Posted by Roberta Grimes • October 02, 2021 • 40 Comments
Book News, Jesus, The Teachings of Jesus
“Please God, make me good, but not just yet.”
– St Augustine of Hippo (354-430), from The Confessions of St. Augustine (400)
The problem with every attempt ever made to inspire us to be better people is the fact that none of it changes us. We might try to be good and loving and forgiving, and if we try hard and keep at it we might even begin to see ourselves that way. But it always will be an effort from without. It never becomes automatic, from within. No law ever changes who we are inside! Back in sixteenth-century London, while they were hanging pickpockets in the public squares there generally were people in the watching crowds who were busily picking pockets. And in twenty-first-century Christian churches, where people profess to be followers of Jesus and they often hear the Lord’s words shared, there still are many who are quick to judge and smugly feel themselves to be superior to those they consider to be sinners.
And think of all the people who have thought themselves to be good and virtuous as they carried out the most horrendous acts! Blaise Pascal, the great seventeenth century French physicist, said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Only consider the fact that the thousands of bureaucrats who murdered six million Jews during the Second World War went home at night and hugged their families. And the people who legally owned human beings two centuries ago in the American South were for the most part sincere Christians. We modern folks feel morally superior to the perpetrators of American slavery and the European Holocaust, but we have no right to feel superior! There are more slaves living now in the world than there were at the time of the American Civil War. And in China, good people are carrying out a new Holocaust of religious minorities that includes the live-harvesting and sale of their organs.
I often hear from former Christians. Many of them say they were once devout. They still love Jesus, and they want to keep Jesus while freeing themselves from Christianity, so when they come across some article or video of mine which invites then to begin to follow the Lord’s Way, they reach out and thank me. Most of these folks find traditional Christian teachings to be no longer believable; and many of them add that they can no longer bear the frank hypocrisy of so many church members who follow none of the Lord’s Gospel teachings on loving, forgiving, and never judging. But, why is that? why can’t even practicing Christians let the Lord’s words change who they are?
Until we can solve this problem, all of civilization will be just a veneer over the frankly barbarian me-first mindset that always has ruled humankind.
Although, as you know, we have lately learned that one set of rules does have the power to change us internally if we will take them seriously. Christians don’t take the teachings of Jesus as more than maybe nice suggestions; but when those rules are zealously applied, their power to actually raise our consciousness vibrations is amazing. But the problem is that so few people know what the teachings of Jesus can do! And with Christianity’s off-putting dogmas in the way, even practicing Christians don’t take the Lord’s teachings as seriously as He means them to be taken.
As I have been thinking about this problem, Thomas has led me to reconsider my least-favorite words of all the surviving words that Jesus ever spoke. For most of my life I could ignore that whole passage! Jesus tells us we have to hate everyone we love if we want to follow Him? I use to put that passage right up there beside “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” as an obvious later fraud that should be chucked at once. But unlike all the end-times, church-building, sheep-and-goats, and other bits of anachronistic nonsense that First Nicaea added as they assembled the earliest Christian Bible, that troubling passage from the fourteenth Chapter of Luke has no obvious fraudulence tells. It appears appropriately in context, and the English word “hate” could easily have been a mistranslation for something milder. “Disdain,” perhaps? Jesus knew that hatred is the lowest consciousness vibration, and He taught forgiveness as a primary virtue, so it would have been against everything He taught if we were to replace our love for anyone with hatred! And an included reference to carrying a cross is a frank anachronism that can be ignored. So with those changes, I have been freshly reading the end of Luke’s Fourteenth Chapter, and I am stunned to realize that it is in fact a very powerful teaching. And actually, it is precisely the answer to the problem of humankind’s inability to change.
Here is what Jesus said: “Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me, and does not disdain his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. … For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (LK 14:25-34).
Where else have we seen that bit about tasteless salt? It follows the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (MT 5:13-16). Jesus is here calling for us to put forth the effort to actually grow spiritually, and thereby to become the salt of the earth and the literal light of the world. He seems to be telling us that unless we grow spiritually, we become the equivalent of tasteless salt.
And where else have we seen Jesus urging us to give up what most matters to us so we can follow Him? When a rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to follow Him, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words the young man was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’” (MK 10:21-25).
