Bible Proclaims ‘God Is Love’: Here’s What That Means for Us

The more time we commit our minds, bodies and souls to the Lord and find others who do the same, the more secure we become in our Christian faith

By Kimberly Faith | August 16, 2019

When the Bible proclaims “God is love” (1 John 4:8), what does that really mean for us humans?

I remember a young lady in my office who was sobbing her heart out as she told me, “I’ve been crushed by love.”

She had anticipated something beautiful and wonderful — but instead had experienced something ugly and disappointing.

Who among us has not been there?

Was it really “love” that caused her terrible pain?

Well, only as a feeling or expectation in a culture in which “love” is defined superficially, that is.

In our fallen world, however, in order to survive, “love” must be something much deeper, wider, broader and higher than a feeling.

Just ask Christ: Love cost Him everything.

On how we should love, the Bible says: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John‬ ‭4:7-8‬).

To “love” is to give others what God gives us rather than pursue a feeling or expectation from them.

Most of us have missed this mark.

How do we get this deep and abiding love?

There is no greater human love-relationship than one with another person who loves God best.

The more time we commit our soul, mind and body to God — because we love Him — the more completely satisfied and secure we become in His love and the less we have needs or expectations from others.

God’s love, in other words, fills us to overflowing.

There is no greater human love-relationship than one with another person who loves God best. Whether it be a parent, child, spouse, or best friend, no greater love between two imperfect humans exists than when it is bonded by the love of God.

If “love” has sorely disappointed you, then seek God with as much passion as you sought love from the one who shattered your heart.

You will never be disappointed by God’s love.

https://www.lifezette.com/2019/08/bible-proclaims-god-is-love-heres-what-that-means-for-us/

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I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.

In honor of the home-going of a godly man and combat veteran of the European campaign of WWII, W. L. “Red” Sims, I re-post the following.


Soldier’s Creed

Hearing a soldier in the United States Military recite his particular “Solder’s Creed,” whether it be with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, is something quite stirring.

Probably inspired by the military creeds of this world, an unknown author penned the following for soldiers in God’s Army, the Church: those bought with the blood of Christ, wearing the whole armor of God, and marching onward toward victory with the Sword of the Spirit in their hands.

The sooner we come to the realization that we are most certainly engaged in a spiritual war, the better. May we all be willing to stand unashamed…”and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

The Christian Soldier’s Creed

I am a soldier in the Army of my God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.

The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.

I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army, and I am enlisted for eternity.

I will either retire at the Rapture, or die in this Army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out.

I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.

If He needs me in the Sunday school to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults, or just sit and learn, I’ll be there.

He can use me because I am there!

I am a soldier.

I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.

I am a soldier.

No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.

I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.

I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.

I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.

I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.

I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.

I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.

I will win.

My God has, and will continue, to supply all my needs.

I am more than a conqueror.

I will always triumph.

I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.

People cannot disillusion me.

Weather cannot weary me.

Sickness cannot stop me.

Battles cannot beat me.

Money cannot buy me.

Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me.

I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me, for when my Commander calls me from this battlefield He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him.

I am a soldier in the Army and I’m marching, claiming victory.

I will not give up.

I will not turn around.

I am a solder marching, heaven bound.

(Author Unknown)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3

https://logosdot.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/i-am-a-soldier-this-is-my-creed-2/

I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.


There are only two defining forces who have ever offered to die for you. 

One is Jesus Christ and the other the American Soldier.  

One died for your sins and the other for your freedom!

source


Do we have proof Jesus was a real historical figure?

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 UPHOLDING THE FAITH

The New Testament has multiple eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ. In addition, there are additional accounts from sources who knew the eyewitnesses as well. However, especially concerning opponents of Christianity, some are reluctant to consider any biblical sources when the question of Jesus’ existence are raised. While the reliability of the Bible is covered at depth elsewhere in the site, here I’ll be focusing on non-biblical sources concerning Jesus.

I think the matter of Jesus’ existence has been well proven from biblical and non-biblical sources alike. Even National Geographic, in an article titled “What Archaeology is Telling Us About the Real Jesus” had this to say

Might it be possible that Jesus Christ never even existed, that the whole stained glass story is pure invention? It’s an assertion that’s championed by some outspoken skeptics—but not, I discovered, by scholars, particularly archaeologists, whose work tends to bring flights of fancy down to literal earth. “I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus,” said Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University. “The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.” I heard much the same from Byron McCane, an archaeologist and history professor at Florida Atlantic University. “I can think of no other example who fits into their time and place so well but people say doesn’t exist,” he said.

