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Guest wayfarer2k

Life And Teachings Of Jesus

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Guest wayfarer2k

"We are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus."

 

I've been reading a number of books, including the gospels, on the life and teachings of Jesus lately. Being fairly new to progressive Christianity (but very thankful to find this flavor of the faith), do you think that the life and teachings of Jesus refer to:

 

1. Those of the historical Jesus (as mainly found in the gospels)?

2. Those of the resurrected Jesus (as mainly found in Paul's epistles)?

 

Do you think there is a difference between Jesus' earthly teachings and the teachings of Christ that the apostle Paul claimed to have received by revelation?

 

If you do see a dichotomy there, which teachings seem to help you most in your approach to God?

 

(Please feel free to move this post, moderators, if it is not appropriate here.)

Edited by wayfarer2k
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Guest billmc

Okay, my question has been out there for over three years. Now that I've had time to think about it, here is my answer:

 

I would say that the life and teachings of God which most help me find an approach (or awareness) of G-O-D are those teachings/acts that are the most self-less, the teachings/acts that are life-affirming.

 

A few examples:

1. Blessed are the meek

2. Turn the other cheek

3. Love your enemies

4. Forgive others

5. Judge not

6. Give to others

7. Feed the poor; heal the sick; stand for justice

 

And, for the other side, a few teachings of Jesus which don't help me in my approach to G-O-D:

1. Hate your father and mother

2. Leave your family and follow me

3. Don't plan for tomorrow

4. Give away everything you own

5. "I am the way, no one comes to God but by me."

6. His teachings on hell

7. His false predictions of the end of the world

 

I feel similarly about Paul's teachings. Some of them, like on the fruit of the Spirit and the nature of love in 1 Cor 13 are awesome and encourage me spiritually. Other teachings, like supporting slavery, his take on "original sin", and how women should submit to men, I find immoral and offensive.

 

So I find I have to "cherry-pick" both Jesus and Paul for the ripe cherries and throw the rotten ones out.

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Hi Bill,

 

It seems appropriate in this area as long as we are just expressing our view.

 

I would ditto all your life affirming points. Mathew Chapter 7 found an approach for me.

Some of the teachings you have listed as don't help such as "hate your father and mother" to me, is just a poor translation and is found only in Luke 14:26, (only 1 of 4 gospels) but seems not worth disputing because an argument on whether the Greek word was used to mean prefer less than rather than hate may be obvious to me from study but not to others. Most of the others you mentioned can be taken in a different context and a couple of the others you mention have not been revealed to me and could be in error.

 

Personally, if they speak to me that is fine and if not, I am not offended and just let them pass. I don't see that for myself as cherry picking just because they speak or don't speak to me (I have no control over this) because some I have read and let pass and then 10 years later received the understanding. Kind of like judging nothing before its time. Are there errors? I believe so but it really doesn't matter to me because the teachings that did speak were only used as an approach that for me were successful for a more direct connection.

 

Just my take on your questions on Point 1

 

Joseph

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Bill,

I love that you are writing this down! When I first joined the message board, I posted something about "Which teachings are most meaningful/helpful to you?" Here was the list I came up with...

 

I honestly believe the teachings about hell were to motivate people who were only motivated by fear. It is a stronger place to be motivated by love in life, but let's face it -- fear moves people who are on the wrong track. Jesus may or may not have taught any of these, but each of them have called me to be more than I am. The "don't plan for the future" teaching, I believe, was to recommend against the destructive power of worry,so that one speaks to me in that way. Janet

-----------------

 

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

Love your neighbor as yourself

Do unto others as you would have them do to you

Followers need to have right attitudes in their hearts; not just on the outside – specific

examples include alms giving, prayer, and fasting

Become like little children – the last will be the first

Reconcile quickly with those who anger you

Do not retaliate; non-violence modeled by Jesus even in death

Love your enemies and forgive,forgive,forgive!

Give to everyone who asks

Do not store up treasures for yourself on earth – you can’t serve God and wealth

Seek to please God; self-denial; how you live this life DOES make a difference.

Don’t judge others – focus on making yourself righteous – don’t cast stones unless your

are sinless.

Jesus came to seek the “lost”, not throw out the law – he ate with “sinners” and outcasts

There is a special place in God’s heart for the underdog in life

Need to be hearers AND doers of Jesus’ teachings – followers will be known by their

actions. Let your light shine before others and keep your zest for life.

Don’t squander your gifts/talents

Don’t be too busy when God calls you

Serving God is not always the easy path, and not everyone chooses that path, but it leads

to life!

Don’t worry, and always pray for what you need

Don’t be a stumbling block for others’ faith

Jesus became a way for people to feel forgiven of their sins, and faith in Him relieved

their sufferings

God loves all of us, and giving us Jesus is a great expression of that love!

Don't let your religion get in the way of your relationship with God and with other

people.

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Guest billmc

When I first joined the message board, I posted something about "Which teachings are most meaningful/helpful to you?" Here was the list I came up with...

 

I really enjoyed your list, Janet. Many of those teachings speak powerfully to me as well. My post was so much to list all the good teachings of Jesus, just to point out that, for me, I can't swallow everything Jesus said and realize that Jesus needs interpreting as much as the Bible does.

 

Your take on the subject of hell, though brief, makes some sense to me also. Some people do seem to need "shock value" to be stirred from their complacency. Taken in context, Jesus' warnings were probably very effective. I just loathe the way that some evangelicals have made the subject of hell their main evangelical tool. I don't know whether I believe in evangelism any more. I guess I am just more comfortable living out who I am and letting my witness be whatever good works or "fruit of the Spirit" that might be in my life. I would certainly not be the type who passes out Chick tracts. :)

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I would be really surprised if I ever handed out tracts, either :D However, I joined an "evangelism task force" this past year in my church, and it has now been renamed "Open Doors," and I would have never thought I'd be there, either. I believe it's important to get the word out that there is a group of us who doesn't believe God will send people to an eternity in hell for not believing in Jesus. I bought the book "So You Can't Stand Evangelism" off this website, and it was really good!

