Tag Archives: Jesus

Accidental Preachin’

“I’m no atheist – I’m lazy. I really do like hassle-free Sunday mornings. I have a problem with organized religion, so I’ve simply opted out. Live and let live, I figure.”
– Lynn Coady

Okay.

So, I accidentally went to church this morning.

*Sigh.*

See, about a year ago, for a plethora of reasons, I kind of gave up on the organized religion thing. Many in my world don’t agree with that decision, but it’s my life and it is what it is. (Disclaimer: I do still go to church with my grandma on occasion. That’s because my love for her is just a smidge stronger than my stubbornness.)

So, generally on any given Sunday morning, you’ll find me lounging at my house doing as little as possible.  (You know – that “resting on the seventh day” thing. I’m still a big fan of that one.)  So, this morning, in keeping with my new Sunday ritual, I groggily woke up a little past 8:00 a.m., stretched, yawned, realized no one else was awake, and proceeded to turn over and go right back to sleep.

But something interrupted my plans.

My husband likes to have the tv on while he sleeps. [Insert huge whiney *SIGH* here. Grrr. I hate that thing.] So, as I attempted to drift off, the sound of the television distracted me. It was turned to the history channel and a show called “The Bible’s Biggest Secrets” was on. Greeeat. Here I am purposely not going to church and what’s keeping me from falling back to sleep?  Church.

So, realizing that going back to sleep was not going to be in the cards, I rolled over to look for the remote. But, alas, as is usually the case, it was nowhere to be found. (I’m convinced that my husband snuggles with that thing and then tucks it safely under his body so I won’t be able to turn the tv off in the middle of the night. He knows me well enough to know that getting up and going across the room to push the power button on the device itself is just totally OUT of the question.) So, realizing that churchin on the history channel was how it was gonna go down, I grudgingly started checking it out.

And whoa.

Okay, so first off, the name of the show itself was The Bible’s Greatest Secrets, so I guess I should have known that this wouldn’t be the typical Sunday morning service. And this particular episode was about Jesus himself.

Now, let me break right here just a second. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, surely you can see that Jesus was pretty cool, right? I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt about whether the man existed – he’s pretty much a staple in historical figures. He was here, he did some stuff, then he died. Was he divine? Did he rise again? Eh, that’s for you to decide for yourself, I suppose. But he was here. That part is a fact.

And, in my opinion, dude was awesome.

So, I started watching this show and they were talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now, even if you’re not the church-going type and never have been, you’ve probably heard about the good Samaritan. We still use that term now to refer to anyone who helps another out. But on this show, they dug a little deeper into the story.

samaritanA lot of you may already know what I’m about to say, and I guess I did too on some level, but something about the way they told it on this show this morning really got to me. This “good Samaritan” (an actual Samaritan – a man from Samaria) stopped to help a Jewish man lying on the side of the road.  The man had been beaten and attacked by thieves and left there to die. Many had already passed him by and left him to suffer his fate, including priests.

Now, I had heard this story many times growing up in my grandma’s southern Baptist church, but I had never stopped to think why these people had passed this guy by and not helped.  Frankly, I figured they were just assholes.  But, as it turns out, that Samaritans and Jews were sworn enemies.

They hated each other.

Did I know that? Eh, probably. So, why did this suddenly make so much sense to me today?

Back to the story.  So, finally, along comes this Samaritan and, for whatever reason, while all of the other “enemies” had passed by and left this guy to die, this particular Samaritan just couldn’t do it. He stopped for him. He helped him. He took him to safety.

This was crazy! Unheard of at this time. Practically impossible.

Granted, this story wasn’t a true story exactly. Nothing like this had actually happened, I don’t suppose. It was one of his famous parables. The stories that Jesus, the King of Metaphors, would tell his followers as lessons – guides so to speak. He wanted his followers to be like that Samaritan. To overlook what society was telling them about this group of people, and look at this one man as an individual. Help him. Reach inside yourself and do what you know to be right rather than what status quo would have you believe.

Gee, sound familiar?

So, anyway, the guy on the history channel went on to explain how this was pretty much Jesus’s whole intention. He was the new status quo. He was a barrier breaker. A wall destroyer. A curtain splitter.

But what happened to him? Well, things didn’t end so well. He stood up to authority and he paid for it. As the history channel host put it:

“When you attack a barrier, you run the risk of being destroyed by its collapse.” 

Wow.

Now, this doesn’t say you WILL be destroyed. You just run the risk. There’s a sacrifice to be made.

