Madison Church

Navigating Nietzsche & Rediscovering Jesus | Suspicious Faith (Part 3) | Stephen Feith

November 13, 2023 Stephen Feith
Madison Church
Navigating Nietzsche & Rediscovering Jesus | Suspicious Faith (Part 3) | Stephen Feith
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered about the role faith plays in our lives, and how it impacts our decisions and perceptions? We've embarked on an enlightening journey, concluding our Suspicious Faith series by delving into the thought-provoking critiques of Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. Uncover how Freud's assertion that faith fulfills unconscious psychological needs, Marx’s view of faith as a painkiller, and Nietzsche's multifaceted critique of religion can refine and deepen our faith. 

Venture further with us into Suspicious Faith as we study Nietzsche's impactful teachings. Challenge yourself to see faith not just as a spiritual shelter but as a philosophical guide to life. As we dissect Nietzsche's assertion 'God is dead' and his concept of Ubermensch, we find an unexpected parallel with James, Jesus's brother, who also urged Christians to be proactive in doing good on earth. This episode will help you embrace the essence of both philosophies - the pursuit of truth and the drive for self-improvement.

Lastly, our exploration leads us to the concept of following Jesus. It may seem intimidating or uncertain, but we encourage you to keep engaging, learning, and questioning. Faith isn't about having all the answers but about the journey towards a deeper understanding of divine values. We believe that this pursuit can lead us to a robust, empathetic, transformative faith. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, this episode will provoke thought and stimulate your mind.

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Speaker 1:

Good morning and welcome to Madison Citroen Line to our online audience. I'm Stephen Feith Leap Pastor. We're so grateful you're joining us and want to extend an invitation to you to join us sometime soon. Today we're concluding a series called Suspicious Faith and for the past two weeks we've been doing something really weird. We've been diving into the thoughts and beliefs of well-known, respected classical atheists and we've been looking at their critiques of religion, of faith, of Christianity, the things that you and I believe. So far we've looked at Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx. Today we're going to look at Frederick Nietzsche. If you're new to us, you're watching and listening online. This is your first episode ever. You're like why are you exploring the thoughts and beliefs of prominent atheists right here at church? The Bible is a big book. I'm sure you could have found something in there to talk about. Well, one I'm sure. I'm sure you were going to talk about the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Also. It's a fair question to ask why we're doing this series, but the answer is straightforward. It's simple. These atheists, their critique of our faith and beliefs. They're uncomfortably true a lot of times the things that they're saying. It's just not true. You look at it and you've got to admit, you've got to be humble enough or at least objective enough to say, yeah, there's some truth to that. If there's truth to it and, mind you, your friends who don't share your faith, who don't share the belief in Jesus, these are the things they're talking about. If they're talking about it and other people are talking about it, and they're not wrong why would we be scared to talk about it here? Not just scared, but we should talk about it. We should talk about it. Just recapping just a little bit to get you all caught up to speed. Freud suggested that our faith fulfills unconscious psychological needs. Freud was really big at that childhood trauma. Then we plug things in very subconsciously. If we want the God of justice Freud would suggest that growing up there was a lot of injustice in our lives we create God in our own image. If I grew up without love, well then I really want God to be the God of love, to fulfill that childhood gap in my life. Again, once again, we're creating God in our image. But what we pointed out is Freud would be right if God was like that. Freud would be right. But God isn't always like how we want him to be. As a matter of fact, we broke down how God's love and justice and holiness won't always comfort us God's love is justice, as holiness can actually cause discomfort. It can be challenging, for example, when God says I want you to love your enemy like you love your own children, and for those of you don't have children, you're like a dog, mom or cat, mom or dad or whatever it's like. I want you to love them like that, and that is deeply challenging. That's not easy. That that goes against what brings us pleasure. Last week we talked about Karl Marx, and his perspective forced us to examine the role of religion in society. He famously called religion the opium of the people and he highlighted it's potential use for control and for Marx. What he said was our faith in Christianity essentially just helps us like numb out and just get through today. Today