Archive for February, 2014

Son of god“Son of God” opens Friday, February 28. See it!

Jesus was not a small group leader with 12 followers…he was a rock star and came to Jerusalem as THE MESSIAH with a huge following. The populace rolled out the red carpet and screamed, “Hosanna!” Yet, he surrendered to the Jewish religious leaders and Romans without a word or a fight. They executed him.

To the amazement of Jerusalem, he returned and said, “I am the Son of God, whom you crucified. Repent and love one another!”

Then he proved he was THE MESSIAH by establishing his kingdom HERE, NOW, in our hearts–love one another”

Tr8: Believe in Jesus, love one another and live!

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, suggested Jesus was either a lunatic OR indeed, the Son of God.

Advertisements

religious diversityAnswers fall within the context of questions. In religion, some think all the questions are the same or one answer fits all questions–like using a hand grenade or atom bomb. We’d all agree that if God exists, God knows all the questions and answers. A problem I often see is good people skipping God and mixing up answers and questions. For instance, one might ask, “How do I find peace?” and one might reply, “Carry a four-leaf clover.”

Should you disagree or be offended by the following, send your complaints or comments to Watizwongwitu@toleranceandcoexistence.net.

Q & A – The Shallow End of Religion

Atheist or philosopherHow do I find meaning in life? Answer: Ask the right question.

Buddhism: How do I avoid pain and suffering? Answer: Don’t desire anything. Practice self-denial and right actions; Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. If you screw up, the wheel turns and you can try again with maybe a bit of Hinduism. If you do it right, you’re in Nirvana (literally a “blown out” flame; see Judaism)

Catholicism and Christianity (nominally)How do I get to heaven? Answer: Be baptized and/or join a church and be good. If you get it right, you’ll go where God lives and be rewarded (see Islam). As a Catholic, if you get it wrong you’ll spend time in purgatory, but it won’t matter ’cause you’re baptized. As a do-gooder you’ll go to hell because no one is completely good and percentages don’t count–game over.

Christ FollowerHow do I know God personally? Answer: Look at Jesus and do as he did–love unconditionally. If you do it right, you’ll meet God. If you do it wrong, you’ll meet God, but not the way you expected.

Confucianism: How do I relate to others? Answer: Obey the rules in your Five Relationships. If you don’t screw up, life should be good and you’ll fit in. If you do this wrong, you’ll be an outcast.

Hinduism:How can I live a life in harmony with the universe? Answer: Obey the Shastras (a collection of spiritual laws) and believe the Brahman (supreme absolute) is something and nothing, then placate thousands of not-so-absolute gods who reveal the Brahman’s character. If you screw up, the wheel comes around again and you might try leaning into a bit more Buddhism next time. If you get it right, you get out of the cycle of rebirth and go back to nature (see Shamanism).

Islam and Mormonism: How do I differentiate myself from Christians and Jews? Answer: Be better and more religious than Christians and Jews.  Fight infidelity. If you get it right, you’ll go to a heavenly utopia where you’ll find God, peace, gardens, thrones, family and good food. If you get it wrong, you’re going to hell–game over.

Judaism: How do I become one of God’s Chosen people? Answer: Obey the Law of Moses. If you screw up, expect trouble, but it doesn’t matter, when you’re dead, you’re dead (see Buddhist Nirvana). Some Jews believe you might end up in heaven or hell depending on if you are indeed among the Chosen (see Islam).

Scientist: How do I know something? Answer: If you perceive a thing, it has a cause–find the cause and you’ll know something. If you do this wrong, you’ll be uneducated and confused. If you do this right, you’ll know a lot. In the end, you’ll find nothing is something (see Hinduism) and then you’ll discover faith and ask a better question (or not, see Atheism).

Shamanism, pantheism, naturalists: How do I become happy and get the elements to treat me well? Answer: Be good while superstitiously placating the gods and nature. If you screw up it doesn’t matter because bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. You are worm-food. If you get it right, it still doesn’t matter ’cause you are still just worm-food.

