Sunday, November 18, 2007

TrevorCarpenter.com: Holiday Challenge

TrevorCarpenter.com: Holiday Challenge:
Since we are coming up on the Christmas season, I thought I’d toss out an idea that just might work. I’m looking for a few people out there who are willing to share their opinion and aren’t afraid of the rest of us debating it. I’m looking for your input on one very tough issue… 

Why do you think Jesus doesn’t have what it takes to be important in your life? 

That’s it. Plain and simple. It’s really not that hard. Everyone reads that and has a response. I know you have some feelings about it, probably even strong feelings. But, are you brave enough to jump in the mix? Are you strong enough to deal with a bit of critique? 

All I’m looking for is that you read that question and take a few minutes to think hard about your response. Then comment on this post. However, if you’re already a blogger, why not put a bit more effort into it and blog it at your blog. Then, just make sure that you link back to this post and I’ll make sure that we all share in the exchange.
This question stumped me. I have fragments of responses in my mind but I think it is such a complex challenge that I need to think and listen to others. I took the time to read the comments at Trevor's post, and while a couple were the mandatory "Jesus is my savior" statement, a couple of them led me to think more fully about what my response might be.

My first thought: if Jesus were important in the lives of Christians, wouldn't we have more tranquility in our daily lives? More peace on earth? If he were important in my life, would I have more peace of mind and less doubt? Does the lack of peace and my doubts mean that Jesus is not important to me or others?

Be sure to click the box on the comment page (hopefully you have gmail so that you can utilize this feature) and follow the comments. Come back if you need to say more. I need to listen to you. Thank you.

7 comments:

  1. I'm going to jump in and I hope this isn't too much. Please don't worry about reading this Andree if you're busy. For some reason, I didn't want to post a blog about this but I did want to contribute to the conversation so I'm putting it here. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to be brief.

    To me, Jesus means so many different things to different people that it's hard to for me not to feel like my interpretation of Jesus can and is important in my life, but someone else's may not be. There is the historical figure, there is the God made man who was fully human and fully divine (for those who believe that), there is the social revolutionary, and there is the man (if we believe in the accuracy of the stories) who appeared to say some horrible institutions shouldn't be revolted against (during his time). I will never believe in one path to spirituality or the truth so I guess I'm not a Christian but if I want to worship with others and go to Church, I feel most comfortable in a Church with the music and symbols of my youth (my Dad was an Episcopalian minister). I'm also comfortable going to temples and other meeting places with friends raised in different religions, but I mean if I'm going on my own.

    I think the teachings of Jesus (or the stories from the Christian Bible that I've read) are important to my life as are the teachings of the compassionate Buddha (or the stories that I've read) and so are the teachings I am familiar with from Taoism. I think Jesus would be more important in my life if the "word of God" contained in the Christian Bible could have begun with the line which begins the translation I have of a book containing some teachings of Taoism. That line says: "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao". I guess my feeling is that if all religions could have some statement indicating that the truth which is told and recorded is always filtered in some way by the times and the historian, or the religious leaders, then there would be more tolerance for differing views, and Jesus could be more important in the day to day lives of people touched by his life and story, who will never believe in the literal stories.

    I was fortunate to be brought up by loving parents with a strong faith but who were not judgmental except in terms of hurtful things. I was brought up to try to be kind and understanding and accepting of love but not to judge others who might have a different faith or belief system when the core or the compassion evidenced by the people was not so different. I was also brought up by parents who fought against injustices and were comfortable in the secular and non secular realm.

    I am a cultural Christian only because that's the culture I grew up in although I was always exposed to other cultures and knew everyone didn't see things the same way. I was brought up to think the differences can be good and we don't have to exclude others even if we see things differently, even religion. I did take my daughter to Church when she was growing up because I felt that she should have exposure to religion. I took her to my Dad's church when he was alive because at 3 she said she wanted to go to her Grandpa's church (he was still the Rector of the Episcopal Church I grew up in). I do not feel the least bit hypocritical for doing that, or for singing in the choir when I did, or even for taking communion when I want to.

    However, Jesus is more a part of my life as a symbol and as an historical figure. He could never be important in terms of making me think that he and he alone, holds some hope for eternal life. I don't believe that. I don't believe that babies who aren't baptized will not have as much hope for everlasting life, if there is such a thing, as babies that are baptized, or adults for that matter. I believe there are truths and love which surpass human understanding and I'm ok with a lot of mystery.

