Tag Archive: Religion


HUMILITY

Some valuable words, common not so long ago, have almost passed out of use completely in the Western world. As a boy I was taught that “humility” and “modesty” were important words to know and indispensable principles to live by. Deference and mutual submission were common social values and attributes, whether in the sacred or secular worlds.

Now modesty and humility are not considered desirable or positive traits. In fact we’re encouraged to be quite the opposite by pop-culture, advertisers, movie directors, media celebrities and politicians. Our heroes are attractive, confident, aggressive and arrogant. They want to flaunt what they have. They’re successful, and they don’t stand for any nonsense. They’re beautiful and sexy, and we’ve been led to think that if we’re not at least trying to be the same way, we’re of little value. The mood of our time is self-exaltation in any way possible.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “humble” as follows:

1 having a modest or low opinion of your own importance

2 of low rank

3 not large or important

The word “modesty” is a synonym for “humility”.

I’ve been disappointed to find that if Christian ministers do ever mention humility-because it rarely happens-they’ll skirt around its real definition. Its original, traditional meaning is very unpopular, even in many churches. I’ve heard a few declare that humility isn’t about putting yourself down, and it’s not allowing people to walk over you, and it’s got nothing to do with weakness. Instead, they say, humility is a “quiet strength” and an inner confidence. They may admit that Jesus was meek and mild, but he was so in an assertive way, with a deep, powerful voice, a sexy hairstyle, and a big muscular chest. Nobody messed with tough, manly, strong Jesus!

Neither am I saying that Jesus was effeminate: he was not. Is there not a middle-ground between the two extremes?

I agree that all believers need to have an inner confidence which comes from faith in the will, power, faithfulness, Truth and goodness of God: if God is for us, who can be against us? This confidence, however, is not the same thing as humility, though the two can and should go hand in hand.

Paul encouraged the Philippians to imitate the humility of Christ (Philippians 2: 1-11). What did that look like to Paul?

He wanted them to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose (verse 2). That means a genuine love for each other: treating one another as equals. He wanted them to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (v 3a), but to consider others better than themselves (3b). He wanted them to be concerned about the interests of others, and not just about themselves (v 4).

Paul then went further, by giving Christ as the perfect example of humility:

“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (verses 6-8).

So we see that Jesus, though he was God in the flesh and had the right to parade around and vaunt himself,  instead “made himself nothing,” and lived his life as a servant to others. He didn’t go around boasting about who he was, and he didn’t look for public acclaim, and he wasn’t interested in being sexy or “cool”. In fact, Isaiah said that “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men…” (Isaiah 53: 2-3).

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to look your best, as long as you aren’t trying to elevate yourself above others. But the present day obsession with appearance and image, even in some Christian circles, is not godliness. It’s up to each one of us as believers to imitate Christ, not what we see on TV.

Of course humility doesn’t just relate to what we look like, but far more importantly it’s about obedience and submission to our Father, and recognition of our spiritual condition. You see, if we go around thinking “I’m better than that person over there”, we are calling the sacrifice of Christ unnecessary, because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23) and “there is no-one righteous, no not even one” (Romans 3:10). Without Christ we are all lost and separated from God, no matter what our income, our occupation, or our appearance.

Didn’t Christ say that the first will be last and the last first (Matthew 19: 30)? Why then would we want to be considered “first” in this world? Didn’t he say that “he who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 14:1)? Why then would we want to exalt ourselves?

I find that when I realize I’m thinking too much of myself, or thinking too little of someone else, it helps to pray something like this:

“Lord, I am no better than anyone else, in fact I’m as guilty as anyone else, and I’ve failed you in so many ways.  I’m probably the most sinful man I know – please have mercy on me, and forgive me for what I was thinking, and please bless that other person”.

It’s not wrong to recognize sin in the world and gently and lovingly point it out. However, admitting my own spiritual condition to myself and to God brings me down to the level of others in my mind and in my actions, and brings others up. I realize that Christ loves them as much as he loves me.  Now it’s easier for me to love them.

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I’ve had it with “experts”, of all shapes and sizes…it’s time to exorcise them from my view of the world entirely!

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For a large part of my life I’ve had an inbuilt distrust for “experts” in the secular world. You know-the ones who “must be right” because they went to X university and appeared on TV; the ones who tell us that we’re related to slugs; the ones who tell us that by eating hamburgers we’re destroying planet earth; the ones who so want us to be tolerant that they will not tolerate any other view but theirs, and the ones who tell us that candidate X (yes, I do like the letter “x”) obviously has no path to election.

I’ve also had an intrinsic distrust for those in the “religious” world who invent their own theology and call it Truth. You know-the ones who say that all religions lead to God (which God they don’t say-they just know it’s not the Biblical God); the ones who say that if you don’t speak in tongues you’re useless to God; the ones who say that Allah and Jehovah are one; the ones who say that John Doe is the latest Prophet and we all need to listen to him, and the ones who want to cut your head off if you don’t see things their way.