We understand now that Jesus was referring to a narrow gate into Jerusalem called “the Needle’s Eye,” which no pack camel could use without first being unloaded. And the kingdom of God refers to the level of the afterlife just below the Source, where only people of the highest consciousness vibration can go. So Jesus clearly tells us here that being distracted by too many possessions is a burden that can hinder us from growing spiritually!
The more I study Jesus, the more confident I become that He is in fact of the highest aspect of the Godhead. The evidence is abundant and stunning, and I consider it to be irrefutable. Jesus walked the earth knowing many things that we couldn’t have learned on our own until now; and perhaps He even taught some things that we cannot understand, even today?
Please read again that passage from Matthews’s Fourteenth Chapter. It is clear that Jesus is telling us that in order to succeed at growing spiritually, we first must prepare a solid foundation and steel ourselves with the will to carry it through. Spiritual growth is a process, and it isn’t enough for us just to give it a try and hope for the best! It is clear, too, that He wants us to give up every conceivable distraction and devote our whole attention to following Him. And He has named for us two distractions as particular dangers:
That passage I have always assumed was bogus is in fact the Lord’s direct prescription for how we can use His teachings to effect a permanent change for the better in ourselves. As I have come to understand this over the past week, I even can see why my personal experiment in using the Lord’s teachings to grow spiritually worked so surprisingly well for me.
It could very easily not have worked! But to be frank, I really don’t care about money or anything that money can buy. And while I love my family members, I allowed the process of mastering universal forgiveness and love to spread my love for my dearest ones over the seven billion other people around them. So I didn’t actually give away everything I had or hate or disdain anyone, but apparently I gave myself distance enough to let me put Jesus first in my life. Without my being aware of it, I was following the Lord’s prescription as it is laid out in the Fourteenth Chapter of Luke. And not only did it work for me ten years ago, but I have since then seen it work for many others.
You can do it, too! You can follow the Lord’s directions and use His teachings to effect a glorious change in yourself that will let you begin to really change the world. What I learned most of all when I tried it is that once you put the Lord first in your life, before your special loves and all your earthly distractions, He is going to be there waiting for you. He will smile at you and take your hand.
“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
– Denis Diderot, French Enlightenment philosopher (1713–1784)
40 thoughts on “Changing”
Roberta, you mentioned that the kingdom of God “refers to the level of the afterlife just below the Source.” Are there also other levels perhaps ‘below’ the Kingdom of God that are joyous, beautiful and peaceful? I’m wondering about what Jesus meant when He said: ” In My Father’s House, there are many mansions.”
My dear Sharon, the Summerland levels – where nearly everyone lives – are Levels 3 through 5. And they are beautiful and full of love and light to an extent that we cannot even imagine from here! Those many mansions that Jesus mentions are almost certainly the homes that we erect for one another in the Summerland, each of which is private and surrounded by gorgeous scenery. It is all wonderful beyond our fondest imaginings!
Hi Roberta. I hope what I am trying to say makes sense.
Thanks for the reminder, for me to be ‘not of this world’. The part of me (ego) that has created life here, on this realm, would think it will hold onto what is created here on this earth.
For me to focus on the ‘reality’ of Spirit creation and what I Am, and we all are, and that this earth is for experience not possession is priceless.
What a great eye opener to see that my parents will not be my parents on the other side. I can’t possess them as such, or my children, etc. The idea that ‘the earth labels’ I attached to energy, that have been created here, are not going with us.
This is how I see it, today.
Thanks again for you message.
Oh my dear Sue, this is so beautifully said! And yes, the people and things that we cling to here are not really ours, but on the other hand when we return we will find that we have eternal friends and dear ones from other lifetimes that we had altogether forgotten. The joyous reunions that await us are impossile to adequately describe for you, but it will be wonderful!
Good Morning Roberta…
I look forward to your words every Sunday. Everything you say makes so much sense to me. The weekly themes are explained in your unique and spiritualy clear way… like today’s theme of “changing ” with its deeper and broader prescription of universal Love and forgiveness for all our brothers and sisters in the world as its only requirement. However as you explain and what is central to todays words, is that this is so much “easier said than done”, (which was comforting to read for those of us who struggle with change on a daily basis). But as you also explain and exhort people to do in your wonderful books…..keep universal Love and forgiveness for all, front and center as your goal, and you will eventually make spiritual progress.
Thank you for all that you do.
Oh my dear Christi, you do make me smile! It’s for you that I happily get up at 2:30 every Sunday morning to polish each week’s post before it goes live at 4:00 a.m. I’m so glad to know that you find it helpful! All of us together really can make a whole new world! 🙂
Hi Roberta, hi everybody!
