About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

This blog is for those attracted to Jesus but who question the traditional baggage often attached to his message, so it has two large areas of focus.

The first area of focus is learning who Jesus is, what he says about the Father, and how we should relate to the Father, to ourselves, and to others. The second focus is examining major baggage issues that often detract from following Jesus freely.

I grew up a fundamentalist and later became an evangelical. As I examined my beliefs, I discarded a lot of baggage that was added to the good news of Jesus, and I hope to help and support others who are on the same journey.

Following Jesus without Baggage

The Intended Audience for this Blog

If you are concerned about unreasonable baggage (rules and beliefs) often associated with Jesus, then this blog is for you. It is a message of Jesus without baggage.

1. First and foremost, this blog is meant as a support for those questioning beliefs they have been taught as true, or even essential. This can be an extremely frightening process, so this blog is a safe place for interaction, questions, and support.

Those escaping religious baggage sometimes abandon Jesus along with it and feel the loss. We are here to say that baggage is not part of Jesus’ message to us; you can certainly follow Jesus without it.

I don’t claim to be an ‘authority’, and I certainly don’t want to become an authority figure to replace authority figures people are escaping. I believe everyone should decide issues for themselves, but I am pleased if this blog provides information and help on the journey. The regular readers and commenters also give a great deal of support.

2. The second intended audience are those already on a spiritual journey from religious baggage and would like confirmation or conversation from friendly co-travelers. Readers here interact freely with me and with other readers. It is nice to be part of a community of like-minded persons, especially when you might not have that in your local area.

3. Finally, this blog is for those interested in Jesus but not the traditional baggage often associated with him, whether or not they identify as followers of Jesus. It is also for those who simply enjoy discussion and interaction on these important topics.

Objectives

Let me make a clear statement. Many conservative believers and many atheist will disagree strongly with my views, but my purpose is not to persuade anyone to accept my perspectives on Jesus, the Father, or the Bible.

My objectives are:

  • To offer for your consideration a foundation for following Jesus without baggage
  • To offer support and conversation for those interested in Jesus without baggage or in the concepts involved

I am happy if my understanding of Jesus without baggage makes sense to you and is helpful; but it does not bother me in the least if you don’t agree with my understanding. I respect your right to your beliefs even if you disagree with everything I think.

The Meaning of Jesus without Baggage

Since the death of Jesus’ earliest followers, certain views have become accepted as ‘truth’ and those who disagree with these ‘truths’ are often excluded from the Church and are no longer considered part of God’s family. This is baggage.

I was raised a fundamentalist, which is an extreme form of evangelicalism, and I fully embraced Jesus at a very early age and accepted a lot of religious baggage along with that choice. Over time, I discovered that much of the baggage I accepted was not legitimate. I first abandoned legalism–the keeping of religious rules, but I also dealt with other baggage that came as part of my religious tradition.

However, I did not abandon Jesus. I still find the person of Jesus, as described by his earliest followers, intensely compelling. He resolves my alienation from the Father, myself, and other people, and he provides eternal life in his death and resurrection. Jesus is the most important thing in my life.

He included me in his invitation

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I accept his invitation, and the invitation comes without baggage.

Six Signs You May Be Lugging Heavy Religious Baggage

Major Baggage Issues

Most issues on which followers of Jesus disagree are not alarming or destructive, but some are very harmful. The elements of harmful baggage I see among Christians today:

  1. The belief that the Father is an angry, capricious, vindictive God
  2. The concept of eternal punishment and torture in hell
  3. An insistence that the Bible is somehow inerrant in every word
  4. An over-emphasis on rules and doctrinal requirements
  5. Commitment to a literal approach to the creation stories in Genesis
  6. Disapproval and rejection of gay people

These views are not only misguided, but they create burdens instead of freedom and are harmful to our relationships to the Father, ourselves, and other people. We will discuss these and other issues, and their ramifications here.

The Good News of Jesus

The Good News of Jesus

Religious baggage is not the only important thing we discuss on this blog. Opposite to the baggage is the Good News of Jesus. As we begin to learn and live the good news of Jesus, we no longer need (or want) to hold on to our baggage.

What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
God is not Angry and Harsh with Us as Many of Us Thought
God’s Love for Us Takes Away Our Fear, Guilt, and Self-Condemnation
Do You Still Feel Guilt and Fear because You Fall Short of what God Demands?
We are not to Follow Burdensome Religious Rules
We are Agents for Expanding God’s Kingdom on Earth
Death is Not the End because Jesus Offers Us Eternal Life and Happiness
When the Good News of Jesus Doesn’t Sound like Good News At All

To all the groups mentioned above–and more, I invite you to explore Jesus without baggage.

~Tim Chastain

662 Responses to About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

  1. Kay says:

    I’m very glad I found this blog, makes me feel a lot better. I’ve always believed in God and Jesus but I never identified with any religious group. I’ve always found things a bit confusing given the fact of so many religions and all of these “rules”. I always thought you can have your own personal relationship with God and Jesus without church or the Bible. I was reading some Bible verses out of curiosity and my first thought was why does this sound so scary, so again I feel confused because I don’t believe God is angry or hates anyone’s. I have been wanting a closer relationship with God and Jesus but am not sure which direction to turn, any advice? Thank you🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Kay, I am glad you find the blog useful. I don’t think God is angry or hates anyone either.

      Regarding you question of a closer relationship with God and Jesus, let me share this resource page. Let me know if you have additional thoughts or questions.

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/how-to-follow-jesus/

      Like

    • William says:

      If some parts of the Bible seem scary and stand in the way of your creating a relationship with God, consider for a moment that you are reading someone else’s interpretation and opinion of how God operates and how you connect with him. Those words were chosen by people like you and me. Who gave them the authority to decide what God really does or is? Ask yourself, who in the whole world do you know today that you could trust to relate to you correctly and completely the spiritual experience he or she witnessed in someone else. Now go back about 2,000 years and ask that same question. The gospels describing the actions and words of Jesus were transmitted orally for decades (perhaps 40 years) before first being committed to papyrus. Add to that the changes introduced due to translation and possible “improvements” by scribes. Those type of changes are a matter of record. You and anyone can experience a relationship with God without having to quote the Bible. If that were not possible, Jesus would not have attempted to explain himself to anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kay says:

    Thank you for the link I’m looking into right now. Also would you recommend any books that give a similar view as your own?

    Also thanks for your input William, I found that helpful as well🙂

    Like

  3. susanbotchie says:

    The reality of eternal hell for unrepentant people, if this place does not exist, then Jesus was talking trash – in other words, not exactly telling the truth. In other words, someone not exactly trustworthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • KR Wordgazer says:

      I suppose there’s no possibility that it might be the modern church, which at a great distance in time, place and culture from Jesus’ original audience, misunderstands what he was talking about?

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Susan, I understand your point: Jesus used two words often translated as ‘hell’ in English Bibles–especially the KJV. But neither of them refer to what many people think hell is–a place of eternal torment in fire.

      If you are interested, I have written articles about passages throughout the Bible that some believers think teach such a hell. You can find them at my resource page on hell along with articles by other believers.

