Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Generous

The generous one is not just the giver of the pocket, but the giver of the full self.

The generous soul is welcome to all kinds of sinners, and is ready to forgive them all.

The generous one is merciful and provides for any who have need, no matter what evil they have done.

The generous ones are not concerned with being infected or harmed, for they trust in Him who protects them.

The generous one does not mark time, only the ability to love.

The generous one is honest, laughs, and takes joy in those around him, for in experiencing joy in those around him, they experience joy in themselves.

The generous one does not give by the handful, but by the truckload.

The generous one does not believe in scarcity.  She never fails to give out of her stores of goods or of soul, for the Lord will always provide more.

Two Burdens

Jesus' yoke is easy and light. If our yoke is too burdensome, then we are probably carrying two yokes: Jesus' and our own.
Jesus' yoke is to always be merciful, always be forgiving, always be generous, always to make peace, to heal the broken, to welcome the sinners and to take time to rest, giving our worries to Him.
Our yoke is to live in fear, to protect and defend, to hate the sin and the sinner, to earn a living, to obtain the proper education, to be clean and properly dressed, to make God's people pure, to pour our energies on those whom we have never met, to live a lifestyle we have learned from the world-- and to do everything ourselves, to show ourselves to be independent.
He isn't here to help us carry our yoke. Rather, he is offering to trade us ours with his own.
Let's lay down our yoke and focus on Jesus'.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Summary of Jesus' Teaching for Agnostics (and others)

Yesterday a person in my church said to me, "I just don't get it.  There's all this stuff that I just can't accept in the Bible and it just doesn't make sense.  I believe that there is whatever that created us and that's God.  But the rest of it doesn't make sense."

He makes a good point.  There are so much nonsense in Christian Theology.  We can get caught up in details that are just silly.  Specifics about eschatology, heaven and hell, the nature of God, Christology, soteriology and worship certainly can easily block people from a simple understanding of the basic truth of Jesus.

So I am going to make an attempt to get Jesus' message down to the very basics.  This isn't the message of the Bible, nor the message of Christian theology.  Rather, these is the most important truths Jesus expressed that agnostics might appreciate.

I understand that if you are a Christian reading this I will have certainly skipped your favorite theological axiom(s).  I'm not really sorry about that.

1. There is a God no one knows
Jesus says that everyone has got their own ideas about God, but the only one who knows God is the one who has been up to heaven, which discounts pretty much everyone we have met.  God is ultimately mysterious, and much of what we understand about God is understood in the negative.  (There is nothing God cannot do, for example.)  The main relationship between a human and the unknowable God, according to Jesus, is active respect to God and following the correct ethical path.

2. Some agnostics are on the right path.
Jesus wasn't opposed to people questioning the truth.  Questions are good.  In fact, the people who seem to have the most mix-ups are those who don't question that which they should question, those who are so caught up in tradition, doctrine and ritual that they can't see the truth when it's right in front of them.  Jesus believes that there will be some agnostics praised by the Creator who didn't even know they were on God's path.  Jesus doesn't separate people by Christian or otherwise.  There are those who do what is right and those who do wrong, whether they are agnostic, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or otherwise.

3. The World is full of injustice
Many people are without clear ethical direction, and this causes deep suffering and oppression in the majority of humans. Almost every human being is both the victim and cause of suffering.  We are in need of direction, a place to escape oppression, and the power to enact change.

4. There are two kinds of human ethics
Jesus calls these two paths Mercy and Judgement.  Mercy is the path that is found through our brain's mirror neurons, in which we see the other as ourselves.  Judgement is the path of anger and enmity, which our mind places certain people so that we see their opinions and ideas as always in antithesis to our own.  Jesus says that the main ethical task of humanity is to always choose the path of Mercy over the path of Judgment.

5. Judgment
There is a place for judgment.  Our brains understand this as karma, or reciprocation.  Every human deserves either good or bad, according to whether they do good or bad.  Jesus affirms that reciprocity exists, but that it is the place of the universe to hand out reciprocity, that our human minds are too limited to property see even one human beings place in the scale of reciprocity.  While we need to recognize and correct the bad, we should not do this by acts of harm or hatred.  To enact our rage upon another is to place us into the "bad" category of karma, and so the universe must act to punish us.

6. Mercy
Jesus says that we should instead focus our efforts to love others, which should be the ethical atmosphere of all of our actions.  To "love" is to benefit those whom we have contact with (directly or indirectly), and this benefit will differ depending on the specific context we are in.  The most basic form of love is to do all one can to meet a person's need, especially if they are harmed or oppressed.  The extent of love is without limit, even enacting mercy to those who do not deserve it, or those whom we do do not wish to give it.  To live a life of mercy is to ultimately be delivered from harm and oppression.

7. Sacrifice
Even as there are people who seem to only wish to enact harm, bringing oppression and suffering wherever they go, so there must be people who do the opposite, enacting mercy to all, no matter what the cost to themselves.  Most people live harming some and helping others, but if the world is to escape the cycle of suffering and oppression, we must have more and more people willing to give up everything they have, do and are to give mercy to more and more people, especially those who desperately need it.  Without these people, the world cannot escape being a place of suffering.

8. Power
No human is able, on their own, to be a person who always enacts love and refuses to harm.  Jesus claims that the power to escape one's own suffering and to be a person who loves is found in prayer to the Creator and accepting invisible gifts of energy to be applied to a life of love.  In the end, release from suffering is discovered in mysticism.

In summary, this is what Jesus said is "good news".  Do you agree?  How do you see the universe differently?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Greed Isn't Good

There are many ways to fall into greed. Watch out for them, because they will kill you faster than any doctrinal error. (Luke 12:15)

Greed is the entrepreneur who saves for his future, but doesn’t give to the poor. (Luke 12:16-20)

Greed is the wealthy man who steps over the homeless daily without giving them a thought. (Luke 16:19-21)

Greed is focusing on theology and not on creating justice or giving mercy to those who need it. (Matthew 23:23)

Greed is collecting money instead of relationships that will open the door to God’s kingdom. (Luke 16:9)

Greed is making excuses when a poor person asks you for help. (I John 3:17).

It is anytime you keep for yourself instead of giving to someone who is worse off than you. (Luke 12:33)

Greed isn’t good. Greed kills.