is rough. Well, you know, I still got God. God is with me. And you know what, even if my life sucks, even if it's a terrible life, something, I'll die and go to heaven. And Marx says well, you see, like that doesn't necessarily make God true and, as a matter of fact, what that belief does is it keeps you from doing anything good, because it turns us inward, it's all about my pleasure and me getting through it. And then, if we can all just collectively do that, we get together in groups and the community like this and let's just all numb out together and not actually help the world. But what we learned last week was well, that's not the gospel of Jesus, that's not what God asks of us. God actually challenges us to not just be pain relief, to not numb out, but to be irritants and To go against the grind and to stand up against injustice and inequality. And today we're gonna learn about Nietzsche. Nietzsche doesn't have just one stream of thought here. Whereas Freud was like this is all about childhood and pleasure and Marx was like this is about numbing out, nietzsche has several different streams and several different critiques of our faith. But before we get into Nietzsche, it's essential to remember that the critiques of these atheists that we've learned about it doesn't negate or Invalidate your faith, like if you leave today with less faith, I have done something critically wrong. Okay, these people can't help us because they invite us their critiques. If we're secure and safe in what we believe, their critiques invite us to do a self-examination. What do I believe? That isn't actually of Jesus and I kind of just picked it up along the way. I don't really know why, maybe it was veggie tails, some Sunday school teacher. Something happened along the way where I picked up a weird belief that actually isn't of Jesus. It sounds good, it sounds biblical, but it's not. And so we're gonna dig into this and we're gonna just seek the truth. And that's a safe thing to do, because Jesus declares he is the truth in John 14 and 6. So if we pursue the truth and if we find truth, we're pursuing Jesus and we will find Jesus, and that's all we're. I'm trying to do in this series is seek the truth. And so if you do find something throughout this series that isn't truth, it isn't of Jesus, and you're better off for us doing it. Listening to outside voices even those who don't share our faith or critique, does or doesn't People who don't share our faith or critique our beliefs it has Benefits. My faith has personally been made stronger of people who didn't agree with me. My faith has been made stronger with people who thought differently of these things. When I first found faith at a Baptist Church, their thing was it was all about Jesus, and you guys have heard me say that a lot over almost 10 years here, so you can see that that part really stuck with me. But it really was. It was all about Jesus. It was all about dying to yourself and following Jesus and it wasn't always like luxurious this definitely wasn't. You're not gonna be healthy. It wasn't you're gonna be wealthy. As a matter of fact, I think in some respects they might have gone too far in that they were like this is really gonna suck. It was kind of how they pitched. Following Jesus, like you're gonna pick up your cross and every day is gonna be hardened, and there's elements and bits and pieces, that's true, but it doesn't. It doesn't all suck and so but I do remember like, okay, I'm dying to myself and what the world says I should do is not what Jesus says I should do and I have to make a Decision do I rise to what Jesus calls me to or do I fall to the level of the earth? And I had to make that choice and I've not made it perfectly, but that's always kind of like okay, been challenged. After my family moved to northern Illinois, I started going to a Pentecostal church and I learned a lot at a Pentecostal church about the Holy Spirit. We didn't talk about the Holy Spirit at the Baptist Church. I didn't even know there was a third member to the Trinity. We moved to this Pentecost or we moved to this new town. I go to church and I learned about the Holy Spirit. I learned about passionate spirituality. There were people they love God. They really are passionate about what they believe. I learned about spiritual gifts and how spiritual gifts can actually help us Help other people find and follow Jesus. The things that we talked about at the Baptist Church, which was like find Jesus and and follow Jesus and it's all about Jesus. Well, I learned that the Holy Spirit is a tremendous Help with that. I learned that at that Pentecostal church during my time as an undergraduate this is gonna maybe press some of you I had a professor. I had one professor I did most of my educate my Bible classes with and I also had a pastor. These are two different people and they were staunch Christian pacifist. Staunch Christian pacifist and I mean, to this day, two of the smartest people I've ever met, two of the smartest believers I've ever met. As a matter of fact, when we were doing this series, I reached out to the old pastor because I was like I remember him doing something similar and I said, hey, what book