by Jane Tawel
A friend posted the above meme today, and of course, since it was 4:30 a.m. in the morning, my usual time to study my spiritually inclined tomes and meditate on my spiritually inclined thoughts, and pray my pathetically needy inclined prayers, I, of course instead, chose to respond at length to this post. Here are my hastily but life-time-so -far thoughts on the above post.
What I didn’t say in the post, but do now, is that this is the sort of post, I think Jesus would have responded to with the same harsh words he said to his disciple, Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”. I used to want to make t-shirts that read on one side, “Jesus was NOT nice.” and on the back said, “but he was God”.
Imagine me shaking my head and sort of smile-muttering here: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… (smile, shake head)… what in the world are we going to do about You?”
Yep — that is the question. What in the world are we MEANT to do about that raggedy figure on the edge of the crowd, the man named Jesus, the figure named Messiah, the archetype for humanity, named The Christ?
Following are my expanded thoughts from my response today on my friend’s well-intentioned post (you have guessed by now I don’t have many friends):
(WARNING: Thoughts of mine may appear larger in the mirror than they do on a written page.)
Well, my friend, thank you for the thought-provoking post/ meme above. Of course, it gets me going…. hmmmm, where to begin?
Jesus was, as was Buddha, as was Moses, as was Gandhi, an actual historical figure and people actually wrote about him and what he taught, so we don’t need to guess at it, but it sure wasn’t at all as simplistic as this post implies, and wasn’t at all simple to understand, and as Jesus said himself, it was an almost impossible thing to practice and live, without the almighty help of the very Hebrew God which is the One that Jesus believed in.
Jesus was Jewish, teaching Judaism to Jews and hoping they and his ragtag bunch of misfit disciples, and eventually the world would catch on to what it was meant to be in and from The Beginning with humans’ relationship to YHWH and humans’ relationships with each other, first to the Hebrews but meant for all peoples and nations. And while this post is full of good ideas which are nice and good sentiments, and certainly have some truth about what Jesus taught, they aren’t very inclusive and are simplistically, if not dangerously, misleading. For instance, if we are to take the words as true that are recorded in the testaments, Jesus said in fact that he came “not to bring peace but a sword”. Metaphor?- definitely. Peaceful life?- definitely not.
If Jesus is to be taken seriously as The Christ, and as our meta-type in how to live, he was not at all an easy “pill to swallow” or a particularly Rodney King sort of “why can’t we all just get along” kinda Messiah. He was a radical worldview shaker-upper. The worldview of the Jews had gone far off its intended course in Jesus’ day, much as Christianity has often veered off course, and continues to do so in ways that must indeed, make Jesus weep, and God turn away Her Face.
The fact that Jesus taught and more importantly lived and died, what were meant to be God’s universal truths, inherent in any of the good parts of any religion (Christianity) or belief system (Buddhism) simply points to the other ancient Hebrew belief that “all humans have a conscience that is written in our hearts” — we also have a proclivity to be selfish, greedy, less than truthful, and hateful and to quiet our conscience if we would rather have it our own way. It’s a choice of will and a choice of faith in something more important than oneself to choose The Way, The Tao of Christ, no matter whether one believes in something religious, spiritual or not.
This is the other fun thing that Jesus came to point out; he hung out with the least, the lost and the least likely to be named Pope, Dalia Lama, or Rabbi of The Year. Radical guy, that Jesus and a super hard act to follow. And yet so many of us claim we are trying to do just that.
The important thing that this post reminds us is that for those who claim to “know Jesus” or “have him in our hearts”, we should be ever more loving, serving, giving, humble, and peace-making, even with our enemies. We should also seek to speak absolute truth with kindness, not niceness nor fear, but with the knowledge we are all meant to be “something more”. Because even when Jesus was judging others, (and he did, he sure did, don’t fall into the trap that we are not meant to judge wrong doing with the same measurement that Jesus would and did, but we are to make sure we live our own responsibility first and foremost and with humble judgement of our own personal and systemic wrongdoings); but even in judgement, Jesus was incredibly kind in his judgements comparatively. (Calling someone a viper is better than killing them with stones. Pointing out someone’s greed was more important to their eternal well-being than pointing out someone’s sexual brokenness. Jesus spoke to the evils of the tribe and the powers, much more than the broken sinfulness of the individual.)
Jesus spoke, acted and healed in the most loving, but “searing into the very soul” truthful way. I daily have to throw myself on that Christ-like, truthful, kind, loving judgment, both in the judgement of Christ, and My God, and of those I love and live or work with, and especially on the mercy of those many unknown, unsung, uncared-for people who continue to suffer in a world gone astray.
To allow myself to judge is to hope that the world, the planet, and the systems of this world have a hope and prayer of one day being better than they are today. To judge myself and to let myself be judged, is to let myself have hope of being better today than I was yesterday.
And to hark back to what Jesus, who wasn’t a Christian, and wasn’t a Buddhist, and was a Jew, actually said about himself and us, I believe I will one day, in some way, and some kind of New Kingdom, New World, take a knee with the rest of the world, and I will throw myself on the Mystery of Universal Mercy and Love, throw myself at the feet of The Christ.
I am incredibly grateful to have been raised to get to know about Jesus, in a place and time that has so much knowledge about him, and personally, in America where I have had so much freedom to study about that character and those who knew the man called Yeshua. But as it is also written, “to whom much is given, much will be required”. True for me as an individual, and if Jesus is to believed, true for nations and religions as well. God have mercy.
God have mercy.