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/hell/

      Like

    • William says:

      Susan, let us not blame Jesus if there is some debate, or lack of clarity about Hell. Whatever he said is not trash. Your doubt that Hell is a tomb of eternal fire is reasonable. However, there are many, many people that hold the belief (and some go to great lengths on the internet to justify that belief) that the words they read in their copy of the English version of the New Testament are a PRECISE quote of Jesus and a PRECISE interpretation of those words. As Tim has already replied, there are words from many cultures that are translated as “Hell”, but refer to other conditions and places where we might end up after our death. Each culture has its own, very firm belief as to what Hell is like. You can Google that. The Norse, for example, believe that Hell is very cold and dank. It is not as though Jesus had a stenographer that followed him around and took dictation. What you read about Hell in the King James version of the Bible is somebody’s choice in translating a Greek word that was translated from either Hebrew or Aramaic, that was written down from a sometimes second-hand oral account, such as the gospel of Luke, who never knew Jesus. The person doing the translating only understood Hell to be what everyone else in his culture believed and chose those words that reflected that. I personally believe that the “Hell” Jesus was referring to is the state of consciousness, a state of excruciating mental agony, to which we are susceptible when we are separated from God. That can be worse than any physical pain. You don’t have to die to experience that Hell. Isn’t it tragic that thousands and thousands of people find that they can’t live with themselves and turn to drugs and suicide, when inner peace is only inches away. Jesus tried to spread that message, and I thank him for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Annemarie says:

    I have been looking for a community like this for years. I have been raised in the church, breathed Christianity all my life and currently serve as a worship leader at a church. I adore Jesus and people. However, I can’t read the Bible very long without feeling uneasy and sick about the genocide, polygamamy, misogyny and eternal torture sprinkled amongst the glory of God. Much of it seems so contrary to who Jesus is, yet I have been told all my life the Bible is without error, and has absolute authority, and to question is sin. The only way I could reconcile this misey was to get on antidepressants and not think too deeply. Of course I can’t stop thinking deeply, though I get chastised for it by fellow Christians who the anwsers flow easily from. I am so happy to know there is another way, finally. To love and follow Jesus but not have to swallow the genocide. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Annemarie, you speak of the experience of many, many believers from church circles: “Much of it seems so contrary to who Jesus is, yet I have been told all my life the Bible is without error, and has absolute authority, and to question is sin.”

      I too was raised in this environment. But it is misguided and harmful. I am glad you are happy to find another way. Are there any concerns you would like to ask about?

      Like

      • Annemarie says:

        Hi! Thank you so much for responding! I am sure you’ve already answered many of my questions in previous blogs, so I can begin reading more of your blogs. I know it’s probably been answered before, but is it normal to feel terrified to doubt? I’ve been told all my life that the Bible is inerrant. To doubt this is sin. Can I be a Christian and love Jesus without believing every word of the Bible? Can I still function in a church, and even be a worship leader, if I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant? I fear that if I dared to express doubts, people would be horrified… I could lose my job, my reputation, and community. All because I don’t think that God would condone genocide, stoning, rape and polygamy. But the truth is, I think many people secretly feel the same way, especially in my generation. They love Jesus but are weary of the baggage. Thank you again for helping me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Perry says:

          I sure identify with you, Annemarie. It’s been hard for me making the transition to more truth, yet having trouble overriding the old programming to feel guilty. Thanks for your transparency.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Well said, Perry! You are right on target in describing many of us who have abandoned harmful, misguided beliefs we were taught–we go through a period of guilt. And I think you have also identified the reason–the old guilt programming.

            Like

        • William says:

          Annemarie, there is truth in the bible, but you must not be caught up in those words that are either mistaken interpretations or those words generated by people over the centuries who were presumptuous enough to believe they knew the mind of God. Stay with the specific words of Jesus and think about what he said in light of your own experiences, those moments when you could sense there was an incredible mystery in the universe that created you and brought you to where you are. He experienced the miracle that was unfolding in his own life, but the human language cannot convey that experience of god-consciousness any more than you can explain the taste of an avocado to someone who has never eaten one. There are thousands of people, no smarter than you or I, who are self-appointed authorities on God’s intentions. For example, this phrase by Jesus that appears in all Christian Bibles, is stated this way in the King James version: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The question arose: Can a person be saved who has never heard of Jesus? Now, do a search of that question on the internet. You will find countless websites with answers by people who believe they know how God handles that question. The answers are very elaborate, but I have yet to find a “yes” or “no”.

          Liked by 2 people

          • tonycutty says:

            Beautifully put, William

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            William, you said a lot of good stuff here, and I really think you shared the most important advice of all: “Stay with the specific words of Jesus and think about what he said in light of your own experiences.” For believers, the words and example of Jesus should be our overriding guide to everything.

            If the Old Testament sometimes portrays an angry, violent, vindictive god, and Jesus tells us instead of the loving Father, someone is mistaken–and it isn’t Jesus.

            Like

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Annemarie, you ask: “Is it normal to feel terrified to doubt? I’ve been told all my life that the Bible is inerrant. To doubt this is sin.” My answer–it is absolutely normal. This common religious environment you describe is steeped in fear–fear of angry God, fear of hell, fear of getting things wrong; but God does not want us to be bound by fear.

          So, yes it is very normal to be terrified when we begin to doubt. But if we cannot question what we have been taught and cannot think for ourselves rather than accepting the unfounded authority of others, then we being asked to be compliant zombies (as our teachers likely are). And that is not what we are meant to be.

          Thinking and questioning is not ‘sin’!

          I wish I could say that you can express yourself in church and continue your current relationships and functions, but in most such churches this is unlikely. Many of us have lost our church jobs, reputations, and community; and it isn’t easy. However, there are other churches that will accept your questioning and your journey away from misguided beliefs.

          On inerrancy, you might be interested in some of the article on my resource page on inerrancy and reading the Bible:

          https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/inerrancy/

          Feel free to share other concerns or questions you might have. The primary objective of this blog is to assist and support those who are questioning what they have been taught.

          Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, maybe the question is whether we believe that God would draw us to Him through love, or drive us toward Him by fear.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I think this IS the issue! Is God a God of love, as Jesus tells us, or a God of fear as many believers assume. I think believers should neither be terrified of God nor of questioning religious beliefs they have been taught by church leaders.

            Another sad thing is that the church leaders who teach fear live in fear also.

            Like

          • William says:

            With regard to the issue you mention: is there a God of fear? I’m not sure what that means. If someone troubles you by stating our God is one of fear, ask that person to give you a specific example.

            There are people who believe they are in possession of special knowledge by taking a small feature to define life, our universe, and God. It is like the anecdote where the blind men were asked to describe an elephant. One who touched his trunk said the elephant is like a snake. The one who touched his leg said the elephant is like a tree. The one who touched his ear said the elephant is like a fan, and the one who touch his tail, said the elephant is like a rope. There are countless conditions or events that you can point to and say, “see, if we had a loving God, he never would have let that happen.”

