Our Made-Up Rules

Acts 20:7 (WEB) On the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and continued his speech until midnight.

Things we might or might not conclude from this verse:

1. The first day of the week mentioned was Sunday morning.

2. The first day of the week was Saturday night.

3. The disciples always came together on this day.

4. This just happened to be an opportune time to come together (and the last day available with Paul).

5. The disciples always broke bread on this day.

6. The disciples didn’t always pick this day to break bread.

7. This breaking of bread was the Lord’s supper.

8. This breaking of bread was a common meal.

9. Paul, or some preacher, always preached on this day.

10. Paul just happened to take advantage of the opportunity that came up on this day.

11. Paul, and all preachers, should leave the next day after they preach.

12. Paul, and other preachers, can hang around the next day if they want.

13. Paul, and all preachers, should preach till midnight.

14. Paul, and all preachers, can preach as long as they like if people are willing to listen.

15. This is simply the beginning of a story about the raising of a dead man and the incidentals are not significant.

I think I pretty much covered everything that we might make up about this verse. But the question is: What can be proven by it? Only this: One church one first day of the week came together to break bread and Paul preached to them till midnight (and he was leaving the next day). To determine more than that is going beyond what is written.

To declare that this verse states for a fact that this meeting was for the purpose of participating in the Lord’s supper and that these people always did this on Sunday and only on Sunday, and furthermore that all churches at the time and all churches thereafter had/have to do the exact same thing, is not only speaking where the Bible does not speak, but it’s a lie. And, no, we cannot find other passages to piece together to make this verse say what it does not say.

It is one thing to “try to be safe” and quite another to make laws and bind them on others or declare others to be “lost” because they don’t follow our made-up rules. We can’t bind our creeds on others. Let’s truly speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.

6.22.13

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Let It Be Me

I do not in any way want to be offensive with what I am about to say. Anybody who knows me at all knows that my heart seeks God. I truly want to be the best person I can possibly be. But some concepts of the traditional view of God just don’t make sense to me.

Most Christians with whom I am acquainted think God is torturing some of their family members right this minute. It may be because their loved ones drank too much alcohol, ate too many brownies, had the audacity to praise God with the use of a piano, or simply lived their lives by their own rules–nothing outrageous.

But these same people, who supposedly love their family as they love themselves (or should, if they follow the Bible), turn around and praise God for little blessings he throws down to them–their car starts on a cold morning, they find the $20 they lost, their baby gets over his cold, their pot roast turns out perfectly. God is torturing their beloved, but he gives them a good hair day so God is great!

Something, surely something, is wrong with that. Seriously, if I am good to my friends and cruel to my enemies, how am I a good person? Even the “publicans” love their friends, right?

Matthew 5:46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

If God is burning a member of my family, my friend, or even my enemy right now, his present blessings to me do not make him good. And I should understand that unless I am completely and totally narcissistic, shouldn’t I? Or perhaps I think I never eat too many brownies; or that God will stop being good to me too once I die, and start torturing me like he is tormenting my loved ones, but, hey, I’ll thank him while he’s being good to me?

Oh, and I’m supposed to spend my life learning to be tenderhearted and compassionate, even toward my enemies, only to unlearn it all after I die so I can rejoice while I dance around on the ashes of my friends and family that weren’t as good as I was in this life (Matthew 5:44, Malachi 4:3). Maybe Hitler was onto something. Maybe he had it right. Maybe he developed his torturous cold heart for a purpose as he warmed up the Jews for God to throw them into the eternal, seven-times-hotter fire. Hitler might truly enjoy the day of judgment if he should happen to be on the good side of God.

Please don’t bother telling me that I just don’t understand how heinous sin is or how holy God is. I have a brain, and, although I have lost my sense of smell, I sniff the rottenness coming out of Denmark. Why is it wonderful to have compassion in this life but empathy is a detriment in the next (1 John 3:17)? Why is it a beautiful trait to be tenderhearted and weep with those that weep in this life but we must harden our hearts in the next life in order not to suffer with those who are being punished (Romans 12:15 )? Why is it godly (godly?) not to seek vengeance in this life while we cry out “how long, O Lord?” as we crave the day when God will destroy anyone who has mistreated us (Revelation 6:10 )? Why is it sinful in this life to seek a place of esteem if we are supposed to, secretly, look forward eagerly to the day when we will be highly exalted above others (Philippians 2:3)?

People obey God, and persuade others to obey God, because God tortures humans when they die if they don’t obey his every command while alive. But it seems to me that if we love God because he has threatened to torture us, God is a monster. If I threatened to burn my own children if they didn’t obey my every little wish, I’d be a monster, wouldn’t I?

Others encourage people to love God because God will reward them when they die–they will be glorified and get to enjoy sliding around on a street of gold and wear a crown on their heads–when they aren’t casting the crowns down at God’s feet (Revelation 21:21, Revelation 4:10). If I love a man because I want a diamond ring or money, I am a prostitute. Doesn’t that make me a prostitute if I love God because I want a golden crown, because I want to be high above others, because I want a life of ease while my fellow human beings are greatly diseased?

These are thoughts I have had for some time and just decided to share them. I have found the emperor to be naked and want to say so. If even one person–even one–is to be cast into a bottomless pit to weep and gnash his teeth for all eternity, then I want to give up my crown and jump into the flames with him (Matthew 8:12).

Why? Because that’s what my Lord has taught me to do. To do otherwise would be disobedience to the command to love my neighbor as myself , to esteem others better than myself, to lay down my life for my brother (James 2:8, Philippians 2:3, 1 John 3:16 ). If only one person must be punished, let it be me. I’ll give myself for the sins of the world–have them all put on me.

But somebody already did that. Didn’t he?

6.19.13