Monday, December 26, 2016

11 Ways Jesus Fought Patriarchy

Patriarchy is the system of a society which grants a male perspective, power and principles greater pull than women’s, even though both are equally human.  In the Jewish tradition Jesus grew up in, both equality between sexes and a male-centric view was available, but his society was focused on the male.  Only men were granted places of authority, only men were allowed to interpret law (which gave them control over politics and ethics), and men alone were allowed to conduct family business.

It must be admitted that Jesus upheld the patriarchy at points.  Only men were allowed to be in the inner 12, and he allowed men to buster and command as if they were really in charge of his community.  Nevertheless, there are a number of ways that we can see that Jesus was trying to undermine the male-centric society.

1.  Jesus took on female disciples
Jesus was running a religious/political school, and there were some rules about how these schools worked, one of which is that no female students allowed.  They would distract the men, and women wouldn’t be allowed to interpret the law or wield influence (If you aren’t sure on this, watch Yentl).  But Jesus welcomed female students.  There was a small group of women who “followed” him just like the male disciples.  And Jesus openly encouraged Mary, the sister of Martha, to participate in his teaching sessions, saying, “She has chosen the better part.”

2. Jesus defended women over men
While a teacher might approve of something a woman said, in a patriarchal society they wouldn’t support a woman over a man, because this would shame the man.  Jesus, however, publicly rebuked men when they were on the wrong side of an argument with a woman.  Jesus sided with the woman anointing him over his disciple, Jesus even sided with a prostitute over a high-standing politician in the politician’s own party.  In fact, we have no example of Jesus siding with a man over a woman. 

3. Jesus promoted "feminine" virtues over "male"
Most teachers of Jesus’ day upheld the principles of law and justice in judgment was the most essential principle.  Jesus, on the other hand, upheld the more “feminine” or relational, gentle virtues.  He told the Pharisees to learn this verse: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  He spoke of love, humility and compassion as the principles which causes one to be right with God and to build a spiritual community on.

4. Jesus defended “non-feminine” roles for women
Jesus found himself in an argument between two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Martha insisted that her sister not be lazy, but to take on her proper role in the patriarchy, which was to serve the men.  Jesus took Mary’s side, claiming that her role of being a student is better than her traditional female role.  I’m sure Martha was fuming that she didn’t have help doing the dishes.  If Jesus had been on the ball, I’m sure he would have sent Judas to help her.

5. Jesus taught equality between husband and wife
In Genesis, there are two creation stories of the forming of men and women.  One supports men and women being equally created and unified in marriage.  The second promotes patriarchy, teaching that women were created from the “side portion” of men.  Jesus never mentions the second story, but quotes the whole passage of female equality in relation to a matter of divorce, in which women got the worst end.

6. Jesus kicked the businessmen from the woman’s court
It was the policy of the high priest of Jesus’ day to allow people to exchange image-filled money with temple-approved money for sacrifices.  But Jerusalem was short on space, so the high priest allowed the money-changers to conduct their business in the “women’s court”, which was the only part of the temple women were allowed to worship and pray in.  Jesus threw the businessmen out, changing the high priest’s policy, reserving the space of women’s worship to be for them.

7. Jesus called himself a mother hen
In his sorrow over Jerusalem, Jesus proclaimed, “How I longed to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks.”  Not a great blow for feminine equality, but his heart is in the right place.

8. Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery
The famous story about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is often placed in the book of John, but it doesn’t really belong there.  Some old manuscripts place the same story in Luke, but it doesn’t really belong there, either.  We don’t know where it goes, or if it’s really something Jesus did.  But we think it sound like something Jesus would do.  Why?  Because he defends a woman, who was “caught in adultery”, but the men who brought her didn’t bring the other culprit she was caught with.  Again, Jesus in this story promotes the female principle of forgiveness over punishment.

9. Jesus gave a woman primary place in his gospel
There is only one person whom Jesus guarantees a place in his story: the woman (some say Mary) who anointed his feet and who got yelled for it.  Jesus said, “Wherever the gospel,” (gospel =  good news of victory) “is taught, what this woman did will be told.”  This woman’s act is central to Jesus’ victory over the society of the world.  Partly because it was a woman who did it.  Without women, Jesus recognizes, his story would never be told.

