God the loved the world so much that Abba God sent the Chosen One, so that
everyone that believes in the Chosen One would never die, but live forever.”
(John 3:16; The Inclusive Bible) The gift of love, intended for all humankind,
comes from Abba God, the Creator, Redeemer, and lover of all souls.
Why then, doesn’t everyone feel
loved by Abba God? Let’s turn back the clock a couple thousand years. At the
time Jesus was revealed in the flesh, his ministry was focused on sharing words
of hope, encouragement, advice, and inclusion. His powerful works of healing,
feeding thousands, and raising the dead were evidence of his intense love for
The story of Jesus’ execution,
resurrection, and ascension are the most widely-told, and enduring stories of
human history. Jesus re-named his friend and disciple Simon, Peter (meaning
Rock) after Peter confessed undying faith in Jesus as the Messiah (Chosen One)
(See Matthew 16).
When Jesus says to Peter, “… on
bedrock like this I will build my community …” (Matthew 16:18, TIB), I believe
Jesus is referring to the faith that Peter displayed, not one particular
“church” or denomination. In fact, that is
the problem; religion.
Jesus was in the Synagogues “daily”
(See Luke 15) and in the Temple “daily” (See Luke 21:37), so he was familiar
with and practiced a formal style of worship in those places. That worship is
intended to honor God and is a time for fellowship.
Outside of that, Jesus’ ministry was
based on going where the people are and meeting their immediate needs, while
teaching them about the Kingdom of God and inviting them into a fellowship
Jesus made it clear that the Temple
or Synagogue could not save them from imperfection and the death that results
from it. Likewise, it is not a church or denomination or any human enterprise
that can save us from ourselves. In many cases it is the exact opposite.
Rigid religious structures push people
away from the love of God. They define and divide people. They demonize and
vilify people through their exclusive, exclusionary regulations, backed by the
claim they are listening to the “the voice of God!”, or worse, “speaking for
It is true followers of the Way of
the Chosen One offering genuine love to others (everyone) that will save us
from ourselves. It is the creative, redemptive, sustaining love of the Holy
Trinity (Abba God, The Chosen One, the Holy Spirit) that will heal us.
It appears obvious that we humans cannot fix our problems
without divine help. It is also obvious that old religious structures are no
longer effective. It is time we found genuine spirituality; new ways of
listening and learning from each other. New ways of honoring all of creation.
The be continued …
Blessings and Peace to You
ST. ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
555 E. Third Street | Grove, OK 74344