Friday, April 6, 2012

Who are you?


I know you inside & out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot--far better to be either cold cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, "I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone," oblivious to the fact you're pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
Rev. 4:15-17 (Message Bible)

"God's kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidently found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic -- what a find! -- and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field. Or, God's kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
Matt. 13:44-46 (Message Bible)


So a few nights ago I was at the men's bible study. I made the comment that I do not believe for a second that Fred Phelps is a Christian. (You know who he is. He's the crazy man who leads the Westboro Baptist Church that goes around to funerals of soldiers saying that God killed them because of gays in America.) Some of the folks at the study said that I should be careful saying that because ultimately only God can know a person's heart. None of the people there were defending Phelp's actions in any way, shape or form. It was more of a caution to me to not presume things that only God can know.

There is truth in that. In fact, just recently I got into a conversation at work with a customer who I got a vibe off of that made me think he was a Believer. I found out I was right. However, I was totally stunned when I learned what church he attends. It is one of those "Health & Wealth/Name-it-and-claim-It" churches that I think are about one step away from total apostasy. I have an extremely difficult time with that sort of theology, because it strikes me as almost as foreign to the Gospels as Mormonism or Islam.

I guess it is just further proof that God can use what ever he wants for his kingdom & glory. I should not jump to conclusions just because I am put off by it.

However...

____________________

Most people who know me will say that I am a rather tolerant and not an easily offended person. In fact, some will say that I am often TOO tolerant for my own good. (This could be true, because I enjoy really disgusting jokes.) However, there are three basic areas that I do take great offense to. Often, I will get on my soap box immediately upon having that line crossed and need to be pepper sprayed to get down.

The first area is anyone or anything that takes the Jesus of the Gospels and distorts him for whatever reason. The second area is the bible. People who yank the bible out of context for whatever reason, OR do not take it seriously, really make me irate.

It is one thing to have legitimate disagreements over nuance, context and such. But before you can do that, you have to take the bible as being inspired by God. If you can't do that, why are you even bothering with it?!?!?! This issue allows me to be irate with both "Christians" who take the bible as word-for-word literal...which will take huge swaths completely out of context, AND with those who simply look at Scripture as being nice, moral fairy tales.

The third & final area that drives me crazy is the very use of the word CHRISTIAN. I find it fascinating that this term began as an insult by the pagan Romans, and has come full circle to be a bit of an insult all over again. (Although this time well earned and self-imposed in many respects.)

You see, the word "Christian" really doesn't mean all that much to me anymore. This is because it is thrown around so loosely.

Examples: Allow me to be truly judgmental and say; that idiot, Bishop Shelby Spong denies the resurrection, yet still wants to call himself a Christian. Hitler called himself a Christian from time to time. He used that term to justify his persecution of Jews. My Dad & I were at a hunting show once where Ted Nugent ("The Motor City Mad Man") was speaking. Ted referred to himself as a Christian to justify hunting and eating red meat. (Personally, I do not think this is an issue that Jesus loses much sleep over one way or the other.) In America, people will refer to themselves as Christians by default, because we live in a "Christian" country. (It says so on our money.) So no, that term doesn't necessarily mean all that much.

However, I still understand the root definition. So it does annoy me when people use it for what I would consider to be selfish ends...like a slimey politician. Plus, call me crazy, but when you wear Jesus as a label for whatever goals you are pursuing, I think that judgment could follow...and rightly so.

____________________

So this morning I was talking to a friend. He had made a statement using Jesus as a label to try and make a point a few days ago. He stated to his readers that he was a Christian. I was curious (And hopeful) about this because he had never said that before, and in fact, had repeatedly...and I do mean repeatedly, stated that he was certainly NOT a Christian. So it caught me off guard.

To be honest, I was not looking forward to asking him about this because I felt I might make him upset. Apparently I did. In fact, I guess I must have pressed a couple of those big red buttons on the console of his soul during our conversation.

You see, while he offered a "Retraction" of sorts, he then strongly encouraged me to cannibalize a particular part of another man's anatomy!

I thought about such a meal for a time. However, I had recently returned from a breakfast with the guys from Living Waters and so had already eaten. (My meal had already consisted of sausage, so...) Plus, I was getting ready to go to the gym, and you really don't want to do that on a full stomach. I declined this encouragement.


This surprised me. I was not offended in anyway. I prefer the truth. If you are a Christian, fine. Be one. If you are not, I'm fine with that too. Be one. On the Day of Judgement, no one will stand before me, nor is your argument with me. I will be standing in line with all of the other folks telling the Father that I am a desperate sinner who put my hope in his promise. That's about it.

____________________

I like to call myself a Communist, but I actually enjoy the Free-Enterprise System and am a stock trader on Wall Street.

I call myself a Hipster, but I only wear "Goth" clothing.

I tell everyone I am Jewish, but I am uncircumcised, eat pork & wear a Swastika.

I tell people that I am a Vegan...while I am eating a Big Mac.



I can wear plenty of labels when I think they are convenient, make a point, gain acceptance, etc.

But I prefer that people simply state who they are and live it out, come what may. I might not be happy with it, but such is life. I am inclined to think that YHWH feels the same way.

____________________

I cannot answer every question that a person has. I do not have an answer for all of the "Doubts" that people have. The bible is full of numerous passages that I cannot explain. They confuse me. I do not understand them.

However, I DO understand that a good deal of the time when these questions are raised, they are NOT legitimate. They are instead excuses. They are raised the same way that someone attempts to throw a wrench in the spokes of a bike. They are thrown out there because the person raising them has become uncomfortable with that little twinge they feel in their heart.

I have plenty of unanswered questions. I do not understand why I cannot get my checkbook to balance at the end of every month. I do not understand how Michelle Bachmann can keep getting re-elected to Congress. I have plenty of unanswered questions.

I have enough problems with much of the bible on my own. I do not wish to answer yours...especially when they are disingenuous. I cannot give a person an answer when they actually do not want one.

I do not have many answers. So I will simply trust that Jesus-guy. He is all I have. That is good enough.

____________________


Jesus used a lot of parables. He told his disciples that he often did this on purpose purely to confuse many of his listeners. If you had ears & eyes to hear & see, you could and would. If you couldn't & wouldn't, well...

He said that his kingdom was like a treasure hidden in a field. When a random person accidently found it, it was of such an amazing value that the dude sold every single thing he had to buy that field so the treasure would be his. That is how much the kingdom is worth.

Same for the pearl. It was of such value that nothing else mattered. Nothing else could compare to it.

Apparently, the kingdom is worth quite a bit.

Nothing else matters.


But there is also another interpretation of these parables.


Maybe the treasure in the field, and the pearl...is YOU.

Jesus found a treasure of such value, and a pearl of such beauty that he gave up everything he had to purchase it. He gave up his place in heaven to come to this stink-hole of a planet. He became flesh so that he could sweat, pee, have morning breath, eat, ache & suffer. He gave up his sinlessness to become sin itself. He let himself be killed...for YOU!

"For the joy set before him..."

But better than that. He was resurrected...for YOU!

Apparently, you are worth quite a bit.

So much so that nothing else mattered to Jesus.

Nothing else matters. Not your guilt, your shame, your addictions, your sex, your sex life, your lust, your politics, your money, your selfishness, your pride, your family & friends, your career. Nothing else matters.

But it will cost you everything.

Because it cost him everything.

But I think it just might be worth it.

Nothing else matters.



So, who are you?




I love the expressions on Keith Moon's face.

Peace

Joe

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