            From what I see, God has created a perfect, loving world. There are people who take exception to that who apparently think they are in a position to judge God. To repeat: God has created a perfect universe that is uniform and consistent in how things operate. There is a reason for everything. As a young boy learning how things in the world work, I was distressed to learn that friction is a major problem we struggle with in the devices we build to make our life better. Friction wears out parts, like piston rings and wheel bearings. Friction wastes energy and money. Why couldn’t a loving God eliminate friction? But wait, without friction knots would come undone. We would fall down as we walked. The bolts of everything we own would unscrew.

            The mysterious force of Life that allows our cells to grow and reproduce heals us when we cut ourselves. That same Life force allows cancer cells to grow, cells that kill people. Why would a loving God allow that? Well I assume that God sees a magnificence in the Life force that has populated our planet that we cannot comprehend. But don’t despair; God has also endowed us with the ability to find those things, little by little, that cure cancer.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            William, I really like your line of thought here. I also contend that much of our distress and pain comes from natural forces, and you show that very well in your observations on the physics of friction and the way blood cells work. They are natural forces.

            Some people question why God allows pain and suffering from tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and drought (I have a hurricane bearing down on us right now; it will be here tomorrow). But these are natural forces. They are caused by the dynamic of a living planet. If these things did not occur then we would not be here because the planet would be dead and unlivable.

            God does not do these things to us; they are results of natural forces. I agree with you that we can easily think we understand God; there are entire volumes in some systematic theologies that describe God in detail. But I think this is hubris. The only things I know about God are what Jesus teaches us, and that is primarily that God loves us. This is enough for me.

            Like

    • John Draper says:

      Annemarie, check out “The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It)”

      Like

  5. Michele says:

    Thank you for writing this! I love God and I love Jesus. I’ve also been miserable under that “legalism” and feeling further AWAY from God while entrenched in it all. Please write and do more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michele, as a former legalist I can understand your feeling about legalism. Legalism is a crushing burden to believers who should be enjoying a life of joy and freedom in Jesus. Legalism also creates an army of religious judges, and fosters an environment of fear.

      Like

  6. MsGranger says:

    I was raised in a very strict, conservative Christian home. I have seen very little good come from this “literal Bible” idea, in fact, it ruined many things for me. As a married adult with a child of my own, I cannot understand a loving god who is supposedly all-powerful, but chooses to let his children suffer and punishes people who aren’t believers.
    I also think aside from the words of Jesus, the Bible is pretty messed up. I was raised to study the Bible, never question what it said, and that every single person who didn’t believe as we did was going to be brutally tortured for ETERNITY. How messed up is that, if you think about it? I seriously don’t think I’d ever have chosen Christianity if I hadn’t grown up in it. I am starting to question so much of what I thought I believed, and it’s scary! I don’t want to give up my Christianity because 98% of everyone I care about is a Christian and my own parents would probably disown me if I told them that I don’t really believe the Bible is inerrant AND that I’m bisexual. Their world views are paranoid, biased, and chilling to anyone who isn’t a believer, as are the views of many in the church. I love the teaching of Jesus, but I don’t love the church.
    I actually took an in-depth quiz that matched your views and ideas with the way different religions believe, and I got 7.1% Christian. 7.1%! Apparently, I would make a better Buddhist or Wiccan than I would a Christian. -_- Not that I think an internet quiz should decide what I believe, but it was just so shocking to me. It was my whole life as a child. I hate how we alienated and made fun of people who didn’t believe or were gay, etc. I can’t believe I used to think that God made women more or less to be assistants to men. I don’t know what I really believe anymore, but this site is very helpful. Thank you for putting this out here for people like me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi MsGranger, When we are part of a rigid, authoritative belief community it is VERY scary to question what we have been taught! We are constantly warned not to be enticed by the devil to think for ourselves. But this is misguided. If we don’t think for ourselves, then we don’t even have real beliefs–we have somebody else’s beliefs.

      I have articles that deal with some of the common misguided beliefs you mentioned. Let me know if you want links to them.

      God punishing people and torture in hell
      Gays and the church – same for bisexuals
      Men dominating and subjugating women
      Bible literalism (inerrancy)

      I will share with you now a link about God allowing suffering:
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/original-sin-or-original-self-centeredness/

      Please let me know what you think and how I can help in your journey. This is the primary reason why this blog exists.

      Like

      • William says:

        When you mentioned that it is scary to question what we have been taught, a thought came to mind. With all respect to the fact that this blog is for the benefit of Christians or those interested in Christianity (who may worry that they are not 100% in compliance) I feel I must repeat this advice by Siddartha Gautama (the Buddha).who also recognized the anxiety and doubt created when others try to dictate what we should or should not believe. He said, “Place no other head above your own.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          William, I have high regard for Gautama Buddha; some of his teachings have really impacted my life (though I do not think he is equal to Jesus or that both paths lead to the same place).

          I was not familiar with his quote about others dictating our belief–but I really like it: “Place no other head above your own.” Thanks for sharing it with us!

          Like

  7. Perry says:

    Tim, you might have missed my question the other day about whether you have written about tithing?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christy says:

    Following Jesus is about your heart, not the rules. It’s about LOVE. Jesus said the Law (the rules) can be summed up in 2 commandments – love God and love your neighbor. You cannot compromise the final authority of the Bible, but it is a process. The Law was holy and just and right. But it is impossible for man to follow all the rules. That’s ultimately why Jesus had to come and die in our place! The point of the Law was to prove that we are in need of a Savior, so Jesus came to save us, to redeem us, to die in our place so that we can have freedom. Freedom from the Law. Freedom from our sin. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, the Law and all the ordinances were nailed to the cross with Him. We are free from it!

    The rules and the Law can not give you freedom, but Jesus can. If you read Romans chapters 7 and 8, Paul talks about this issue exactly. So many people think it’s about the rules but it’s not. The more time you spend in prayer and reading the Bible, (I would start in the New Testament), asking the Lord to show you the Truth and give you understanding, the more His Spirit becomes active within us! Jesus fills the gap. He GIVES us the POWER to overcome the things against God that we do. We can’t do it of ourselves. We HAVE to lean on Jesus. It’s baby steps. I believe that every word of the Bible is true. But mankind focuses on the wrong things and thus religion and legalism is born.

    When Jesus walked the earth during His ministry, His main critics were the ones who taught the Law! His whole ministry went against all the rules that man added to God’s Law of their own accord. Men add unnecessary burdens. The only thing that matters is getting your heart right with God.

    Jesus says to follow Him. Not, quit smoking and then follow me. Not quit this, quit that, do this, do that, then you will be worthy to follow me! He says come as you are! His burden is light. All we have to do is accept His love and salvation and spend time with Him, get to know Him. Follow Him, and everything you need and desire in life will be added to you by Him. It’s His job to turn you into something beautiful. Not yours. You can’t and He knows that. If you have accepted salvation, it is a gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that salvation cannot be EARNED by the things we do. If that were true, how many “good deeds” would it take to get to heaven? How could it be measured? God loves us so much that He took away the burden of making ourselves righteous, because it’s not possible, and instead declares that we ARE righteous. Why are we righteous? Because He says so. If we have accepted Jesus sacrifice for our sins, then His blood covers our every imperfection. In Romans chapter 5 it talks about how we are justified through Christ. That means that because He died for us, we are made righteous. Even though we don’t deserve it. That’s the beauty of it! No more guilt! Complete freedom comes when we begin to believe these Truths! You don’t have to feel guilty, because it’s God’s job to change you through the power of the Holy Spirit! He already says you are righteous!