One more thing that was mentioned on the show: turning the other cheek.  This is another one of those lessons from Jesus that many of us, religious or not, have probably heard throughout our lives. Here’s the actual verse itself:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 KJV

(Notice I used the King James version for you die-hards who may be reading this. Actually, I probably lost you guys when I used “asshole” up there. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, so most of us who have heard that over the years, probably have heard it as “be a doormat.” I mean, really. That’s what it has always sounded like to me. If someone beats the hell out of you, don’t fight back. Let them beat the hell out of the other side just to keep it balanced. Right? And while I appreciated the whole “be a peacemaker” sentiment, it never quite seemed fair to me. I mean, I’m a redhead. I’m a fighter. This whole ‘standing down’ stuff isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

But the history channel dude made me understand this a little better.

Pay attention to what the verse actually says. That phrase in the beginning – “resist not evil.” Think about what that means. Don’t resist evil. The word “resist” means to “withstand the effect of.”  Jesus was saying don’t withstand the effect of evil. Don’t just let it happen. Stand there. Resist it. He wasn’t saying just keep beating the hell out of me and I’m going to let you. He was saying, “I’m not budging.”  Keep on throwing your punches, I’m still standing here. Here, throw another punch. Do whatever it is you think that will get me to stand down, but I won’t. No, I won’t retaliate in the way that you are. I won’t fight fire with fire. I won’t abide by the old “eye for an eye” mentality. I am not you. But I will not give up. I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in that method.  But I will not be moved.

I will not be moved.

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but as I listened this morning, all I could think about was now. Look at what is happening around us. Look at the evil that has come in the form of authority. Look at the status quo of today’s world – the judgment based on who is supposed to be our enemies. We are told that people are different so they must be bad. We are told to judge all by the actions of a few. We are told to build walls. We are told to keep walking by and leave people to die on the side of the street because they are the enemy.

And what would Jesus say about that?

I will not be moved.

I may have to run out and buy myself one of those WWJD bracelets. Because I think I finally get it. And what a crying shame that those in authority who claim to be such God-fearing Christians don’t seem to “get it” themselves.

What would Jesus do?

Well, I can tell you what. It sure as hell wouldn’t be what is happening in our country these days.

Okay, sermon is over.   You’re released.

***

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
– Dalai Lama

 

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Love Thy Neighbor. (Aw man, do I gotta?)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44

Okay, honest show of hands. Who else has unfriended or un-followed people on Facebook over the past few weeks? Anyone?

Well, I sure have.  *both hands raised high*  And you know why?  Because people are ignorant and that pisses me off.

Okay, so that’s not very lady-like of me, I don’t suppose. Doesn’t exactly go with that whole “turn the other cheek” spirit we’re supposed to have. But dear Lord, I cannot shut up when people are spewing hate and ignorance towards recent current events.  Racism, gay rights…you name it, people are throwing around their opinions about it…swearing that they know all and that the confederate flag should fly high and gays should stay in the closets where they belong. It absolutely infuriates me. So, what do I do?  I jump right in there and tell them how wrong they are.  And do you know what that solves?

Nothing.

10410790_10153491412603707_6179317090721641426_nNot one flippin thing.  In fact, it probably hurts my cause more than helps it. I am doing exactly what they’re doing, just in reverse. I am infuriated at them for being so judgmental and so narrow-minded, and yet I’m being the same way in a sense. I’m exercising my own hatred, it’s just directed at a different group – the ignorant and the narrow-minded.

Now, I’d like to believe that I’m a Christian. I fully believe that Jesus was who he said he was.  I really do. But I don’t believe that we are supposed to adhere to everything the bible tells us to do. I don’t believe that a rape victim should have to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).   I don’t believe it is shameful for me to cut my hair (1 Corinthians 11:6).  I don’t believe that eating or touching a pig is forbidden by my lord (Leviticus 11:7-8). And I sure as heck fire don’t believe that  a woman is supposed to remain in quiet submission while she is in church (1 Corinthians 14:34).  Heck, just ask my husband – I don’t believe that a women should be in quiet submission anywhere. Ever.

I could go on and on and on with the things in the bible that I don’t believe are still accurate today. I believe that times have changed and that much of what was put in there was just what the writers of the time believed to be the case based on how things were done at the time they were walking the earth. I’m a writer – just about everything I write is tinged with my opinion.  (Ha! “Tinged.” Okay, maybe I need a different word there.) But still – you get the point. I think God wanted some stuff done and we were sucking at it, so I think he sent his son to explain it to us. And I think his son did a fine job of doing that when he told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  In fact, he made it pretty clear that no other commandment was greater than that one.