Thank you for this. The quote from Augustine made me laugh out loud because of the irony. I can relate!😉
Oh my dear Mike, I know how you feel – we all share a giggle about St. Augustine’s fears of backsliding. (He was a rather prominent libertine in his early years!)
But the quote that resonates most with me is Diderot’s. It’s the kind that makes you spit your coffee, if you read it over breakfast, and it gives you a hint of just how outrageous the European Enlightenment that shaped our Founding Fathers really was!
Yes! That quote did catch my attention!
Shock value aside, it says to me that we cannot and should not rely on institutions. From the eternal perspective, we are empowered on our own.
You are right, my dear Mike. We cannot ever rely on institutions because if they are given enough power to do us any good they soon become massively corrupt and parasitic. Lord Acton’s old point that power corrupts is in fact a truism, and the only historical person who ever had absolute power and willingly gave it up and went home was George Washington. When you read the Gospels closely, you see it was their corruption and their power that really frosted Jesus about the religious leaders of His day. And just look at what is going on in Washington DC right now!
I have come to believe that this megalomaniac nuttiness that seizes people if they ever get any real power at all is yet one more of the many things that may well mostly heal itself once it is universally known that human life is eternal. This greedy misuse of power is a kind of emotional cabin fever that comes from feeling limited to this brief lifetime and these limited, unsatisfactory pleasures while you are remembering at a subconscious level the eternity and the grandeur that are in fact your very nature. Once we as a culture can embrace eternity as a core human fact, everything really will change!
Re, “And just look at what is going on in Washington DC right now! ” So painfully true, but so much worse even in Australia and New Zealand– the dictatorial suppression of ordinary rights to live in peace exceeded my imagination– so bad that I can now imagine an alliance for them with N Korea. In the meanwhile, China appears to be preparing military conquest of Taiwan, and relishes the idea of Biden waging diplomatic chatter as his fierce response.
These lines in Macbeth so well resonate to how this world goes now:
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Wonderfully metaphoric, but Shakespeare here neglects that we came her from eternity and will return when the candle burns out.
I lived as a fundamentalist Bible believing Christian for most of my life (now 78 years), and about 10 or 11 years ago began to question my beliefs. I “threw out” all of it and began searching again. But my conscience, saturated by fear-based dogma, keeps at me and troubles me at times. Reading such verses as these especially tempt me to give in and go back:
1 John 5:10-12 “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
And, John3:34-36, John the Baptist speaking: For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
Joh 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
King James version, of course. So how do we decide what “scripture” to accept, and what to reject?
Oh my dear Loren, I can identify with your concerns because I was a strict Catholic into my early fifties! But the afterlife evidence consistently tells us that everyone goes to the same afterlife, no matter what their religion was on earth or even if they had no religion at all. And in fact, Jesus tells is that it is following His teachings that is important! He says,
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (LK 6:46).
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).
And He urges us to ask questions fearlessly. He says,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8).
So to do this work, I simply asked for the Truth! Here are some essential points:
1) Jesus didn’t start Christianity. In fact, He came to end religions and teach us to relate to God on our own.
2) The Church Councils, especially First Nicaea in 325, both removed things from the Gospels and added things that Jesus never said. All the nonsense in the Gospels that limits God’s love and threatens punishment was emphatically never said by Jesus, but was part of Constantine’s effort at building His fear-based religion.
3) Jesus actually came to us not just as God’s Son, but literally as the highest aspect of the Godhead born on earth! You can trust Jesus. He is only perfect love, and He doesn’t want us to be afraid of anything. He says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom” (LK 12:32).
My dear Loren, you have given me an idea for a future blog post – how do we know what is true in the Gospels, and what is not true? But until then, if you will send me an email through this website I will be happy to send you a PDF of Liberating Jesus. And please consider yourself hugged!
Thank you for your weekly blog. It resonates with me at the highest level of truth and acceptance. I am glad you mentioned A Course in Miracles. It was so on my mind as you were writing. Also the lessons of Near-Death Experiences.
I attended a webinar put on by our seminary over the weekend on “Death and End of Life Issues.” I was six scholars all talking about what happens before death, the funeral, and traditions surrounding the art of dying. What was missing was a discussion of what happens after we die.