10. Jesus recognized a woman’s gift over the wealthy
In looking at the givers to the Temple, Jesus recognized one person over the rest—a woman who had no standing in society, no way to make money because she had no husband to stand for her.  She gave a small coin, but because it was all she had to live on, Jesus proclaimed her gift the greatest.  (He did not, however, say it was just, as he rebuked those who collected the money as “devourers of widow’s homes.”)

11. Jesus’ first resurrection witness was a woman

The greatest thing for woman Jesus did was for Mary Magdalene.   She was the first--and for a while, only—witness of Jesus’ resurrection.  This was in a society in which woman couldn’t be a legal witness, where men didn’t have to believe women’s testimony.  But Mary was the one Jesus trusted to tell the story without twisting it.  No matter what, every man who told the story had to admit that a woman knew about Jesus’ resurrection before anyone else.  That she had to tell them, because they were in the dark.  This is a fitting beginning to a society built upon equity.

Too bad it fell from that lofty position so quickly and firmly. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Seven Kinds of Misfits in the Christmas Story

Mary, Joseph and Jesus,
known by Joseph's family as the
Unholy Trinity: "slut, wimp and bastard"
There isn't a single Nativity story, but most of the story is found in two sections of the Bible: Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2.  If there is one theme that runs through this story, it is that the soon-to-be-born and newborn Messiah, king of the earth, attracted the most unsavory people.

1. An adulterous wife
Mary, the mother of Jesus, received a great "blessing" of a pregnancy from God... the blessing of being accused of an unfaithful slut.  She was already engaged to Joseph, a trade-worker, so when she shows up pregnant, it's clear that someone wasn't following the rules. Frankly, under the rules of first century Palestine, she could have been stoned to death.  Her (soon to be) husband kept her from this fate because he was...

2. A mystical wimp
Joseph didn't want his fiancee killed, he just wanted her drama to go away.  That is, until he got a dream about an angel.  He didn't even get a face-to-face like his woman, he just had some spicy pizza and dreamed up an angel telling him to go ahead and marry the slut.  He even told the wimp what to name the kid when he was born.  He woke up and said, "Well, I know what to do now."  Really, how many people take their nighttime fantasies as commands?

3. A Communist
Mary decided it was a great time to hang with her cousin in the country, and while she was there she was singing communist propaganda. She sang about revolution and the proletariat taking over.  She also sang about communist deeds like feeding the hungry and taking possessions from the rich.  She was a real party-goer, that Mary.

4. Judgmental family members
We know that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem.  But he had to go there because that was his family home.  He didn't try to go to an "inn" but to a "guest room" that his family home had for visitors.  The room was "full", meaning they didn't have room for a socialist pregnant slut that their wimpy nephew decided to hook up with.  They can go out into the stables.

"Now we know what the frankincense and myrrh was for."
5. Smelly homeless people
Shepherds, back in the day, didn't smell like mothballs or the back of a church closet.  Rather, they smelled like sheep.  Take  a wool sweater, get it wet, roll it in some dirt and grass and then stick it in a box for a month.  NOW you know what shepherd smells like.  These "workers" just hung out with sheep, trying to find someone's lawn for the animals to chomp on.  So everyone within a hundred miles of every flock (read: everyone) hated these wandering guys who liked sheep a bit too much.  For some reason, the angels thought these were the guys who needed to see the great King pop out from a vagina.

6. Nasty Old Fanatics
When Jesus' parents brought him to the temple to have his foreskin ripped off his penis with an ancient "knife", two old people accosted them.  First was Simeon who was "told by God" that he would see the Messiah before he died.  Perhaps he knew the day was coming and just picked out a likely looking male baby and declared his allegiance to that slobbering, wetting-himself King.  Then eighty four year old Anna "who never left the temple" to like eat, or anything saw Simeon fawning over the brat, so she had to have a piece of the spiritual action.

7. Slackers
Those "wise men" we hear about?  They were actually astrolegers, who saw a sign in the stars about the king to be born.  So they decided to pop over and see the king.  Only problem?  They lives in Persia, and cars weren't to be invented for a couple thousand years.  So they hoofed it, not having anything better to do, which took them a couple years, so the kid wasn't a baby anymore, but a toddler.  Meanwhile, they got the attention of the local king (read: serial murderer). and gave him the kid's whereabouts.  Then the bums scooted out of time before the genocide began. If it wasn't for another vision of the wimp, the toddler king would have bit the big one.

