Passion Week – Easter Sunday

“Passion” is a big buzzword now, especially on the internet and in marketing. I don’t know if most people are prepared to be passionate in our culture today. I know it seems I am conflating the meaning of Christ’s Passion, but let’s look at these things for a little while.

If the word passion connotes anything in the English language it is certainly intensity. Intensity in focus and in emotion, and that relates to all uses of our concept of passion. In the sense of Easter week it follows the height of Palm Sunday’s celebration of Christ on Earth through the sorrowful depths of the Crucifixion to the triumph of the Resurrection. That probably plays on every emotion a person might have, in some way, Joy and Jealousy, Love and Betrayal, Injustice and Fear, Relief and Sorrow… to just name the most obvious.

I’m not sure our emotionally medicated, mind distracting, self-absorbed society is ready for such passion. We love the idea of being sold-out for causes, wholeheartedly given to lifestyles, immersed in our job or interest, and so we talk about passion, but rarely live it. And those who do give themselves in such a way are “too much”, too restrictive, and too narrow for those who simply love the lip service of living a passionate life.

The old idea of “the Passion”, the one kept alive in churches with traditional rituals that center on such things, is from the Latin term for “suffering”. When you are passionate about art or gardening, or music, the idea of suffering for it is divorced from the contemporary viewpoint. We want our passions pain-free. We want our religion pain-free, or at least contained in its symbolic church boxes. But the kind of love that God showed the world was one of such intense suffering for it that whether in sight of it or removed by unbelief and centuries… we turn our faces from it. It is too painful to even glimpse for more than a second’s flash of revelation.

And yet that is what Easter week calls to us, the would-be disciples of Christ, those desiring to be loved and cared for by the Great Shepherd, those who want justice in the world, and healing for their wounds. “Look at the cross”. Any of all the possible sufferings that mankind is subject to cries out for a release. And in return, Easter calls us to view the incredible cost of suffering that lifting such a weight demanded. The release is there, and cost a terrible, terrible price. We are struck at the enormity and how impossible a debt we had incurred. We have to face the pain that we inflicted.

Our love of passion evaporates when its true visage is revealed.
Continue reading Passion Week – Easter Sunday

Dear Jesus Santa, Excuse My Greed

In an article titled “10 Worst Marketing Blunders of 2009” I came across the most egregious use of the old form of the prosperity message I have seen in a very long time. It is also one of the most transparent, as far as where the problem is in this type of thinking.

It is all in building your little straw man after you have diverted attention from the actual focus of the admonition of Jesus’ teaching. Maybe the thinking comes from a lack of grammatical understanding, although my bets are on the blindness of greed. To “love others as our­selves” is primarily focused on the directive to love others. That is where our action is to be taken…. the “ourselves” part is to tell us how and to what degree. It is a form of the Golden rule, which reverses the emphasis from what we get out of it to caring more about people other than ourselves.

3) BANKERS CUT BONUSES, INCREASE SALARY & BLAME JESUS

First the banking industry made a big show of cutting the obscene bonuses it was paying itself for going on the dole. Meanwhile they hoped no one would notice the allegedly eliminated bonuses were now being paid as plain old salary.

But wait … that’s not all!

Apparently still feeling that their efforts to destroys the economy were still underappreciated, bankers started claiming Jesus wanted them to do it.

“The injunc­tion of Jesus to love others as our­selves is an endorse­ment of self-?interest,” Goldman’s [inter­na­tional adviser Brian] Grif­fiths said Oct. 20, his voice echo­ing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathe­dral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s finan­cial dis­trict. “We have to tol­er­ate the inequal­ity as a way to achiev­ing greater pros­per­ity and oppor­tu­nity for all.”

How much LSD do you have to take to interpret Scripture this way? However much it is, it is certainly being passed out at all the best financial institutions. Two weeks later, Barclays CEO John Varley spoke at the venerable St. Martin-in-the-Fields and tried to wrap the Bible around his bonus.

“There is no conflict between doing business in an ethical and responsible way and making money. We make our biggest contribution to society by being good at what we do. Profit is not satanic.”

I guess it all depends on who gets to determine how we define ethical and responsible. Perhaps Varley could have gotten away with this specious argument had he not added this gloss to the text after the service: “Is Christianity and banking compatible? Yes. And is Christianity and fair reward compatible? Yes.” (Not a good sign when a banker can’t even get his verb and subject numbers to add up.) Hey John, can we parse the word “fair” for a moment?

I believe the renowned 20th century theologian Ray Price put it best when he asked, “Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show?

I do believe that God wants to bless us, and that prosperity is part of that. How, though, can one edit out all the portions of scripture that admonish us to share with others, take care to practice equity, practice generosity to the poor, … in other words, the many ways we are to act in loving others?