were you like, ripping off to do your series? And he recommended the one that I turned around and bought and so he's one of the smartest. But they were Christian pacifist and what I learned from them is challenging one. I was like they're really, really smart, like they've got this whole thing built out and it's really hard to disagree with and justify any sort of violence if you're a follower of Jesus. It was. It's very compelling. But not just that. What I learned from them is like first it was all about Jesus died to myself, and then it was I learned about passionate spirituality and we're gonna do that. And then here it was like we got to live this stuff out and in their mind it was non-violence, it was non-resistance. But what it taught me was like discipleship is radical. Discipleship requires me to do things that blow my mind and completely I just don't have spaces for that. But what I think I learned the most from those guys is that Jesus's love doesn't make sense. Jesus' forgiveness for his enemies it doesn't make sense. The grace we extend to people, it doesn't make sense in them when you think. Well, if somebody breaks into my home or somebody were to jump me on the street, I'm gonna do this, this and this, and then you contrast that with Jesus, who had those type of things happen to him and he died for those people. And he didn't just die for him. He hangs on a cross and he says forgive him. And I'm not trying to convert you to Christian pacifism, that's not what this is. But at the point I'm trying to make is all of these different perspectives and these hard things that I didn't agree with and don't agree with all of it or bits and pieces of it. It's just you're grinding up and you're learning more about Jesus and each of these people. They understand something about Jesus, about faith, about what we believe, that I didn't see before. And so these atheist thinkers, they're doing the same thing for us. We don't know them They've been dead for a hundred years but they're doing the same force. They're looking at Jesus' faith, spirituality, god and the Bible through a completely different lens than we are, and we can learn from them. And I'd like to point out that, even though it was not their intent, your faith will grow because of their contributions. So, and today we're talking about Frederick Nietzsche. He was born in Prussia. That should sound a little familiar. He was born in the same place as Karl Marx, which is modern-day Germany. I got a picture of Mr Nietzsche. How cool is that mustache, can we just? I saw that pop up and I thought that's a man's man right there. What a guy. And you know what. He could back it up. He could back the mustache up. Multi-talented individual, he was a philosopher, a cultural critic, a poet and a linguistic type of person. Linguist, I think, is the right way to say that. Somebody said yes, so thank you for the affirmation, even if I'm wrong. He was actually raised by his mother and his sister. After his dad, who was a Lutheran pastor, died early on in his life. Nietzsche earned a PhD at the age of 24. He thought he wanted to be a professor. Turns out he hated that, and so he quits working in the university and does other things. Like Freud, nietzsche suggests that true motives they do hide deep inside of us. We may not even be aware of our true motives because of how deeply they're buried in our sub and unconscious, and so they come out later in life in the form of God and of religion. Like Marx, nietzsche highlights the societal influence on needs and desires. And he also compares religion to a drug that's just supposed to numb us out. And, as I mentioned, nietzsche doesn't have just one complaint of religion, of the faith. He has multiple streams. And what I can appreciate in studying Nietzsche is that there were parts of Freud. He was like yep got that. And then there were parts of Marx yep got that. And then Nietzsche says both of them, you all haven't gone far enough. And if you get into Nietzsche and you read it a little more, he still says that they have faith, they have faith in philosophy, they have faith in the enlightenment. And so Nietzsche turns the tables on them and he says you have faith in a God called the enlightenment. And Nietzsche's whole thing is like you don't have faith in nothing, we're just going to destroy it all. You can see why university didn't work out for him Young kids coming in with a bunch of hope and dreams and just drove them absolutely nuts. And his views on morality. Nietzsche argues that and this to me it's a substantial for him in his era, a substantial point, but in our era it's kind of common sense. But he argues that the more personal sacrifice a moral code demands, the less enthusiasm it generates. It's common sense, right? If something sucks, you don't want to do it, and if something's good, you're like, yeah, I'll do that. And so, when it came to faith, nietzsche says you know how people choose what denomination, what church they go to. They go to whichever one they like. They don't go to the ones they don't like. You know which parts of Jesus they listen to, the parts they like. You know which parts they don't listen to, the parts they don't