The whole point is this: the King of Jerusalem, the Teacher of Love, the Jewish Emperor of Heaven, the Son of God... or the Nazarene Bastard, whatever you want to call him... seemed to have a habit even before birth to hang out with people who had less-than-pristine reputations.  Maybe he wanted to have a community made up of the same, you think?  Perhaps he picked up his mother's communist tendencies?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Notes on the Judgment of Jesus

When Jesus returns, he will meet with each one of you Christians personally. He will stand before you and you will gaze at him in amazement, for he will look like an oppressed person you know.
Jesus will be the Muslim woman, Jesus will be the homeless man, Jesus will be the drug addict, Jesus will be the black felon, Jesus will be the gay man, Jesus will be the Native American whom you met drunk, Jesus will be the mother on welfare, Jesus will be the Syrian refugee.
And at that moment, Jesus will give back to you what you gave to the oppressed person. If you gave that person hope and help, so will Jesus give to you. If you gave that person hatred and judgment, then that is what you will receive.
Following Jesus is loving those in need, whether you think they deserve it or not.

-"Judge not lest you be judged; the measure that you measure so you will be measured"
-"Forgive and you will be forgiven, condemn and you will be condemned, give and it shall be given to you"

On the surface, these principles of Jesus sounds like tit for tat, a karmic principle.  However, Jesus is actually giving someone the opportunity to step out of karma, just as Buddhism and Hinduism attempt to do.  Rather than giving according to what someone deserves, Jesus is presenting two forms of judgment and giving the listener the option to be judged one manner or another.

Jesus is spelling out two different kinds of moralities and measures—one of karma, and one of grace.
Grace is the act of forgiveness, the act of charitable giving.  You give but receive nothing back (a sense of well-being, perhaps, a hit of seratonin, but no outward benefit). 

Karma is the act of giving only what is due; of judging when a person deserves to be judged.  This is the principle of eye-for-eye, what you give is what you get.   Forgiveness is not karma because to forgive is to wipe away a debt, while karma is to pay it back.  

Jesus is saying that a person will choose which system they will be judged by: karma or grace.   His statement about judgment is best understood to say, "The manner in which you judge is the manner in which you will be judged."

The next question is what kind of action determines if we have chosen a judgment of grace or of karma?  Jesus’ method of determining our choices is how we approach the poor and oppressed.  We have no automatic responsibility for the poor or oppressed like we would our family or people who have done us benefit.  Those who, on a regular basis, show generosity to the poor or oppressed display their commitment to a lifestyle of grace. 

We see Jesus himself committed to helping the needy, and he commands us to do the same, in order to obtain a reward from God.  The judgment story of the Sheep and the Goats clearly teaches this, but there are hints throughout Jesus’ teaching, such as the reward for giving someone a cup of cold water.  Jesus also sent out the apostles to represent the poor—without bag, money or extra provisions—to test towns in order to see if they would be generous or not.

The other test to indicate if someone is committed to grace or karma is the sinner test.  Will the general approach to sinners be that of judgment or forgiveness.  Forgiveness is, in a sense, the clearest act of grace.  A person does you wrong and the karmic action is to judge or to condemn them, possibly to prosecute them.  Forgiveness is not deserved, and is in fact the very definition of not being deserved.  To give someone forgiveness is to offer grace.  To have a habit of forgiveness is to walk in a lifestyle of grace.

In the parable of the forgiven servant in Matthew 20, Jesus makes this clear that to forgive is to choose to be forgiven, rather than living according to one’s merits.  To forgive is natural part of a request to be forgiven. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jesus on Church Discipline

“We are facing the greatest challenges of our ethics and faith. People will try to undermine our faith, our mercy before God.
"But think about their fate, for a moment. The person who has a two-ton truck tied to his neck and then is allowed to drop to the bottom of the ocean—that person’s fate is better than the one who targets God’s children to attack them.
"So take care for yourself! Be merciful instead of judgmental!
"Instead of judging your companion when they screw up, tell them to straighten out. When they apologize, whichever way they do, treat them like your sibling, not like an outsider. Even if he screws up, in the same way, seven times in a single day, forgive them, just like you would your sibling.
"They are family, after all.”
-Jesus       (Luke 17:1-4)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Missed Lesson

Ministry is harder than anyone thinks.  It’s a 24/7 operation, without enough time to eat or sleep properly.  “It’s time to take a break, guys,” Jesus said to his disciples.  He knew of a campground he could use in the woods, so they headed off there.  Unfortunately, some of the crowd heard where they were going, so they drove there ahead of Jesus’ ministers.   A lot of them.  Frankly, the campground was filled with people.