    Dive into the Psalms and ask the Lord to reveal His love to you in ways you’ve never experienced before and He will! If you desire to know God, you will find Him. The Law isn’t irrelevant or bad. It’s just unattainable without the Lord’s intervention on our behalf. Our job is to submit to the Lord and allow Him to change us. All we have to do is follow.

    Psalm 56 says that the Lord fashioned and knew every day of your life before you were ever born. He knew you would question these things. He wants to draw you into a relationship with Him so that He can pour His love into every area of your life! He wants you to bring your questions to Him so that HE can give you understanding. Only changes made by God are eternal. You can try to change yourself all you want, but it will not last unless God steps in to help.

    The Bible does not lack authority, but rather we lack understanding. We cannot have understanding until we begin to lean on God and ask for understanding. The Holy Spirit will give you understanding in all things if you seek the answer from God and not man.

    I hope this helps someone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christy says:

      I meant to quote Psalm 139. Lol. Anyway all I was trying to say is that the Law and no set of rules can save us, only the person of Jesus. But how can one follow Jesus without studying the Bible? You can’t pick and choose what you’d like to believe or you are exalting yourself and yourself only. Jesus points us to God the Father over and over again. The Bible has survived longer than any other writings. And although it may have been about 40 years before the new testament got recorded, that is significantly sooner than most ancient writings which are considered infalliable in accuracy after being recorded a few hundred years later. Jesus is the key. You can serve Jesus right where you are. One of the most life changing discoveries I ever made was that Jesus is the One who changes us. Follow Him and He will carry your burdens. But any who think they are above change are mistaken. Jesus will always lead us into deeper relationship with Him and in the process we become more like Him.

      Like

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Christy, you ask: “But how can one follow Jesus without studying the Bible?” I agree that it is in the NT that we learn about Jesus and are able to follow him. You said in your earlier comment that we should start with the NT when reading the Bible; I think you are right on target. Many people reading the Bible for the first time begin at the beginning and are almost immediately into the violence of the flood, and before long they bog down in Leviticus.

        I cannot say that every word in the Bible is true, as you mention in your first comment. The Bible was written by people who felt a connection with God, but they wrote from the limitations of their own eras, cultures, and understandings of God. What we can do is learn about Jesus from the gospels and what he says about the loving Father and how we can participate in reconciliation by loving others. To me, that is the foundation of everything.

        Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      “Following Jesus is about your heart, not the rules. It’s about LOVE. Jesus said the Law (the rules) can be summed up in 2 commandments – love God and love your neighbor.” Christy, I totally agree! You have excellent insight on the misguided teachings of legalism.

      And this statement is an absolute jewel: “Jesus says to follow Him. Not, quit smoking and then follow me. Not quit this, quit that, do this, do that, then you will be worthy to follow me! He says come as you are! His burden is light.” Sometimes it IS very much baby steps, as you say. I think you comments will help someone.

      Like

  9. Mel says:

    My problem is not with Jesus, but with Christians. I have been a Christian since I was 6 years old. (I am currently 42.) In that time, I have been abused, hurt, and abandoned by people who call themselves Christians so many times…

    I spoke to my pastor (a Jesus follower), and he basically believes that it is impossible to say you love Jesus but hate the Church because the Church is Jesus’ bride.
    He also says that anyone who turns from Christ because of other Christians put too much faith in humans rather than in Jesus.

    I am feeling pissed off and turned off from Christianity in general because of how the Church has treated me — and other lovely people — with such hate and disdain. Non-believers treat fellow humans better than people in my church treat one another.

    The worst part of all this is that I am a regular worship leader at church. I honestly have a gift that burns in my veins when the Spirit of God is in me. I cannot deny it. I have been made to worship. However, due to the lies, hypocrisy, and church politics of the board members, I feel unable and unwilling to worship in spirit and truth. When I lead worship, I feel as if I am performing to give the congregation the “show” they are used to. I am not worshipping as the Spirit desires. It makes me feel sick to my stomach when I think about it.

    Should I step down?
    Should I find a new church?
    Should I just quit altogether?
    I am tired and weary.
    I do not know what I believe anymore.

    Like

    • William says:

      Think about this: Jesus could have written some of the same parts as in your message, But he never would because his faith in himself and in God allowed him to ignore the “the lies, hypocrisy, and church politics” that existed in his time. In fact, many people not only disregarded him, they wanted him disposed of. Jesus would say you are following in his footsteps if you simply go ahead and conduct your worship services as you believe. Don’t worry about those that don’t listen. You have pointed the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        William, thanks for sharing such good advice with Mel. I think what you say is sound and a good way of responding to his situation depending on other factors she has not shared with us. Thanks again!

        Like

      • Mel (Melissa) says:

        Thank you, William.
        I was hesitant to leave any messages here … but I now see I am among friends, not haters. This is difficult to find on the Internet nowadays.

        What you said about Jesus experiencing the same issues — and that his critics persisted to dispose of him– really resonates in my situation. In the past year, our associate pastor (a Jesus follower) and his family were, simply put, disposed of by a church board hell-bent on an ungodly agenda. The entire situation makes me doubt these people’s intentions and decision-making abilities. If this is how they treat their pastor, I shudder to think how they treat other folks in our pews and in our community.
        No wonder the world hates Christians!

        But yes… the world hated Christ, too.
        Religious people disposed of Him. They handed Him over to the Romans to do the dirty work so they did not have to take responsibility for bringing a good man down. I will have to meditate on this more.

        Thank you for changing the narrative in my mind. I have been ruminating over the same hurts for much too long. I will meditate on the disposal of Christ for awhile to seek more clarity.

        Blessings.

        Liked by 1 person

        • William says:

          It has been my experience that no matter what you say, there is someone to either change your words, disagree, or chastise you for even saying things . If you are not criticized, it is because those people weren’t present at that moment. Say what you have to say; there will surely be someone to hear you that you have helped. and with regard to those who do criticize you, consider what Jesus might have suggested (to paraphrase him) “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they say.”

          Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Mel, you are in quite a difficult situation. Unfortunately, this is not unusual in the church; it happens far too often. I cannot advise anyone on what they should do in such a situation, but I once had to make a decision: should I stay and try to make this congregation better, or should I find another church that is a better fit for me?

      I was heavily involved in leadership positions in the church and knew that I would have to start over elsewhere. I chose to find a better church fit, and I never regretted it. Had I stayed at the old church, I would not likely have had much positive impact on its character–they were just too ingrained in their ways.

      This was my decision in a similar situation–but it was not exactly the same as your situation. I cannot advise you at all, but I feel you are working through it and can make your own decision at the right time. Just don’t be intimidated by people who say you have to stick with it; whatever you do should be your thoughtful decision.