There are multiple, non-biblical sources to look at for corroboration with what’s found in the New Testament concerning Jesus. I believe these should be adequate examples of references which all point to a historically acknowledged, real person of Jesus Christ.

Tacitus

Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) was a Roman historian and senator. He provides a basis for who the Christians were and some further details.

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

Here, we see acknowledgment of Christians as followers of “Christus” and a direct mention of Pontius Pilatus (while under the reign of Tiberius). These details are consistent with the information found within the New Testament.

Pliny the Younger

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (61 – 113 AD), better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny provides a detailed reference of certain habits of early Christians.

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

We can see multiple things that are consistent with what’s found in the New Testament. A specific day set aside for worship, the acknowledgement of Christ as God, and worship to Hm alone. He also mentions how Christians try to follow and live according to Christ’s teachings.

Josephus

Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD) was a Romano-Jewish scholar, historian, and biographer of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. Josephus provides us with two references, the first being

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, ‘if indeed one ought to call him a man’. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. ‘He was the Messiah’. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. ‘He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him’. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

Concerning this passage, scholars have come to the conclusion that Christian scribes likely added some text (which I have put in single quotes). However, even if you pull those sections out, there is a clear reference to Jesus.

The other writing from Josephus says

Being therefore this kind of person [i.e., a heartless Sadducee], Ananus, thinking that he had a favorable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting [literally, “sanhedrin”] of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah … James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned.

Some have suggested this passage was also edited in a similar manner to the one above. This is less likely to be true in this case for a few reasons. First, James and Jesus were common names at the time. The addition of “brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah” is a way of specifying which James he was referring to. As he only needed to refer to the specific Jesus we’re seeking to verify, the one who is called Messiah, this supports well known knowledge of a real person. Josephus would have wanted this to be readable and understood by many. If the citing of simply Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah was enough, it’s logical to conclude the widespread knowledge of his existence in the New Testament was not simply an invented story. Additionally, the usage of “who is called Messiah” stands out. A Christian scribe of the time would have instead used “brother of the Lord” to refer to James. They wouldn’t have been shy about this langauge, as you can see from the first quote.

Lucian

Lucian of Samosata (125 – 180 AD) was a Syrian satirist and rhetorician. His reference provides additional details from the others above.

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day,–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. Well, the end of it was that Proteus was arrested and thrown into prison. This was the very thing to lend an air to his favourite arts of clap-trap and wonder-working; he was now a made man. The Christians took it all very seriously: he was no sooner in prison, than they began trying every means to get him out again,–but without success. Everything else that could be done for him they most devoutly did. They thought of nothing else. … and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

Here is another clear reference to Christ. While he doesn’t mention Jesus by name, he speaks of “Christians”, the crucifixion, and the devotion of the early church. All this again, mirrored in the New Testament.

In addition to these references, others exist as well. Multiple Jewish sources, who would not acknowledge Christ as Messiah, record events in Christ’s life as real historical fact. In Islam, Christ is also known to be a real historical figure, but again, not as Messiah. There is abundant evidence of Jesus Christ having walked the Earth. From biblical to non-biblical sources. The only difference is the acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord compared to the others which just see him as a very influential, but nevertheless, real historical person.

Sources

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D15%3Achapter%3D44

https://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources#_edn5

http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/Pliny/Pliny10-096-E.html

http://www.josephus.org/testimonium.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/wl4/wl420.htm

Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
Jewish Antiquities, XX.9.1 in Whiston’s translation (§200 in scholarly editions), as translated by Meier, Marginal Jew, vol. 1, p. 57. Meier’s original passage includes the phrases in square brackets [ ]. The omitted words indicated by the ellipsis (…) are in Greek, to let scholars know what words are translated into English.

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/did-jesus-exist/#note13r

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/12/jesus-tomb-archaeology/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Younger

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian

https://www.google.com/amp/s/respondblogs.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/respondblogs-was-jesus-a-real-person/amp

https://upholdingthefaith.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/do-we-have-proof-jesus-was-a-real-historical-figure/

Penn’s Holy Experiment – “the seed of a nation”

By Bill Federer

After serving time in prison for his Christian beliefs, William Penn insisted his colony give religious toleration.

William Penn was arrested and imprisoned several times for sharing his politically incorrect views which were not in agreement with the government’s agenda.

Once he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for eight months.

While in London’s notorious Newgate Prison, William Penn wrote 1670:

“By Liberty of Conscience, we understand not only a mere Liberty of the Mind … but the exercise of ourselves in a visible way of worship, upon our believing it to be indispensably required at our hands,

that if we neglect it for fear or favor of any mortal man, we sin, and incur divine wrath.”

