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Tag Archives: forgiveness and mercy

Going Beyond Just Being a Religious Person

When I studied the New Testament for the first time, my perception of religion changed. I guess being a good person was so ingrained into my head while being raised in a Roman Catholic Church, I overlooked the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul taught me that no matter how hard I tried to please God, following religious practices only takes you so far, Romans 3:9-12. Subsequently, I was no better than the prodigal son, a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.

Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants, Luke 15:17-19.

When I read the Bible sometimes, thoughts like “I can’t believe they did that” race through my mind. Yet, if the tables were turned and I was living in the first century, I’m sure I wouldn’t like the person who would portray me. Despite attempting to live a decent, good and upright life, I’ve made my own spiritual messes. I’ve squandered money like the prodigal son on all sorts of temporary pleasures. Just when I thought I hit the bottom of the barrel, I broke through to reach lower depths.

So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently]. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! 22 But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. 23 And bring out [k]that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us [l]revel and feast and be happy and make merry, 24 Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to [m]revel and feast and make merry, Luke 15:20-24.

One of the lesser stressed parts of this parable is the type of a relationship that God desires. When you finally come to your senses, asking for forgiveness and mercy is just the beginning. While Jesus suggests Christians should strive for perfection in Matthew 5:48, this is merely a religious exercise. Rather, Jesus wants a permanent meaningful lasting relationship. If you’re tired of being a flawed perfectionist, it’s time to move beyond being a religious person toward a special connection with God, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

The Slow Decay of a Cold Heart

From a secular point of view, cold hearts are not ignored.  A classic written by Foreigner speaks to this topic in the song Cold as Ice.  The soundtrack for Cold as Ice inspired a skit on the March 25, 1978 broadcast of Saturday Night Live.  While mild by today’s standards, this illustration demonstrates how cold hearts negatively influence attitudes, behavior and words.

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them,’ Matthew 13:14-15.

The Christian group Casting Crowns attempts to explain why hearts grow cold in their song Does Anybody Hear.  According to the lyrics, “But the canyons ever widening in the depths of her cold heart” suggest this is a spiritual dilemma.  Instead of addressing, correcting and dealing with wounded hearts, human nature causes individuals to set out on another misadventure to cover up their pain.  Instead of turning to Jesus to fill this void, temporary substitutes are found.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

The question few people ever ask is what‘s wrong with me?  How can I stop the slow death of a cold heart?  The apostle Paul suggests cold hearts are a byproduct of being alienated from God.  This may explain King David’s prayer in Psalm 51, “create in me a clean (pure) heart.”  The longer people ignore situations, hearts will continue to grow cold; hardening, without care.  Yet, the moment you confess, beg and plead with God for forgiveness and mercy, change is possible.  May this blog revive your soul, turning a cold heart into a heart of gold.

by Jay Mankus

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