Perhaps some of these bankers should be shown another Bible verse, from the Old Testament this time:
“Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Why Christ Died On The Cross

In thinking about discussion of Christian doctrine, I thought I had previously posted this writing I had done a couple years ago in response to the questions some unbelievers had on salvation- why Jesus had to die, etc. I wrote this to try to relay basic Christian doctrine. But I can’t seem to find it, so I thought I would post it now.
=================

Our Problem

Beginning in a slightly different place: with us.
We start out in our lives and after not too much time
problems become obvious. Some things are wrong….
somewhere we start to question: is it me? is it you?
is it the natural world? is it the system? and it
escalates from there. Something is faulty, and worse,
it looks like a fatal flaw.

Yes, death and decay,
everywhere; we block, we hold the line, but for some
of us we start to understand: nothing we do is enough,
nothing is really working in a lasting way. We’re
stuck. And at this point we begin making a decision.

We Make a Decision

We make a decision about what tack we will take and
where we will look for answers. For those who look to
the God account as related by the traditional Jewish
and Christian communities here is the explanation (of
how we got here):

(concept 1)

There is a God who created everything, and
it was quite different from what we now see. It was
good. This God kept an ongoing interest and
relationship with His entire creation.

(concept 2)

There was a part of creation that was in a
spiritual dimension. This was evidenced by beings
called angels. There was, already present, forces of
good and evil (represented by the fact that one could
know both good and evil, if one chose).

At this point, a number of facets begin to arise,
some inferred here and elaborated elsewhere. The first
problem is that when everything was created good,
where did the evil come from? Free Moral Agency makes
its debut.

God Defines Himself

God says some things about Himself: He compares
himself to light. And what is darkness, but the
absence of light? Evil is simply what you have when
God is removed . Free moral agency is the real ability
of a creature of God to refuse Him access and
interaction. God shows His ability to take this kind
of risk. But why?

The New Testament has the explanation that God was
willing to suffer with a great deal to have something
very worthwhile, and valuable in His estimation- but
back to the free moral agents.

Temporal and Eternal

These are of two types: the temporal and the eternal. The temporal is man -he
was booted out of the garden that he might not have what would eternally solidify him in a state apart from God.

The eternal is the devil, otherwise known as an angel of the highest order, who as an eternal being remains in the state of evil and rebellion that was once chosen. We are not told a lot about that, but we are told more about us and that is where we turn our attention.

The problem of evil and how it affects man, and what God decided to do about it (and when) is where we get into the beginning of the question of why a Christ that had to die

…And how does that make a difference to us?

A Plan Predestined

There is a Christian idea called predestination and a lot of philosophy has come out of that idea, but the account simply says that God knew ahead of time how
man would choose to eat of knowledge of good and evil, and that a decision was made within the inner counsel of the Godhead that a remedy would be in readiness (that is why it is expressed that the lamb of God was sacrificed from the foundation).

Now a timeout:

Many balk at the idea of the trinity, but they have
absolutely no problem seeing humans at least in two or
more parts. The account looked at here says man has
three parts: body, soul, and spirit, in an
image(representation) of God. It says God has a
plurality in one. Elohim(plural) says “Oh, Israel, The
LORD is one”.

Second thing is that the choice of the knowledge of
good and evil was one which excluded God because it
was in disobedience to His *one* expressed command,
and was presented as a way to become God, oneself
(seeming to not need Him anymore).

 

Some of the problems here: Original man, Adam, did not
become god of this world…he managed to trade his
elevated position of being in dominion to the Tempter.
Guess who? He died in that part which funneled the
life giving sap of God into his life, the spirit.
After a spiritual separation from God all the rest
(body and soul) could not sustain itself. The rule of
sin and death begins.

Our Discussion Came In At This Point

This is where we came in. Death and decay of ourselves
and what we love, and even of our experience of the
capacity to love. And nothing lasting that we can do
about it.

That takes us to the next two concepts: the order of
Justice and Mercy as it is in the Person of God. What
demands those make and what this has to do with us.

OR
Why Christ came and what is the importance of Jesus?

To be continued…..

DISCLAIMER: This is my understanding within my faith. I offer it for consideration by way of an answer. ===========================

(concept 1)

There is a God who created everything, it
was good.

(concept 2)

There were present forces of good and
evil
…..a decision was made within the inner counsel of
the Godhead that a remedy for sin, death, and even all
evil would be in readiness.
Some of the problems : Original man, Adam, managed to
trade his elevated position of being in dominion to
the Tempter. The rule of sin and death begins.

Death and decay of ourselves and what we love, and
even of our experience of the capacity to love becomes
rampant,and there’s nothing lasting that we can do
about it.

