AZspot

blue bits. red rocks.

jesus

Imagine you are back in high school or college and the prettiest or most handsome person, the one who is intelligent and witty, outgoing, the one everyone wishes they could have as their boyfriend or girlfriend comes to you and says, “I want you to know that I really find you attractive, in fact, I love you. I love you so much, so deeply, it astonishes me. I want to be with you forever, you light up my life, you are the reason I exist.” Wouldn’t that be just amazing? One of the reasons for the popularity of romantic comedies is that the boy/girl is in these circumstances and they end up with the one they so desire. Imagine spending your life with such a person who was absolutely devoted to you, who loved you with an undying love, who cared for you in ways you could not imagine or dream in your wildest dreams. Now before you could respond with a “Yes” or a “Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!!” suppose they went on to say “But I also want you to know that if you will not love me in return I will make your life a living nightmare, a hell on earth. I will spread rumors and lies about you; I will trash your home. I will make it my life’s goal to punish you in every way possible if you won’t accept my love for you.” Wouldn’t you go to the authorities and at a minimum get a restraining order on such a person? Sure you would. Who wants someone this obsessive to ruin their life? Then why is it that Christians tell essentially the same story with regard to the way God loves the world? We say God loves the world but if God’s love is spurned we will be punished with an everlasting punishment. Where can one take out a restraining order on this kind of a God? Job had trouble with this kind of a god and three times in the book of Job he threatens to file a lawsuit against God. Sadly, most of what Christians think and believe about God is exactly the opposite of what Jesus believed and taught about his abba. Michael Hardin

Sad to say, most Christians still think more like John the Baptist than Jesus. Christians have lived a long time with a God who is retributive. We say that God is perfect and thus has the right to punish those whom he deems fit. We say that God will bring his righteous wrath upon all those who reject God. We say that God can do what God wants because God is God. All of this logic is foreign to the gospel teaching of Jesus about the character of his heavenly abba. Jesus does not begin with an abstract notion of God or Platonic metaphysics, but with the Creator God whom he knows as loving, nurturing and caring for all persons regardless of their moral condition, their politics, their ethnic background or their social or economic status. God cares for everyone equally and alike. Michael Hardin

Approaching the subject from a fresh, historical perspective and without appealing to sensationalist stories or dismissing Jesus’ sexuality on theological grounds, Le Donne places Jesus firmly within his sociocultural context. By investigating gender and marriage norms – as well as a number of social outliers who defied them — he provocatively argues that Jesus might have been married before he was thirty years of age. Le Donne then points to several indicators that suggest that Jesus was a sexual non-conformist and probably was single during his public career. It is a quest that illuminates the humanity of Jesus, while also revealing important connections between ancient sexuality and modern spirituality If You Are Truly Interested in the Question of ‘The Wife of Jesus’…

The Bible is not the Word of God. It never refers to itself as such. According to the New Testament, Jesus is the Word of God. The Word of God is a person, not a collection of texts. The documents that make up the Bible contain words of God and inspired words about God written by people who encountered God in various ways. The grand mistake made over the last 500 years has been to substitute the text for the Word. This inevitably leads to a well-intentioned Phariseeism, a subtle idolatry. It can also, paradoxically, lead to a reluctance to honestly and rigorously examine the scriptural texts. What (or Who) is the Word of God?

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

Right at the same time that Christians were calling Jesus “God” is exactly when Romans started calling their emperors “God.” So these Christians were not doing this in a vacuum; they were actually doing it in a context. I don’t think this could be an accident that this is a point at which the emperors are being called “God.” So by calling Jesus “God,” in fact, it was a competition between your God, the emperor, and our God, Jesus. When Constantine, the emperor, then converted to Christianity, it changed everything because now rather than the emperor being God, the emperor was the worshipper of the God, Jesus. That was quite a forceful change, and one could argue that it changed the understanding of religion and politics for all time. Bart Ehrman

…if we don’t let Jesus himself teach us to read the Scriptures according to himself, then our Christian faith will be lost. The story of the Flood is a prime example. Christ came to show us who God truly is. So we should be able to understand that gods who command genocidal floods are the gods of old — the gods who in every culture command a good and sacred violence to stop the flood of human violence. The God who places a rainbow covenant in the sky — precisely as a promise to never try to solve the problem of violence by inflicting more violence — is the God we meet in Christ. God on the cross suffers our violence. From Noah to Easter

To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have declawed the lion of Judah and made him a house cat for pale priests and pious old ladies. Dorothy Sayers

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

No one ever went to get Christ, and He knew that the world wasn’t and will never be ready for Him. With every intention of wooing His bride, He never stumbles into Love. His deformity is His perfection, so alien to our wasted state. When He left Earth, His death wasn’t His cover-up to keep him at a safe distance to live forever brooding in his creative reservation. Christ’s physical death and resurrection proves that the separation from the lover and the beloved is merely optional. Acknowledging these differences reminds me of how ludicrous it is to try to make Christ figures out of tragic heroes, lonely monsters, and misfits. Without the earthly means to interpret the human suffering of Christ, people run the risk of reducing Him to the shiny baby at Christmas, a felt board character, a personal Jiminy Cricket, or one more guy with impossible expectations. Yet by identifying with my first tragic hero in this cult classic, I began to contemplate how absurd and alone my savior has to Be in order to love me. From Tragic Hero Worship to Loving a Suffering Servant

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

Focus on individual sayings … tends to reify them as statements or principles or precious nuggets of wisdom abstracted from the contingencies of historical life. Tellingly, standard study of the historical Jesus is specially concerned about the transmission of particular sayings, as if they were precious objects being “handed (down)” from one person to another. The resulting picture of Jesus is as a revealer who, unengaged with concrete historical life, utters one-liners. To have become a historically significant figure, Jesus must have communicated with people, particularly his followers. But it is difficult to imagine that anyone could communicate merely in individual sayings. Richard Horsley

Jesus and his followers lived a common life with common resources. It wasn’t Marxism, specifically, but they were practicing a type of communism. The problem wasn’t in the communism itself – it was in the deception, thievery and gluttony that Judas surrounded it with. Judas was practicing austerity and Jesus was putting him in check – reminding him of his thievery, warning him that he knew what he was doing. Judas was stealing from the common funds. In response, Jesus was Occupying. Judas Practiced Austerity; Jesus Occupied

You are inherently, objectively, totally, and forever a daughter or son of God. You cannot gain that or lose that by any achievement or failure whatsoever. God doesn’t participate in the honor/shame system. Christianity’s role is always to tell you that you are objectively a child of God! Our primary job is to keep proclaiming the true identity of things, and not to create contests whereby some few can attain their identity—if they are good enough. But much of religion has bought right back into the honor/shame system. All we did was change the cultural rules to religious rules. Now there was yet another way to be superior—by being pious, publicly religious, and “moral” about one or two things which are usually not central issues. Yet Jesus’ teachings against status-seeking and building up religious reputation tell us again and again, “Don’t go there!” (Examine Matthew 6:1-21 and Luke 18:9-14.) Richard Rohr

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

A GNT creation ©2007–2014