 

As to your point, Bill, about Jesus saying "I am the way.... no one comes to the Father but through me," we had a GREAT sermon about how Jesus is LOVE. "Love is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father without love."

 

Janet

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Guest billmc

As to your point, Bill, about Jesus saying "I am the way.... no one comes to the Father but through me," we had a GREAT sermon about how Jesus is LOVE. "Love is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father without love."

 

That's awesome, Janet. I wish I could have heard it.

 

I'll admit, at first hearing, Jesus' "I am the way" statement seems so exclusionary. In my mind, I've sort of pictured myself at one end of a long hallway with God at the other end. In between is Jesus, who is running interference, and he says, "Whoa, buddy, nobody gets to God without getting past ME!"

 

How do I do that, I wonder? And he says, "Well, ya gotta believe that I was born of a virgin, that I was sinless, that I walked on water and raised the dead. Ya gotta believe that I am God incarnate and that I died for your sin, rose again on the third day, and then ascended to heaven." Then he squints his eyes at me, just waiting for my response. His hands are up and I know that he can move faster than me, so there is no getting around him. I gotta believe all this stuff in order to get to God?

 

So I appreciate your insight into this, Janet. If we see Jesus, rather than being a blockade to God, as an example or a pattern for how we become aware of GOD's prescence all around us, then his claim isn't a stumbling block. Instead, it is an invitation to experience GOD for ourselves, just as he did. Jesus' life embodies the WAY, so that we can see how it is done. It's not about getting from point A to point B. It's about realizing that we live and move and have our being in GOD. I think this is the "way" that Jesus lived and calls us to.

 

Thanks for the conversation. You constantly encourage me. I appreciate that and hope that it is somehow mutual.

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I admired Janet’s list also.

 

I’ve always liked John 14 through 16, the chapters that include Jesus saying “My peace I give to you, not such as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

 

For me, Jesus’ teachings are best seen in context --extracting them as abstract statements can give a false impression. He was acutely aware of each person’s condition and what they needed to hear. Reading the gospels, we need to imagine the encounters – the setting, the cultural expectations --to fully appreciate Jesus’ words.

 

Also I’m drawn to the parables because they can stand alone without knowing the social situation in which they were spoken. The one about the unjust steward has always fascinated me. The father’s good gifts, the children in the marketplace. And the parable of the talents. For me and I imagine for many others here, there is a need to activate or affirm one’s spirituality by writing on line. Sometimes we might feel like burying it, out of fear of being misunderstood. But the parable makes it clear that we are to continue to be bold and unafraid to take risks as the work of faith in action. Arland Hultgren says about this parable, “Jesus invites his disciples into the joy of his kingdom, and we are not meant to worry too much about securing our own lives, but live with self-abandon and witness, knowing that the grace of God in Christ will more than compensate for any mistakes we might make.”

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I enjoyed what you have said about the importance of context. We cannot understand anything apart from the original context.

 

I admired Janet’s list also.

 

I’ve always liked John 14 through 16, the chapters that include Jesus saying “My peace I give to you, not such as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

 

For me, Jesus’ teachings are best seen in context --extracting them as abstract statements can give a false impression. He was acutely aware of each person’s condition and what they needed to hear. Reading the gospels, we need to imagine the encounters – the setting, the cultural expectations --to fully appreciate Jesus’ words.

 

Also I’m drawn to the parables because they can stand alone without knowing the social situation in which they were spoken. The one about the unjust steward has always fascinated me. The father’s good gifts, the children in the marketplace. And the parable of the talents. For me and I imagine for many others here, there is a need to activate or affirm one’s spirituality by writing on line. Sometimes we might feel like burying it, out of fear of being misunderstood. But the parable makes it clear that we are to continue to be bold and unafraid to take risks as the work of faith in action. Arland Hultgren says about this parable, “Jesus invites his disciples into the joy of his kingdom, and we are not meant to worry too much about securing our own lives, but live with self-abandon and witness, knowing that the grace of God in Christ will more than compensate for any mistakes we might make.”

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I also like the comments on John 14. I think it gets used as an evangelical battering ram too often, and not taken in context. In John 13:33 Jesus begins explaining to his disciples that he will be leaving them soon, and the path they are to follow once he is gone. Many of the references from these chapters of John have ben used to bolster obedience to church doctrine under penalty of Hell. If taken in historical context, and viewed as Jesus' words to 12 disciples, at a specific time in history, we can easily see the references to "my Father's House" as a reference to the temple. Jesus, in the same chapter, had just run the money changers out of the temple. That same temple was destroyed by Rome in response to a Zealot uprising in 70AD. In it's place a new house, in the body of Christ, would be formed.

I veiw this historical perspective, and Jesus' words to his followers to reflective of the unity of man after the destruction of the old exclusionary ways of the Jews in that era. He was inviting mankind into a new understanding of brotherhood, through his example, rather than an invitation to a new exlusive, and exclusionary club. Just my thoughts on the usual mis-application of scripture, and an alternate understanding.

Interesting that John 14 is the verse often quoted in defense of "born again" Christianity as the only way, rather than John 1:9, or 3:17, or12:32, or 21:22, or Romans 2:1-29 which all emphasize that God shows no partiality, that other's views should not matter, if we follow Jesus, or Romans 15, when Paul says that "God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all." I don't know about anyone else, but I believe God's mercy is great enough to encompass all, not just those of us who have been baptised and said the magic words.

 

Sorry. lecturing and monologuing again.

Edited by Jake

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