It can only be accepted and lived by the Holy Spirit within and Jesus alongside. Sometimes I just have to laugh (to keep from being saddened by such attempts) when someone tries to manipulate me by withholding their self-righteous, religious approval. Being in a love relationship with Jesus doesn’t require external validation!
It seems many look back to better times. When I look into these “better” times though, I see things like racism and misogyny. Are those the “better” times? Often, there’s a false nostalgic memory that people long for in the past. Some even look to Biblical times as the example that we should revert back to which seems to be an insult to New Covenant grace. When this method was applied before, it plunged the world into the Dark Ages. Much of that same methodology is still vehemently held on to today. Fortunately, humanity has advanced enough not to be as controlled by it to drag us back into such an era. While we have our problems in this day, I for one feel lucky to live in the new age (Heb 11:37-40).
There were a handful of “good” times under the Old Testament, but it isn’t an age I would want to live in. God is beckoning us forward, step by step, by the Holy Spirit in us and Jesus beside us. With every prejudicial hatred that is whittled away, with every bigotry that dies a slow and agonizing death, humankind inches forward into a brighter future. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. Many tend to anchor their hopes in a lackluster past instead on walking day by day with Jesus into new and better days.
I intended to study more of the prophecy in the gospels and epistles first, but God seems to be prompting me on to Revelation. This is admittedly a daunting endeavor, but as I began studying some yesterday, I noticed it wasn’t hardly the beast of the apocalypse that I’ve previously viewed it as (at least so far :D). As I’ve began reviewing this book, I notice something almost immediately that is repeated throughout. It’s the same concept that was stated in the gospels and epistles—soon. My next post may list these out as relevant, but for now I’m still studying with a great joy in discovering things that have often been contorted to rob us of the New Covenant promises of God.