like, the parts that they find difficult. Okay, yeah, that's true, we know that. You know that that's something we've got to work through. But at the time that was like groundbreaking. People were like, oh shoot, we do do that, don't we? And yeah, we do. And then he has this kind of idea that morality has to change depending on your culture, where you're at, where you're at in time. So someone in India needs to have a different set of moral codes than someone who lives in the United States. Nietzsche famously proclaimed God is dead. It signified his belief that the influence of religion was also dying. And actually he comes to this point and saying that God is dead because he says you're so like heavenly minded, you're just so then and there, you're no use here on earth and now. And so then, in playing on like how important here and now is and when something's dead here and now it doesn't matter anymore, he says, well, you know what matters here and now, then and there doesn't matter. So God is dead. You keep looking at that in there, but God is dead and start turning your attention to here and now. It's a very antagonistic thing that he was trying to do. It was effective. And then he introduced the Ubermensch concepts. He proposed this, as Superman is what he proposed this, an alternative to traditional religious values. The Ubermensch, an individual. You create your own values, you do whatever you need to do, you develop your own religion, come up with your own values, your own rules, all of that. If that sounds like postmodern philosophy, which is very popular in the last 40 or 50 years, it does, and Nietzsche was 150 years before that. So you really a deep thinker. Here and now let's dive in. So we've heard his critiques You're too in the sky, you're in the clouds, you're not any good here, you're ineffective. So what do we do with that as Christians? Because we know it's true, right, you know Christian, I mean, it would never be. You, right? You're listening, watching online. It's never you. You're never too forth thinking. But those other Christians, those people who aren't in the room right now, you know them. They're always thinking about these other things, the end times, the rapture, life thereafter, and it's all about then and there. It's not about here. Nothing matters right now. It all matters what's going to happen. It may surprise you that the brother of Jesus, james, would actually agree with Nietzsche. He would actually agree with Nietzsche, and he does call us out. He uses almost the exact same words that Nietzsche uses. He just there's a critical difference. We'll talk about it. But James calls out Christians who are not doing any good here on earth. James writes what good is it to your brothers and sisters If you say you have faith but you don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister with no food or clothing and say goodbye, have a great day, stay warm, eat well, but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough, unless it produces good deeds. Unless your faith produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Nietzsche and James can have a conversation and agree mostly. Now you will notice the critical difference is that James will say your faith is dead, not God, because what I do or what I don't do doesn't like objectively state that God is alive or gone. If what I did makes God alive or what I don't do makes God not alive, makes him dead, well, aren't I greater than God? Because I hold the power of God's existence based on what I do or what I don't do. So James is a little closer. He says no, what we think, what we do, it doesn't affect God's existence, but it certainly says something about your faith. It certainly says something about your faith. Now that does not mean that you are saved, that salvation is gifted to you based on the things you do. This is a common misconception. We can read that passage and say oh, I'm saved by doing good things and a lot of good things, and I've got to do more good things than bad things. That contradicts most of the New Testament. It contradicts a lot of what Paul writes. As a matter of fact, it contradicts this passage in Ephesians 2 in which Paul states God saved you by his grace when you believed, and you can't take credit for this. It's not based on your good works, it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for your good deeds, so none of us can boast about it. Not seems contradictory, right? Because James is saying, well, faith without actions, without doing good things, is dead and useless, and Paul is saying, well, you're saved by grace. They seem contradictory, but they're not. They go hand in hand. See, paul is declaring in Ephesians 2 that salvation, eternal life, is given to you because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. So there's nothing you could have done. As a matter of fact, he's writing to the Jewish audience and he says think of the Old Testament. Right, we talk about this. Think about Leviticus, all these rules that you should have followed. You couldn't follow. And even if you did all of that perfectly, you still couldn't have saved yourself. We needed Jesus. That's Paul's point. Even if you