A final question: What makes Jesus so special? Answer: Everyone else died. All Jerusalem saw Jesus die and come back to life. Jesus said, “I am the Son of God. I am the way, truth and life–no one comes to the Father except by me.” He taught, healed, raised the dead, herded fish and swine, cast out evil spirits, and preached to thousands–he was spectacular! Almost everyone from Capernaum to Jerusalem celebrated him as THE MESSIAH who would lead God’s Chosen into a new historical era. Yet, to their disappointment and dismay, he quietly surrendered to the Jewish leadership and the Romans and was tried, executed and buried. But after a few days he emerged from his grave. He first appeared to some women, then his disciples and others, saying, “Make disciples–love as I loved you.” Jerusalem was shocked. His followers formed THE WAY and declared, “This same Jesus you killed is alive and says, ‘repent and love one another.'”

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, suggests Jesus was either a lunatic or, indeed, the Son of God. If your question is, “How can I personally know God?” the answer is Jesus.

Tr8: Ask the right question and share your answer.

Typos brought to you by…

Jesus was a rock star in Capernaum and the north end of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus began rounding up disciples in the area of Capernaum, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He eventually sent out 82 disciples. Jews traditionally recognized 12 tribes and 70 gentile nations (dispersed after the fall of Babel). Over the space of three years Jesus gathered a group of 12 to preach first to the Jews–“God’s Chosen”–and 70 other disciples to preach to “the nations.”

His Capernaum “gathering” numbered at least 120–many of these would follow him to Jerusalem then spread his resurrection story around the world. If each of the 82 disciples had families, the total “Gathering” may have been as many as 500 or more. In Jesus’ day Capernaum had 1500-2000 residents. Thus, Jesus followers may have made up as much as 30% of the local population. Jesus drew (and fed) crowds of  5000, plus their families.

Jesus was full of grace and truth. He modeled faithfulness to the truth and graciousness toward sinners.

Jesus was not a quiet, soft-spoken small group leader with a handful of men. He was a regional hero–a rock star–THE Messiah! Jesus was to Capernaum what the Beatles were to Liverpool–only more so.

Generally speaking, Jesus concentrated on Jews during his ministry and chose 12 men from the Capernaum-Bethsaida region on the Sea of Galilee. A significant number were fishermen and the rest ran the gamut from Roman tax collector to militant Jewish radicals. Despite their professional diversity, they were apparently literate. Jesus and his crew turned the region upside-down preaching a new “Kingdom,” raising the dead, healing the afflicted and feeding the poor.

Leaders

  • Andrew and Simon of Jona: Fishermen brothers from Capernaum. Andrew was one of John the Baptist’s first disciples. He followed Jesus after his baptism and then brought Simon, his older brother, to Jesus. Jesus renamed Simon “Rock.”
  • John and James of Zebedee: Also fishermen from Capernaum. Jesus gave them the name “sons of thunder.” They anticipated leadership roles in Jesus future kingdom, but Jesus told them to go to the end of the line to lead.
  • Judas Iscariot: Probably a militant Jewish fundamentalist. Jesus put him in charge of the group’s money.
  • Levi: A tax collector, probably from Capernaum. Jesus renamed him “Matthew,” meaning “gift from God.” He wrote the first Gospel narrative.
  • Jude (Thaddaeus) of James: Not much is known about Jude, but he may have written the epistle bearing his name.

Also…

  • Philip: From Bethsaida, near Capernaum; probably with a Greek background.
  • Nathaniel Bartholomew: A “guileless” man.
  • Thomas: A skeptical twin.
  • James of Alphaeus: Not to be confused with James Jonas or James, the brother of Jesus.
  • Simon Zealot: Perhaps a radical Jew.

Odds are these men were aware of each other before Jesus drew them together. As they gathered around Jesus, they brought their parents, wives, children and relatives into Jesus’ “kingdom.” Eventually, they moved as a small army, led by “The Messiah,” toward Jerusalem. There, they were welcomed as liberators. Jesus challenged Herod’s handpicked Temple leaders and their lackeys as Rome watched carefully.

The Temple leaders were not amused. They retaliated.

Much to the surprise and confusion of his followers, Jesus (“The Messiah”) surrendered voluntarily. He was put through a mock trial and executed. The disciples were shocked and went into hiding–fearing Jewish and Roman retribution. As they hid, Jesus appeared to some of their women, then to the disciples, and then, to others. They were shocked again.

The Messiah was indestructible. He lived. His kingdom reigned and his “good news” was preached.

The disciples became apostles.

They proclaimed, “Jesus, the Messiah whom you killed, is alive and he says: Repent and love one another.”

__

Tr8: Life as a disciple is studying and obeying Jesus. Life as an apostle is becoming Jesus to those around you.