I just finished watching a film entitled The Eugenics Crusade on PBS' American Experience (see above), and as I was watching, I began thinking about how the kingdom of God is so very different than what even our very best intentions for humanity might envision. The fundamental reason for this divergence of visions of humanity perfected lies, I believe, in two opposite views of lordship: the lordship of self (in which ideas of perfection simply mirror one's own characteristics - in the case of eugenics, white, Protestant, upper middle class, intelligent, etc) or the lordship of Christ (in which ideas of perfection are found at the bottom, so to speak, among the poor, the marginalized, the weak). This documentary made stark the difference stemming from good intentions rooted in human-centered idealized utopian notions and Christ-centered, "new heaven, new Earth," transformation. In other words, God's kingdom isn't what most people think it is (or is going to be).
The beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5:3-10, plainly present the upside-down nature of the kingdom of God. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is used synonymously with "the kingdom of God" in this passage, and couches the verses between verse 3 and verse 10:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This presents a very different vision of social transformation. It also disallows an avowed Christ-follower from comfortably participating in the current systems of world domination and oppression. The crucial question becomes, "How do we live in the world but not be of it?" How do we participate in daily life without supporting the dominant structures that are the antithesis of God's desired kingdom? It's not an easy question to answer or an easy life to live, but I see no "blessed are those who live in ease" in the above passage.
When Jesus is led into the desert and tempted by the adversary, he is offered all the dominating kingdoms of the world. This is recorded in the chapter right before the beatitudes are given, not by mistake, I think. Jesus' answer: "“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
One cannot read through the gospels and walk away without an understanding that God's vision for social transformation (the kingdom come) is bottom-up, upside down, and radically opposed to the status quo. Every single example of faithfulness and discipleship is found in an outcast person, an oppressed person, a disabled person, a marginalized person, or a foreigner. Why, then, do most Christians continue living according to the pattern of the world, even (and often most obviously), within the church? How has health and wealth and power become synonymous with Christianity? I think, simply, it's because many Christians have accepted Satan's third offer. They'll take the kingdoms of this world over the kingdom of God.
Most people are most comfortable with exclusion than inclusion. From an evolutionary point of view, it makes sense: tight knit communities seems to be best served by belonging stemming from certain processes of exclusion. But though our human psychology may have been formed by culturally-evolved processes, we're not people of evolutionary development. We are people of baptism, people of faith, people of God - and we are called to inclusion, not exclusion.
I saw a meme recently that explains it as follows:
The Bible is clear: Moabites are bad. They were not to be allowed to dwell among God's people (Deuteronomy 23). But then comes the story of Ruth the Moabite, which challenges prejudice against Moabites.
The Bible is clear: people from Uz are evil (Jeremiah 25). But then comes the story of Job, a man from Uz who was "the most blameless man on Earth."
The Bible is clear: no foreigners or eunuchs allowed (Deuteronomy 23). But then comes the story of an African eunuch welcomed into the church (Acts 8).
The Bible is clear: God's own people hated Samaritans. But then Jesus tells a story of Samaritan who was good, and who acted mercifully when the religious folk refused to.
The story may begin with prejudice, discrimination, and animosity, but the Spirit moves God's people towards openness, welcome, inclusion, acceptance, and affirmation.
As Peter finally says in Acts 10: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality."
The great mother of contemplative prayer, St. Theresa of Avila, said, "Let us talk about the Our Father. This is a prayer that we must recite, if we are Christians at all. It is worth our while to learn to say it properly." When a young novice once asked her how to become contemplative in prayer, St. Theresa replied, "Say the Our Father, but take an hour to say it." I do not think it is an overstatement to say that the Our Father contains within it the whole of the gospel, and if we spend time with God by praying this prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, we may begin to experience some sense of His kingdom within and around us.
"Our Father...." The first word, "our" indicates that God is not just Father to me, and Father to you, but is rather the Father of all. God is God to us as individuals, of course, but is in truth the God and Father of all. This small word gives us an expanded understanding of God in community, of God in humanity, of God universal. The second word, "Father," is an intimate statement of relationship. God is our Abba, who embraces us in His arms of infinite love, just as in the story of the Prodigal Son. He waits for us to run to him, and embraces us without question, without explanation. He welcomes us home.
"....who art in heaven...." God is imminent, yes, but also transcendent. He is the God of the universe as well as our loving Father. He is beyond our comprehension, yet within our very own hearts. The God of all time and space (and beyond) is our Abba.
