Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Letting Our Light Shine



In Matthew 5:14, Jesus says to his disciples: "You are the light of the world." What is our calling as followers of Christ? It is very simply to let his light shine in and through us, so that people will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Nothing more dramatic than that.

But we're not the ones doing the good works and therefore deserving the glory. We are to be vessels for God's light, so people will see him. That means abiding in him and resting in his will. He will take care of the rest.

Jesus also told his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth," and followed up with the sobering warning, "but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matthew 5:13)." Imagine going through life being "trampled under foot by men" for our faith, and having it all be for nothing. Our spiritual vitality has to be powerful enough to transform us and those around us. If our faith is just a hollow creed, we're worse off than without it.

But if we can stay close enough to God to maintain our "saltiness," he will take care of all the rest. We don't have to worry about the barriers we face. God will break them down. Even when every foe is aligned against us, we must remember that although we are utterly powerless, he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are called only to abide in Christ and be vessels for his pure light.

The Interpreter's Bible says:
There is no despair because the group is small: a pinch of salt is effective out of all proportion to its amount. There is no hermit strategy: the disciples are to stay in the world, touching even its unworthy life, if they would redeem it. There is no call to a sensational witness; salt is inconspicuous, ordinary, and admixed with common things.
A sensational witness is not necessary, but the steady light within us is.

39 comments:

3 Blessings said...

Thank you so much for this today.
Blessings,
Amy

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks, Anette.

Very encouraging.

Craig

Faith Imagined said...

It is so good to know that we DON'T have to worry because God has it all under control! Very encouraging post!!!

-Alisa Hope

Mikkala said...

Anette,

I must apologize for not having engaged you in a more serious, or involved manner while you were sharing on Ray's blog.

To be completely honest, I sincerely believe for you to have even so much as decided to make a single post, regardless of it's content, was to stoop to a level that is inherently beneath you, all personal belief aside.

Me, I really don't mind getting my hands dirty, and I have my own reasons for doing so, but I have to admit, it's tough to see fairwell comments from those bloggers who do have something significant to say, when they say it from their core beings, and again, all personal belief aside, doubly so for this paragraph.

~Cheers Anette.
Micah.

Y = X said...

It is both good and bad that you leave Ray's blog. I am soon going to leave as well. My reason for going there is mostly over with now.

I apologize to you if my last comment on Ray's blog directed at you made you feel 'Christ being trampled underfoot'. (In that comment I said God looked childish and repugnant.) I had no intention of offending you with my statements. I was just trying to express how I see things.

Ray calls me a false convert since I used to believe in God. I stopped believing in God for a variety of reasons. One of them was that many people claim to believe in Christ's message but very few act as if they really do. You've help restore in me a measure of respect for the church.

It's bad that people on Ray's blog won't get as good a glimpse at what real Christianity is about with you gone. But, as the Arabs say, when you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. So, overall it's good that you stop posting there.

Anette Acker said...

Thank you, Mikkala.

Y=X,

No, this had nothing to do with you. (Except for the fact that you rightly pointed out that when Christians look nothing like Christ it makes it very difficult for people to believe.) And you certainly have not offended me at all!

There are a few Christians on the site who say things that have appalled me over the past few months. Since they are representing Christ, I always felt like if I didn't speak up I was condoning it.

I always thought that we shouldn't judge, but I realized a few days ago that 1 Corinthians 5:12 says that we are supposed to judge those who are within the church, and it says earlier that it's because a little leaven leavens the whole lump. The reason why there are so many problems within the church is because we don't hold ourselves and each other to the standard that we should.

So I'll probably get myself in trouble, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.

Mikkala said...

Anette,

I'd like to share my idea why Ray's blog appears as it does, and why when someone who has good intention can be simply buried beneath the mire.

In my view the reason is this; Given that you take a reasonable(less dogmatic) approach to interpreting scripture, and portraying what it is to be "Christian", it is only to be expected that there will be others who do not see things the same way as you do, but also call themselves Christian, and even believe it.

