Thursday, November 29, 2007

a good example, continued

(i started this to simply sum up and tie ends together, but it ended up being something else entirely. so i decided to make it a post instead of just another comment. hopefully you'll take the time to read it. it stands as a response to the last 3 comments from the previous post. upon completion it made the title of "a good example" more relevant and nuanced than upon original intention. hmmmm.)

wendy - those who have tasted and fallen away, manipulative leaders, love of money and evil roots... things that have definitely taken over the mainstream of our global society. something i definitely want to investigate and discuss further, if any are willing, to take a good hard look at our world and what is happening in it all over. which is one reason i am thankful to have both hemispheres represented here. would be nice to get an asian or african perspective thrown in as well. anyone know anyone in those places who enjoys questioning and studying the scriptures in a most unorthodox way, who is not offended to hear viewpoints that differ from their own, and who has an internet connection?

tess - thank you for coming back and addressing my original question. we kind of spiraled off.

"I think the Pharisees were following laws for their own self advancement, not out of a love for the God who made the law."
not out of a true heart love, i would agree. but they were doing it out of a heart for obedience to god as well as self-advancement. which is where the wicket, for me, gets sticky. the topic of "the religion of the pharisees" and the many, many parallels to modern american evangelical christianity is a discussion all its own so i won't delve here. but i will ask, "isn't a heart set on being obedient to god, even for your own personal advancement in religion as well as resurrection, what these people were taught it meant to love god?" i believe it was the pharisees' heart desire to be obedient to god, protect his word, and persecute all those who taught anything different. which is what they were taught by the law. i believe their desire was to never be destroyed or exiled again and so they set out to make absolutely sure that it never happened again by paying extreme attention to the letter of the law.

which, yet again, is what god asked of them back in deuteronomy. in fact, in deuteronomy alone there are 5 separate admonitions to "obey all these laws" so that they may prosper. (personal advancement!) so it is my stance that obeying the law for personal advancement is what they were commanded to do, according to their limited understanding. we know now that this understanding was incorrect, but to be fair, and i think the very heart of my question here, "how were they to know any better?"

when such a priority was given to obeying and performing the rituals, how were they to break free from the pattern?

to paraphrase you, things got hairy because jesus was telling them that their rituals were not enough, and in many cases downright wrong. yet these rituals had been formed and handed down as a way of pleasing god and never breaking his law. which is something god commanded of them. so, in their minds, jesus was telling them to disobey god. and there's only one thing you do with a heretic who misleads so many people on a grand scale like that.

"The pharisees lacked the ability to love God more than they loved themselves."
precisely my point. they lacked the ability. they didn't have a conception of it. because, in my mind, it almost seems as if god shaped them to be that type of people, at that moment in history, in order to accomplish his work. which, in my mind again, seems as if he set them up. by emphasising over and over again that he wanted them to be a people who keep the entire law without fail, without prejudice, and without mercy. and that they should get rid of those who do not follow accordingly before they "lead you astray."

which makes it an amazing and quite well thought out plan, if it happened on purpose like that. you just don't think of god as being the type to set people up like that to be the scapegoats. that's the disturbing part for me. because i very much feel like i got set up. and that may be something no one else here can relate to. feeling like you got set up for a beat down by following god and doing what he asked of you. yet, scripture is littered with examples of people, in my mind, who got beat down by doing what they thought in their hearts was what god wanted them to do. jesus would be among this group.

(all i will say about A&S here is that many people since have sold property or any number of things and only given a portion of it to the church instead of the whole amount and yet they live. in fact, i'm sure it happens on almost a daily basis. weird.)

"Jesus never spoke a word against what was written in the law." i suppose that would all depend on what you would consider "against". in fact, on more than one occasion, jesus amends or downright corrects the law. for example, Matt.19:8-9. jesus says that moses permitted divorce. (something written in the law) he then says that it really isn't permissible unless adultery is involved. thereby nullifying, or correcting, or speaking "against" the law.
(as an interesting side note, jesus always attributes the law to moses and not god. on only one occasion does jesus attribute the law to god and that was in the case of one of the ten commandments.Matt.15:5-6, Mk.7:11-13.)

"However, if we still followed orthodox jewish costums i don't think Jesus would mind as long as we did it out of love for him."
i agree with this. yet, in my opinion, observing laws and traditions is a very slippery slope as the pharisees and evangelical christians have found out the hard way.

patti! thanks for finding your way over, and more than anything, thank you for sharing your thoughts. to commemorate the occasion i have prepared a bundt cake. my first try, but i think it turned out rather well. feel free to have some.

thank you so very much for listening and sharing. it is all too rare to find someone who will wait and listen for the spirit. or even knows how to do that. (which, yet again, is another discussion for another time) the words you shared are words of life. and they also hit on very important things for me as well.

"because I AM"- the only real answer moses and job received for having to endure, or preparing to endure, all manner of hardships for following god. and a strange answer it is at that. instead of trying to explain it to us, god simply says "you don't need to know."

that doesn't, however, stop me from wondering and asking. and in fact, i think is a very healthy process to first of all admit to myself that i have these questions, and then be willing and able to ask them and discuss them freely.