And what have I been doing?  Failing miserably. I don’t love my neighbors. I hear and see the hateful things that people are saying about people I love and I get mad. I get ANGRY. And do I feel love towards them?  No, I don’t. I think Jesus rocks – and I think he had some seriously good advice, but I’m not him. I just can’t do it. I can’t feel love towards these people who make others feel dirty and worthless, and then use the bible as their weapon in doing so. The God I believe in wouldn’t stand for that for a second, and neither do I.

A woman that I recently did a community theatre play with posted something as her Facebook status one day in the midst of the hatred, and I want to share it with you.  Take a few seconds to read this, won’t you?

I will not “UNFRIEND” those who lack empathy or those who refuse to understand. If I “UNFRIEND” them, then I allow them to retreat deeper into their closets of ignorance. If I “UNFRIEND” them, I offer them greater refuge from the reality of the world around and deprive them of the opportunity to develop sensitivity and demonstrate true love for humanity. No, I will not “UNFRIEND” them. Instead, tidbits and snippets of my life will continue to pop up in their news feeds. I will continue to allow myself to be available should curiosity get the best of them and one day, they decide to try to understand. SOMEDAY; that closet of ignorance might get lonely and they might start to crave the richness of life that comes from connecting across the differences. Don’t get me wrong- this is not a passive surrender because I REFUSE TO LIE DOWN AND ALLOW THEM TO TRAMPLE MY SPIRIT!! I WILL STAND UP AND RISE ABOVE!! I will keep living this GLORIOUS life and do it with BOLDNESS, JOY, and LOVE because that is the true children of God!!
Tiffany Christian

Oh wow. Tiffany, what I wouldn’t give to have your attitude. I try, I really do. But then I backslide all over again. Am I just made of a different caliber of material than others?  Oh, I don’t know. All I can figure is this: I’m human.

That’s it. I’m human. I’m not perfect. And neither is anyone else. None of us have all the answers. We really don’t. Are gay people going to hell?  Heck, I don’t know. Is there a hell? Is there a heaven? Did that first haircut I got back in 1983 seal my spot on the front pew in the pits of hell?  Don’t know that either. NONE OF US KNOW ANYTHING. We really truly don’t.  So why do we go around acting like we do?

Why do I go around acting like I do?

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know the answer. I really don’t. But I’m pretty sure love is the first place to start looking for it. I have to try to find a way to get this anger and hatred out of my heart because it’s not healthy. I wish we could all just love each other, but there’s nothing I can do to help anyone else with that if I don’t first start with myself.

Anyone care to join me?

It’s a work in progress, friends.  We have to start somewhere.

***

“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

– Sun Tzu

Jesus

jesus

Yep.  That’s the one.  You did, in fact, read that title right.  This blog is about Jesus.

Now, don’t worry.  If you’re not religious, I’m not going to preach at ya here.  Believe me, I’m the last one to do that.  I’m not sure I fall in the ‘religious’ category myself (whatever that word means…).  To be honest, I’m not sure what I believe at all, so I’m sure as heck not going to tell you what to believe.  I just want to tell you about something that caught my attention yesterday.  And maybe, just maybe, it might mean something to you, too.

First, a little background.

I was raised in a Baptist church.  Southern Baptist at that.  For most of you, no further explanation is needed here.  For the rest of you:  let’s just say that it is thoroughly ingrained in my brain that pretty much everything I do is going to send me straight to Hell.  And with that being the case, it’s also ingrained in my brain that I better have my heathen butt in church every Sunday morning in order to atone for everything I’ve done throughout the week, and to plead and beg for the Big Man to reach down his big, scary, arm of fear to alter my Hell-destined course at least long enough for me to make it back to church the next Sunday to start the process all over again.

You follow me?

Ok.  So, as you can probably tell from my veiled bitterness in that last paragraph, I’m sure it’s needless of me to say that some of that ‘teaching’ is starting to fade a little as my adult mind starts to mature somewhat past all this (somewhat).  In fact, I have turned into what some (read: my grandma) may refer to as ‘rebellious.’  Pssssh.  Innocent lil ol’ me?  Rebellious?  But alas, ’tis true.

And yet.

Yet, rebellious little heathen mind and all, I still feel that incessant pull to go to church.  And, most of the time, I still heed to that pull.  Why is that, I wonder?  Eh, that’s a topic for another blog, I suppose.  The point is this: even though I don’t do the “resolution” thing per se, the New Year still comes tapping on my shoulder every year reminding me that it’s time to reassess and maybe work on a few things here and there.  And, in this case, 2014 seemed to be reminding me that it was time to get back to attending church.