In light of the nature of scripture itself, in light of the nature of dogma itself, in light of the nature of belief, in light of the nature of language itself, one can only expect a widely varied cross-section of people (Christians) to contribute their ideas, or perhaps their second hand ideas.

As I don't -in all honesty- see that the bible can be understood in a practical(functional)and linguistically coherent manner (nature of language) it only follows that the ideas about Christianity are as widely varied as those who espouse the ideas.

Quite simply, I don't see how any one Christian(person), or any one interpretation of scripture(dogma) can portray "true Christianity". It is to me, an illusion. Much like the "self" is an illusion to a philosopher.

If one expects some form of coherence in ideaology and politics, where these types of propositions are concerned, one is setting themselves up for unmet expectations.

I'll sum it up like this; One can not functionally understand the bible on the basis that our language can not allow, or afford it.

To me it's a simple solution, and many words that have been typed, would have done an equal job untyped. Mind you on Ray's blog, many of the words being typed are doing their own destructive work. I gather that's why you're leaving, correct?

~Regards.

P.S. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in this, that is not immediately apparent to the one who reads the words? Do you command your words, or do your words command you?

photosynthesis said...

Anette,

I am glad you left Ray's. It is a nasty place.

I leave from time to time to decontaminate. Then I go back just to mock the most dishonest among them fundies.

(I know that many atheists are quite aggressive and thoughtless too.)

Thanks again for reminding me that fundies is not all there is to Christianity.

G.E.

Y = X said...

Anette,

A couple of years ago I went on sabbatical. I rented my place to some friends from the church I went to. When I got back the place was trashed and they left me with some substantial bills. Mutual friends at the church refused to say that what was done to me was wrong. Most questioned whether or not I made the parameters for renting my place clear to the renters.

I don't base my beliefs on the actions of others but it did strike me as quite profound that the so called followers of The Truth refused to stand up for the truth. It spoke volumes to me. It made me realize that for the most part the church is a social club that has it's own lingo and social paradigm. God forbid that anyone actually follow what was preached!

So, anyway, it's nice to see you standing up for truth.

stranger.strange.land said...

Hi Anette.

I will miss reading comments from you at Comfort Food / Atheist Central. (...until you return ; )

I don't know how much interaction you have had with G.E. there. He is pretty cool. We can express our strong disagreements with one another on a blog and still remain friends.

I am going to continue to put in a good word on behalf of our Lord there, probably even more now. I strongly suspect that most of the people who post there just skip over my comments, but that's okay. I love Christ and the Gospel, and I am happy for the privilege of being allowed to honor Him on Ray's blog.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try to clarify what I believe about the doctrines of grace on your "Free Will in Heaven" thread. I am also thankful for the input from you and Daniel.

Craig

Mikkala said...

@Y=X

"God forbid that anyone actually follow what was preached!"

Or perhaps, thank God?

Or even still, is it even possible to follow what is being preached?

Does one need to believe anything on insufficient evidence to "do what is right"?

Indeed this question is paradoxical itself in that, believing with insufficient evidence would have to be "the right thing". Presuming one needs to believe, of course.

~Cheers

photosynthesis said...

Thanks Craig,

Of course you know I also respect you and consider you my friend. Even though we disagree a lot.

I do not answer you at Ray's because there is mostly nothing to answer. You know that I do not mind people believing. I just detest the dishonesty displayed by some (or many).

I see plenty of aggression towards your comments too. Seems like we are no longer able to discern the dishonest Christians from the honest ones. Though other atheists are quite aggressive just because.

Best to all of you guys,

G.E.

Anette Acker said...

Mikkala said:

"To me it's a simple solution, and many words that have been typed, would have done an equal job untyped. Mind you on Ray's blog, many of the words being typed are doing their own destructive work. I gather that's why you're leaving, correct?"

That's exactly right, Mikkala. You said a few things about doctrinal differences among Christians, and in my mind they are often insignificant as long as we love God and others.