    I believe my parent's love remains with me even though they died a long time ago. I believe my love will be with my daughter after I'm gone. I do not believe Jesus is the only way to that kind of comfort or belief. I guess I do think Jesus is important in my life because his teachings were what reached my Dad when he was an atheist and sent him on a journey and a new life. I still feel a good feeling that I got when I was a child and my Dad would say, let the light of God shine on you as it shone on his only begotten son. I think I have the words slightly wrong but I can hear his voice saying that and even as an adult when he'd bless me at communion, knowing my faith wasn't there, I felt better. Without Jesus, I wouldn't have that. Wow, this is turning into a sentimental, nonsensical comment. Oh well, it's the best I can do.

    If you made it this far, sorry it's so long. Regards, Carver

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  2. No, it is not too long! And I enjoyed every moment reading this. I think that the coming season demands that we evaluate our faith and how we live it. I need to explore Buddhism because so many UCC people refer to its teachings and recommend it. So thank you, Carver, for your thoughts and wisdom. I will be using your ideas as I make my ideas more concrete.

    Andree

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  3. What a great question and it great question and I'll try to answer it soon and I may ask some of my friends who I feel comfort about asking.

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  4. Now that's different, Andree, and I'll try to answer it.

    I was brought up a Catholic but have turned more to Spiritualism. In the Spiritualist church the Name of Jesus is invoked as is the Name of God the father. I don't particularly think of Jesus each day, however I can appreciate things that were attributed to him.

    What I like is that Muslims and Buddhists also recognise Jesus as a great healer amongst others. However they don't recognise him as the son of God.

    Now, I'm one of these people who believe in an Entity greater than ourselves and have proved it to myself time and time again. Whatever name you may call it, there is something bigger than ourselves. However, the resurrection is something I question. Is it just myth that has been handed down over time? Even the stories in the Bible, from the Gospels, all have different slants on that event, which goes to prove we all see things with different eye.

    I think Jesus was certainly a wonderful healer and a man of faith. I also think he had human foibles, i.e. take the story of him with the moneylenders in the temple.

    Getting back to the original question of why he's not in my life day to day. Someone is...and I'm not sure who. We all have our guardian angels and guides...if that is Jesus well and good. If it's not, it doesn't matter. Someone is helping us day by day and guiding us.

    This I know and feel quite definitely. So someone's in my life each day and I thank whoever it is.

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  5. Thank you so much, Robyn. Two years ago we watched a video of Marcus Borg at church during Lent. He is a wonderful UCC (United Church of Christ) theologian and he said that yes, the resurrection was a metaphor. The resurrection story was a way to help people understand that it was a time for new life if you followed the teachings of Jesus. I was grateful for that since I have always had a problem with celebrating the blood and violence of Easter (even though I am positive, given the barbarity of the Romans, that the crucifixion occurred.

    I am so glad you took the time to comment.

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  6. Jesus and others conviction has it but we as human with faults and outside influence of organize dogma religion and I’m not saying to remove the local churches out.
    But we should except individual loving relationship to be build so we have a better relationship with Father Sky and Mother Earth in heart felt personal way.

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  7. You know, over the years I've learned that quite often, when someone doesn't want to accept me for who I am, it's because they don't like something about me. Maybe I've said something before that offended them. Maybe I have personal interests they don't like. Etc, etc.

    This translates quite well to understanding those who don't accept Jesus for what he said he was...

    Usually, they reject a certain aspect of Jesus, so they just pick and choose.

    Jesus said that he was the only way to reaching God. According to Jesus, you cannot attain forgiveness, or anything heavenly without him.

    Now, if Jesus says this, but we disagree, then we're saying that Jesus is not what he what he said he was. That means that Jesus must have been a lunatic. Now if Jesus is a lunatic, then we must be worse, if we follow him.

    Either the truth if only found in God, through Jesus, or it's all a load of manure. We must either accept it all, or reject it all.

    To be absolute is not such a scary thing. For God to say, "I created it all.", is quite absolute. Not too much leeway there. How about, "Love your neighbor." Isn't that absolute.

    My point is that in today's world, many people are so scared of being absolute and finite. Why are we so afraid of that? There's nothing comforting about being relative.

    Oh, and, you can know that you are saved. The Bible tells that...

    "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13 (ESV)

    I'd like to close with this gentle reminder...

    "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

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