However, in recent years I’ve been distancing myself also from many “experts” within the evangelical Christian world. You know, the ones who are, metaphorically speaking, paraded on Christian radio and in the pulpits, and now behind microphones and guitars, as bearers of True doctrine. They went to X university, they’re good-looking, and they’ve written five hundred and sixty two million books on the subject, so they must be right.

There are Christian ministers and teachers who will tell you to “be like the Bereans” by searching the scriptures “to see if these things are so”, and who will then tell you how to be like the Bereans their way…

They’re the ones who say that they need X million dollars in the next two weeks to continue their ministry so “give as much as God is leading you to give”. They’re the ones who say that “God has a wonderful plan for your life” while Christians around the world get driven from their homes and slaughtered horribly by their persecutors. They’re the ones who tell me that I’m clearly a Jew and Israel-hater because I’m not a Pre-Trib believer; the ones who say that the early chapters of Genesis are merely poetic language to describe evolution- for example, that the word “day” really means billions of years and that God only told Noah to build a boat so he could float around on a lake for a while. They’re the ones who insist that Biblical wine is only grape juice, failing to explain why Paul would say that older women should not be addicted to “grape juice” (Titus 2:3).

I’ve had it with the “experts”. From now on, it’s me and my Bible.

 

 

 

A regular charge made by people wanting us all to abandon our principles, our morals, our faith and our hope in God is that “religion is the opiate of the people”, one of Marx’s little nuggets of wisdom (irony intended). The charge is (and always was) aimed squarely at the Christian world. It’s rarely aimed at, for example, Islam, since liberals, progressives and extreme leftists have made themselves friends of said religion, though how the two fit together I cannot figure out for the life of me.

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It’s a ridiculous accusation. Admitted, the Roman Church worked to own and rule the people of Europe for centuries, persecuting believer and unbeliever alike. But the most truly Christian nations-while far from perfect-have been the freest and most prosperous nations. Those who’ve attempted to purge religion from their midst have brought the greatest misery on their masses, particularly the poorest who they claimed to be helping: the Soviet Union, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, North Korea today, and many more. Furthermore, no-one in the Christian world is forced to be in it: we’re in it because we want to be.

I’ve been both sides of the faith-divide: I’ve been a rampant hedonist with no principles or beliefs whatsoever, and I’ve been a Bible believing Christian, and I can say without reservation that I would far rather be where I am now-within the Christian fold. I’ve never been coerced into attending church or into believing anything, and having faith and hope in God and Jesus Christ only enriches my life and cleanses me from some of my own destructive tendencies.

I know I’m going to tread on many toes here, but I’m going to say it anyway: the real “opiate of the masses” today is entertainment-the kind which liberals and progressives, along with many on the other side of the political spectrum, themselves produce and are addicted to. I see multitudes of people who give up their lives to park their ever-growing rear-ends on the lazy boy, to forego real-life experiences and physical and spiritual health, and to absorb whatever rot oozes out of their TV for hours on end. Gaming is also huge now. People are immersing themselves into fake worlds because they can’t bear the real one, or because they’re too lazy to live a real life and to actually communicate with people face to face, intelligently.

While our world is being ushered into globalism, (notwithstanding the attempts of Trump to reverse the trend) which will never produce any kind of utopia except for the scheming elite who suck all our money away, the masses are compliantly and submissively sticking their heads in the sand of unhealthy entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all entertainment is evil or wrong: it isn’t. But just as people always get that phrase about money from the Bible wrong, saying,”Money is the root of all evil”, when the Bible actually says “The love of money is the root of all evil”, so it’s the total immersion in, obsession with, love for and addiction to entertainment which is draining the life out of millions of people, while the pushers and the pimps work to bring about their desired political and social goals.

Can you call yourself a Christian only if you vote “left”, or only if you vote “right”?

Since the nineteenth century some socialists in the West have claimed that they are the real Christians in society, and that anyone who doesn’t agree with them politically is self-seeking and doesn’t deserve to be called a “Christian”. If you vote on the “right”, they insist, you’re obviously greedy and don’t care about the poor-you only care about yourself. USCurrency_Federal_Reserve

My dad was the most godly man I’ve ever known, and the most generous. He lived in humility and holiness as much as any man does, and he considered himself a socialist. He felt that way because when he was a child the people who did all the hard physical graft-including his own dad-were paid little and worked long hours, receiving little respect from their employers, and socialism promised to fix that problem. I don’t think he realized that all self-respecting socialist societies, particularly at the time he was raised, were based on atheism, naturalism and secularism.

But given his life as an example, I don’t doubt that a socialist who may be wrong about a few Biblical doctrines as he was can also be a real Christian in the original, true sense-and a good one.

The difference between socialism and Christianity is clearly seen in the book of Acts-sometimes used erroneously as a selling point for socialism. In chapter two we read that:

“…all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45).

There are three important things to see in this passage. First, there’s no doubt that the first Church-age believers really were generous. Secondly, however, they were generous towards each other, not to the state’s coffers. Thirdly and most importantly, the giving and distribution was voluntary.