      I am not sure quite what the pastor meant about not being able to love Jesus while being disappointed in (hating) the church because it is the bride of Christ. But I would say that the bride of Christ, in Paul’s mind, is the universal church–the kingdom of God on earth–not the local, institutional church, especially if it is out of synch with Jesus’ teaching on loving others.

      Like

      • Chas says:

        Tim, your words about remaining in your old church and trying to make it better brought to mind the image of someone beating their head against a wall. It hurts terribly, but the wall remains untouched!

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, your comparison made me laugh; I could see it play in my head. Often this is exactly the way if feels when trying to stay and change a church that is set in its old ways. Thanks for the humorous image.

          Like

      • Mel (Melissa) says:

        This is great advice, and I would probably shake the dust off my feet and leave if I were at a different station in life.
        However, I am a wife and mother of two. My children have bonded and made lifelong friendships in the children’s program at our current church. I do not want to uproot them now.
        So until I get a clear message to leave, I will stay. There is a verse Ephesians 6.13 that says we “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
        I certainly going to wage an assault or offensive strike against the evildoers in my church — and in my weakened spiritual condition, I am afraid I would be crushed, to be honest (not false modesty, believe me). But I do have enough strength left to stand my ground. Right now, I feel that the right thing to do is stand. Stand and let God do the rest.

        I also really like what you said about the church universal.
        Maybe I should get involved with a small fellowship outside of my church simply for enrichment and refuelling. If I need more of the Holy Spirit, I need to go where the fire is hot. The cold coals at my home church will not rekindle me now. But if I can stand — and hold high the flame — perhaps that is my role as worship leader.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Mel, I think this is a courageous choice (though a choice to leave would not be cowardly). I wish you strength and success in you endeavor. What happened to your associate pastor is sad, and I am sure he/she appreciates your support if they know about it.

          By the way, I am glad you find this to be a safe place. This is exactly what we have intended for it to be.

          Like

  10. Perry says:

    As I’ve been following you all here, I’ve found the courage to think more about what’s real and what’s not, and to seek truth not dogma. I’ve also taken more notice of how some folks live in total, constant fear of God…like they’re afraid what he might do if they make the slightest misstep. Such an ungodly view of God, but one I used to share. I feel such empathy for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Perry, I used to believe in angry god as well. This creates a relationship of fear and subservience. It causes an emphasis on legalism which creates an army of judges and condemners. This is no way to live–especially since Jesus came to tell us about the loving Father and taught us to live in freedom, love, and reconciliation.

      Angry god IS an ungodly view of God. Like you, I also feel great empathy for those still trapped in this world of fear. My heart goes out to them.

      Like

  11. luckyotter says:

    I love this site so much. It resolved so many of the doubts and concerns I was having about Christianity as it’s usually presented, and now I can worship without all that baggage! This was a great comfort to me and very spiritually freeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anthony Paul says:

    WOW!!!! This site looks like it may be exactly what I need right now. Much like the author of this blog, I find that I have been moving away from traditional belief in what God expects from me (i.e., Catholicism–Evangelicalism– Fundamentalism) to a thought system which is not compatible with traditional christian teaching. Some of the changes I have experienced (and this has happened over many years, not just weeks or months) is also reflected in your blog: For example, The Hell Doctrine for one; does God hate gays (?) to mention another; is our God an angry God who has chosen a small few for salvation while relegating the rest to the garbage heap which is hell? As I am new here, I look forward to catching up on some of your thoughts as they have been presented thus far and also to adding some thoughts of my own as the Spirit moves me to do so. Thank you for what appears to be a very relevant site for these quickly changing times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome to the blog, Anthony! It sounds as though we are journeying on the same road. I hope you continue to enjoy what you find here, and of course feel free to share your thoughts as you are inclined.

      Like

  13. Tonya says:

    I am a little different then everyone else. I stay confused constantly nor do I know really what I believe. I will say this, I do believe in the father, of course Jesus. My issue is the bible, Quran, etc. Probably doesn’t help that I am gay. Everytime, I read the bible I get sick at my stomach n come to terms I am doomed in tge next life. It also gets tiresome hearing constantly how your going to hell 😐 I really enjoyed reading this blog 😊 It did help alot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • William says:

      Tonya, do not worry about being doomed in the next life. Things you may have heard or read about the afterlife or Hell are varied, as you can discover if you look for answers on the internet, and the opinions and interpretations of human beings just like you. Jesus understood the meaning of God and our relations to him, but we only have stories about Jesus. If you or I could sit down with Jesus and have him explain directly to us what he meant, that would be different. But what we hear and read today are words that somebody believed to be what he said. I personally believe you have a pure soul that will be at peace throughout eternity. The Hell you experience is that you choose for yourself while you are here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tonya says:

        Thank you, so much William for your reply. I use to say all the time hell was what we make it here on earth. You make alot more sense, then those that preach hate towards me🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • William says:

          Tonya,
          I say this to you and to any reader of this blog who finds ill-deserved criticism directed at them. The people who preach hatred at you are responding to their emotions; they are not describing you; they are revealing something about themselves. Don’t let that trigger an emotion in you (which I know is easier said than done). If you will notice, it is the nature of human beings to pass judgements, usually negative. If you let their remarks bother you, you are granting them an authority they don’t have. Here is some advice. Don’t act on it because I said it; test this for yourself. Say to yourself, “Starting tomorrow, I am going to pay attention to what happens when people do or say things that distress me.” You won’t have a notebook to write down what happens and what you feel, but pretend you will. If you also notice, the things that hurt you are unexpected. I’ll say that again: UNEXPECTED. Somebody says something, you are surprised, you react negatively, and you brood about it from then on. Seriously, try this: If I were to tell you that at exactly ten o’clock on Monday of next week some man or woman you know is going to say these exact words, “Tonya, you’ve got to get your life together and stop (whatever) or your life will be ruined,” you would react in a different way. It would be as though you were watching a movie where the lines spoken were taken from a script. You would be as though a robot were saying programmed words. In other words, you wouldn’t take the remarks as meaningful.
          Of course, if you are doing something you know is wrong, like shoplifting chocolate bars or being cruel to animals, you must accept condemnation. But I’m not talking about that.
          Keep in mind that the person who has hurt you is just another person like yourself, a person trying to get along in the world. They have worries, problems, and demons we know nothing about. They are all striving for security and peace of mind. Their attitude toward you and what they say is their survival mode. Regardless of how prominent or knowing they appear, they are helpless creatures just trying to get along. When a person directs their negative words at you, feel pity for them, not resentment. Having said that, you will still have an encounter tomorrow or the next day that produces a hurt, a deep hurt that everything said above will not change.
          It has been pointed out in a humorous way that Jesus said you should love your enemies; he didn’t say you have to like them.
          However, I predict the day will come, maybe next week, maybe not for years. But the day will come when you will suddenly realize who you are, one of God’s children. You will know, deep within yourself, that nothing anyone says can hurt you. Believe that it will happen. You will be able to look directly at those who speak against you and smile, with eyes twinkling.

          Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tonya, there is nothing wrong about being confused or uncertain about your beliefs. What is far worse is being certain of beliefs that really are harmful, misguided baggage.

