Where I Am on my Spiritual Journey – Gospels (Part 2)

I think there’s more to like about Jesus than to dislike, so this blog post will be about the things that I like about him.

A great place to start would be the sermon on the mount.

It is probably  the most influential sermons ever. In a way, Jesus is setting out how he will conduct his ministry – compassion for the downtrodden and a hatred of the arrogant. In it, he challenges and encourages, shocks and inspires, offers hope and warnings. I don’t think you can read the sermon without being affected by what is said. Personally, when I read it I’m encouraged to keep doing good things and challenged to better myself.

I like how Jesus encourages us to be merciful and live in peace. War and revenge are something we naturally desire for. I mean sure some we might say we want world peace, but when we’ve been wronged, I think most would want to get back at that person that has hurts us. Yet Jesus has the audacity to say we should love our enemies and forgive when people do us wrong. He speaks out against judging others and gives us encouragement not to worry. He tells us that when we give to charity and the needy we shouldn’t boast about it, instead we should keep it as secret as possible. He touches on the subject murder and adultery – while most would say just don’t do it – Jesus warns about where such behaviour starts.Speaking of warning Jesus encourages us to not believe everyone who claims to be a Christian. Nowadays it seems like most Christians accept everyone who says they believe, yet Jesus tell us that we will know if someone’s faith is true by their fruits (whether they have love, have joy, live in peace, have patience, are kind, are good, are gentle and have self control).

So yes I like the sermon on the mount. I like the encouragement and challenges it brings.

Jesus is constantly ran into the Pharisees and the teachers of the law as they showed contempt for what he was teaching, doing and who he associated with. Yet that didn’t stop Jesus from doing such things. I like that about Jesus. I like that he didn’t back down even if it caused such disgust from the religious leaders. The response Jesus gives to the accusation of him eating with sinners shows just shows how unmoved he was by their indignation.

It’s interesting that Jesus never condoned sin yet seemed more angry about the self-righteous, religious hypocrites than the sinners. It wasn’t the tax collectors, prostitutes or other sinners that were at the brunt of a speech by Jesus in his Seven Woes speech. The sinners weren’t called snakes and made Jesus wonder how they will escape hell. No, it was the Pharisees and the teachers of the law that were called out. It seems like the church behaves the opposite nowadays. There seems to be anger about sin but a great acceptance of self-righteous. Maybe that’s why I prefer Jesus over the church. I like that Jesus hated self-righteous and showed mercy to sinners. I’ll be honest there was a time when I was very self-righteous, so I know how nasty it can be. Even now and again I find myself thinking in such a way, and when I do need to remind myself that such attitudes made Jesus extremely angry.

I agree with J.S. Park when he writes, that if Jesus were alive today he would piss off both Fox News and The New Yorker. It’s interesting that both conservatives and liberals both claim him as their own but I think a closer look at the teachings and actions of Jesus you see someone who was neither conservative or liberal. Those on the right would be disgusted that Jesus spent time with prostitutes, and equally those on the left would have been angry that he would have dinner with tax collectors. Jesus seemed to think that offering redemption was better than shaming people for their sin.

I like that Jesus seemed to believe that you couldn’t legislate righteousness, but love could change someone’s mind and then change their behaviour.

We hear a lot of talk from certain ministries and denominations about the end times. But a closer look at what Jesus had to say on the issue shows there are holes in many of the theories. I think the subject of eschatology is a big issue that is worth dedicating an entire blog post to, but I like that Jesus says things that can cause us to not to go along with those who use the subject of eschatology to bring about fear and desperation.

Finally I like the message of the gospel that Jesus brought to our world. A message of grace and acceptance that is (as far as I know) unlike anything taught by any other religion and philosophy. The gospel doesn’t deny how bad sin is but it gives us a solution to the problem, and that solution is grace.

For me, the message of grace that the gospel teaches causes me to be more tolerant of those who are different to me, to not judge, give people a second chance, to stop being arrogant, to be more forgiving because I’ve been forgiven.

Next time, in my final writing on the gospels in this series, I’ll be revealing why I don’t completely trust everything written in the gospels.

 

 

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