I believe that Jesus did not clearly say what happens, early Christians assumed he would come back sooner than later, and the idea of an earthly reckoning “Parousia” seemed to become dogma.
I think that this question – What happens after we die? – may be the key to reforming the church. We have millions of Americans who have encountered the spiritual realm, spirits who are showing us the way, and intuition that tells us what you are teaching is correct.
My dear Chuck, I’m so glad that you find these messages helpful. When I was a child, I thought I would end up in the ministry; and between Seek Reality and this blog, it seems that is indeed what has happened!
This fact you mention that those whose work is to help and comfort the dying don’t talk about what happens after death has come to trouble our dear friend Craig Hogan so much that he is planning an outreach to them which I think may end up being his ministry. Finding him so ardent about this now really has surprised me, when my passion is teaching these truths to individuals, and especially to older individuals. I have come to think that the quickest way to enlighten humankind would be to make the afterlife into a What Comes Next fad, the next big cultural movement, kind of the disco – Star Wars – video games successor cultural movement of the mid-twenty-first century. That’s what we are about to try to pull off, I think – Craig with clergy and counselors, and me with a million fellow grannies. Let’s see how far we can take this….
Roberta and Chuck, FWIW I get the feeling the younger generations are already more open to this than the older.
Oh my dear Mike, I hope that’s true, but our problem may not be so easily solved. Young people will be glad to learn about the afterlife, true, but for them to want to learn to use the teachings of Jesus to grow spiritually is likely to be more difficult to achieve.
What would be ideal would be the gradual disenchantment of Christians with the Emperor Constantine’s religion, and their holding on to Jesus while they put formal religious practice behind. And this is in fact what seems to be happening to many people in their fifties and older who were raised as devout Christians, but for various reasons they can no longer stomach the religion.
Many of today’s young people, though, have been raised without religion. They have never known Jesus enough to have a relationship with him they want to preserve and enjoy, so I think that getting them to use His teachings to achieve spiritual growth is going to be a lot harder. I really hope I’m wrong!
Roberta: I think you and Craig Hogan should consider doing an on-line symposium to address these issues. You may have to charge for it but it would be worth every dime. I think the problem here is just the lack of knowledge. For instance, despite my reading and searching for 18 years, I had never heard that Jesus was being watched so closely to see if he would downplay the accepted religion of his day. That knowledge did so much to clear up the confusion I had, and I am sure many others don’t know about this either. That, plus the fact that there were added passages to keep Christianity fear based, is an important part of learning to accept his actual message, which boils down to a fearless way of following his actual teachings. Almost all hard core Christians equate Christ with Christianity and all the church dogma, yet there is nothing in what he said to support that. In fact, I don’t think he gave any thought at all to starting a church in his name. Once people realize this, it will be a huge step in the right direction, and it will be much easier to follow Jesus himself without the need for a church. The sad fact is that most people think that whatever the church says is in line with Jesus’ teachings
Dear Lola, such an effort is in fact underway! We aren’t ready yet to make any announcements, but as they say, “watch this space….”
And it may be that few people very much younger than I am would know so much of the frank background, from the laws in Jerusalem against speaking against Judaism to the ways that First Nicaea edited the Gospels (and why). I majored in early Christian history at Smith College, and the most senior professor – who was also my adviser – was probably born in the 19th century so she has surely long since graduated. She was wonderful! She taught us the “forbidden history” of Christianity, which likely isn’t much taught today; but she had made a point of studying it, and she wanted us to know so we could purge the religion and bring it back to a genuine devotion to Jesus. I thought her words were gold. And they are an even purer gold now, fifty years later!
How lucky you were to have her for an advisor. It sounds like the “forbidden history” of Christianity was kept a secret almost. Like most history learned in schools, the history of Christianity only told us what they wanted us to know.
Yes, my dear, and I still recall that she was indignant about the fact that the less palatable truths were simply not being taught anymore. She had been educated perhaps before 1920, and it seems that back then Christian scholars were putting evidence and facts before orthodoxy. Even by the late 1960s, when I knew her, what she saw as the search for truth – which is of course all that matters! – was being elided over in favor of shoring up church orthodoxy. What I seem above all to have taken away was her certainty that there is truth, and in studying Jesus we can trust that He is genuine and not be afraid of seeking the truth. And now we have carried that even a lot farther than she did… I wonder what she would say to us today!