"....hallowed be thy name...." The word "hallowed" means "consecrated" and "greatly honored." The name of God - in other words, God's very Self - is holy and sacred. He is perfection in and of Himself, with the Son and the Spirit. When we come to Him, we become aware of His absolute faithfulness, His holiness, and His perfection. But this is not a Platonic perfection, an immovability. It is a perfection of love and response. As the writer of I John explains, "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
"....thy kingdom come...." Isn't this the crux of what all Jesus-followers desire? That the kingdom be present here and now? And if we are to pray for it, isn't it a very real possibility? Otherwise, Jesus would not have given it as an exemplary prayer. And what is the kingdom? What does it look like? Jesus spoke often about the kingdom of God during his life and ministry. In fact, he said, "....the kingdom of God is in your midst." The kingdom of God is already here and now when we "live and move and have our being" in God. The kingdom of God is that reality in which all the fruits of the Spirit are present: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is the reality where the last shall be first, and where every tear is wiped from every eye. It is the reality where the diving wall of sin has been torn down so that real relationality takes place. And it is within and yet not totally without quite yet - that is why we are to pray for it and live more deeply into it.
"....thy will be done on earth as in heaven...." This is an extension of asking for the coming of the kingdom. God's will is for divisions and strife to cease, for peace to reign supreme, for his own Triune life of love and joy and peace to become the reality of the universe. His will, in short, is for all to be saved (I Timothy 2:3-4 and II Peter 3:9). Our prayer is for our own lives and the whole world to be a reflection of God's perfect love.
"....give us this day our daily bread...." But we're still in the world. The final resurrection has not yet taken place. To bring God's kingdom on Earth, we must also have our feet planted firmly in the reality of daily life so that we do not become obtuse and abstract. We are to ask for our daily necessities. We still need physical bread (food) as well as the heavenly Bread of Life.
"....and forgive us our sins and we forgive others...." One cannot happen without the other. If we continue to harbor ill will and hatred towards anyone, we cannot be completely forgiven of our own sins - and we all have many. In Matthew 6:14, Jesus taught us that we will be forgiven only if we forgive others. And it is forgiveness that starts tearing down the dividing walls between people, communities, etc. It is the method whereby peace comes. God so willingly and immediately embraces and forgives us, so we should do likewise in our relations with others.
"....and lead us not into temptation...." To keep our eyes on the finisher and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ, we need the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit. There are so many distractions to take our hearts and minds off of God, and thereby off of love and justice and peace. It is so easy to get swallowed up not only in sin, but simply in distraction. So we ask God to keep our minds on Him, so that temptation eventually becomes boring and unattractive.
"....but deliver us from evil...." We ask God for two things here: to keep us safe from the evil that surrounds us, and also safe from the evil that wants to well up within our own hearts. Deliver us from external and internal evils, we pray. The Psalms are filled with the first kind of prayer. Protect us from our enemies. And Jesus' temptation in the wilderness gives us a supreme example of the second kind of prayer - the prayer that has a singular focus on God and His kingdom, not the kingdoms of this world, and that looks to the kingdoms of this world being transformed into a new Earth.
"....for Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever...." Whatever is happening now, whatever evils and injustices occur to us and around us, we know the end of the story. We know Who is working to reconcile all things to Himself, not by force, but by irresistible grace and love. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, not out of fear of punishment or force, but because God's Love draws all people to Him.
Today's lectionary gospel reading comes from the gospel of John 5:1-9, which reads as follows:
1 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids--blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4 They were waiting for the water to be stirred, because an angel from the Lord would sometimes come down and stir it. The first person to get into the pool after that would be healed. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" 7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
As I listened to this passage read during worship this morning and the priest was preaching on it during his sermon, the question kept returning: where is your Beth-zatha? Where is it that you were healed (and perhaps are continually healed), but at which you first had to be lifted and placed and had to have the "water stirred" by the angel of the Lord? Where is it that you met (and/or constantly meet) Jesus for healing?
My first impulse is to claim many "Beth-zathas," for there are many places and people that, in the gracious power of Christ, make me well and help me pick up my mat and go on my way. But this is a more pointed question, requiring one to think more deeply about that single place and time of healing after many years of praying and waiting, after a lengthy dark night. And then comes the simple, pointed question: "Do you want to be made well?" And you answer, "Well, of course I do." And then, more suddenly than we thought possible after waiting so very long, we are told to stand up, take our mat and walk, and find we are actually able to do so. The healing has begun almost before we were even ready, even though we said we were.
