Tag Archives: loving jesus

Blasphemers must be put to death!

Leviticus 24 contains the story of a blasphemer being stoned to death.

Most would say that the young man insulted God and must be put to death because of it.

I can’t help but feel that assumption is wrong. It communicates that God is proud, that God’s pride can be hurt, and that God is vengeful because we hurt his pride…

I’m not buying it.

Imagine if a father doused his son in gasoline and set him on fire until he burned to death because his son called him a jerk, said he hated him, and broke all the father’s rules.

We would be appalled at such a parent! We would probably condemn the father for not showing more restraint against someone acting so immature!

So why do we as Christians write it off as ok when God is interpreted that way? Why is it ok for God to have such pride? Why is it ok for God to retaliate?

The answer Christians usually give is because “We can’t possibly understand how God’s ‘goodness’ fits into his ‘pride and revenge.'”

Let me flip that statement and ask…

What if we ACTUALLY can’t see how the ‘pride and revenge’ fit into God’s ‘goodness?’

In the English Standard Versions the translation of God’s words to Moses are, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.

The God I know is the proud father of ALL of humanity; all religious and non-religious folks. God is equally joyous when a Christian tithes as when a Muslim offers Zakat, or when a Buddhist feeds an orphan and when an Atheist adopts a child. God is equally hurt when an Israeli or a Palestinian is killed. God is equally distraught over tsunamis in Japan and hurricanes in the U.S.

Jesus is the advocate for all of humanity and all of creation. The enemy is not other humans, but inhumanity. Thoughts, words, and states of being that remove our humanity from us include evils like guilt, pride, slander, gossip, poverty, and sickness.

The sin the blasphemer committed was not insulting God, but dehumanizing someone else.

Religion (or lack of a religion) is a deep piece of most people’s identity. By blaspheming the Israelites’ God, the young man was insulting the identity of the Israelites in an attempt to reduce their humanity. As Jesus would later teach in the Sermon on the Mount to insult someone is worthy of the fires of hell. Not because it’s “mean” or “cold-hearted,” but because it dehumanizes someone.

And so the same command was given to the Israelites, “Whoever curses [the blasphemer’s] God will bear his sin.”

Christians are not better than other religious or non-religious people. We are all children made equally. That is our confession whenever we refer to God as ‘Father.’

So let’s quit with the ‘Christian Exceptionalism‘ rhetoric, stone our own ‘blaspheming’ selves, and start living what we claim to believe; that ALL people are made in Christ’s image and are worthy of our love, compassion, and servitude.

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My great pride and deep shame

Raised a social and religious conservative, when I was assigned service learning with a group of people that I was either uncomfortable with or uneducated about the choice was easy… I would work with the University’s LGBT center.

Up until that point in my life I had only been acquainted with maybe 2-3 individuals who were ‘out’ with their non-straight sexualities.

When I first was in the LGBT center the people were extremely welcoming. They introduced themselves, engaged me in conversation, and didn’t much mind that I was an ‘out’ evangelical. In fact, a few of them began talking to me about their own experiences with Christianity! I was accepted and embraced immediately.

Also during this time I had been out of organized religion for two years and was looking to get back in to a “Christian Community.”

I attended one group’s meeting the same night as the 2008 election. After the service some regulars were introducing themselves to me when an unknown group of students stopped and asked all of us standing there if we were Obama supporters.  I told them I was, they announced that he won, we high-fived, and they were on their way.

Here is where my deep shame comes in…

When I turned around I was confronted by discomfort, disbelief, and anger. One of my new Christian friends even called me a “baby-killer” for supporting such a politician… Not exactly loving words.

But here is also where my great pride comes from…

I learned in those few weeks that Christians do not hold a monopoly on “LOVE”. True love (the sacrificial kind Jesus talks about) is capable of being experienced and expressed outside of the Christian community.

After that, the barriers in my life began breaking. My friends now include refugees and immigrants, addicts and sluts, Atheists and Muslims, the intellectually aloof and the physically disabled, Kenyans and Mexicans, and any other number of people I have had the pleasure of meeting that are different than me.

My deep shame is that I don’t want to be associated with the hateful rhetoric that has become synonymous with Christianity.

My great pride is that the love that I believe in is breaking through anyway.

I am proud of my friends who love me in spite of our differences and I will work to reconcile the relationships of those who resent me; because, as Shane Claiborne says in Follow Me To Freedom, “The best critique of something that is wrong is the practice of something better.”

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Hating Religion

Seeing as how this video has brought the topic of “Hating Religion and Loving Jesus” to the forefront of our global, youtube-connected, society I thought I would use the opportunity to voice personal frustrations regarding the topic.

Religion – (defined by Miriam-Webster here and dictionary.com here) for reference sake includes…

“a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”

Jesus, was a rabbi. Jesus celebrated Passover. Jesus prayed to God. Based on that definition Jesus was religious and so are YOU.

If you engage in prayer, you are religious – if you believe Jesus will save you from your sins, you are religious – and if you treat other humans with love, care, and dignity because they are infinitely valuable based on the effort the creator went to to create them, then you are religious.

Jesus TAUGHT us religious attitudes! Jesus TAUGHT us beliefs! Jesus TAUGHT us practices…

1. “Pray to the Father in this way”

2. “Tithe so that your left hand doesn’t know what your right is doing”

3. “If you have two coats give one to someone who has none”

4. etc. etc.

Jesus was religious and wanted us to be religious too! If he didn’t he wouldn’t have told us make disciples teaching them to OBEY everything he has COMMANDED us…

Now before you go off on a tirade about my misinterpretations or misunderstandings listen to where I am coming from. The difference between Jesus religious practices and the social construct of United States religious practices is the motivation behind them. THAT, in essence, is what Jesus was talking about when he got in the grills of all those pharisees!

Raise your hand if you remember the term “White-washed tombs.” What Jesus was talking about was giving the APPEARANCE of religious practices and JUDGING others by their LACK of appearance.

What Jesus desires is that we engage in these attitudes, beliefs, and practices for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. To know God better, to align our own desires with his, and to experience JOY! Everlasting, soul-penetrating, outwardly projecting happiness.

Religion is a joyous occasion! The fact that Jesus taught us how to live is beautiful, challenging, and exciting!

No matter what you do in life you are engaging in a “personal set” of “attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Because of this fact you will ALWAYS be religious, it is up to you to decide what sort of religion you wish to participate in; a good one or an evil one. To deny it or hate it won’t make it go away.

Let me use this moment to clarify that the purpose of this post was not to degrade or deface any of the material presented by Bball1989, but to encourage each other to be specific and detailed in our word usage, especially when using the word “hate.” Do not express hatred if you are not entirely sure what it IS that you hate… the tongue can be a wicked devil, or as James says a world of evil among the body parts.

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