      There is also nothing wrong with being a gay follower of Jesus, though many believers mistakenly think that is impossible. And I agree with William that there is no reason to be afraid of ‘hell’.

      I have some resource pages both on gays and the church and on hell if you are interested.

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/gays-and-the-church/

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/hell/

      Like

      • Tonya says:

        Thank you for your kind words as well🙂 I will definitely check them out. I use to be terrified to the point, I made myself sick. I’m not as bad now, getting slowly more calm with everything the more I research.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tonya, I imagine you will become even more comfortable as you hear from those who have learned to follow Jesus without the baggage of misguided beliefs. I used to be terrified of hell as well.

          Like

          • Tonya says:

            It is nice to find other people who believes more like I do. I hate you use to be terrified like me towards hell but, glad you overcame it. I am beginning to believe I should just follow Jesus n trust God will see me through. I just don’t see him sending me somewhere that sounds so awful. When he is love.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tonya, I agree: “I am beginning to believe I should just follow Jesus n trust God will see me through. I just don’t see him sending me somewhere that sounds so awful. When he is love.”

            Like

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Tonya; Take heart and don’t be afraid… I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery, a very serious sin punishable by death by stoning according to the Law. When Jesus saw that those who had condemned her could not stand against His authority, they walked away… and Jesus said, “Woman, is there no one here to condemn you?”
      And the woman said, “No, Lord.”
      Jesus says, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

      People may say hurtful things to you for whatever reason; and they may even offer words of condemnation. But remember, Jesus does not condemn you…. do not condemn yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tonya says:

        I am working on that. It is hard when you live a life where ppl comdemned you from day 1. I use to be afraid to die in fear, I was going to hell etc. I don’t think that way as often now. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments but not as bad. You guys have gave me great advice and I am very thankful for that🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Perry says:

    There was a time many years ago when I made very poor personal choices that destroyed my life at the time. When I came to myself, like the prodigal son, I prayed for months, and it was as though nobody heard. Then, during a quiet moment and totally out of context and unexpected, God spoke to me (not verbally, but just as strong) and I accepted Jesus without hesitation. He didn’t erase all consequences, but he did make the journey bearable and eventually joyful to the point I could do something I never thought would be possible: I could occasionally laugh at what a fool I’d been. I told some of the closest people around me who never deserted me (talk about real friends!) that I’m such a perfectionist that when I screw up, I do it totally. Today, my life is better than ever, partly because of what I learned & the growth it caused, and in huge portion because it brought me to Jesus. BUT…last night, someone I don’t even know, but who claimed to be a Christian, came up and in front of others, some of whom didn’t know my past, tore off the scab and brought up my past. I said yes, I really messed up, but am forgiven. Again and again, as I walked away, he went on and on and on about my past. I walked away because my first reaction was not embarrassment but anger, and I didn’t want to give in to any words or actions I would regret (probably what he wanted). The aftermath is I wish it didn’t, but it really hurts. I’ve hardly slept tonight. I know if I keep moving, these bad feelings will ease back where they belong. I’m trying to focus on the story of the Pharisee and the sinner, because that’s how it felt last night: he was making sure everybody knew how holier than thou he was while also making sure they knew how awful and low I am. But, then again, I was indoctrinated early with details of a mean, vindictive God who needed my help to rain down hellfire on the unclean, so I understand part of how this man probably got this way. But I’m still hurting this morning…really hurting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Perry, Two things come out of this: first, you know who your real friends are, and second, you were quite right to walk away in those circumstances. It has happened to me several times.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tonya says:

      I am so sorry you are hurting over the way this man treated you. Idk what your feeling but, I know where your coming from. I am also very ashamed of my past. To be blunt, I was a…… sigh liar. Not the typical, I am going to tell a white lie. I mean it was BAD. I lied about EVERYTHING, even things you would probably never want to speak again to me if you knew. It has really ruined my life, I lost many important people due to it. For the longest time, I felt ashamed still do at times. I cry, and feel I will never go to heaven etc. Lots of sleepless, depressing nights. When I accepted Jesus, it is like a big turn in my life. Yes I still fall and sometimes once n a blue moon a white lie will come out unfortunately. But, I am still trying to do better day by day. What I am saying is, don’t let this man make you feel you are not good enough for God bc of your past. Don’t be ashamed of it, look at it as your lesson. We make mistakes, if you don’t how else do you learn. If he is judging you well my friend, he was sinning at that second. Your not suppose to degrade your sister and brothers. Though he made you angry, you did the right thing to walk away. Keep your faith in God my friend, he is working on us. Plus, though I do it too, we both know, he doesn’t want us to keep feeling bad over our past.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Hi Perry; thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us today. There are many elements in your story to which I can certainly relate. When we come to know who Jesus is, I mean really know who He is and not just what church folk make Him out to be, that is like walking out of a dungeon into the light and knowing that you are forever forgiven and free. But this doesn’t mean that bad things will no longer happen to us because we happen to live in a world full of sad and very unhappy people. I can certainly understand why you would feel so terribly hurt by what this individual said about you in front of so many others; his actions are certainly not those of a loving and compassionate follower of The Way taught by Jesus… I believe that what he did tells us more about the battered state of his own soul than it does about you.

      Let me leave you with some thoughts from a man who has been instrumental in helping me to discover who I am when seen through the eyes of The Father as He welcomes home His prodigal son. The late Father Henri Nouwen was a man who came to understand the true character of God in ways that transcend religion, and because of this Henri came to understand that each of us must first come to love ourselves before we can truly love and show compassion for others…

      “Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody—unless you can demonstrate the opposite.”
      ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

      Perry, you are God’s beloved for whom He has been looking down that road for so long… waiting for your return. Remember this every day because it is something that no one, no matter how cruel, can ever take away from you. Be well, my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Perry, I see that you have already received some excellent response. What the person did to you was unconscionable, and to do it in front of others was even worse. There seem to be a lot of people who think they are the standards for others and feel free to judge and condemn. I have experience it too, and it is irritating and frustrating and there is nothing one can say to these people in explanation or defense.

      No one is perfect, and I have regrets myself for things I have done in the past; but no one has the right to bring it up and judge us for it. I have had several friends and relatives in my life who continually bring up old things from my past that are no longer relevant. I no longer defend my self against them because it does no good when their attitudes are set in stone. But I do spend less time with them.

      I can see how this unexpected incident was overwhelming. This person was a stranger, they attacked you relentlessly, and they did so in public. I am not surprised that you were angry and hurt; what they did was terrible. But let me say that they did not represent God as I am sure they thought they did. God is not harsh or vindictive; God loves you unconditionally and desires your good.

      I think your reflection on the Pharisee and the sinner is very appropriate.