could have, you couldn't have. But you know what you tried and you still didn't. As such, we needed Jesus. We needed Jesus to live the life we should have lived. Jesus died the death that we all deserve. Now he came back to life. He overcame death, he overcame sin, so that we can have a life like we never had it before. And this is where Paul says salvation comes from. This is the gift for you. Now James clarifies, says yeah, yeah, yeah, paul, that's cute, okay. James comes in and says you know what, paul, you prayed to my brother but I pushed him down as kids. So he's like who are we going to believe here? So James clarifies, he says look, I knew what my brother meant. Jesus' life, death and resurrection should absolutely, fundamentally change how you live today. If you have this faith that Paul has talked about, this salvation, this gift from God, it changes you from the inside out. You can't live how you were living before in the past. Spiritually, the Holy Spirit is at work with you. When you make that step and you say I'm going to follow Jesus, the old life is gone, the new one is here. The Holy Spirit begins working in you, changing us and making us more Christ-like. But it's not just spiritual. There's this word in the New Testament that means repentance, that's what we translated as and it's metanoia and metanoia. When we see repentance, I think in our culture, in our society, we think you get, you know, at the end of the day, you fold your hands, bow your head, you close your eyes you say dear Jesus, forgive me for saying those bad words. Dear Jesus, forgive me for cutting that person off today. Dear Jesus, I'm so sorry for this. I'm so sorry for that. And that's what we think repentance is. It's just not biblical repentance. That's not at all. Metanoia was about changing your mind. It had profound significance. So in the Old Testament, when Jesus says repent, he's saying change your mind, change the way you think, change your mind. Don't be so self-centered. Change your mind, become me-centered, become Jesus-centered. Metanoia signifies a profound change at the heart and at the level of our mind. And so when James says faith without works is dead, he's saying you might have faith in Jesus, but if it was a true faith and a living faith, we're seeing a change. And it's not just a spiritual change, he's saying. It's a metanoia type of change. It's a changing of what's happening in here. So our spirits change. The Holy Spirit, it's this gift from God. But then it's search to change our minds and, as such, as we're thinking different and our souls are changing, what we do is different, and it all starts with Jesus, as James implied. Metanoia extends beyond spiritual transformation. James is saying don't just keep your head up in the clouds, don't just be about then and there. James is saying there's a lot of work to do here and now. And come back down to earth, because your faith should show tangible expressions of love and compassion and justice to those around you, and if it doesn't, your faith is dead. Now Nietzsche doesn't just say their heads are in the clouds and they're no use to us here on earth. He also challenges our values like meekness and humility. He actually develops a term he calls slave morality. Okay, slave morality. This is not a good thing. In case you're curious, this is a very bad thing from his viewpoint. Embracing meekness devalued your human experience on earth. Why would you want to be meek? Why would you want to be humble? Why would you want to be generous? Doesn't that mean you're not living for yourself and you only got one life? So take as much as you can take and make as much as you can make and get ahead of the other one. And if you don't do that, you're putting yourself in slavery, you're putting yourself in bondage. And at this point there's an obvious contention between what Nietzsche thinks and what Jesus says and Jesus teaches. This is a contention. There's no other way to put it With Freud, it was like well, you know he's saying this, but this isn't really what we should think. And with Marx it was kind of the same thing Well, he's saying this, but this isn't really what he thinks. When it comes to this point, with Nietzsche's philosophy, we make a choice, you have to make a choice. Do we follow in the footsteps of Jesus or in the footsteps of Nietzsche? Because Jesus promotes humility, jesus has blessed her, the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. While Nietzsche and his critique of Christian morality would see this emphasis on humility as contributing to the devaluation of your life on earth, jesus regards humility as a virtue that leads to spiritual blessings and the promise of the kingdom of God. Wildly different interpretations. Jesus teaches if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. This teaching of non-resistance and turning away retaliation conflicts with Nietzsche's emphasis on the will and the power to overcome challenges. So he had a slavery morality. He also had a master morality, of course. And you want to be the master, you don't want to be the slave. And so, turning the other cheek. Masters don't do that. Who does that? Slaves? Because they have to. And Nietzsche would say make a choice. Do you want to be the master or you want to be the slave? As Jesus is advocating for turning the other cheek, and he shows us what forgiveness and reconciliation looks like, things that Nietzsche thought were weak. And building on that, jesus goes a little step further. He doesn't say just turn the other cheek if they hurt you. Jesus goes a step further. He says love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Well, nietzsche would hate that. I mean, he's throwing up somewhere right now in his grave. I mean, just honestly, nietzsche is all about strength and being the master and putting yourself ahead. And here Jesus comes on the scene. He says don't just turn your other cheek, don't just do something, but inside you, I want to see the change Inside you. I want to see you love your enemies. Inside you, I want to see you praying blessings over their life. Jesus teaches a radical form of love in doing so. Well, how come Jesus's teachings are so different than Nietzsche? In his own words, jesus says seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, whereas Nietzsche declares the death of God and he would reject the idea of seeking any sort of spiritual, transcendent kingdom. Jesus calls for the prioritization of it. Jesus says prioritize these divine values, and he suggests a fundamental difference in their perspective. Now the thing is, is all of these teachings that Jesus has right now humility, turning the other cheek, loving your enemy these are spiritual principles, right, but they're not strictly spiritual things, spiritual habits, spiritual disciplines. Jesus brings it down to earth. He gives practical examples of what humility looks like and what loving your enemy looks like. Before Paul writes, before James writes, jesus is demonstrating with his life what it's like to have a holistic health. It's not just about spirituality and then and there, it's about here, now and what I do, and you're gonna see I think different, you're gonna see I act different. All because, spiritually, this is what's going on. And so, yes, jesus's teachings, that challenges us to nurture our souls and pray and contemplate. But those things should change our lives. It should change the places we go with our feet, the things we do with our hands, the words we say. It changes the way we interact in our relationships. It's not just spiritual, it's emotional and it's physical, it's holistic, and we should bear fruit in both realms. And so Nietzsche critiques us. You know, you know earthly good. Nietzsche says you're too weak. That's not good either. You only have one life. But Nietzsche advocates for that radical shift, which is that you come up with your own code of conduct. You live however you determine best, and how you live will be different than how your neighbor lives, and how you guys live will be different from the town and state over, and how they live will be different from the East Coast to the West Coast and and the rest of the world. And and you do, you boo boo right. I mean, that's essentially what Nietzsche is saying. Just develop that. Again we come to a point where Jesus disagrees and we get to choose. Which path are we gonna follow? Who are we gonna believe? Jesus says to its disciples if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way. Take up your cross and follow me, because if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? You know, whereas I mentioned the past few weeks, we've been able to say they're right, shouldn't be this way, it was never meant to be this way and and, brothers and sisters, let's get it right this time. It's a matter of belief. It is a matter of conflict, because Nietzsche is telling you to do the exact opposite thing that Jesus tells you. Nietzsche says find your own way. Jesus says, no, give up your own way. Nietzsche says put people on the cross. Jesus says I go to the cross. And so there's this conflict and the question then for all of us as we land this series and end it, move on to something else, do you side with Nietzsche, who would say that really, the goal of life is to have your own authority and autonomy and to put people under you? Or do you adopt the view of Jesus who says I willingly will go under you, I willingly die for you, I willingly go the extra mile for you? Will we put up our own cross? Now, a side note let's remember that often what we think is Jesus isn't Jesus. So if the prospect of giving up my life to follow Jesus, if that sounds terrible to you, I wanna push against that. Maybe it's not Jesus, because following Jesus isn't just the best decision you're gonna make in your life, there's gonna be some really great things that happen because of it. So don't judge Jesus because of some weird thing. You saw someone else do someone out somewhere down the line. Okay, in week one I challenged you. I used the mirror. I said look inward. This isn't about becoming suspicious of the faith of your friends or your Facebook friends. It's not to be judgmental. And I get really good and I'm holy and I'm different and look how awesome I am. This whole series has been about you and just looking inward and becoming suspicious of yourself. What parts of my life are following Jesus and which parts do I need to sacrifice and get rid of? Last week, I challenged you to throw I literally threw puzzle pieces around. I got real excited about it and throw your puzzle piece on the table. There's this image, there's this puzzle that can only be completed if all of us throw our piece in. You can't be two pieces, just be the one piece. God made you to be and participate by getting on the table. And so this week I still wanna challenge you. Continue to look inward, continue to be suspicious about what's Jesus, what's not. I want you to consider your peace and how you can contribute in different ways. But today I just wanna remind you that God's love for you is just unconditional as you are, and nothing can change that. So look in the mirror or don't, and consider your peace and put it on the table or don't, but Jesus' love for you is unchanging. It's unchanging and nothing can make him love you more and nothing can make him love you less, and I hope you get tired of hearing me say that. Listen to how Paul says it. He says I'm convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor fears today, nor worries about tomorrow. Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below. Indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Paul said just think about everything on earth, go low, go high, go left, go right, think of everything, think of the wildest things, think of the most powerful things, and nothing can make God love you less, because God is love and God is perfect and God's love is perfect, and if it's changing, that means it's imperfect. For God's love to be perfect, it has to be unchanging, and Paul says that's the kind of love that he extends to you. So, as we get to the end of this series, I just wanna remind you of that. I know that there are things that you are like I need to do this or I need to stop doing that, but I just wanna remind you the foundation in which we stand on and the foundation in which we walk is the love of God. And second, you don't have to strive to become perfect. I think that some of you feel that. I know I feel that. But we don't have to strive to be perfect. It is easy. We get together in a church gathering, we listen online, we hear all of the things that we should be doing better, that we could be doing differently, and we think, well, I gotta get to work and I gotta get all of this figured out as soon as possible, and I do think there's a lot of value in looking in and making changes. Okay, I do that every week. Okay, challenge application do something ready, set, go see you next week. But I just wanna remind you that we're not striving to be perfect for the sake of being perfect. As a matter of fact, you are already holy, you are already set apart. Don't believe me. Believe the author of Hebrews who says God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory, and it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader fit to bring them in to their salvation. So now Jesus in this next part underline it and the ones he makes holy have the same father. Holiness is our identity. Holiness is who you are. You're set apart. You can't become holier. It's just not possible. You're either set apart or you're not. And because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, if you have accepted this gift of salvation and you're following in the footsteps of Jesus, you're already set apart, and it's not because of something you did or because of something you didn't do. Holiness is now your identity. Paul states it's by faith you are saved. And once that occurs, jesus changes us. You are made holy, you are set apart, and then the work James talks about begins to happen. It's full circle. And again, how did we get here? Going back to John 316. For this is how we know God loves the world. He gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world not to judge the world but to save the world through him. And so, for those of you who have been walking the path, keep moving forward, knowing that you're special, you're set apart and God loves you. And if you've kind of veered off course a little bit, consider this an open invitation to jump back on. There's always room for getting back on, rediscovery and a fresh start. That's the kind of love that Jesus extends to all of us. For those of you who haven't decided to follow Jesus, you're not quite sure where you're at on this. Take a moment to think about it. Today could be a new day, a new beginning, a new story, a new chapter, a new aspect of your life. And if you're someone who you're still unsure of who Jesus is, you're not sure you wanna follow him. You think nature has some more points that I didn't bring up today, and he does have more points that I didn't bring up today. But you're still not sure about Jesus and you don't know if you believe Jesus is who he claimed to be. My ask would be to keep engaging, keep showing up. We're glad to have you here and we value your perspective and we love you.

Exploring Critiques of Faith by Atheists
Exploring Perspectives on Faith and Morality
Faith, Works, and Nietzsche's Challenges
The Teachings of Jesus and Nietzsche
Considering Following Jesus