Penn wrote in England’s Present Interest Considered, 1675:

“Force makes hypocrites, ’tis persuasion only that makes converts.”

Another dissenter in London’s Newgate Prison was an early Baptist leader Thomas Helwys, who wrote in 1612:

“The King is a mortal man, and not God, therefore he hath no power over the mortal soul of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them.”

Thomas Helwys who died in the Newgate Prison in 1616, had written A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity:

“If the Kings people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all humane laws made by the King, our Lord the King can require no more:

for men’s religion to God is betwixt God and themselves; the King shall not answer for it, neither may the King be judge between God and man.”

A later Baptist minister, John Leland, who helped found Baptist churches in America, wrote in Rights of Conscience Inalienable, 1791:

“Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience.

If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free.”

Penn’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn, Sr., died in 1670.

In repayment of a debt owed to the Admiral, King Charles II, in 1682, surprisingly gave to his son, William Penn, land in America recently acquired from the Dutch and Swedes — 45,000 square miles.

King Charles named this enormous amount of land, 29 million acres, “Pennsylvania.”

As a result of Charles II’s generosity, young William Penn had become the largest non-royalty landowner in the world.

While most countries demanded that citizens believe as the government dictated, Penn’s colony was a “holy experiment” where Christians, Jews, and others who believed in God to could live together in religious toleration.

This was an unprecedented endeavor in the world, taking place at a time in history when

  • most of Europe was ruled by kings,
  • China was ruled by emperors of the Qing dynasty, and
  • Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV’s 200,000 Ottoman Muslim soldiers were laying siege to Vienna, Austria.

Penn wrote in his Charter of Privileges for Pennsylvanians 1701:

“… because no people can be truly happy though under the greatest enjoyments of civil liberties if abridged of the freedom of their consciences as to their religious profession and worship.”

He wrote to a friend, January 1, 1681, that for his colony, he would:

“… make and establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in all opposition to all unchristian … practices.”

Soon there arrived in Pennsylvania:

  • Quakers,
  • Mennonites,
  • Pietists,
  • Amish,
  • Anabaptists,
  • Lutherans,
  • Reformed,
  • Moravians.

From 1700 to 1750, Britain’s laws against dissenters drove some 200,000 Scots and Scots–Irish Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland to America. Most settled in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley and in the western counties of Lehigh, Bucks and Lancaster.

Others came, including:

  • German and Swiss New Baptists, or Dunkers,
  • German Baptist Brethren, or Seventh Day Dunkers,
  • Schwenckfelders,
  • French Huguenots. and
  • other Protestant Christians.

William Penn died on JULY 30, 1718.

He had named his capital city Philadelphia, which means “Brotherly Love.”

Lutheran missionary Johannes Campanius dedicated Philadelphia’s first church, Gloria Dei “Old Swede’s” Church in 1646.

Penn’s religious tolerance allowed the church to continue, and they erected their present church building in 1698.

Johannes Campanius translated the very first book published in the Algonquin Indian language, Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

In 1695, the Merion Friends (Quaker) Meeting House was built. It is the oldest church building in Pennsylvania and second oldest Friends meeting house in the United States.

In 1695, Philadelphia’s Christ Church was built.

It is called “the Nation’s Church” as individuals who worshiped there included:

  • George Washington,
  • Betsy Ross,
  • Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, and
  • their daughter, Sarah Franklin Bache, worshiped there.

Others who worshiped at Christ Church included signers of the Declaration of Independence:

  • John Adams,
  • Benjamin Rush,
  • Francis Hopkinson,
  • Joseph Hewes,
  • Robert Morris,
  • James Wilson, and
  • George Ross.

In 1711, Old Trinity Episcopal Church was built in Philadelphia.

In 1732, the Seventh Day Dunkers (German Baptist Brethern) built Ephrata Cloister near Philadelphia.

They had the second German printing press in America.

They published “Martyrs Mirror,” the largest book printed in America prior to the Revolutionary War, listing Christian martyrs from Christ until 1660.

Rev. Richard Denton brought the Presbyterian faith to American in 1644.

In 1692, just ten years after the arrival of William Penn, the first Presbyterian Church was organized in Philadelphia, in a building called “Barbadoes Warehouse,” being shared with Baptists and Congregationalists.

In 1704, Philadelphia’s First Presbyterian Church moved to the corner of Bank Street and High Street (Market), where they build their first church building.

Members of the church included signers of the Declaration of Independence:

  • James Wilson,
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush, and
  • Thomas McKean.