For example, Craig Boyd and Jonathan are both Calvinists (I think Jonathan is) and I'm not. But I have a tremendous respect for both of them and our minor differences don't matter. It does, however, bother me when Christians are dishonest or lacking in Christian love.

Anette Acker said...

G.E. said:

"I leave from time to time to decontaminate."

You said it! Detox . . . ahhhhh. :)

Anette Acker said...

Y=X,

That's terrible about what your friends did to your place. You're right, though, that the Christian culture is such that speaking up against something or even disagreeing with another Christian is almost taboo. But it's just the culture--it's not biblical. God definitely calls us to stand up for the truth.

Anette Acker said...

Craig,

I'm glad that you'll be commenting on AC because you are always so respectful and biblical. I've been told that if people skip over our comments, that's a compliment because it means that they're not full of logical holes and carelessly chosen words. :)

I apologize for giving so little attention to our Calvinism discussion, but the past three months have been very intensive AC. Hopefully we'll be able to either discuss something else or pick up that thread. It didn't seem to get very far in spite of the 78 comments.

Anette Acker said...

Mikkala said:

"Or even still, is it even possible to follow what is being preached?"

Faith makes it possible to follow what is being preached, because faith is simply receiving what God wants to give: his Spirit. So faith is the means and love is the end. This is why if we don't see love that is evidence that there is no faith. Lovelessness is a fatal flaw in a Christian.

Mikkala said...

@Anette

This is the bit of your statement that I found to have a kernel of truth in it Anette.

"Lovelessness is a fatal flaw in a Christian."

I'd do you one up; Lovelessness is a fatal flaw in an emotional being. (human in our case)

Do you suppose an unloved whale pup stands a chance at survival Anette?

Completely serious question btw ;-)

~Cheerfully.

Y = X said...

Mikkala,

There are many interpretations of the Bible but I must go by my interpretation. It's clear to me what the essence of Christ's message was. And it is equally clear to me the sort of people he got angry with. A number of this type of person can be found on Ray's blog.

Christ got mad with those who knew better. Yeah, this is clearly subjective but I've got a notion of what I think this means. He was welcoming of those who didn't know better or who were of poor means. So, when I see Christians on Ray's blog (and Ray himself) demeaning the non-believers that go there I know that they are false converts. (I'm stealing Ray's terminology here.)

Of course they see things differently but, like I said, I've got to go by my interpretation. It's the best I can do.

Anette Acker said...

I think the reason why AC is such a toxic place is because of the lack of love. As you said, Mikkala, a whale pup doesn't stand a chance of survival without love. And an adult human who spends time in a loveless environment has to take time to "decontaminate," as G.E. said--to breathe the air of kindness and respect.

A couple of days ago, one of the Christians called one of the atheists a "HUGE egotist," and I called him on it, saying that if he doesn't show the love of Christ, everything else he says is completely in vain. Another Christian replied by saying, "Your willingness to share the love of Christ here is admirable but . . ." The clear implication was that it was naive to think that these atheists could possibly respond to something like the love of Christ, and if I knew what they were really like I would realize that.

But the truth is that it is the most powerful thing in the world, and people universally respond to it. It succeeds where all else fails. I'm not sure that any of my comments on AC made a dent, but I do think that most of the atheists and agnostics know that they were treated with respect and kindness, and they responded in kind. And conversely, as Y=X has demonstrated, loveless Christianity does more to anger people than almost anything else. It is the ultimate hypocrisy. The man who made that comment to me might as well have said, "Your willingness to share the Gospel here is admirable but . . ." and that statement would have contained more truth than what he actually said.

And that is the fundamental reason why I stopped commenting there. Every time a Christian represented Christ without love and integrity I was deeply ashamed, and it reflected on all of us unless we stood up against it. Always having to stand up to people is not easy to do, and nobody listened to me when I did, so it was time for an amputation.

Mikkala said...

@Anette

jsk asked (on the AC abortion blog from a few days ago);

"I'm curious: is there anybody here -- even among those Christians who generally agree with Ray -- who actually believes that SCMike has a legitimate argument, and is defending it in a legitimate manner?"

