"These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept My saying, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. ...." and following. (John 15:17-21ff)
Any religion or movement that tries to justify it's methods by claiming that God has called them to kill, harm, or cause pain and suffering to others is NOT, in my opinion, following God - they are following their own selfish interests and their political philosophy is mainly - "He with the biggest guns wins." and "I will do what is right in my own eyes." As for me - the God I serve is a Just God, A Merciful God and a Loving God. I will attempt as I am able to serve Him and Him only.
When confronted with, "There is no absolute truth." by an individual some years ago, I stated: "I know three absolute truths. 1. The longer you live the older you get and there is nothing you can do about it; 2. If you live long enough you do not get out of this alive; 3. The death rate among all mankind regardless of faith, race, sex, sexual orientation, color, education, money on the bank, color of eyes, etc. is 100%." Then I ask, "WHAT IF THE BIBLE IS TRUE?" I do not intend nor do I desire to debate, argue or persuade. I have, in my opinion, provided the message - what the individual does with it is now their responsibility. However, I will be available as the Lord leads to answer questions and to be helpful. Relationship is key before I feel I can express all my thoughts and feelings without causing a misunderstanding.
Now obviously, there are a lot of areas that we can spend time discussing - tolerance - how to educate our youth - what church to go to - equal rights - same sex marriage - et., etc., etc., Any society that will continue to survive, in my opinion, must set standards and rules to live by. We have been given , by our Creator, the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - everyone should have these rights - they are not given by the government and cannot be taken away by the government. If the people choose or allow something other that this than they will WEEP what they have sown.
Is it possible to solve all our human issues - I think not. Is is possible to love and respect one another as the Creator intended - YES! The choice is ours. To often we judge others by the law not by grace. None of us really knows what another has experienced or inherited in their lives - we have no real knowledge of what advantages (talents, etc) or problems (pychological, disease or handicap) exist in their lives as a result of nature or nurture.
Several years ago I asked God< "Why so much pain and suffering?" It was a time in my life when I was angry with God and thought it would be a good time to talk with Him about it. (By the way - that is as much prayer as burning incense or using King James language!) I believe He revealed the following to me. I can't remember now whether it was something I read or heard in my heart but in any case it made sense to me.
WHY PAIN AND SUFFERING? I believe God spoke the following to me...
1. I have created each person in My image and have given them a free will and he can make choices. Many choose to make choices that will cause them pain and suffering. I allow this. However, I have given my Word to man to tell him of My desires and I have sent My Son to bear witness of what My will is for them.
2. I have given all mankind a free will and they can make choices. Many choose to make choices that cause others pain and suffering - even if they do not know them. I also allow this. I will one day judge the choices of all men and will reward or punish them according to their works. For I am God and I sit in the heavens and do whatever I please. (Psalm 115:3)
3. I have allowed satan to test man and bring pain and suffering into the world. "Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood. (1Pe 5:8-9ff) I have revealed to all: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph 6:12). Know that I have provided my armor for this battle. "Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Eph 6:10-11) (Read also Ephesians 6:13 - 6:20) I also believe (my theology) that satan cannot test anyone who has given his life to the Lord, through repentance and forgiveness, unless he is allowed to do so for God's purposes. (Read the book of Job Chapter 1) "And Jehovah said to satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power. Only do not lay your hand upon him. And satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah." (Job 1:12) As a good and loving Father the Lord chastises and disciplines those whom He loves. "My son, do not despise the chastening of Jehovah; nor be weary with His correction; for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. (Pro 3:11-12) In my opinion, satan is like a puppet on a string and can only do what God allows him to do - and he does not have the ability to read our minds or hearts.
4. I warned and have carried out my justice against man because of His disobedience (sin) against me. In Genesis 2:17 God said, "...but you shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." The Bible tells us that all of creation is in a turmoil because of sin. For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him who subjected it on hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. (Rom 8:20-22)
I have also provided complete restoration as a gift to all men through my son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." (Joh 3:16-18)
God did not create man and the earth so that we could suffer pain and death. He did not intend that there be chaos in creation resulting in disease, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, etc. He did not intend that the lion would eat the lamb, etc. These things are a result of man's disobedience. Now, I know, some will say that is not fair. It is important to remember that God is Just, He is not fair by man's standards - whatever they are. In fact, that bumper sticker that says, "God Said It - I Believe It - That Settles It" is not quite correct. It should be, "God Said It - That Settles It". Whether you believe it or not really makes no difference.
5. I am the Lord and I sit in the heavens and do whatever I please. (Psalm 115:3) I discipline and chastise those whom I love. I am able to do this in any way I choose - I may allow satan to test you - I may allow other men to test you - I may allow my creation to test you - I may allow circumstances to test you. I only do this that you might know my love. For I have revealed to you, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28)
I don't really know how I got into all this but I guess it is one of the advantages of being a retired senior citizen with the option to use my time as I desire - I prefer to think "as the Lord leads" but ...
The e-mail that provoked me to write the above.
If you immigrate to a country it is because you wish to live in freedom and make a better
life for your family. We will not stop you from practicing your religious beliefs as long as they do not
interfere with the countries constitutional rights and laws. Do not come here and try to tell us we should not
display religious symbols in our schools and other institutions or have the right to prayer, instead you should
ask for the right to display your religious symbols and have the right to your prayers. If you do not wish to
live with us in peace and harmony you are free to go and live elsewhere.
Prime Minister John Howard - Australia
Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. "If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you", he said on National Television
"I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia : one the Australian law and another Islamic law that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option", Costello said.
Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off. Basically people who don't want to be Australians, and who don't want, to live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off", he said.
Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: "IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians."
"However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the 'politically correct' crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia " "However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand." "This idea of Australia being a multi-cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle."
"This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom"
"We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!"
"Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture."
"We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us."
"If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like "A Fair Go", then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.
"This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'."
"If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted."