Jesus Could have Given up

Something I heard on the radio made me think. Jesus had the power to stop the crucifixion.

When I was dragged before the kangaroo court and bombarded with racist accusations (covered in Canadian “politeness”) I had no power to stop the process which ended my career in ministry.

Jesus, however, had the power to stop the unjust process which led to Mount Calvary.

Jesus loved so much that the pain, torture, lies, bigotry, religious zeal, humiliation and conspiracy became nothing in comparison to what the willing sacrifice for completely unworthy humans would achieve – the rescue and salvation of the murderers!

Jesus had the power to give up on us. God, however, set aside power in favour of love, deep compassionate kindness.

I have been thinking on this, how the people who name Jesus on their lips exercise power over others, making decisions that harm them, using religious regulations and procedures which are devoid of Scripture. After all, for organized religion the Bible is incomplete and religion has to add to make it “complete”, which really means the justification to use power instead of love. Godly love is not good enough when acting religiously.

The Bible is set aside for any reason, especially when the Bible says: “an expert in Moses’ Teachings, tested Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses’ Teachings?”
Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All of Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets depend on these two commandments”
(Matthew 22:35-40 God’s Word©).

Jesus also stated: “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other” (John 13:34-35 God’s Word©).

Your religion does not prove your faith in God. Court procedures do not show obedience to Jesus. Degrading believers, even if you do it calmly (perhaps even with a smile), is not evidence of submission to Paraclete.

Empathy, love, deep compassionate kindness, passion for true justice even when it is inconvenient is the identifying mark of a disciple of Jesus.

And when you meet those who do not, or will not, act according to the command of Jesus, then, as Jesus did, love them, even when they have no love.

“But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 God’s Word©).

Free from the Past

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

When something bad happens to us we ask, “Why?”. We also ask, “What did I do that God is punishing me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Let’s face this lie right off the top. Bad things happening do not mean God is punishing us, as though God is a mean and abusive parent. There are many reasons why bad things happen, some of which are: our own stupidity (driving fast on an icy road); overeating (heart attack); people do evil things (incest); a government may serve the few only (famine); the earth is active (volcanoes and tornadoes); etc.

Courtesy of ChristArt.com

I am often drawn to the military metaphor. I am a front-line soldier and may be cold, wet and miserable. Now the General is not picking on me, punishing me for some reason. The General is fighting a war, and that means sometimes the soldiers will be in great discomfort, even die, for the campaign to move forward to success over the enemy.

The suffering anyone of faith may experience may be for the benefit of someone else, or merely part of the overall strategy to overcome the world!

I will give a very short version of an example from my own life. A group of religious people, whom I had served, turned against me and committed great evil against me. That evil, however, rescued a number of people who used to be a part of that group leading them to escape the whirlwind into darkness and find a rich, new spiritual life. Deeper than that, the religious congregation sinned against Jesus Who withdrew from them (they had lost their First Love, Revelation 2:4) and so what I went through was trivial compared to two other things: the risk they entered in turning against God; the sadness God felt that the group scheduled to lead a local revival had so utterly failed the Saviour.

It’s about ME!

It is arrogance to think that my suffering or persecution is about me. I am not the General. The big picture is outside the scope of my vision.

Faith trusts Creator has a plan, is working the plan, and will succeed.

I pledge loyalty to my Sovereign Saviour – my choice, my life, for the love of God that extends to the whole world and not just to me!

Submission

Too often culture, more than discernment through The Spirit, determines how Jesus followers follow Jesus.

For example, most believers know that Paul wrote, “Wives submit to your husbands.” Some even know it also says, “Husbands love your wives.” The outcome of this tidbit of information is the religious teaching that the husband is the boss, and wives can become, in actual practice, little more than unpaid servants.

I observe that the words to wives are found in 5:22-24, 33b. The words to husbands last longer, verses 25-33a.

What is more important is that the function of marriage, husband and wife, is a living metaphor for Christ and the Church (mentioned 5 times!). If anyone simply takes these words as a sociology of the family they stand rebuked by the very passage of Scripture they seek to use to justify injustice. The conduct of the wife (not women in general) is a witness to how Followers of The Way should walk humbly. The conduct of the husbands is a witness to the unsurpassed love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for humanity, to love mercy. Together these proclaim the testimony to God’s love for mercy (all this being what we read in Micah 6:8).

In other words, despite the cultural impulse to the contrary, these words are not about gender, but about God, who made marriage as a witness to the intimacy of the Creator with the creation.

Even further, these words are part of a bigger scheme to walk humbly in which children honour parents, and parents act to avoid provoking children to anger.

Even further yet, Paul goes so far as to say the conduct of slaves and owners who belong to The Way witnesses to the same relationship described by the metaphor. Slaves obey in a humility that calls out how we serve God. Owners are also reminded of humility, for God is their Boss Supreme.

All this is not about family or society, but that Believers are to live and breathe and relate and function in every way at all times to promote the Good News.

Neither…Nor

As an academic I learned that there are times when such knowledge makes it easier to grasp the meaning of parts of the Bible. In the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) the meaning is at times clearer than in a translation.

Yet, to find a way to point out an emotional or culturally based doctrine is usually frustrating. People would rather cling to their belief structure than learn the way of God. Read more…

Prayer Learning

Prayer does not change God’s mind – it changes ours. (eg. Abraham and Sodom, during which Abraham kept changing the limits of his request until he finally gave in to God completely, in Genesis 18:17-33.) Read more…

Everyone Will Know

Many (most?) Christians express confidence in their loyalty to how they worship God, the congregation they belong to or the denomination they subscribe to or their self-righteous declaration of freedom from all gatherings of believers. Read more…