What are your thoughts on this matter Anette?

~Regards.

P.S.Thank you for addressing my whale question honestly. I was tickled fancy that a Christian actually gave an honest answer, rather than some diatribe about; "humans are not animals!", or a dodge all together.

Mikkala said...

@Y=X

"There are many interpretations of the Bible but I must go by my interpretation. It's clear to me what the essence of Christ's message was. And it is equally clear to me the sort of people he got angry with. A number of this type of person can be found on Ray's blog."

Y=X,

I'd even go so far to say; "There are ONLY interpretations of the bible."

I don't think the word "many" was completely up to the job.

But I see where you are coming from. Jesus was certainly ahead of his peers in ethical terms.

Just keep in mind, Jesus said alot of things. One needs to take a view from high above the issue to even begin to see the whole picture.

~Cheers.

Mikkala said...

@Anette

You said to me;

"That's exactly right, Mikkala. You said a few things about doctrinal differences among Christians, and in my mind they are often insignificant as long as we love God and others."

Now, allow me to demonstrate the exact and literal differences between you(theistic) and I(atheistic) Anette. I would have to state the same statement as you almost identically.

Watch closely; "That's exactly right, Mikkala. You said a few things about doctrinal differences among Christians, and in my mind they are always insignificant as long as we love".

See, it's really not that scary is it? We share a fundamental perspective, but perceive a different fundamental "(un)belief"

Mikkala said...

Anette,

I'd suggest you review his cross section of comments on AC, if you feel so inclined. Otherwise feel free to disregard my question.

All I can say is that I wasn't getting sucked into that philosophical blackhole, his gravity was weaker than it initially appeared.

Let's just say I got accosted by him, but I knew from comment #1, I wasn't worth his time. And so, I graciously obliged him.

Silence isn't always golden, but it sure has it's moments ;-)

Anette Acker said...

Mikkala said:

"Watch closely; 'That's exactly right, Mikkala. You said a few things about doctrinal differences among Christians, and in my mind they are always insignificant as long as we love'.

See, it's really not that scary is it? We share a fundamental perspective, but perceive a different fundamental '(un)belief'"

You're right; there are a lot of things we agree on, but where we part company is that I don't believe that it's possible for us to love the way we should unless God works in and through us. But loveless Christianity is practical atheism (noGodism), and I would probably agree more with an atheist who sees this than a Christian who is blind to it.

Regarding your earlier comments on the many different interpretations of the Bible, there is one interpretation of doctrine that is correct, and many that are incorrect in various ways (2 Peter 1:20-21). There is a consistent message that runs straight through the Bible. Christian doctrine is like a puzzle, where all the pieces have to fit together. If there are important stray pieces, we may have to conclude that we have made a mistake somewhere. (A math problem would be another analogy.) This happens often because we are not always as concerned about truth as we should be. We (Christians) are more concerned about what we want to believe and what those around us believe. So our worldview often says more about our culture than about what the Bible actually teaches.

Mikkala said...

Hello again Anette! :-)

You said:

"You're right; there are a lot of things we agree on, but where we part company is that I don't believe that it's possible for us to love the way we should unless God works in and through us."

Well Anette, I can appreciate your sentiment and your devotion towards love. I just have a question for you concerning love, it might get us back a little bit to the whale pup from my previous post.

When you say "love the way we should" I don't quite understand this. What I'm curious about is this; If we're not "loving the way we should" could it be said that we're loving at all?

I mean, love is genuine. Love does not admit of impurity or half measure. It seems to me that when we truly love, we can only love the way we should. Also to say we can not love in anything but a true sense.

Does the baby whale's pod love it in an improper sense? Can the pod love in an improper sense? It seems to me that the pod can either love the pup, or not, and this is transferable to humankind as well, at least in my humble opinion.

Just a thought.

~Love, Mikkala.

Anette Acker said...