Now, as luck would have it, Richard and I finally found a church that felt like ‘home’ to us a little over a year ago.  Even though we’re not the most regular attenders there ever were (see above: I’m working on that), we still both feel like we’ve found a place that feels a little more comfortable to us than most.  They just seem to be focused on that whole “love thy neighbor” stuff, rather than hell fire and brimstone, and we both seem to like that.  We like that a lot actually.  And, since our kids loved going to Sunday school, we even managed to find our way into our own adult Sunday school class.  After a somewhat prolonged absence, we all trudged back yesterday to work on this ‘regular attendance’ thing, and were greeted with hugs and a genuine collective “welcome back” that made us realize how much we had missed it.  (And, incidentally, there were no “Where have you been?”s at all.  Imagine that.)

So, there we sat in our Sunday school class, studying the book of James, when something seemed to absolutely jump out of the Bible at me.  (Me! Heathen rebel and all!)  Sitting right there in the second chapter was this phrase:

“…mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13, NIV

Wait…what?  Did I just read that right?  Mercy?  You mean that whole “It’s ok, I understand that you’re human and you’re going to make mistakes” thing?  THAT is going to win over “You messed up chick, pack your bags for your trip to Hell?”  Surely not.

Yet there it was, people.  Right there in black and white.

Now, granted, these weren’t actually Jesus’ words.  But they came from James, who was Jesus’ brother.  And by brother, I don’t mean “brother in Christ” or whatever.  I mean, brother.  Brother as in, “Moooom!  Jesus turned my water in to wine again!  Make him stop!”  That kind of brother.   James actually grew up with Jesus.  Physically grew up in the same house with the guy.  So, if I were a betting woman (which I’m not, betting is a sin…), I’d say that James probably knew where Jesus stood on things.  Wouldn’t you say?  And according to James, that’s how it works – mercy TRIUMPHS over judgment.

So, why did that affect me so much?  Here’s why.

Most of you who know me, know that part of my…um…issue with church, the Bible, religion, etc., lies in the fact that some people tend use this book as their weapon when suppressing the rights of some of the people I love most in this world.  Who am I referring to, you ask?  Oh, I’m so glad you brought up that question. [*drags out soapbox*]  My gay friends, that’s who.  I’m not sure why gay rights is such an issue to me…I mean, I’m not gay.  As far as I know, my children aren’t gay.  No one in my immediate family is gay.  And yet, for as far back as I can remember, I have felt such a stirring in my soul that gay people are not “sinners” and therefore, should not be treated any differently than me.  And yet, how could that be?  The Bible says so right there in black and white that they are.  How could I have been brought up the way I have, and yet still feel in my gut that something somewhere isn’t right with all of that?

Well, there you go.  Maybe James just answered that for me.  Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was not sent to judge us.  What?  No judgment?  Maybe he was sent to show mercy.  To ALL of us.  Maybe he was sent to remind us that it is NOT our place to make rules or judgments on people based on what ‘sin’ they are or are not committing.  In fact, maybe it’s not up to us to hypothesize on what is or isn’t a sin at all.  Whether you are a firm believer in the Bible, or the biggest atheist that ever walked the planet, either way you HAVE to admit that there are inconsistencies in that thing.  Right?  Come on, don’t lie.  You know they’re there.  One page will say one thing as plain as day, and then you turn the page and there’s the exact opposite.  And you’ll have people say that the inconsistencies just lie in differences in ‘interpretation’ and blah, blah, blah.    Ok, I get that.  But I don’t think James left much for interpretation, do you?  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

To me, not only does that mean that’s how God will treat me, but that means that’s how I should treat everybody else.  It is not my place to judge.  It’s not your place to judge.  It’s not the government’s place to judge.  Why is that so hard to understand?  Could someone explain that to me, please?  What am I missing here?

If you still fall in the category of belief that homosexuality is a sin, then that’s fine.  You believe what you believe.  But let me tell you something.  As for me?  This girl is a Sinner with a capital “S.”  I mean, I’ve sinned a BUNCH.  I mean a friggin major TON of sins.  I could fill this blog for YEARS with all of them.  But you know what I get to do?  Marry the man I love.  One day (yes, maybe against his will, but whatever…), I’m going to marry Richard.  And no one is going to stop me.  Scarlett “S” emblazoned on my chest and all, I will still get the chance to say “I do.”  And it is so incredibly unfair that my gay friends have to travel to other states to be afforded that same courtesy.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Man.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone lived by that part of the Bible?  Oh hey – since picking and choosing which parts to go by seems to be the norm these days, is it too late to cast my vote for this verse?  I’m straight so I still get a say in the matter, right?

*sigh*

I know, I know.  My SPF 250 is packed and ready to go….

***

“Let’s make a law that gay people can have birthdays, but straight people get more cake–you know, to send the right message to kids.”
– Bill Maher