(concept 3)

God illustrates His requirement of justice
and his desire to have mercy. It begins with the fact
that blood needs to be shed when a lamb is killed for
the coverings that He provides Adam and Eve. It is
further expounded in the Mosaic law, when all approach
to God is dependent upon sacrifice. That there is
wrong done, that justice is required, that the harm
done has cost life, all begins to be illustrated in
lives, history, and law.

(concept 4)

God shows His desire to return man to
relationship with Himself; first through the tribes of
Israel, then within the Church. One of the first
things is to restore freedom and give healing,
revealing different aspects of His nature that were
lost to man’s consciousness(as evidenced by their
religions).

The Problem, Continued

The difficulty that keeps arising in all this is that
the system of the law and its sacrifices only shows
mans inability to fill the bill. The huge chasm
between God and man becomes evident.

God shows many things about Himself throughout His
interactions with Israel, and despite the fatal flaw
that entered with the first Adam, God gives light and
indications of what He has planned as a remedy.

Repeatedly, the words of the Law and Prophets give
indicators of a certain man who is anointed, the way a
king or priest would be, to help mankind.

In some places, God indicates that it is He, Himself, who will
save the situation and restore relationship, and even
to overcome death itself.

Someone said it this way: “The
fall of Adam in the garden neither took God by
surprise nor obstructed the fulfillment of His
purpose.”

But the whole point, the *whole point* of this is that
wrong started to be done, wrong against God in
rebellion, which escalated to wrong against fellow man, and
then all the wrongs of the list that any culture would
care to compile of murder, stealing, oppression in its
many manifestations, -all of it.

The Need for Re-dress

This wrong cried out for redress and justice. The justice within God
required a payment, and even man himself would accuse
God if there was none. So something had to make
payment of blood for blood.

But God does not primarily describe Himself by
Justice, but by Loving-kindness and Mercy. If He
wanted only Justice, it would have ended in the garden
of Eden. Adam, dead. Devil, obliterated. Creation,
wiped out. Mistakes and problems over.

A Plan

The plan began to be instituted: Jesus, Last Adam,
living a perfect life in relationship to God and his
fellow man; The Son within the Godhead living under
the conditions of man, restricted within the body to
the dependency of the first Adam, but without the fatal
flaw inherent within him. (That was why the virgin
birth, no transference of Adams dominant sin nature,
yet a fully human nature).

Why Do We Need Jesus?

So why do we need this Jesus? Why do we need him to
pay for our sin? We can’t pay; we can’t live free
enough from evil to avoid coming under the penalty of
death.

We can’t return to right standing with God.
Once Jesus died, a completely innocent man, death had
no calls on Him, and in fact, He now could require
redress. In exchange for His life, battered, abused,
broken, and despised, He required…. us.

He wanted us for Himself, so that the Father God could have many
sons, so that the plans of the Godhead which are described as beyond what we could ask for ourselves or conceive of, could give us experience of Love, God
fully expressed as Love. But the free moral agency is still in force: we must choose to come to Him, we must choose to accept and believe.

We can’t get that right standing without Jesus, we can’t earn it for ourselves, it is The Son making a gift of Himself, at the Fathers will. The full effect of this is that we enter into a life where the slate is wiped clean, sin and its effects go into remission -fade in power, and lifeflow from God in a spiritual life is restored. If Christ did not overcome death and rise from the dead, then none of this can become ours. The New Testament compares it to the life of a seed. One seed, unburied, with only its husk enclosing life cannot give the harvest of many seeds.
It has to take on the new form of the plant to produce more seed.

Jesus Revealed

Jesus is described as “glorified”, He has regained all the powers of the Sonship that He had to lay aside to be on our same plane, as our example and as fully
identified with us. He has been given other prerogatives as well, He has life within himself, he has a name which is given to enforce His will in the earth in order to diminish that which evil(spiritual principalities and powers) usurped. And more that I am sure I am not covering.

In Sum

With this I have done the best within my present capabilities to answer the question within Christianity, why his death was necessary and how it works that it pays for my sin. This presents the answer as I can understand it, with the full admission that questions are left unanswered for many. That is the diversion at decision making time. This can only look at the Christian view of what makes the world awry and what is given to deal with that. It is not even complete within that. It is only what I presently work with, in an encapsulated form, and doesn’t even go into the subjects of heaven, hell and other general
subjects.

Can you tell I feel inadequate to the task?
And no doubt there are criticisms coming. Well, come
and sharpen! I need it.

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You could ask about science as opposed to religion as
a remedy. Yet, for all of science, we still labor with
death and disease. It even seems that some disease and
mental malaise are becoming more virulent than ever. And so, the discussion can spiral on….