Flippy I wanted to expound upon a thought you had about belief in Christ. I have always believed it was something different than saying...yep believe in Jesus...forgive me. Mathew 7 teaches this...
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Who does Jesus claim to know? Those who do the will of the Father. What is the will of the Father? To love our God with our heart, mind and soul. And to love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe this is what true faith in Christ looks like.
I think some of the scholars referred to and warned Christians about cheap grace. ie. saying they believe and have faith, yet living lives that don't reflect that claim. if our actions don't reflect our claim of faith, we may not really have faith.
True faith works on our heart and produces love for God and our neighbor. It's a natural outflowing of true faith...I totally agree.
Why do I know there is a God? One of the reasons is because I'm naturally a selfish bastage. I have proven that over and over again. But, today I actually have interest in other people and that just totally floors me. I know me well enough to know it isn't from me. It's a work that has be happening in me. I know I'm not a good guy...but yet somehow I'm growing out of childish selfishness into something more. That isn't me...it's happened despite me.
One more net since we are talking about Biblical interpretation. When you go through the Old Testament entering into the New Testament....it's like watching our own lives grow in faith. There was a time we became aware of our nakedness, our own evil and hid from God. Like Egypt we were consumed by plagues (symbolic for our idols)...things we put above God. We thought of God as a harsh God...destroying, punishing, and just waiting to swat us if we stepped out of line. Then New Covenant relationship happened in our hearts and we began to truly know God...realizing God is agape love and His judgments are an extension of His agape love calling us into righteousness by faith. The blinders came off and we began truly seeing God. The Bible ends with a symbolic summation of how this happens in a believers life. The Bible is beautiful, especially when you are able to see the bigger pictures and understand stand the symbolism.
Who knows what people are looking for when they read the book? But once mustard takes root, it's nearly impossible to stop it from spreading. By the time you get through the first or second Gospel, you're probably growing as a plant and nearly ready to drop some seed of your own.
There's a lot more to the symbolism of planting the mustard seed in a garden and birds nesting in the mustard lodging in the branches.
The big picture here is you've become an entrenched weed from nearly nothing. No matter how small a trace you realize is inside of you, we're all inherently good. As a Christian, you'd have to believe that having the image of God inside of you. Even without God, logic tells me we all have innocence. We're lucky if that innocence is protected and nurtured.
I like thinking of that inherent goodness or mark of God inside of us as a mustard seed. Because it doesn't need to be nurtured or protected. It's just gonna grow. With or without any intervention. And it's pretty cool when people realize their mustard seed has grown inside of them. It's also pretty neat when we realize we really had nothing to do with it's growth. It's also interesting to think it's grown despite many people trying to weed it out.
Now take it a step further and this is a really good analogy transitioning to the New Testament taking a weed and putting it into a garden where we will help it grow. Just imagine the power there if we nurture something that can grow without our help. And we can protect and nurture others (birds) when we care for our mustard in our own garden.
I never liked this parable much and wondered why it got repeated a couple times in the Gospels. And I always read right past it until a few years ago and it hit me, this concept of the mustard seed is referring to the kingdom of god. I always missed that part and read the mustard seed as my own transformation. But when I started noticing it was about the kingdom of God, I realized that Jesus was saying it's available to us here and now. We don't have to wait. If we want it, we can have it immediately today.
Growing up Catholic, I always thought - do good things, go to heaven when we die. Now I realize this is all a silly concept for kids. Who really knows if there's an afterlife? Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. But when I read the Bible now, I read it as a calling to something better we can all attain right here, right now.
I find it very difficult to do, but I try harder to read what is there without any preconceived notions. We've all been conditioned with so much about God and religion. I've found when I've studied the Bible with others and listened to their interpretations, that's when I realize I can't see what they see sometimes because I've built up assumptions about God before reading.
And along these same lines, it's interesting that you point out the transition from Old to New Testament. Between the 2, God doesn't change, but the writers' perceptions of him did. Jesus cleared a lot of things up for the people of that time. I always thought it would be awesome if he'd come back and re-teach in the context of our current time. There's so much more that we could understand now given how far cultures have moved in 2000 years. You see your own growth in the context of the writers' changing perceptions between the testaments. That makes me wonder where you or I could grow next given all that has happened since Jesus' day.
Similarly, you can put the "people see only what they want to see" to the test even in the football realm. Take one guy who believes Ben is a truly elite QB and another guy who thinks Ben is a glorified game manager, give them the same exact stats, and each guy will use those same numbers to argue that this further proves that his side of the story is even more correct. Taking the Ben scenario even further, you can take one guy who believes that Ben is a serial rapist and another guy who believes both allegations are complete shams, give them the exact same evidence, and both guys will argue that the evidence supports their side fully and cannot comprehend how the other side could possibly believe otherwise. People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, and believe what they want to believe.
you have things so twisted that you can't even follow what I'm saying.
That man you wrote about is not one with Jesus. Saying the words over and over doesn't magically make it so. You can rail all you want about Christians and how awful they are, but it appears that you fail to be able to separate those in Christ's kingdom from those who call themselves Christians. In fact, those folks have it just as twisted as you do, but the only difference is that you use it to find reasons to hate and they use it to find reasons to be liked.