      Like

      • Perry says:

        So, tears as I thank you for what you say. I know it’s true, but just have to allow time for my heart & the feelings in it to catch up to what my head knows is true. I believe the support you and others have given me is helping me make the transition. It’s all proof again some others who think they’re in the Christian army relish shooting their own wounded.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Perry says:

    Anybody else think you were going to worship & Bible Study today, but somehow you ended up in the middle of what seemed like a political convention? Disappointed & LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Eddie Gilman says:

    Only The Lord could have led me to this blog. I have much I want to say, but after 35 years of being a modern day protestant Christian, I only began questioning my beliefs about 2.5 years ago. My life (as many of you I am sure) has had a lot of tragedy, loss, rejection, hurt, and pain. I have been forced to face the brutal realities of life, that often contradict many of the “Christian” beliefs. It would take a small book (at minimum) to explain all of that from my perspective. But as I began to question my beliefs, I have landed in near exactly the same place as the author of this blog. And many of you, whose comments I have read. And I join all of you in your frustrations, revelations, and even isolation that comes with the taboo territory of stepping away from traditional beliefs. I decided to stop drinking the kool-aid. I decided that if there is a hell and consequence for my actions, beliefs, decisions etc. Then I would pay the price for those things because “I myself”, chose what I believed on my own accord. I would not be punished or rewarded for beliefs handed (kool-aid drank) by those who taught me. That is not to say I do not honor, meditate, or allow the teachings of others into my realm of thinking. It is that I have given myself permission to evaluate and question ALL things, and draw my own conclusions.

    What I love about the community on this site, are the ideas that revolve around the common sense errors of Christianity. And the destructive power those beliefs have when a person buys into them.

    I know there is a lot of controversy about the supernatural, invisible, and unseen realm. Miracles, signs, and wonders etc. But these were a part of The Gospel and Jesus life. And I have seen the struggle in western culture to acknowledge or embrace those ideas, because they defy practicality. Some denominations do. But there is – at the very least – a level of extremism surrounding these various doctrines of Christianity. And yet Jesus encompassed them all. It was about a month ago I was having some “God” time while doing laundry, and I felt like The Lord revealed to me a truth seen in the life of Jesus (His life being the TRUE Gospel) that I had not seen before. That His life (The Gospel) consisted of four characteristics all at once:

    The Practical
    Impractical
    Invisible
    The Impossible

    Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel church makes this statement, and I believe it to be the ABSOLUTE bottom line truth – the TRUE plumb-line of truth. That statement is: “If you cannot find what you believe in the person of Jesus, you have every reason to question it.”

    He and his church come under constant scrutiny for their beliefs and teachings. Despite that the very same critics play their music and invite their worship teams to put on worship concerts (pick and choose I guess).

    I wanted to add some thoughts and questions to the community here, to what I have already read on the site thus far. As I am continuing my search in understanding, but feel like what I have found here is a community that has found the TRUE balancing truth. And I thank the author and The Lord for this site and community. This is SO needed! The first thing I would like to add is the identity crisis of an angry Father (as stated by the author). I have been perplexed at how many Christians truly do not know how The Father feels about them. Nor do they have answers or security about some of life’s more difficult questions, that arise when tragedy, lose, and injustice occurs. I had a conversation this week with a Baptist pastor whose wife had cancer come back a second time. And though it is not terminal at this point, it has caused her great illness. She told me that those in their church actually told her that they did not believe she would be healed. But yet they would be praying for her healing…..

    I was stupified!! How many people in this world need a miracle, and instead are put on a prayer list/chain of people who don’t even believe what is being asked for will happen. And out of the very Bible they read and teach from, Jesus says over and over (of those who received miracles) “It has been done for you as *you* have believed”. So if miracles are subject to God giving them (only) – then He is at best bi-polar. And probably a jerk! Imagine The Father rolling out of bed and walking to the kitchen of Heaven for coffee, and He is greeted by a secretary angel with a hat full of the names of people who need “Todays Miracle”. And The Father casually draws a random name from the hat, and that person gets the miracle. Everyone else has to wait until tomorrow to see whose name is drawn for the “random” miracle. And this is the mentality that I feel we have toward The Father, whether people consciously acknowledge it that way or not. And it is entirely unbiblical to Jesus teaching.

    To add a small addition to the idea of “hell”, without repeating the statements already expressed here. The Bible says God is love, and perfect love casts out all fear. And that fear has to do with punishment. And if God is love, and Christ is in us (the hope of glory) then how do you circle back around to God being a punisher? That is a massive contradiction. Fear is not the opposite of faith as the church likes to say. Certainty is. If you are certain of something, you do not need faith to believe it. Fear is the opposite of faith. And if it is impossible to please God without faith, then it is when we are fearful that we are the most separated from Him. So the idea of hell, is absolutely a human tactic to provoke fear. So that the fearful person will buy into the belief being propagated. With all the Marvel Super Heroes, and super powers – one of those powers will ecver top the power of influence. If I can influence someone else, then I can get them to do as I desire. That is what Hitler did. A master influencer can create an army to control. Love is the most powerful force however. So imagine what the power of influence could do backed by the power of love. That is the life and essence of Jesus, That IS The Father. That is the message of Christianity as I see it.
    So by God’s very nature, using hell as an influential force to persuade people into a relationship with Him is opposite of His character. One thing I know for sure, God takes free will EXTREMELY serious. So per using hell as an incentive to enter into a relationship with God, He is actually not offering free will at all. It is a subtle form of persuasive manipulation and control. It says “If you do not choose me, you are going to be punished. And if you do choose me, you have to spend eternity with me”. So if your free will choice is to NOT choose Him, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    I like what a pastor said about Jesus and The Father. “The Father gave His only son for a ‘Just in case you MIGHT be interested in a relationship with me’ – He loves you so much that He let his son die for a ‘maybe’.” That is pretty loving! I believe that *if* there is some kind of negative consequence of not choosing Jesus, we acquire it because He has to honor our free will choice to not desire to be with Him. And I believe that consequence would simply be the absence of Him. Which if you look at what the Bible says, “every good and perfect gift comes down from The Father of Heavenly lights” – then you exist in the absence of those things (in the absence of Him). But I actually like what I have read here better. That maybe our mortal death is all there is. Maybe we just don’t enter eternal life, and thus discontinue our existence. If Jesus forgave the soldiers killing him, is He going to punish us more severely? If all the thief on the cross next to Him had to do was simply (verbally) acknowledge Him, and Jesus’ response was “I tell you, today you *will* be with me in paradise” – will He punish us more severely? Interesting to me, is that in the case of the thief, there was no 10 step program. No raise your hand, come down front, or “sinners” prayer, and Jesus said that man would be in paradise with Him. There are so many topics that I now question that simply do not exist in the person of Jesus.

    We are told the Bible is the “inspired” word of God. I agree, But inspiration is not equal to the person of which the inspiration came from. I can be inspired to write about Michael Jordan, and there may be facts in that material. But anything directly related to his life and his own words are not equal. So NO writing citing other ideas about Jesus (including the Apostles) is the same as Jesus. They were humans like you and me. And to suggest that God has not inspiration-ally spoken through great women and men of God since that time, is preposterous to me.

    There is an AMAZING video (though long) that I wanted to share that discusses how science has proven some of the spiritual insights Jesus talked about. And how we are MASSIVE participators in changing the world, creating what we perceive as reality, and even our own health. At one point in the video, you will see a woman get healed in real time of a cancerous tumor on her bladder. By physicians in a *medicine-less* hospital in Beijing China. By using the power of belief (what we would call faith) to produce the emotions, that change the reality of this woman’s condition. And the man in the video explains in great detail how this works, how science proves it (but does not acknowledge it, and why) and where we see this same information spoken of in The Bible. And how this information has ALWAYS been there.