Dear Lola, you wrote, ” The sad fact is that most people think that whatever the church says is in line with Jesus’ teachings. ” This has been the truth for Catholicism up until the reign of current Pope Francis. This Socialist Pope so actively and publicly pursues One World Global Order, uniting Christianity and Islam, and even going so far as to permit idol worship:
” On October 4, Pope Francis attended an act of idolatrous worship of the pagan goddess Pachamama. He allowed this worship to take place in the Vatican Gardens, thus desecrating the vicinity of the graves of the martyrs and of the church of the Apostle Peter. Feb 23, 2020 ” He has bankrupted the moral authority of the RCC.
Oh my dear Jack, I understand that there are ancient predictions which say that John Paul (by name and approximate dates) would be the final Pope. It may be that the prediction was off by just a decade or two….
My reading is actually that such prediction applied to the current Pope:
” The prophecies of the Irish Saint Malachy, the 12th-century bishop of Armagh, have thrilled and dismayed readers for centuries. He has stated there would be only one more pope after Benedict, and during his reign comes the end of the world. So Francis could be the last.
The prediction in full is: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” It is the case that Francis’ Father is named Peter and he was from Italy.
Thank you, my dear Jack! You always have the answer! I recalled reading that prediction, but not where I had seen it or who had made it. Of course, the end of the world is not at hand, but what confronts us is quite possibly the end of Christianity as we have known it.
This pope is like no other before him. He is even striving to eliminate celibacy for priests and not charge for annulments. It sounds like he is trying to modernize the Catholic faith in order to attract more followers. as the numbers of those leaving the faith have been escalating more and more every year. I assume he has a lot of enemies, but also many supporters.
Pope Francis thinks and acts politically, which is disconcerting to see. He is of a communist/socialist bent, and he seems to speak and act not prayerfully and with thought for the Church but rather as a politician would, trying to use his power to advance secular political goals. In thinking and acting as he does, I think he is likely doing considerable harm to a church fabric that is already tattering, but only time will tell.
Hi Roberta. That quote from Luke 14:25-34 is fascinating and powerful. What was the original Aramaic word or turn of phrase that got morphed into the Greek word miseo, translated as hate, detest, or love less? As you say, it goes against the teachings of Jesus about love. Was this just Jesus using hyperbole, as scholars like to say, making an in-your-face point about keeping God and the goal of the spiritual path always at the top, and all else in context, what the eastern traditions would call non-attachment, or another way of saying, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven?” It doesn’t quite ring true for me – hate, or detest, or even love less is too negative. I know you aren’t a fan of the Aramaic version, but just out of curiosity, I thought I would consult my copy of the Lamsa translation of the Aramaic Peshita. It had Jesus saying “put aside” rather than “hate.” That may still not exactly capture what he was trying to convey, but seems closer. Whatever word or phrase Jesus originally used, it seems likely to me it would have been a love based exhortation to keep your eye on prize – the real spiritual one – or you won’t have the endurance needed to build that tower or win the (spiritual) battle – to really spiritually change. The tower analogy makes me think of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the ancient world, guiding us safely to God’s harbor.
Oh my dear Scott, thank you for that piece of scholarship! And “put aside” does indeed seem to be more what Jesus meant to say, but the word is rendered in all the English translations I have seen as “hate,” which is peculiar. There was a time maybe twenty years ago when I was curious about the Aramaic version of the Gospels, but by then I had already marked that passage as a later addition so I never bothered to research the word, as you have. And then, of course, I realized based on a lot of bits of information – including testimony from those that we used to think were dead – that Aramaic-to-English translations are generally vague and kind of New-Agey, while modern English translations are much closer to independent truths. And when you think about that, it starts to seem like a miraculous gift, Jesus presiding over those modern translations as they were made so He could speak to us freshly today!
This is hardly definitive but might help: a quick check of etymology of the Greek root kēdos -“care, trouble, sorrow, mourning, funeral rite” if that is the word in the Greek version of the Gospel, suggests burying the traditional ways. In the culture He was teaching, the inheritance of customs down through the generations was a very powerful influence. Here Jesus says, “bury those customs.” This is consistent with His other teaching. As I have said many times, I am no scholar but this is interesting to note.
Yes, my dear, good sleuthing! And would that the word could be so benign. But I think the word used in Aramaic must at least have been heard as more harshly negative, since in every version I have seen the English word is “hate.” Oy.