"He was saying if you know my Father, and that I am from Him (and I am Him) than you would know that I am good and trustworthy, and you would come to Me."
one of my great confusions. trying to understand the seeming discrepencies between the character that is clearly and consistantly displayed in jesus and the charachter that is displayed somewhat erratically in jehovah in the OT. trying to understand and come to terms with it.

because i am healing from some pretty serious wounds. in a way in which the only people i feel as though i've been able to relate to on this have been dead for thousands of years. i actually get isaiah, jeremiah, ezekiel, the apostles, and so on and so forth. i understand god asking you to do outlandish, even outrageous and seemingly blasphemous things that will most certainly catch the attention of those in your religious circle. but more than catch their attention, incite them towards a violent heart. all the while, onlookers think that you're absolutely out of your mind. but you follow nonetheless only to be beat down and left for dead on the outskirts of town. the reward of the faithful in this world. time and time again this scenario has been played out, and i feel as though i was caught up in one such scenario and know not why.

for me to be an example? an example of what? radical obedience? willingness to be lead anywhere, even to slaughter? to show the evils that have crept in to evangelicalized religion on the whole? to be an example of what will happen if you read the bible for yourself and then stand up for what you believe to be truth? to help show young people how the religion of the pharisees has become, in many very real ways, the religion of evangelical christianity and its leaders?

and if any of these are the case, did any of the witnesses even notice these things? how many of them were paying attention? how many of them can handle that the truth of the matter was swept under the rug and they were fed lies by the leaders they trust so much? and that they were fed these lies so that the leaders could appear righteous while, in their minds, "be obedient to god, protect his word, and persecute him who taught anything different." sound familiar?

was it all for nothing? right now, it seems so. except for the one fact that i am now free. i am free from traditional and doctrinal restraints that would seek to hold me back from going anywhere and everywhere with the good news of grace.

one reason i believe the lord silenced you on the point of "raw language". although it may not be a freedom you have, it is certainly well within the boundaries of conscience he has given me, as well as it being the simple and plain language of the world i find myself sent to. and to nitpick over something so trivial as groupings of consonants and vowels is so much less important, and would only cause division. rather than the course you have chosen. to be able to set aside such silly things and chat about the great and unsearchable things. i applaud and thank you for being obedient in this.

anyway, thanks again for stopping by. feel free to come around and join in anytime. i can use all of the advice, perspective, and tempering i can get.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a good example

JOS 7:19-20 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me." So Achan answered Joshua and said, "Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel..."
JOS 7:24-25 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, HIS SONS, HIS DAUGHTERS, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

John 8:3-11 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”... He straightened up, and said to them, “ He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her...” When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “ I do not condemn you, either..."

LEV 20:10 If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

i have been reading through the OT for about 3 years nowas i was largely ignorant of what was contained in it. not that the sunday school teachers and pastors didn't talk about it. they did. but it was the same few stories over and over again. there are no flannelgraphs for the levite and his concubine. (Judges 19) but that's another story.

as of late, as i said to my niece a couple of weeks ago, i can only read about one chapter a week because i am so disturbed by the things i am reading. and i believe i have finally been able to put my finger on the crux of the question. which is a very old question, but it remains all the same.

why is there such a difference between god and the way he deals with people in the OT and the NT. not saying there are no similarities at all, but sometimes there are differences so great, they don't make any sense to my mind. and here is one.

so often the story of jesus and the woman caught in adultery is lauded as a great example of the mercy of god shown to us through his son as an example for us to follow in the way we treat others. by treating them as we would have them treat us. with much mercy and grace and judgement-free forgiveness. jesus is seen as a great hero when he calls out the harshness of the pharisees and silently chides them for being so merciless showing them that they indeed are no better than this woman.

but here's the twofold problem for me...

1. - in stopping this proceeding, jesus is in direct opposition to the law which was given by god who commanded his people to follow it upon pain of death and curses for disobedience.

2. - jesus, who is supposedly god, is chiding men FOR DOING EXACTLY WHAT GOD INSTRUCTED THEM TO DO! god is the one who taught the jewish people to kill those who do "wrong" and pounded the point home time and again through exiles and destructions until the jews had decided they would follow the law to the letter and not stray again.

so if jesus is the exact representation of the father, why did he do this? why did the father command jews to stone people, only to rebuke them later for obeying his command? how can a god desire his people to stone a man and HIS ENTIRE FAMILY who did not participate in his "wrongdoing" and later find it strange that his people were hardened and merciless when he commanded them to be so?

this disturbs me. and pat answers about god "having his reasons" and "his ways being higher than our ways" ring very fucking hollow. because somewhere a little girl, through no fault of her own, had her head bashed in by big rocks. and it pleased the lord. what was it like to be part of that mob? did it strike any of them as fucked up? or were they so filled by the "fear of the lord" at this point (because of all the smitings and killings and pestilences and plagues for disobedience) that although they didn't want to kill innocent children, they wanted to preserve themselves and their own households? very understandable. but a real fucked up choice to have to make in the first place. i mean, achan even admitted his wrongdoing, apologized, and told them where to find the evidence!

if any human exhibited this type of terroristic control over a group of people, he would be labeled a psychopath and a terrifically evil man. yet once again, jesus, who is supposed to be this same god in the flesh, does not exhibit any of these corrupt and megalomanical tendancies.

very disturbing and confusing indeed.