My Beth-zatha was (and continues to be) at St Christopher's Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Fl. I visited with a friend just a few months ago, when I still considered myself an agnostic. I left that first service deeply in love with Christ, my heart pierced by His grace. I don't want to say it was (or is) necessarily comfortable or completely immediate, but it was (and continues to be) healing. After many years of doubt and dryness, it was where I responded to Jesus' "Do you want to be made well?" by just falling into His arms and trusting.
Jesus did this on the sabbath. The gospels always point out when Jesus does something he wasn't supposed to have done on the sabbath according to legalistic religious norms - in most cases, healing or taking care of people in one way or another. It is to accentuate that the sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath. In this story, though, I feel like the mention of the sabbath isn't just to focus on Jesus' re-envisioning of sabbath, but to point out that, for this man who was healed, his time of resting had finally come. And for we who've experienced a Beth-zatha, our time of resting and trusting has also come. As with most experiences, perhaps we need to regularly revisit our Beth-zatha so as to be reminded that we, indeed, are being healed and held in the loving arms of Christ.
"Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together." - Revelation 3:20
A few days ago, I wrote a short post on Contemplative Prayer, a simple method of sitting and communing with God with as few images and words as possible to get in the way. This type of prayer utilizes a single word or phrase as a "returning point" when distractions arise, but in short, it's a method of just sitting and waiting on the Divine Lover to "come in and eat together." In Revelation 3:20, this is the promise we are given - that if we just answer the knock at our heart's door, the Lord will come on in and commune with us. But we have to open the door first, We have to invite Him in.
Last night, I was reading through the Song of Solomon, and came across a beautiful passage that seems to me to connect with the knocking of our Savior on the heart's door and our response(s) to the knocking. Read it slowly, and a few times to let it sink in:
2 I was asleep, but dreaming:
The one I love was at the door,
knocking and saying,
“My darling, my very own,
my flawless dove,
open the door for me!
My head is drenched
with evening dew.”
3 But I had already undressed
and bathed my feet.
Should I dress again
and get my feet dirty?
4 Then my darling’s hand
reached to open the latch,
and my heart stood still.
5 When I rose to open the door,
my hands and my fingers
dripped with perfume.
6 My heart stood still
while he spoke to me,
but when I opened the door,
my darling had disappeared.
I searched and shouted,
but I could not find him--
there was no answer.
7 Then I was found by the guards
patrolling the town
and guarding the wall.
They beat me up
and stripped off my robe.
8 Young women of Jerusalem,
if you find the one I love,
please say to him,
“She is weak with desire.”
Too often, despite the call of our Savior, the knocking at the door, we have become too comfortable to answer. We have a desire, yes, but something is keeping us from getting up and answering the request of the Lord to come in. We "have already undressed and bathed our feet." We are desirous, yet just a bit too comfortable to dive in to communion. Yet, our Lord is still insistent. His desire to be with us is stronger. He "reaches to open the latch," yet remains respectful enough to wait for us to fully open the door. It is up to us. He does not push His way in, yet He whispers to us through the door.
We listen, and even tremble, at His voice. What keeps us from opening the door more quickly? Finally, when we sometimes rise and dress and open the door, we find He seems absent. It's not that he actually is ever absent, but in our prayer, we sometimes feel alone. We feel as if He is not there to commune with us. This is why that biblical centering word or phrase is so important. It returns us to His presence. "I am beloved's, and He is mine."
He is never absent, but at times our rationality and reasoning blocks the Love and transcendent reality of faithful communion with the Lord. These "guards patrolling the town and guarding the wall beat us up and strip off our robes." Why are you wasting your time? Why are chasing after these illusions? Reason will better us until we are bruised and naked before our Beloved. And it is only in this nakedness that we are ready to fully embrace the Divine Lover.
Beyond all of our doing and talking and thinking, we sometimes just need to be simply present to the Lord in the totality of our being, receiving His ever-present self-giving Love and Presence. During these times, we may use a biblical word or phrase to return us to His touch, but it is that Touch that is the focus of our complete attention and awareness. This is the fulfilling of the desire of our hearts.