On May 21, 1789, the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America was held at the church in Philadelphia.

The first sermon at that assembly was preached by John Witherspoon, the president of Princeton University and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1807, the first African Presbyterian Church was founded by a former slave, John Gloucester.

At the time of the Revolution:

  • 98 percent of the country was Protestant;
  • around 1 percent was Catholic; and
  • one-tenth of one percent was Jewish.

William J. Shepherd, writing for The Catholic University of American, stated in the article “The Archivist’s Nook: Catholic Patriots of the American Revolution” (June 23, 2016):

“Catholics made up only an estimated one percent of the population of the nascent republic. Colonial America was generally prejudiced against Catholics … with the notable exception of Pennsylvania.”

There were only seven Jewish congregations in the colonies prior to the Revolution, two of which were in Pennsylvania:

  • Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia begun in 1740; and
  • Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster, begun in 1747.

The first Jews in America were Sephardic, having fled from Spain, to Portugal, to South America and the West Indies.

From the West Indies, Sephardic Jews came to the colonies of North America, the first of which was New Amsterdam, which became New York.

When the British captured New York in 1776, many Jews fled to Pennsylvania.

Mikveh Israel congregation built the first synagogue building in Philadelphia in 1782.

Contributors to the building fund included:

  • Benjamin Franklin,
  • Robert Morris -Signer of the Declaration, and
  • Haym Solomon, Polish Jew financier of the American Revolution.

Beginning in 1845, Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Mikveh Israel synagogue produced the first Jewish translation of the Bible in English to be published in the United States.

When Mikveh Israel synagogue burned in 1872, Philadelphia’s Christ Church contributed to rebuild it.

The two congregations have a long custom of sharing a fellowship-dinner once a year which alternates between their two buildings.

In 1795, the first Ashkenazic Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere was founded in Philadelphia, Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

During the colonial era, Catholics were mostly in just two colonies: Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Bishop John Carroll, founder of Georgetown University and cousin of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration, wrote to Rome in 1790:

“The thirteen provinces of North America rejected the yoke of England, they proclaimed, at the same time, freedom of conscience …

Before this great event, the Catholic faith had penetrated two provinces only, Maryland and Pennsylvania. In all the others the laws against Catholics were in force.”

In 1733, Philadelphia allowed the first English-speaking Catholic Church in the world after the Reformation – St. Joseph Church.

It was the only place in the entire British Empire where a public Catholic church service took place legally.

During the Revolution, French Generals Marquis de Lafayette and Comte de Rochambeau worshiped there.

Pennsylvania’s Quakers and Mennonites led the state to be the first in the nation to pass legislation to end slavery.

America’s first abolition society, The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, was founded in Philadelphia in 1775.

After the Revolutionary War, it was reorganized in 1784 with Benjamin Franklin as its first president.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Methodist Episcopal churches in America, with St. George’s Church, built in 1769, being the denomination’s oldest church building in continuous service in the world.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sent the church a communion chalice.

The pastor of St. George’s was Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop.

He traveled 270,000 miles on horseback and ordained more than 4,000 ministers, including Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the first African American Lay Preachers of Methodism in 1785.

In 1792, Absalom Jones started the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, being the oldest black Episcopal congregation in the United States.

In 1794, Richard Allen started the African Methodist Episcopal Church, building “Mother Bethel,” the first A.M.E. Church in America.

In 1796, also out of St. George’s, Rev. “Black Harry” Hosier started the African Zoar Church.

St. George’s appointed Mary Thorne as the first woman class leader.

The Charter that King Charles II signed and gave to William Penn on March 4, 1681, stated:

“Whereas our trusty and well beloved subject, William Penn, esquire, son and heir of Sir William Penn, deceased, out of a commendable desire to enlarge our English Empire …

and also to reduce the savage natives by gentle and just manners to the love of civil society and Christian religion, hath humbly besought leave of us to transport an ample colony unto … parts of America not yet cultivated and planted.”

After receiving the Charter, William Penn wrote:

“It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.”

William Penn’s “Holy Experiment” of “Brotherly Love” resulted in Philadelphia providentially being the birthplace of the nation, as it was there that

  • the Continental Congress met,
  • the Declaration of Independence was signed,
  • the U.S. Constitution was written, and
  • where the nation’s first Capital was located.

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell

Original here

Made in the Image of God

August 12, 2019/ David Baggett

A vital part of Fred Rogers’ compelling and irrepressibly optimistic vision of the world was his understanding of human beings as spiritual creatures—every last one of them. Young and old, saints and sages, bullies and bombasts, all of them are sacred, eternal creatures with a divine stamp on them. And owing to that stamp—the very image of God, the imago dei—each person is imbued with infinite value and worth.

