364 – Repentance unto Hope

Saying, “Sorry,” is a good thing, but not everyone knows this—to say it or to hear it. Jesus taught in no uncertain terms: Forgive others, lest ye not be forgiven.

Repent, knowing that God wants to forgive. Come back to the light. Return from whence you fell. Repentance is a good thing; it is the basis is hope.

When someone makes a mistake, say so; it’s not an accusation. Accusing, pointing the finger of shame, calling a vote to throw someone overboard—all on account of error—is not any kind of teaching one would learn from the Bible or even tolerate. The purpose of calling out someone on a problem is to restore the person, granting the invitation to return to the simple, safe road that leads to Life.

The Bible’s view of repentance is that repentance leads to hope. An apology is not an admission of fault as legal testimony against oneself; it is a response to the summons issued by God Himself that we return to Him, even when we return to Him for the first time.

The first time a person walks the path of repentance that leads to hope, simply understanding at the heart-level that Jesus died at the Cross to cover the cost of our guilt, that person becomes a “Christian”. That’s all a Christian is—someone who repented to Jesus, accepting his hope in return. Becoming Christian is not about “church”, real estate, weekly schedules, or money given to the pastor. Becoming Christian is nothing more than the pure acknowledgment that Jesus is one’s personal, forgiving, hope-giving “Christ”—the Messiah who saves the whole world—thus, accordingly, believing the “Christ” already came to give hope to those who repent to him. “Christianity” is nothing more or less.

A non-Christian plainly does not believe that the “Christ” has already come, but still waits for some future hope other than Jesus.

Non-Christians are incapable of understanding the idea of repenting toward hope. Self-proclaimed “Christians” who shame others or can’t simply say, “Sorry,” without feeling overwhelming shame themselves might not be Christians since every Christian, by definition, has experienced Jesus’ gift of hope in exchange for us repenting to him.

Matthew 6:14-15

365 – God Saves the Best for Last

Many wicked people take shortcuts and impatient routs to amass luxurious plunder, but because they build their wealth on shaky foundations, everything collapses. They spend many years in their rich halls, but it all fails when laws of sowing and reaping swing back around to haunt them.

Somehow, it’s encoded into the heart’s understanding of satisfaction. However we go out is what matters. A long life of pain is somehow trumped if it ends in happiness, making the entire painful journey worthwhile because of the victory that the troubled path led to. A long life of luxury that ends in poverty makes the recipe for a tragic tale. Justice doesn’t always have the final say in the joy or pain of an ending.

Most signatories of America’s Declaration of Independence reached the end of their lives in sorrow and poverty. Living out a story with an unhappy ending didn’t prove that they were wrong, but that they paid a high price and are all the more heroic for taking the available step in their day to found a nation that would, a century and a half later, end the slavery that the British founded a century and a half before. Many Black slaves died still under the yoke of slavery, only having prayed for the freedom of future generations. Many peasants in Europe prayed for a literate society free of feudalism, later founded by the Pilgrims. Many Christians die in prison after giving testimony that opens up the way for the message of Jesus to spread to millions of people who are each eternally thankful.

Martyrs live lives that end in sorrow, making their lives sad, but just and fair in the eyes of Heaven. In that next life, they receive their Eternally happy ending, making their Earthly sad story worthwhile. But, not everyone needs to die a martyr. Many people see happy endings before their deaths, demonstrating justice in this lifetime. Justice works many ways.

Don’t give so much credence to temporary happiness. Pursue greater priorities. Respect the farmer who sows with empty barns. Eagerly press on toward whatever happy ending awaits you and you’ll find whatever light you need to guide your way.

0 – Religion Substitute

Christianity is a “substitute” religion. It doesn’t need priests because Jesus is the high priest who walks with us all. It doesn’t need rituals since Jesus finalized the rituals himself. It doesn’t need any kind of ceremonial sacrifices since Jesus offered himself as human sacrifice—the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices once and for all. It doesn’t require buildings since our bodies are God’s walking, living, breathing Temples—for those of us who acknowledge His name. It doesn’t require images since we were already created as God’s Image. It does not need any hierarchical order since the Bible is God’s direct message to all people for all times.

Christianity is not any kind of conventional religion. Those who treat it as one misunderstand it, whether from within or from the outside looking in on what they have never known. Christianity is mere truth of nature and nature’s God, who created Heaven and Earth along with all the molecules, photons, and space therein. Christianity substitutes what often occupies the space of conventional religion in people’s lives, even anti-religions such as Gnosticism, Agnosticism, and Atheism.

Because Christianity does not rely on any infrastructure, Christians can practice Christianity at any time. They can go anywhere, be anywhere, and change everything everywhere.

“Going to church” and the need for cathedrals made sense during a dark age when the world had technology neither for transportation nor communication. In those dark days, most people were illiterate and the only way to learn was to travel on foot or horseback to the one place at the one time when a teacher with knowledge would explain God and His ways. But, with widespread literacy, transportation, and global communication, that ancient system of weekly infrastructure is no longer necessary. It may be good or evil, but never necessary.

The only remaining purpose for weekly infrastructure would be for liturgy, but God’s mercies every morning are new. Jesus himself finished the need for all liturgy when he became our substitute for the sacrifices and rituals necessary to end our own self-oppression caused by our own sin. Jesus was the substitute for all because Christianity is and has always been a religion of substitution.