“Damn,” said Philip.  “There goes our break.”

Jesus saw their need, and they were so desperate for some guidance.  So he mingled through the crowd, speaking to some, praying for others.  After a day of this, Jesus’ ministers caught up to him, “Hey, Jesus.  These folks must be hungry, huh?  Let’s send them home so they can eat.”

Jesus looked at his group and said, “It’s our responsibility to make sure they eat.”

They said, “But we only have what we brought for the retreat!  Just some bread and meat for sandwiches!  To feed them would require thousands of dollars!”

Jesus sighed.  “Remember when the children of Israel were in a remote place, without food?”  Jesus stopped and looked at their blank faces.  “Here, give me the bread and meat.”  And Jesus began making sandwiches.  After he put together a hundred of them, he gave them to John, “Here, you give these to that group over there.”  He kept handing sandwiches to the student ministers to hand them out until everyone had eaten.    Then Jesus gave a teaching to the crowd and sent them away.

During the teaching time, the students counted the crowd and there were about five thousand there.  When they collected the leftover sandwiches, there was enough for each student to take one tub home.


Another day, after Jesus had argued with a council of preachers, Jesus told his students, “Beware of the byproducts of the preachers that infect the good bread.”

The students discussed what Jesus meant by this.  Some speculated that it was because they hadn’t brought enough food with them.  They should have bought more.

Jesus’ mouth was agape.  “How could you not get this?  How many lessons must I teach you?  You are sometimes so dense! When you counted five thousand people, how many sandwiches were left?”

“Twelve tubs.”

“And when you counted four thousand, how much food was left?”

“Seven tubs.”

“Don’t you  get it?  Food isn’t the issue!  God will always provide food!  He’ll make sure that everyone is fed, even through us, no matter how little food we seem to have.  That should be the least of our worries.  Rather, we should be concerned about the leadership of the church that teaches hate and judges the people God called them to serve!  Don’t be like them—claiming to be of God but lacking the love of God!”

Then they understood that he was talking about the leadership of the church, and not about sandwiches.

Mark 6:31-44; 8:11-21

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Scripture Reading

In a local church, a travelling preacher was given a Bible passage to read to the congregation.

He said, “Isaiah 61, beginning at verse one.”  He cleared his throat and said,

“God has granted me his Spirit of power and authority
To encourage the poor with news of their victory:
Let the prisoners free from their cells!
Let victims of illness be given healing!
Let the abused be delivered from their oppressors!
Let every debt be wiped off the books!
Let the celebrating begin!”

He closed the book and then stood before the congregation, gazing at them.  “Today,” he said, “this passage is happening.  Right here.  Right now. “

-Luke 4:17-21

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Embezzler

Recently, an attorney at Debt Masters, a local collection agency, found out that one of his managers was cheating the business. Of course, the manager was fired, but he was given to the end of the day when he would be given his final check.

The manager considered quickly, recognizing that he would soon be without a job and homeless, because it would be difficult for him to find another job. He refused to live on the streets, so he quickly came up with a plan.

He looked up all his clients who were living in Portland and gave them a call. His conversation went like this:

"Hi! This is Jed from Debt Masters and I have good news! The company is cutting your debt in half! The only requirement is this: The company may ask you to house a clean, polite man for a week sometime in the future. If you agree to this we can take thousands off of our debt!"

Although some hesitated, most leaped at the opportunity to reduce their bill. The attorney who supervised him found out about his scheme and he couldn't help but shake his head in admiration at the manager's ingenuity, so he gave him a job in his law office instead.

"Even so," said Jesus at the end of his story, "have ingenuity like this manager. If you have resources or money, give them to people who act mercifully to the poor so they will reserve a room for you in heaven. Some of you will never get there otherwise."

-Luke 16:1-9 (SKV) (really, if you know your Bible, look it up, that's what he said!)

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Did Jesus Say about Eternal Punishment?

