Monday, August 13, 2007

What about when "Jesus" is a swear word?

I'm incredibly encouraged by Forrest's last post entitled "Taking back Jesus," and I agree whole-heartedly.

The problem is, what do we do with those who don't believe in Jesus, or at least don't believe in Jesus in the way I want them to?

That's one major problem with the group of Friends with which I'm affiliated, Evangelical Friends. There are lots of people who are interested in visiting a Quaker meeting where people come meet in silence and speak upon a strong impulse but don't have to believe any specific thing. There aren't so many people who are really interested in visiting a programmed Friends meeting, unless they're already Christians or interested in Christianity. Why? Because going to an unprogrammed meeting is non-threatening and sounds intriguing and open. Going to a programmed meeting is just like going to church, and lots of people have already experienced "church" and it hasn't been a good experience.

So how do we "take back Jesus" and not run out those who are seeking an authentic spiritual experience but have been hurt by the name of Christ, or Christians, or the Bible used as a weapon?

The easy answer is to live as Christ lived, but that's easier said than done...and everyone has their own idea of what that would look like. So what would it look like for you?


david said...

I'm not entirely sure just what taking back jesus might mean as I with Bill Samuel suspect he ain't exactly a good liberal even if I am pretty certain he ain't a good conservative.

I think we begin by owning the Jesus we've come to know -- through reading scripture, and commentary on scripture, in public worship -- churchy-type or quiet-type, and private prayer, and while we're at it -- in the crucible of our lives as we try to put what we have discovered into lived practice.

Someone (one of the Petrine epistles I believe) said: always be ready to give reason for the hope you have in Christ Jesus That's a mighty good starting place.

forrest said...

Why should anything Jesus says matter? Because someone else tells us we should do what Jesus says? As Cherice is saying here, not everyone cares either what Jesus says or what we say they should do about it.

We end up having to talk about truth. You do what Jesus says when you see that it makes more sense than what we've been doing instead.

People keep saying that Jesus doesn't make sense, that he was holding up impossible ideals, or saying that God won't help us unless we believe Jesus is the one true mystery-cult god.

But what he really says is about God. The ethics make sense when you realize that they're God's ethics.

"God's Ethics"? The ethics that God enforces? NO! The ethics that God follows! The ethics that are natural to God because of who He is and who we are...

Our little makeshift systems of organized violece, customary theft & retributive justice... They are perfectly natural for little, frightened beings, and God bears with them, knowing that we have eternity for doing better.

But a time seems rapidly approaching, when the pain of catastophe may be less than the pain of trying to go on this way...

david said...

I think we follow Jesus because Jesus is God's promise we can be like Jesus too.

Oops. There's that P-word again.

forrest said...

"Following" Jesus is one of those metaphors that rolls too easily off people's tongues. A few years ago I saw a little man who slept with homeless people and carried around a cross almost big enough for his own use... and obviously this was a remarkable attempt at following. But that isn't most people's Assignment.

We don't know what being "like Jesus" would mean, and as far as I can imagine, it sounds like a mistake. It is wonderful that Jesus was like Jesus, but God opted for variety, with the rest of us.

We are given a man without photographs, both his history and his words muddled by his partisans (& ignored by everyone else.) I don't know what others make of this, but it tells me that we were meant to have hints rather than a precise blueprint. (Which we would certainly have misunderstood, with even more potential for harmful misuse!)

Talk of "God's 'promises'"... If I found a piece of paper, reading: "Pay to bearer on demand, $1,000,000," signed "God" I would not rush it to the nearest bank.

We have been given something to trust. And we do find it in scriptures, even in the twisted caricatures of pious commentary... but it isn't those scriptures themselves, let alone any of the bizarre structures various people have built from them. It's what guides us to the words we need, and shows us their meaning when we sincerely pray and seek to know. Jesus called it "my Father."

amy said...

these are good questions! :)