Dear Roberta. Hi Scott F. I’m glad Scott mentioned the idea of detachment. That also occurred to me as l read the blog. Thank you Roberta and Thomas for all you do.
Dear Ray, in fact spiritual growth does seem to instill a kind of detachment. It’s not an aloofness, but it’s more a sense of personal disengagement from daily human life, and even from the people in it, and a sense of safety from worries about any of it. I have felt it in myself and seen it in others, and thought it was a kind of reversal of the impulse to feel “special loves” that A Course in Miracles rails against. And my dear, Thomas is very serious about this work but since I’m not in charge it doesn’t feel like a responsibility – it just feels like the most fun there is!
When I hear preachers/pastors/men of God preach that the Bible is the Word of God, I always flinched a little and have always done so even back to my youth. The reason I found it all suspect is that the words were recorded by man and translated and retranslated and embellished over many years to reflect modern religion. It’s not that I don’t believe teh Bible is influenced by God or contains great life and spiritual lessons, it’s just not absolute words from the mouth of God. (I honestly am not sure words are useful to God, only to us.) Until Jesus, and then those words have been embellished as well, but the truth and honesty of many of his teachings are still there. (as you continue to point out.) Tradition and family doctrinarian has kept the Christian Church from being open to the truths taught by Jesus, and the fear of offending God by not adhering to the whole Bible has stifled spiritual growth. There’s a saying “Catholics never took Christ down from the cross.”, allowing a one on one spiritual relationship with Jesus. To take that further, Protestants have never taken down the cross and put it aside. I love the fact you can not be religious or be of another belief, and still absorb and use the words of Jesus from the Gospels to grow spiritually.
Dear Timothy, thank you for this! Quite beautifully said! The more I have seen evidence of the actual divinity of Jesus, and the more I have worked to understand the surviving words that He spoke, the more outrageous the Christian claim about the Bible being the Inspired Word of God has come to seem.
I mean, I have read the Bible perhaps a dozen times from cover to cover (I wish I had kept track!), and it is so inconsistent and in some spots barbaric that it cannot possibly all be the Word of an internally consistent, or even of a sane and rational God. Yet in the Gospels we do in fact have not just the inspired, but actually the spoken words of God-made-flesh! And Christianity almost entirely ignores those words, except for turning them into a few catch-phrases. It really is a marvel of outrageous and venal corruption! It always has been that, but it seems to be only now that I am coming to personally hold it against a religion that I have so much loved.
Yes it is inconsistent and in many cases barbaric. This is what makes Christianity so scary. I think back in the early days, God was always thought of in the same way as the emperors in those days were – someone very powerful, demanding, egotistical and easily ticked off – all human traits.
My dear Lola, this is an important insight. Every god in every age has been just a human ruler writ large. This was seen as a virtue in fact, since in a world full of scary unknowns our gods needed to be the baddest kids in the playground, always capable of defending us from whatever may come. We only had to sacrifice to them and placate them. Our problem is now, of course, that such gods are scary and barbaric, not even as noble and loving as we are ourselves! And yet, we still put lipstick on that outmoded pig of an idea, stressing that even though God wants to watch God’s son being murdered, God is still a loving Good Guy after all.
I know. People insist on making God psychotic. He will embrace us (as long as we do exactly what we are told).
I have the same feeling about Luke 14:26 as the other bloggers, but I was actually following Jesus as I did hate my parents. Not 100% of the time, but enough to win an award of sorts. Now I don’t think this is what Jesus wanted me to do. As a positive step, I have forgiven them and asked them to forgive me, which in a way is easy as they have both transitioned. Perhaps most or all of us has hated our parents so following Jesus really does boil down to forgiveness.
Oh my dear Cookie, I don’t believe that you actually hated your parents! I think you had negative feelings, as many people do. Every one of us is raised by amateurs!
I used to say when my children were in their teenage years that I was finally learning how to be a mother. And what a pity it was that we didn’t get to discard the learner batch and start over, because now I knew I finally could do it right. But they make you keep that learner batch! And even people who had happy childhoods have gripes. My own son complains that we made his childhood too perfect, which didn’t adequately prepare him for life. You really can’t win for losing!
But even though I think you needn’t saddle yourself with the thought that you actually “hated” your parents, it is clear that your relationship was not a happy one, so I am very glad that you have forgiven them and also asked for their forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness was the most important thing that Jesus ever taught. Because once we have forgiven, love seems to come naturally.