Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Christian friend feels cut off from family

A friend asked, “I have been divided off from the rest of you due to my beliefs. What do you think of this?”

I think you can believe whatever you want to believe. I think that everyone is doing the best they know how. That’s good enough for me.

The difference between me and most Christians today is that they use scripture to determine what love means, but I use love to determine what scripture means.

Jesus taught that we should love God, and our neighbor as our self; and that all the Law and the Prophets depend on that. The Law and the Prophets (and Psalms) were all of the authorized scriptures of Jesus’ day. By extension, the same thing applies to all the authorized scriptures of today – including the Bible. Understanding it depends on love. Love is the key to understanding.

The English version of Deuteronomy 6:4 usually leaves out a word included in the original Hebrew: “Hear you, Israel, Yahweh Elohim-of-us, Yaweh [is] one, AND-you-love Yaweh ….” In the original message from God, the phrase “God is one” is integrally connected with the command “love God.”

In John 17:3, Jesus makes a formula statement: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God ….” For the rest of the chapter, he expands on that, praying that we be one with him. He culminates in the ecstatic statement in verse 23, that “they may be brought to complete unity (or perfect oneness).”

So, I think that Jesus teaches love and unity. Out of that core message, he warns of divisions or denominations.

It seems obvious that people want to feel the world is safe and their lives are stable. Anything that doesn’t fit with their nice, neat worldview meets with strong objections and defensiveness, even violence. “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matt 10:36  

In fact, when someone starts speaking about something that isn’t nice and neat, most people will ignore him, turn their backs on him, avoid him, interrupt him, and even rescue others from a sensitive topic by talking loudly over the top of the speaker. We can’t have a civil argument, because people are so fragile and defensive, even actively seeking to misunderstand. Vigilant defensiveness. Divisiveness. Resisting knowing more and even anything different.

But divisiveness is not Jesus’ message. Division is the reaction against Jesus’ message.

So, what do I think? I think people use scripture to justify what they are doing. 

Instead, I accept preemptive forgiveness. I use love to guide what I am doing. I seek first to understand. Then I seek to be understood. And, if someone wants to be my “enemy,” they can do it without my participation. - Christopher


1 comment:

  1. I have to be honest, I've become so turned off by religion that I'm no longer able to find spiritual relevance in Jesus or any other religious deity. Perhaps this is due to my utter disdain for Trump supporting evangelicals. Perhaps it's because I don't believe in the notion of a soul that survives the death of our human selves. Perhaps it's because I don't believe in virgin births or resurection or heaven or hell. I don't think we need these things to love one another or create a shared moral foundation of right and wrong. I don't have much respect for those who place their faith in an eternal heavenly afterlife and use that faith as their basis for doing the right thing in this life. Isn't enough to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do?

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