“Resurrection and the Renewal of Creation”
What does Jesus’ resurrection mean to you? Does the gospel promise to snatch us away from the world or to renew us and all the world, too? How does the Holy Spirit put the resurrection of Jesus into practical effect in us and through us right now? For many Christians, “resurrection” is simply “what we say happened to Jesus after his death,” or perhaps “a strange word for our own future hope.” But few realize what “resurrection” meant in the first-century world where early Christianity was born. It meant nothing short of “new creation” — the reaffirmation, by the creator God, of the goodness of the original creation, starting with the crucified body of Jesus Himself. Once we grasp this, we see that many lines of thought in the New Testament, particularly in John and Paul, point not just to the resurrection of Jesus’ people, but to the restoration of the whole creation. This restoration has already begun, and part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the present time, through the work of Jesus’ followers, is to bring about signs and real anticipations of the ultimate new creation. This will happen when (as in Philippians 3:21 or 1 Corinthians 15:28) Jesus subjects all things to Himself and God becomes “all in all.” Christianity’s central event turns out to be even more important and relevant than many people imagine.
N. T. Wright is Professor of New Testament & Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
I am not certain of very many things. I could probably count my certainties on one hand. I am certain of at least three things. First, Christ is Lord. Second, Christ is not Republican or Democrat (or Green, or Labour, or whatever political party you wish to insert) precisely because Christ is Lord and Caesar is not. Third, Christ not only loves the alien, the stranger, the outcast, the marginalized, but has a preference for the alien, the stranger, the outcast, and the marginalized. I'm not naive, nor am I easily surprised, but one thing that never ceases to shock me is how many "Christians" (especially in the United States) so easily align themselves with policies that harm the alien/immigrant while at the very same time claim to be followers of Jesus. To be frank, the two positions are mutually exclusive. You simply cannot be anti-immigrant and a follower of Jesus. You don't need to take my word for it, though. Scripture is plain on the matter (though, again, surprisingly, this doesn't seem to phase the so-called followers of Jesus who support anti-immigrant policies). Nevertheless, I'll just let the scriptures speak for themselves here:
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. - Deuteronomy 10:19
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 19:34
‘Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.’ Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ - Leviticus 27:19
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever. - Jeremiah 7:5-7
You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as citizens of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. - Ezekiel 47:22
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. - Zechariah 7:9-10
You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. - Matthew 5:43-44
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. - Matthew 25:35
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. - Romans 12:13
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. - Hebrews 13:1-3
These passages are not subtle, and the ones above are not exhaustive. But they should be enough. Christ is Lord, not Caesar. Those who follow Christ will have the same mind as Christ concerning the aliens and strangers at our borders and in our midst.
If you're like me, you have difficulty praying - especially praying extemporaneously, or when something extremely emotional or painful is the topic of prayer. If you're like me, you're also probably hesitant to tell other Christians you're having difficulty praying. Maybe it's just me, but I sometimes feel like some other brothers and sisters treat prayer almost like a competition. But I've always fumbled over my words in prayer, usually just ending up more frustrated than when I started, or uttering those "groans and moans" only the Spirit through you can utter.
Since becoming an Episcopalian, I have found the daily offices of the Book of Common Prayer to be extremely helpful. It is a wonderful experience to pray along with others in the worldwide Anglican (and other liturgical) communion(s) of faith. And in a very real way, praying the daily offices is also praying along with the great cloud of witnesses throughout history. But there are still those times when I desire a more personal "conversation" with God, a more intimate union that acknowledges my own, individual depth and need. And this is where centering prayer comes into play.
Centering Prayer is an amazingly simple, yet profound, way of entering into communion with God. Books have been written on the subject. Organizations exist which lead workshops in the methodology. Small groups meet all around the world to practice centering prayer together. All these resources are wonderful, but if you want to get started on your own, or don't have the ability or resources to purchase the books, attend a workshop, or join a meeting, centering prayer is as easy as following the steps below:
It almost seems too simple, but that's just because we tend to want to complicate matters. This simple method of prayer allows our own wills, our own desires and interfering thoughts, to take a back seat to the voice of God and to the working of the Spirit within our hearts. Centering prayer does not take the place of other types of prayer, but it is a wonderful addition to one's prayer life. Give it a try!
The great author of Orthodoxy, G K Chesterton, once wrote the following:
"In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself."
