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My literal understanding of scripture refutes this...

Dear Rodger,

You cannot accept one part of the scriptural message and throw out other portions merely because you disagree with the implications (suffering) of relentless rebellion towards God. Suffering is most often precipitated by our own rebellious nature which often times leads us to seeking self glory rather than learning to be selfless towards our fellow man. The main reason why the Christian camps are still very much divided today are because of the selfish nature of man promoting pride and the refusal to let go of selfish pursuits. Prejudice is still a strong emotion in humans and that limits the ability of many to see similarities between differing human cultures. Imbalanced hatreds are the fruits of ignorance.

What Jesus patterned for humanity does have a universal application but in order to embrace it fully, one must be willing to distinguish between human (worldly) wisdom and divine eternal wisdom. To embrace the divine nature of God we are exhorted in the New Testament Scriptures to become like the Son of God so that we too may become legitimate sons of God as opposed to illegitimate children to God. Obedience and love are synomonyous as defined by the whole of God's Word and the absence of obedience warrants stern discipline in our lives delivered by God. In this context, a genuine love is an unwavering commitment to truth, justice, faith (trust in God) and hope. An unwavering commitment to following the pattern of "God's only Son" is demonstrating your "trust in God's offering and example" and so becomes the obedience expected of those who truly believe. This then is what defines and establishes the true context of your "love" for God and should naturally be exhibited in all your behavior towards your fellow man. So discipline which also causes suffering is for our good and not for our condemnation. The contextually correct application here is rendered in the English as "sanctification" which literally means to "set one's pathway straight."

What you described in your earlier days was abuse, which led to feelings of guilt brought on by the heavy weight of condemning sermons and beliefs delivered by others. You questioned the suffering in peoples lives and perhaps your own out of context. If you were feeling condemned at any time, perhaps you were confusing the deeper feelings of conviction, which the Spirit of God puts in us to set our pathways straight. Conviction leads to increased awareness and wisdom bearing or leading to the fruit of love and obedience. Condemnation on the other hand leads to guilt and many hidden fears and ultimately leaves one feeling hopeless and utterly depressed. This however does not diminish the need for Godfearing men to deliver warning and recompense to others who are not obeying the pattern of behaviors exhibited by Christ and His maturing disciples.

Reproof and rebuke are absolutely necessary because humanity is still very immature and selfish. Mankind is still full of pride and prejudice and these enmities need to be killed off. I understand what you experienced earlier in life because I too shared like experiences within the realm of man's religious institution called the church. In my growth over the years I have discovered what is commonly referred to as the Church (whether Catholic or Protestant) is not really the Church described for us by Christ and witnessed by the early Apostles. Man still builds temples in which to worship putting on the pale face of weak systems of belief. But in the midst of all the divided houses of god (developed by hirelings), God Almighty pulls out certain ones to continue the work that Jesus patterned for us so that humanity can one day ultimately arrive at a real Godfearing maturity.

I have discovered that what is indicated in the New Testament Word by Jesus, the promises and the warnings of various hatreds and persecutions are all true and indeed come to pass for the individuals that surrender and submit to the pattern and teachings of Christ Jesus. Fulfillment takes place and we begin to realize that these various fulfillments are proof and confirmation that we are indeed on the "right path of sanctification." In simple words, it won't look any different in a persons life than what Jesus described and promised... that is... if you are on the prescribed path.

True love as defined by the whole of scripture cannot be made complete without also embracing God's hatreds. This is crucial and fundamental to us in the maturing process. We cannot afford to be found loving or embracing what God so hates. His list of hatreds is short and simple and made clear in the Old Testament Proverbs and also Christ's New Testament teachings.

Let us not be found embracing what God has condemned.

With all sincerity and love for the truth and our scattered brethren abroad,

Nicholas A. Stivers, a humbled God fearing man, scribe and messenger.

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