The obvious difference between a socialistic redistribution of wealth and real, original Christianity is that socialism demands and takes money from you in the form of high taxes, whether you want to give it or not, and uses and distributes it as the ruling elite decides. Sometimes it’s allocated to anything but Christian causes, such as abortion or sex-changes. Socialism takes your money by “law” with the threat of punishment, whether you want to part with it or not, and whether you can afford it or not: Christian giving is willing, voluntary, joyful, generous giving from the heart, and from wealth that you have earned from your own hard work and enterprise.

The term “Christian” (“Christ-one”) was originally a title for those who were believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not primarily about politics at all, but repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s sacrificial life, death and resurrection.

No, God doesn’t “vote” left or right: obviously he doesn’t vote at all. Instead he has his own standards which are fixed and eternal, independent of human reasoning. Those standards may or may not be followed by individuals on the left or the right of the political spectrum. However, socialism-solidly and often extremely “left” of center (if there is such a thing as “center”) is predominantly atheistic or at least simply secular. We can see this in the present-day use of the US Constitution’s “establishment” clause, being used by the “left” as a weapon against expressions of faith, and almost always Christian faith. The clause was originally and clearly intended to protect the free exercise of religion-all religion-without the ability of the government to establish and impose one on its people.

Socialism is often, as prescribed by Marx himself in his communist “Manifesto”, established or promoted by violent rebellion or the threat of it. In contrast the gospel is about love and mercy for all men-rich or poor-and obedience to established authority. See my post on the birth and aims of socialism:

https://nickyfisher.com/2012/06/09/war-religion-and-atheism-part-2-marx-and-engels/

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Socialism is intrinsically opposed to the Church and to the traditional, Biblical family. Many on the “right” of the political spectrum are on the right not because they’re greedy, but because they see the extreme “left” to be at war against Christian social values and principles. And don’t forget that greed is not confined to the “right”-there are billionaire and millionaire socialists. You can’t get rich by giving it away now, can you?

Socialism is fundamentally opposed to freedom of enterprise, conscience and thought, and attempts to shape all minds into its mold, most particularly now through indoctrination in education, and in the guise of entertainment.

 

Why are there so many churches? This question is frequently more of an attack on the Christian faith than a genuine inquiry. The underlying assertion is that if Christianity were “true” and real, and if Christians weren’t “all hypocrites”, there would only be one denomination, to which all Christians would belong in perfect love and harmony…

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Here is my own un-churchified, un-theologicalized answer to the question, offered to anyone with an open mind. I say “open mind” because some of the people who ask such questions, while thinking of themselves as being open minded and tolerant, have a very closed mind when it comes to the Christian Church.

The whole matter of “religion” in general comes into the answer here, because what needs to be considered is that other religions and belief systems are divided to at least as great an extent. Hinduism is an umbrella religion consisting of many different beliefs, “paths” and millions of gods. Buddhism has sub-divided endlessly since its inception, often with friction between the schools and organizations. Muslims are clearly at each others throats (literally) in many parts of the world and have been since Mohamed. So to accuse only Christians of division is unrealistic and intolerant.

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The problem lies not in the nature of the Christian faith but in human nature. When Jesus Christ walked the earth there was one Christian faith, and Jesus even had a hard time getting some of his followers to understand or to accept what he was trying to teach them then. From the moment he left this world human nature began to attempt to wrest the Faith from those he entrusted it with. Some thought they had better ideas. Some wanted to ride on the success of the movement. Some wanted to benefit financially from it, and some simply misunderstood it. Some insisted that their own “revelations” trumped those passed on from Christ and the apostles.

Now bring the whole problem forward to our present age. When someone with a strong opinion and personality doesn’t like what he sees in his denomination, he attempts either to change it, or to go off and start his own church. He may have very good reason to, if what he has seen is in fact a serious departure from the faith once delivered to the saints. Many churches and denominations have been started as a genuine way of attempting to right what has gone wrong.

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Alternatively, he may be mistaken, misled, or self-serving. He may alter what he’s heard because he really thinks he’s right-even if he isn’t, and he proceeds to convince others that he’s right, possibly using a little exaggeration or deception to help the process. In such a way entire pseudo-Christian cults are born, and millions of people-gullible or just fooled-are misled.

When a man or woman claims to be a Christian there’s no immediate guarantee that he or she really is one, any more than a box popping up on your screen claiming to offer your computer a clean-up for free is genuine or hassle-free. And this problem is humanity-wide. It’s not just within the Church, it’s in politics, the retail world, advertising, the workplace, education and the home: it’s everywhere. So do yourself a favor: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because there are numerous divisions in the Church-some of which are perfectly legitimate-it doesn’t mean there’s no truth to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what’s the fix?

The fix is to consult the instruction manual-the Bible-as it was originally written, and use it to discern who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. Don’t even believe your organization’s claim that its own translation of the Bible is the right one: check it out for yourself. And what about the common accusation that the Bible was “All written hundreds of years after the fact”, and that “It’s all been changed hundreds of times”? Please refer to my post:

https://nickyfisher.com/2015/06/14/a-spiritual-defense-strategy-acronym-2/

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