Friday, May 5, 2017

Poteyto, Potahto, Tomeyto, Tomahto

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the saying, “Poteyto, Potahto, Tomeyto, Tomahto,” emphasizing that different pronunciations do not change the essence of the subject. Over the years I’ve notice those I meet during my public ministry pretty much feel the same way about churches. To wit, “Hey, if they talk about God and Jesus, that’s all that matters to me.” “All religions are just different paths to God.”

In fact, I’ve seen people more loyal to car brands or favorite hamburger joint than to believe that a religion really matters. I bring this up because of a recent conversation (via email) I had with a man. After several back-and-forth discussions, I thought he would have gotten the idea that to me, true faith is much more than “which flavor of ice cream do you like.” I’m not sure if it was something I said in my blog’s About page, or it was something I said in one of my email responses, but he inquired about my health condition. I assured him I was not worried. I told him that as far as the doctors could tell, 2017 will most probably be my last year of life.

In response, he boldly claimed I would not die this year, but I had to “believe him” and concede that if I were healed, I would start to worship his god. This came across to me as this man feeling that changing gods, faiths, and religions was as inconsequential as changing one’s clothing. I told him “No deal.” I pretty much know where this man “is coming from.” He believes in miraculous cures merely by praying to Jesus. While God has in times past used miracles, especially to establish things such as: 1) Who were truly sent by God (Examples: Moses, other prophets, Jesus), 2) Which faith God was now supporting, (Example: The initial setup of Christianity), 3) God’s unwavering claim to full all the promises he made, there is no scriptural reason to think that God would answer selfish prayers for healing.

Today, nearly two centuries since Jesus walked the earth, humanity has the complete word of God (both the Hebrew/Aramaic scriptures (recounting of creation, the formation of Israel, and more), and the Greek scriptures (recounting Jesus life and the early Christian congregation). That is the basis for determining true faith, true religion -- scripture.

One final thing: Scripture says that God is indiscriminate in that he “makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good and makes it rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” In that same dissertation, Jesus concluded “You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” in demonstrating indiscriminate love. (Matthew 5:43-48). In contrast, it is Satan and his religions that want compromise. They will only help you if you give them something. Like Jesus, my response was “no deal,” or as Jesus put it: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” (Matthew 4:10) Even centuries later, Satan is still up to his old bag of tricks.

(A few months ago, I was hospitalized (in ER) with numerous monitor leads and vein taps. (It has become so common, I don't even remember what that incident was about.) A nurse walked in and said, "I've done this before and it has never failed." With that, she took hold of my arm and broke into a prayer requesting that "the lord" heal me. I haven't yet seen that nurse again, but as expected, her prayer did nothing. It simply is not in keeping with what the Bible teaches.)

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