Mikkala,

You're absolutely right that love has to be genuine in order to be love at all. And that is key. It's not in human nature to love those who are different from us, and who think in very different ways. If you look at Atheist Central what you're really seeing is the anger and distrust that results from a clash of ideology. And some of the Christians talk about love without demonstrating it. So the "love" is not genuine because it doesn't come from the heart.

The problem is this: What do we do when we know we should love all people but we simply can't? If the truth is that we feel bitterness and anger, what do we do? Do we cover it up by trying to say the right things? People see right through that, so it doesn't work.

The essence of true Christianity is that the Spirit of God changes our hearts so that it does come naturally to love. All Christian theology converges at that point. When we admit that we don't love the way we should (which is the truth), we are ready to open up our hearts to let God give us his love.

Mikkala said...

Anette,

Thank you again for your thought out reply. Converstaions actually begin to become conversations, and develop some flow, when both sides are indeed giving some thought to what they are writing, don't they?

Anyway, what I notice about your reasoning and conversational style is always overcomplexity. And I see it in many highly intelligent theists(mostly Christian)As I have had many productive and enjoyable diuscussions with them. What I mean is this. Take for example;

"The essence of true Christianity is that the Spirit of God changes our hearts so that it does come naturally to love."

The fact is I can state the same thing, except in a streamlined, and more effective way, so as to function as a near-coherent statement. Because "perfect coherence" is impossible. We must strive nevertheless, for that is all we have to connect ourselves together.

Ie. The essence of Christianity is because it comes naturally to love.

I am not implying anything about you personally, aside from your outlook so as to feel compelled to complicate, what is in fact, your very own true nature.

I respect you as a person and can see that you do understand a fundamental fact about being human. And by "understand" I mean digest, and embody. This can be done with no recourse to ancient desert theology.

You also said in stating your problem before hand;

"The problem is this: What do we do when we know we should love all people but we simply can't? If the truth is that we feel bitterness and anger, what do we do?"

Well, I wouldn't go so far to say any one human being is principly incapable of loving another.

As well, I would also not go so far to say "bitterness and anger" are antithetical to love. Hatred is.

I don't deny a human could be capable of hate. They certainly could. Infact I think Ray's sentiment could teeter on hatred, in the guise of a poorly feigned "nice guy routine"

Love is obviously more compatible with happiness, progress, and indeed -ironically & paradoxically-compatibility itself, than is hate. However, anger and bitterness must also be looked at as naturally as love is.

People are capable of not understanding that love begets love. I think that is the real problem.

I am thankful to goodness, that I was indeed raised in a loving home. I was also raised in a dysfunctional home. I am not so thankful for that, but so be it. These things are not mutually exclusive. Jesus was the head of our household and then my father, and then my mother & father.

I don't believe I've ever truly experienced hate. Hate is pure as love, but does not exist in the presence of love. I choose love, in the most literally possible sense. Nothing else is relevant, it is pure.

Confusion however, is distortion, also natural nevertheless.

~Regards Anette.

Anette Acker said...

What made you become an atheist, Mikkala? If that is too personal, feel free to disregard the question.

Mikkala said...

Anette,

You said;

"You're absolutely right that love has to be genuine in order to be love at all. And that is key. It's not in human nature to love those who are different from us, and who think in very different ways."

Let's think of the whale pup again, it could be said that he inherits an environment and a pod of adult whales to model itself, and be modeled after.

Is it in this pod's nature -let's say the pod is Orca whales- to love a pod of bottlenose dolphins? (also aquatic mammals)

I guess it's a question we don't really know if we can even know, but it's an interesting one noless, we certainly know they're intelligent enough. We certainly know they display behaviour indicitave of love.

Behaviour is a complex thing though Anette.

~Cheers Anette!

P.S. Anette if you've never heard of him google "John Lilly and Cetacean Communication". If I were to say to you a dolphin is capable of learning english both syntactically and semantically, does this mean he could be a Christian upon receiving God's word? Do you think he'd understand what you meant by the words "Jesus is Lord?" or "God is love"? I wonder if they develop a broad vocabulary? Could it analyze functionally, John 3:16?