            Fred was an ordained Christian minister, and Christianity has a lot to say about our imperfections and fallings short, which introduces the need for forgiveness. Fred even sang about it. First used on The Children’s Corner and later on the Neighborhood (until it had to be removed because of the explicit reference to God) was the song Goodnight, God. The words and music were by Josie Carey and Fred, and it went like this:

Goodnight, God, and thank you for this very lovely day.
Thank you, too, for helping us at work and at our play.
Thank you for our families. For each and every friend.
Forgive us, please, for anything we’ve done that might offend.

Keep us safe and faithful, God. Tell us what to do.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.

Fred wasn’t the sort of practical theologian to start with the bad news of our faults and failures and foibles. He was much more wont to start more positively, and this wasn’t just because of his own preferences; he had an important theological reason for doing so.

Readers may know that in a framed print on his office wall he prominently displayed his favorite quote “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” from the children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Its translation is that what’s essential is invisible to the eye. Fred liked to emphasize what’s essential, rather than what’s merely apparent, peripheral, or accidental.

Our sinful condition is not essential to us. Even if everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, sin is universal, but not essential. It’s not who we are; it doesn’t define us. If there’s hope that by God’s grace our sin can be forgiven and defeated, that shows that sin isn’t central to our identity. It can go away and we can remain. Essential features have no such property. Sin is rather what we might call merely contingent.

In contrast, though, if all of us as human beings, as Fred believed, have been made in God’s image, like the Bible teaches, then that is essential to who we are. In the biblical narrative, sin didn’t enter the picture until the third chapter of Genesis. Fred went farther back to the creation narrative and its rich theology. Our creation in God’s imago dei reveals something that not only all of us hold in common, but something absolutely central to our deepest identity.

Like the Oxford luminary Austin Farrer taught, Fred thought that learning to love our neighbor involves nothing less than learning to see God in our neighbor and our neighbor in God. Farrer was a close friend of C. S. Lewis and advanced a version of the moral argument. For a taste of Farrer’s argument, consider the way we normatively ought to think about other people. It is of great importance, Farrer argued, that we value them rightly, that we think about others in such a way as to regard them properly.

The only limitations that such deep regard for others should encounter are those that cannot be avoided. Such regard should be at once so pure and so entire that it leads to a sort of frustration that derives from the incompleteness of our definition of those we so regard. Thinking of our neighbors in too garden variety a way can’t sustain the esteem we intuitively think they deserve. The conclusion to which Farrer felt compelled is that what deserves our regard is not simply our neighbor, but God in our neighbor and our neighbor in God.

Such a vision deeply resonated with Fred’s own, because for Fred, too, recognition of the sacredness of our neighbors should have profound implications. They’re not mere collections of atoms and molecules; not just cogs in machines or means to ends, but eternal, sacred beings who possess infinite value, worth, and dignity. Created by and in the image of a God of all goodness and perfect love, they’re capable of loving and being loved.

Baylor’s C. Stephen Evans has written Natural Signs and Knowledge of God, where “natural signs” serve as pointers toward God—though nothing like absolute demonstrations. Natural signs, on his view, provide a measure of good evidence for belief in God. He refers to two moral natural signs, one of which is human dignity and worth, this very reality that captured Fred’s imagination.

Catholic novelist Graham Greene, in his The Power and the Glory, has written, “When you visualized a man or a woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity . . . that was a quality God’s image carried with it . . . when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.”

As God loves us without conditions, so we too should strive to love our neighbors. Fred would often say that love isn’t a state of perfect caring, but that it’s an active noun like ‘struggle’. “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, here and now.” He always kept these words from a social worker in his pocket: “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”

Fred would agree with C. S. Lewis that we’ve never met an ordinary person. And with Marilynne Robinson, who wrote in Gilead, “Any human face is a claim on you, because you can’t help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness of it. But this is truest of the face of an infant. I consider that to be one kind of vision, as mystical as any.”

 Editor’s note: David Baggett is currently writing a book about Fred Rogers tentatively entitled Why Mister Rogers Bowed.

https://www.moralapologetics.com/wordpress/2019/8/12/made-in-the-image-of-god

‘Owe Nothing to Anyone Except to Love One Another’

For faithful Christians who want to make sure the Lord is part of their important financial decisions, here are three worthy goals to keep in mind

Loving God with a Pure Heart Keeps Us Spiritually Fit

Too many of us have an obsession with physical fitness at the expense of our all-important faith — but we can fix that today, right this minute