Volume 6: Issue 4
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Table Of Contents
Cover Story: Who Do You Say That I Am?:
Legalists who read this magazine, looking for ammunition to prove that I can't possibly be a "true Christian" will find plenty in this article. I will not argue for Christ's divinity. I will not defend Chalcedon's fully God and fully human doctrine. I will not even defend Christ as God's only Son. What I will seek to do, instead, is discover who Christ is for me and, hopefully in the process, give you tools to decide who Christ is for you.
Jesus does not simply reveal to us the nature of God. No, Jesus also reveals to us the nature of humanity. He shows us what it truly means to be human by showing us a life lived in the hands of God and of God alone.
Now is the time for the powerful Jesus message of inclusive affirming love in Luke and John to become alive and convincing for GLBT people and everybody else alienated and oppressed by religion.
Meeting Jesus, I asked, "How could I have been so wrong about you? Tell me who you are and what I need to do to follow you so we can be happy together forever."
Jesus had no need to become the object of our worship. He wanted us to understand that we had twisted our relationship with God into some sort of Master/Slave relationship, with the addition of an enormous bureaucracy between God and us. I think who Jesus was, essentially was immaterial. What he was about we have spent little time understanding.
I grew up with three separate visions of Jesus. One was my Sunday School Jesus. I was told He loved me "because the Bible told me so." He wasn't a strict disciplinarian and when the teachers would talk about Him they just talked about how He did wonderful things through His faith in God, how He shared God's Love with others and helped the needy, and most of all loved the little children.
Again, Jesus, you ask of me, "Who do you say that I am?"
You ask each of us that question at times, Jesus, and since it is now my
turn, how can I answer this question save in the words of the man who
was blind from birth, whom you healed, "One thing I know, that, whereas
I was blind, now I see."
The secret of identity is this: It is, ultimately, a delicious secret. Not
necessarily the type of secret that no one else knows, but the type of secret with nooks and crannies
that only God can get to because only God created them. And it is an evolving secret as well.
Promoting a passive image of Jesus takes away from the revolutionary character of Jesus and his message, and we can learn a lot from his example. For the church to respect LGBT Christians, we have to think the way Jesus did.
We have two options. We can choose not to surrender all and cling
to some of our riches. Or we can surrender all and just peer into what is
left, which is all there is...silence...darkness...the void.
I can remember my mother trying to instill in me the importance of praying in Jesus' name, saying that it was only through Him that one could access God. Not only did that upset my sense of fairness that a poor child in some other part of the world who had never been introduced to Jesus should be condemned to die and face an unspoken end, but I found it hard to approach Jesus when I felt such a close relationship with God on my own. It seemed to me that Jesus was in the way.
I'm not really sure who you are, completely, and that's fine by me, too. But I know that you're the one who would eat with me now, even though I ain't one of the "better" people on this earth according to those around me.
Jesus was often referred to as "Rabbi" or "Teacher." One of his missions on
earth was to teach people of God's love. He often did this by using examples.
I want to explain to you about God's timelessness and His unique ability to accomplish everything, everywhere and at all times. As we learn of Him through His Word, we see that "the past" is gone forever, "the now" just passed by, and "the tomorrow" does not exist today. This is what Jesus is in the principal of God's "Eternal Is."
By laying claim to Christianity and Homosexuality, Christianity and Transgenderism, Christianity and Heterosexuality, Christianity and Bisexuality, we automatically set walls between ourselves and our brothers and sisters. We have become Christians with a difference, and it can become so easy for us to focus on the difference rather than the Christian ties that bind us together.
In my mind, the game of "Mother May I?" represents our unmediated relationship with God, while "Simon Says" represents our mediated experience of God through the church. Simon, or the church, must give us permission if we are to seek out our own voice within the tradition. It is Simon who says whether or not we can keep our Christian identity while we make this search.
I was wearing a brass pendant, the "Peace Cross" - the peace sign with a cross on top of it. It's the logo of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, and I'm one of the leaders of EPF's Atlanta chapter. The businessman shook his head and said, in all seriousness: "Those two don't go together. Jesus and peace? No way."
Embracing our "otherness" is never easy, but Ritley and Countryman go a long way in their book to helping us get past the idea of being "accepted by the church" to thinking instead about the many and wonderful ways in which God affirms our lives every single day.
The writings of John Shelby Spong have been, over the course of the past year, a constant source of enlightenment and fulfillment for me. Liberating the Gospels was the seventh book that I read by Spong, and each time I pick up a new one, I am continually amazed at the incredible honesty, truthfulness, and excitement that each book holds.
Things haven't always been easy. Following God's direction never is, so it seems. There were various things that God led us to change, including the structure of the leadership of the church. Again, God brought things into line with His will.
Lee didn't become the CEO of a major corporation. She didn't leave behind a resume of worldly accomplishments that would make people envious. She didn't amass a huge financial estate. All she did was to leave a long, wide trail of love and encouragement to those in need.
Certainly, I believe in being ready to give serious answers to honest
questions, but entering into protracted arguments with people to prove to
them that I am a Christian, that I am in a right relationship with God, that
I am not going to hell, is pointless.
From The Pulpit:
everywhere have competing visions of Jesus, and you
know, I just don't believe in the Jesus a lot of them
do, not the way they describe him. There's a lot of
confusion out there, and still a lot of
misunderstanding and taking the Lord's name in vain.
Bible Study and Inspiration:
--By: Stacy Reynolds
People are always telling me and probably you, too, to let it go. Lay it on the altar. Give it to God. For years people have been telling me that, but no one could ever tell me how. Their telling me that just made it worse.
Letting go begins with forgiveness. The Bible tells us that we are to forgive.
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