Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Did Jesus Make a Mistake?

Scripture says that Christ was "without sin", but does that mean he made no mistakes? Are mistakes the same as sins? If not, it seems logical to expect (since He was the same in all other things) that Jesus made mistakes.

Assuming He made mistakes, what are some possible examples? Cutting a board too short while helping his father do carpentry? Bringing home the wrong material when his mother sent him shopping? Giving back the wrong change when paid for a job?

How about using words, phrases, and stories that would be misunderstood and misused 2000 years after his death?

The greatest of orators and writers are not capable of ensuring their words will communicate their thoughts perfectly -- because human language is inadequate to do so. Christ used Aramaic that was later translated into Greek that was later translated into English. Now, we quote it as Scripture (no pun intended), weigh each syllable, and deeply contemplate every verb.

- Did he make no rhetorical mistakes, including his use of words, terms, examples, hyperbole, etc.?
- Was his Aramaic technically accurate?
- Was he naturally an expert in the use of concise rhetoric?
- Were every one of his words miraculously "protected" by God to ensure exact translation of his thoughts 2000 years later?

Or is it possible that some of his preserved words include terms, phrasing, examples, hyperbole, slang, poor translation, etc. that should not be taken quite so literally?

Is it possible that the only message that is really important HAS made its way to us properly -- to love God and others -- and that many "Christian" dogmas are best attributed to the human (animal) instinct for tribal exclusion and survival?

Steve

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Deeds?

I was raised to believe that accepting Him was Christ's requirement -- not deeds. As I age, I'm not too sure about that.

In his portrayal of the day of judgment, Jesus pictured people from all nations gathered before him, separated into "sheep" and "goats." (Matthew 25:31-46) To the "sheep" he says, "Come you blessed of my Father, for I was hungry and you fed me..." In their astonishment they ask, "When did we do that?" and he answers, "When you did it to the lowliest of my brothers" (and sisters). Conversely, to the "goats" he says, "Out of my sight, you who are condemned, for I was hungry and you did not feed me..."

Sounds like "deeds" were what Christ used to separate the sheep from the goats -- regardless of the animals' theologies.

And then there was the Rich Man and Lazarus -- deeds again with theology not mentioned.

What about, "It's harder for a rich man to enter ..." (regardless of his theology)?

Christ spent a lot of time and effort teaching about self-sacrifice. He spoke little about following the right theology. So why do we have dogmas that reverse this pattern? Have we created a feel-good dogma that allows us to "have our cake and eat it too"? "Accepting", "believing", etc. are far different (and easier) than "self-sacrificing" -- yet such self-sacrifice for others is not only what Christ taught, but demonstrated by his ultimate example.

As we drive our nice cars, eat our steaks, landscape our yards, and "accept Christ as our Savior", we might consider the possibility that Christ's self-sacrifice was not only redempting -- but exampling. Perhaps his command to "Take up your cross and follow me." meant far more than to just "accept Me as your Savior".

Steve

What Do I Want For Christmas?

You ask me, "What do you want for Christmas? What can we give you this year"? If I say, "Nothing!" you buy something anyway. So here's a list of what I would like:

Pajamas for a little child, food to feed the poor.
Blankets for the elderly, and I'll ask a little more
Perform good deeds and let me know, or volunteer your time.
These last are worth a fortune, and they needn't cost a dime.

I have too many things now, vases, candles, tapes and clocks.
I have my fill of garments, ties, underwear and socks.
Candy is too fattening, games I've more than 20.
I don't need trays or plates or cups, and knickknacks I have plenty.

I have no walls to hang more pictures; I have books I haven't read,
So please take what you'd spend on me and help the poor instead!
Just send a Christmas card to me and tell me what you've done;
I'll open them on Christmas Eve, and read them one by one.

It won't cost as much for postage as a package sent would do,
You'll need no wrapping paper, ribbons, ink or glue.
And I'll thank God you listened to what I had to say,
So we could be the instruments to help someone this way.

- Unknown, but wise author

Steve

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coffee Cups

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us." God brews the coffee, not the cups..... Enjoy your coffee! "

The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything."

Live simply. Love generously. Leave the rest to God.

- Author Unknown (but wise)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Passing of the Torch

The passing of the torch from one generation to another results in a peculiar form of schizophrenia in the elders that few escape, including me. The "laughable stereotypes" of today were real and powerful behaviorial conditioners of yesterday.

We do not recondition very easily. I find myself having to rely upon my intellect to overcome certain elements of my conditioning quite often -- but, let's not automatically assume all that's "new" is better than the "old". This is not always the case.

In short, we should chose our path based upon the best available facts and not allow our tribal instincts and conditioning to have the last say -- regardless of our generational zeitgeist.

Steve

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Gospel

Oh death, where is your sting?

Oh grave, where is your victory?

Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Steve

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

There is only one sin.

Some say the worst and most common sin is the sin of pride--not relying on God. I disagree.

I think the worst and most common sin is the sin of being lazy and selfish. It appears to me that most people (including myself) choose to rely upon God when they should be relying upon themselves. They rely on God to help the hungry, when (with self-sacrifice) they could provide that help. They rely on God to help the poor, when (with self-sacrifice) they could do it.

They rely on God to do many good things and hope to vicariously benefit from it because they "prayed". This attitude makes it easy for us to rely on Christ sacrificing his life for us, but hard for us to take up our cross and follow his example.

Sin? I believe there is only one sin -- with many manifestations -- the failure to love (care for others).

Steve

Monday, December 11, 2006

Faith, Belief and Hope

There are fundamental differences between belief and faith. Belief relies upon the evidence, (such as exists for men walking on the moon). When the evidence is too weak for belief, but not too weak for hope, faith is an option. Belief does not require a choice. Faith does.

Steve

Friday, December 08, 2006

Your best shot!

Your best shot is the only shot you get. If there is a Creator, and if He's fair, then your best shot is all He will require -- regardless of where your bullet hit the target.

Steve

Friday, December 01, 2006

Motes and Beams

We can all sit back in our ego chair and judge people according to our own sliding scales -- but what right (and qualifications) do we have? Who are we to criticize other servants of God?

Do you know if they have an endocrine disorder? Do you know if they were sexually abused as children? Do they have severe financial problems? Do you know if they have ADHD, OCD, or chronic depression? Are they fighting alcholism or PTSD?

These problems (and many, many more) can result in behavior that self-righteous people can use to point fingers and call deficit. It is only by the grace of God such self-righteous people are not doing the same.

You say, "try harder". Hell, we've all tried harder -- haven't you?

Before we abuse, critize and accuse -- let's walk a mile in their shoes. Or, to put it in more Biblical terms -- let's manage our beams and leave other people's motes to their Creator.

Steve