    So…my conclusion is to say…thank you all for this amazing community. Thank you the author, I feel like I have found my place here. And for those interested, enjoy this video, May the search continue toward love and truth (Jesus) – and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Eddie, I am glad you “decided to stop drinking the kool-aid.” Following Jesus is not the same as accepting a collection of detailed hand-me-down beliefs from others. We must ask questions about those beliefs and think for ourselves. You said it very well: “I have given myself permission to evaluate and question ALL things, and draw my own conclusions.”

      I really like your statement on hell: “The Bible says God is love, and perfect love casts out all fear. And that fear has to do with punishment. And if God is love, and Christ is in us (the hope of glory) then how do you circle back around to God being a punisher? That is a massive contradiction.” Your statement answers the problem of ‘angry god’; God is not angry with us!

      In fact, you have many great things to say. It is apparent that you HAVE been thinking for yourself, and these are the results of your thinking. You seem to be well on your way in your journey. I am glad you found us and hope you continue to visit and comment.

      By the way, my name is Tim Chastain; I am the owner of this blog and the author of its contents. But, as you pointed out, the blog is really a community filled with those of us on similar journeys.

      Like

  17. Eddie Gilman says:

    Sorry for the informality Tim. Thank you for being bold enough to create this site. I have already sent it off to quite a few people. I believe that toxic religious indoctrination has had a massive negative effect on the true nature of Christ, who He is, and what His message is truly all about. And that Christianity is not about “believing” as much as “following”. I heard a pastor I highly respect say recently, “Today’s Christianity is full of ‘fans’, when in fact, true Christianity is about following.” I believe this to be true. It is a whole other discussion, and there are many I am itching to have on here. But I did want to say one thing that perplexes me…

    And that is about how much speculation, ideas, and theories that cannot be proven – that are taught as factual laws of truth. Hell is a good example (I suppose Heaven could be argued the same) – but show me one person who has ever died, stayed dead for at least a year (a reasonable amount of time) then came back from the dead, and cleared all this stuff up for us. Someone who came back from the dead and explained all these mysteries that are preached as “truths”.

    I can’t find where you said now, but somewhere in the comments, you (Tim) said something to the effect of being ok with Jesus life and teaching. And that basically, all the other “stuff” that gets so much attention and “air time” is ultimately less important. And I agree. IF everyone was living the life Jesus taught and asked of His followers – IF we were successful of doing the more important thing – which could be simply defined as radical unconditional love – then maybe we could get into all these “other”, less important discussions and matters. Not that understanding these concepts are not important (especially for those like us who it has brought freedom) but that the core issue that I feel modern Christianity (and The Church…especially the Western Church) misses is the simplicity of the life we call Christianity (being like Christ). Which is radically loving.

    And it makes my heart smile knowing that there is a place here for everyone to experience that. So thank you again Tim. Your revelation has left a refuge for many to find comfort in, that not all is at it seems. I look forward to learning and engaging more here. I would love to probe your thoughts on other concepts. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Eddie, thank you for your kind words. I would not consider my contribution, though, to be a ‘revelation’–insights from a long journey? Perhaps. But I know what you mean. I am glad you are sharing the blog with others; some will reject it while others might find it helpful.

      I like your quote: “Today’s Christianity is full of ‘fans’, when in fact, true Christianity is about following.” I think following includes some ‘believing’, but not believing all sorts of harmful doctrines added on to Jesus’ message of the good news. I agree that following Jesus, his teaching, and his example on love and reconciliation is far better than carrying around the burden of rules and prescribed doctrinal beliefs.

      Again, I am glad you feel at home here. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

      Like

  18. Anthony Paul says:

    Hi Eddie:

    So, you’ve come to doubt some of the things you learned from that person speaking from the pulpit? Welcome to the club… you’re now on your way to a place which is open only to those who have the courage to question The Truth… and Truth will not suffer for it but you will grow wiser and healthier as a result.

    What I am personally learning from Tim and so many others here is that living The Good News of The Gospel is about following Jesus and not some type of church doctrine. It seems like such a simple concept; yet how often do we ever really hear it or see it in the lives of those who spend so much of their time studying “the word”?

    As Jesus said to The Pharisees of His day: “”You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!”

    I look forward to more of your comments in the future.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ONE AND ALL!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jennifer C says:

    Just going through Gender Reassignment after years of condemnation, exorcism and rejection from the church. Have tried to rejoin a church but still feel unaccepted.
    At the same time Jesus is my Saviour and has become more and more precious to me as the years have gone by. I find your site very uplifting and full of hope for those of us who are “different”. Jennifer C

    Like

    • Anthony Paul says:

      “Jesus is my Saviour and has become more and more precious to me as the years have gone by.”

      Jennifer…you’ve said all that needs to be said just in that statement… you’re not so different from the rest of us misfits… maybe this is the church you’ve been looking for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer C says:

        Thank you Anthony, it’s very refreshing to hear a Christian respond positively to me. A few days ago a ‘christian’ suggested my decision (which is never a decision but a necessity to be authentic…and also to stay sane) to go through reassignment was from the depths of hell. So it’s nice to hear that there are believers who may be able to think outside the fundamentalist party line.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Perry says:

      Hey Jennifer, Welcome to a real life story of the Pharisee & the Sinner. You’re starring as the alleged “sinner” & your accusers are starring as the Pharisees. And we know how Jesus said that story turns out! Blessings on you & Merry Christmas

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer C says:

        Thank you Perry, and a Blessed Christmas to you to. Yes, I’ve definitely had a lot of accusers. It was nearly twenty years ago, as a Pentecostal minister, that I confessed to another minister that I really felt I was not living the life I was meant to in terms of my gender expression. A few months later after ‘Christian-counselling’ and then a deliverance event, I was told I didn’t want to be clean. I was then struck off the ministers register. I lost my job (which included five years training to be a pastor) and all my friends.
        Fortunately I have a wonderful wife of twenty years who has always stood beside. And I’ve made much better friends since then who won’t abandon me if I say the wrong thing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jennifer, I am so sorry about your experience in church. I am glad that you like the website.

      We can’t force those folks to be accepting, but there are churches that are totally accepting of LGBTs. Here is a source that might help. It lists churches that affirm gays–by area. I assume they would be affirming of transgender folks as well.

      http://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/

      Like

      • Jennifer C says:

        Thank you for your kind response and your excellent website. A pretty much bible-believing friend recently said to me, referring to herself, “Yes, I’m a Christian. But first I’m a human being, and as such I have compassion and accept you totally for who you are.”
        I thought this sums up what genuine faith us – embracing everyone regardless of colour, creed, sexuality, or indeed, gender expression. Not using one’s religion as a tool for discrimination must be key to true spirituality?

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          “Yes, I’m a Christian. But first I’m a human being, and as such I have compassion and accept you totally for who you are.”

          Jennifer, This Bible believing friend must take Jesus’ teaching and example seriously. I wish more believers responded this way.

          Like

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