I found this quote to be so spot-on in regards to my own experience. Born and raised in fundamentalist faith, I considered myself either an agnostic or atheist for much of my adult life - primarily, I think, because doubt played so little part in my early life. Once I was able to freely doubt, though, I found myself eventually doubting doubt, so to speak. Or more properly, I found myself keenly aware that doubt was (and is) a key ingredient to faith - at least faith of an orthodox variety.
Too many Christians today caution against doubt, and I suppose I understand that tendency. Doubt takes one on a journey towards the freedom to choose, which is ultimately a necessity for faith to take effect. The grace part is all God, and certainly faith is a gift of God, but it is a gift - as any gift is - which must be received in order for it to properly be a gift. A gift that is rejected is no gift at all. And one cannot receive the gift of faith without doubt. Doubt is integral to faith.
I would add, too, that God's gift of grace through faith does not seem to be a one-time occurrence, but rather occurs daily, minute by minute. One chooses, in seasons of doubt, to either persevere in faith, or to reject faith. Just as in any relationship, union depends on the active participation of both parties. Even in the dry periods, in the dark nights - of which there may be many - faith and trust can remain, even in the presence of doubt. This is the paradox: that faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. The honest Christian will likely acknowledge this mixture of faith and doubt is much more usual than not.
We need not fear seasons of doubt, or dryness and of darkness. Our own Lord experienced doubt when he cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Had God actually forsaken Jesus? No. Did Jesus wonder if God had forsaken Him? Obviously. When our doubt is coupled with faith, as Jesus' was (he did not refuse the crucifixion, but assented to the powers that were crucifying him), it is not sinful. It is, in fact, faithful.
To say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is not to say that Christians are the only ones with whom God has relationship. As a Christian, I affirm that at-one-ment with God and salvation (in this life and the next) is found in the resurrected Christ. I also affirm, as do the scriptures, that the Spirit of God blows where it wills, and that the moment we think we have a grasp on God's grace, we find it present in the places and people we thought least likely. This is, of course, a result of our sinful self-righteousness and the arrogance of thinking that we might possibly attain to the full knowledge of God in this life. It seems even more odd that we'd think Christians have a corner on God's grace when we accept the obvious truth that Jesus was a Jew himself, and the Father, Son, and Spirit interacts gracefully and mercifully with both non-Jews and non-Christians throughout holy scripture.
The gospel - the good news of God's infinite grace and love for the world - is for all people, not just one religious group. It is a universal gospel. In John's gospel (10:16), we read, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." In the Nest Testament alone, there is an astounding number of non-Jews, and later non-Christians, who respond to Jesus without becoming Jewish or Christian. The Magi - likely from Babylon or Persia and certainly not Jewish - come to honor him. The Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) is praised for his faith with no indication of a conversion. Likewise with the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) whose daughter was possessed by demons. Jesus' interactions with various Samaritans, who were viewed by Jews as worse than dogs - show Jesus' universal understanding of the reaches of God's grace. He even lifts up a Samaritan as better than the Jewish priests and teachers in his well-known parable of compassion (Luke 10:25-37).
Even though Jesus' own ministry was primarily to the Jews during his lifetime, we see him instruct his disciples to spread his love to all nations (Matthew 28:19). Perhaps the most famous post-gospels story of this expansive view off God's grace comes in Acts 10, when Peter is told never to call unclean that which has been made clean. Paul accepted this vision when he wrote, "There is no more Jew or Greek, no more slave or free, no more male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."
The story of God's activity through human history appears to me to be the story of an ever-widening embrace of those for whom God's law is written on the heart - whatever there specific creed or theology might be. The risen Christ cannot be contained in creeds or theological abstractions. It's ridiculous and idolatrous to think that we can contain Him, and I would suggest that, the more open to God's grace one's heart is, the more open s/he is to accepting the work of God among people of many faiths and none. While, as a Christian, I would maintain that any reflection of love of God and neighbor (the two commandments which entail all the law) within an individual is necessarily a reflection of Christ, I do not think Christ must be named or even recognized as the one who lived as God in the flesh to be present and active in a person's life.
We should be careful not to make our own theologies the standard by which to judge Christ's activity in the world and with individuals. If we do, we risk making gods of ourselves - the original temptation. Perhaps it is most prudent to commune with Christ day in and day out, and to enjoy the evidence of the Spirit in people of all beliefs and all kinds. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.....think on these things." We were never told Christ-followers would be known by their beliefs or theologies, but rather, by their love. Wherever there is love, there is God.