Jesus, Forgiveness, Healing, Grace, Mercy, Redemption are all words that are associated with Christianity but the understanding of them is being lost today's world.
Listed below are some of the most common misunderstandings -
1. “ Only ‘Good’ people go to Heaven.” This is a lie often used by manipulative parents to try to get children to behave themselves. The truth is that we are all bad, to some extent or other, none of us are perfect. There is no way that can we earn our way into Heaven by trying to balance out the ‘bad’ by doing more ‘good’. Eternal Life is a ‘Gift’ from God, if it could be earned by us being ‘good’ then it would no longer be a Gift. It is offered to everybody, and automatically received by those who have taken what is referred to as the ‘fundamental option’. Put simply, this ‘fundamental option’ is the choice to seek God’s ways rather than the ways of the ‘world’. Even if they are seeking God in the wrong place, God will honour their seeking rather than their ignorance. Thus it is wrong for anybody to say, for example, that those Hindus and Muslims who have turned away from the evil ways of the world and are sincerely seeking God, will not inherit the Gift of Eternal Life after their death. God will be merciful to whoever he wants to give mercy.
The advantage that Christianity has is that an assurance Eternal Life can be received before leaving this world.
2. “ When we die, it is God who will decide whether or not to let us into Heaven”. This is not true because we are each in charge of our own destiny while still alive here on Earth, a destiny brought about by the freewill choices we make. Look at it this way - when we meet God face to face, he will have one of two things to say. Either - ’My will be done’ or ‘Your will be done’
3. “God’s love has to be earned” Unfortunately, some children have had a flawed upbringing from parents who wrongly withheld or traded their ‘love’ like some sort of commodity that had to be earned. God’s love is not like that, it’s unconditional, he loves each and everyone of us, not because we are good, but because he is good !
4. “We will each reap what we sow” There are many cases in this world where this does not appear to be true. Many ‘bad’ people appear to prosper and many ‘good’ people are seen to suffer. Christians, while still alive, certainly do have a duty to try to make amends for any wrong they have done to other people. But, when we each meet God face to face, and after we have given an account of our lives, we will then each ‘reap what we have sown’. The question here Reader is this - will you plead Guilty or Not Guilty? Will you have some worthless excuses to try to explain the mistakes you have made and wrong things you have knowingly done. Me, I’m going to plead Guilty, but forgiven, and ask for Mercy that Jesus earned for all mankind when he suffered and died on the Cross.
5. “Christianity is an ‘Exclusive Group’ of people and only Christians will go to Heaven.”
Jesus is quoted by St John as saying “I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John Chapter 14 Verse 6 NIV Bible)
The interpretation of what Jesus meant by what he said about is open to many possibilities. One interpretation has been used by Christians to say that only Christians will inherit Eternal Life. This has done much harm in Interfaith Relationships. Those Christians, and there are many, who hold onto this fundamental view need to be sure that they do not do so based on ‘Second-hand’ information from their teachers. They need to open their mind to the possibility that the point that Jesus was making could have been that it is ‘his ways’ rather than ‘our ways’ (trying to be religious) that is the way forward, and that the ‘through me’ was referring to his death on the cross. Much emphasis has also been placed up the ‘I’ in terms of ‘who Jesus is’ rather than ‘what he is’. We need to remember that Jesus lived in the Heavens with God the Father before he became a human baby here on earth. But then, in his taking on ‘human nature’ he still remained ‘Divine’. So what he may have been implying in the above quote is that the way forward was ‘for our humanity to be transformed by a measure of divine’.
Our task in life is to connect with God, in a Covenant Relationship, and allow his divinity to grow within us. When anybody takes the ‘Fundamental Option’ they are, often without realising it, inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Jesus needs to be invited (See Revelation Ch 3 verses 20) but the Holy Spirit blows where he wills (See John Ch 3 verses 7 and 8).
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