A summary of Jesus’ teaching:
  • Punishment is given after an evaluation of one’s deeds.  Every person will be evaluated and they will be sent to reward or punishment depending on what one has done.
  • Eternal suffering was originally prepared for the devil and his angels, others enter there because they assist in the devil’s acts, namely judging and hurting those in need and causing people to sin.
  • The kinds of evil one has done to go into hell are:
  • a.       Lawlessness, i.e. a lack of love to those who suffer in this life
  • b.      Oppression, i.e. hurting an innocent person or ignoring a person in suffering
  • c.       Hypocrisy, i.e., acting judgmental when representing the God of love
  • d.      Stumbling blocks, i.e., causing the innocent to do evil
  • Angels, at God’s direction, sends those who did evil acts into punishment.
  • Everyone suffers, either now or after death.
  • The body and soul is destroyed in the place of punishment.
  • The suffering after death is physical (involving a body) and it is torment, not light.
  • Words such as “fire” or “gnashing of teeth” are symbols.  The reality behind the symbols is being outcast and suffering.

The texts:
Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’  Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:41-46

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.   Matthew 13:41-42

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ Mark 9:43-48

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:22

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried,  and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Luke 12:5

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.  You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Matthew 23:29-35

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36

Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:25-29

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:45-51

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:26-27

So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13: 49-50

If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.  If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire.  Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. Mark 9:42-50

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. Luke 10:15

What we do not know:
How long is the suffering?
What does the suffering consist of?
Is the suffering toward redemption?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Yesterday in Portland and Beyond...

Yesterday a pastor in Portland died. He was well loved in the community, was very popular and was known as a good speaker. He lived comfortably with his wife and children. He will be missed.

At the back of his church was Lazarus, a homeless man, often without a coat and eating from dumpsters. It used to be that the pastor would walk by Lazarus every night, pray with him, and ask him when he was going to quit drinking. But he never gave him food or allowed him to sleep inside the church, because that would be "enabling."

It so happened that Lazarus also died yesterday. He was taken to Jesus, who fed him well and cared for him. The pastor, however, was taken to be punished. The pastor was allowed to see Lazarus and he prayed to Jesus, "Lord, this punishment is severe! Couldn't Lazarus come over and give me a little help?"

Jesus replied, "Unfortunately, it isn't allowed for Lazarus to give you any more help than you offered him in his life. Justice requires him to be comforted now and for you to be punished for your damnable apathy."

The pastor prayed again, "Lord, would you please send Lazarus to my congregation! They need to know the truth!"

Jesus replied, "The one good thing you did, pastor, is to give your congregation Bibles. They just need to read my words without the blinders you set on them and they will see this truth clearly. That's the only visitation from a Risen One they need."

Luke 16:19-31

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Beatitude Living

Jesus was poor.
He gave up his profession, his home, his family to accept a life of wandering, of not knowing where his next meal was coming from, of depending on the Father for all his needs.

Jesus was poor in spirit.
He sought out those of greatest need in his society and met those needs.  He reveled in relationships with the outcast, and gave up his comfortable lifestyle to find them.

Jesus mourned.
He wept at suffering, his own as well as others.  He wept at the limitations that kept people from thriving.  He wept at the systems that kept people oppressed. 

Jesus was meek.
He spoke boldly, which led to his incarceration.  He acted out truth, which led to his condemnation.  He was silent about his own innocence, which led to his death.

Jesus hungered and thirsted for justice.
Jesus taught his disciples to cry out for justice in the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus acted for justice in small towns, in the wilderness, in the midst of a busy temple, before the governor.  Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus hungered.
He fed the thousands before eating.  He spoke to the outcast woman and was satisfied.

Jesus was merciful.
He saw, really saw, the poor.  And then he acted, meeting their needs although he had nothing to give.

Jesus was pure of heart.
Jesus wasn’t a teacher who spoke of love but hated.  He never took advantage of another, but always gave. He didn’t just speak the truth, he acted it. 

Jesus was a peacemaker.
He met needs.  He comforted.  He showed that the “enemies” of the people were often friends of God. He created a community of love.

Jesus was persecuted.
Jesus was rejected.  Jesus was threatened.  Jesus was hated.  Jesus was beaten.  Jesus was tortured.  Jesus was killed.

For all this, Jesus obtained new life.

A second chance of life is only obtained through the path of Jesus.