P.P.S. Apologies for the rambling P.S. ;-)

Mikkala said...

Anette,

"What made you become an atheist, Mikkala? If that is too personal, feel free to disregard the question."

Good question Anette, but I didn't become atheist :-) That is not a thing you can become :)

Look at it like this, it was a gradual process -call it evolution if you like- in unbecoming a theist. It's not like I chose to become something. In the same sense as unbecoming a theist, one unbecomes atheist inversely.

I just call myself a human now Anette. That's the most suitable label and the simplest. If we must label, we would do well to find a label that unifies everybody.

So you could say I became a human being. It sounds kind of pointless and obvious, but I mean it in the deepest sense I can muster.

~Good talking with you Anette! :-)

Anette Acker said...

I did not mean for that question to be offensive. I thought you described yourself as an atheist when you said, "Now, allow me to demonstrate the exact and literal differences between you(theistic) and I(atheistic) Anette." And you said that you grew up in a Christian family. Some atheists/agnostic feel comfortable talking about that and others do not.

I have also enjoyed talking with you, Mikkala. Thanks for stopping by!

Mikkala said...

@Anette

"I did not mean for that question to be offensive. I thought you described yourself as an atheist when you said"

No, no, no, Anette! No offense taken. By all means shoot away :-) Don't handle me with kiddy gloves. I've been called waaaay worse than "atheist" by professing Christians (among others).

Perhaps my meaning -not immediately apparent- was that in my philosophy(definition of words and meanings) I am atheistic. My philosophy simply does not presuppose theology, hence "atheistic".

My comparitive analysis was more to highlight the ideas of a theistic viewpoint, through linguistic biases and behaviours, as compared to no such theistic bias. simplified syntax, simplified semantic. As one dimensional as is logically possible, through words.

Theology can be seen as a human behaviour Anette :-) You just have to read between the lines ;-) Alas so can philosophy, but it is only philosophy that discerns that as a fact.

I think my atheistic tendency, stems more from the fact that I have the urge to communicate clearly. I have a deep rooted desire to be understood, and to understand. As far as is possible anyway Anette.

~Always a charm

P.S. My apologies if I sounded reflexive in my reply.

Mikkala said...

Oh And Anette, if you're curious about my new avatar, I just wasn't feeling the "love" for that old one anymore ;-) Ha!

I just kept thinking "ohh my, what happened to that poor child? I feel so bad for it, and it's parents..." :-) LOL

Anette Acker said...

"Oh And Anette, if you're curious about my new avatar, I just wasn't feeling the "love" for that old one anymore ;-) Ha!"

Actually, I was more curious about what the old one was. :) Your new one looks like a Bionicle (my son loves those, but I don't think he has that particular one).

Mikkala said...

The old one is a Black Sabbath album cover. It appears to be some portrayal of a human infant satan...I guess?? (poor taste I know) Consider it an hommage to Mr. Comfort.

A Bionicle you say, huhh? LOL that's awesome!! :-)) And to think I was just calling him robo-devil all this time!! :-)

Anette Acker said...

"The old one is a Black Sabbath album cover."

That's right, now that you mention it. I remember that from back in the day.

Mikkala said...

You're good people Anette,

Did you know Ray arbitrarily started deleting my comments, and told me outright, "I don't like your name, change it and you can post", because I thought I'd be a wise guy and post under the handle; "The Super Devil"?

Needless to say, my next move was to post as; "El Supremo Diablo". Still, no good humor from Ray. I mean c'mon right? Someone must have peed in his breakfast cereal, no?

It's as if the simple comedic concept of a "super devil" is taboo. That is to say it shouldn't be read on a acomputer screen, and moreover, shouldn't even be thought.

~Boohoo!!

Anette Acker said...

Well, Ray gets a lot of traffic, so he needs bright line rules. You probably violated one of them. One of my comments got deleted because I included an URL. Luckily it wasn't very long.