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From Jesus: Intro To The Practice Of Forgiving


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Jesus here.

 

This thread is intended to be a practical guide to the practice of forgiveness. It will not answer the question "Should I forgive?" but will instead answer the question "How do I forgive now that I've decided I want to forgive?" If you want to have a debate about whether forgiveness is needed, please start another thread. If you want to ask questions about the praxis of Christian forgiveness -- what you're supposed to do each day as part of your daily life to live according to the Way, the Truth, and the Life -- then stay here, and please! ask me practical questions!

 

Again, this is practical, not theoretical. In this thread, I assume you want to know how to forgive. I assume you think it's a good idea. And I also assume you have no idea where to begin. This latter assumption may sound like a stab in the dark to you, but I'm basing it on my own experiences 2,000 years ago. The idea of forgiveness sounded marvellous to me then, but I had no clue whatsoever how to describe it, how to "find" it, or how to "keep" it. But I learned. So I hope to be able to help you understand your own innate ability to forgive, which is part of your divine inheritance from God the Mother and God the Father.

 

I will be using some scientific terms. If you don't understand them, please ask me, or please do a little research on your own. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for you as Christians to begin to include some scientific understanding in your theological discourse.

 

Let's start first with an important image I'll be returning to as we go along. I will call this the Parable of the Bodybuilder:

 

The Parable of the Bodybuilder

Delilah and Samson are sister and brother. They each stand 5 feet 8 inches tall. By the age of 25, Delilah weighs 135 pounds. Samson weighs 155 pounds. They are healthy. They look attractive. They eat balanced, nutritious meals. They sleep well. They have loving relationships with their respective spouses. They have a loving, balanced, normal sexuality within their marriages. All is going quite well, as far as God is concerned.

 

One day, after Delilah has been watching TV, she looks in the mirror and says, "I'm fat! I'm ugly! My husband doesn't desire me anymore!" -- none of which is true, but Delihah says it anyway. Then Samson, who has always tended to follow his sister in her beliefs, looks in the mirror and says, "I'm fat! I'm ugly! My husband doesn't desire me anymore!" [not a typo]. Delilah and Samson say to each other, "What shall we do?" They think and think, and then Samson says, "Let's become bodybuilders. Then we won't be fat anymore. Then we won't be ugly anymore. And our beloved partners will love us."

 

To get a perfect six-pack, they have to go to the gym every day. And they do. They follow very specific exercises. They repeat them hundreds and hundreds of times. They listen to the trainer's advice. They change the food they eat. They take banned substances to force their bodies to realign muscle, fat, connective tissue. Slowly, their bodies begin to change shape. The shape is not the shape dictated by their own DNA. The shape is not a shape that's natural to either males or females. The shape comes at a great cost: more injuries, more bouts of illness becaused of impaired immune function, more sleep disorders, more problems with libido, more problems with impulse control, and more conflicts within their relationships. The shape, however, is all that matters to them. Each day, Delilah and Samson make the conscious choice to reshape their physical bodies. Their bodies obey. Their muscles grow and grow in certain places because they're forced to. But that doesn't make their bodies healthy or happy.

 

Delilah and Samson show us how powerful our conscious will power is. They show us how much our daily disciplines (whatever they are) can radically alter the natural shape of our bodies. They show us how much our conscious will power and our daily disciplines can override our DNA. They show us that we have the power to change and damage our bodies if we try really hard each day. Just be using our daily thoughts and actions.

 

Now . . . take the image of the bodybuilders, and apply the same story to your brain.

 

It's helpful here to remember that your brain is a physical substance. It's a part of your biological body. Your brain is not the same thing as your mind. Your mind is a generic term to describe your non-physical state of "consciousness" or "awareness of self." Mind is 4-dimensional, and can't be seen or measured in the 3D reality where you live. Your brain, on the other hand, is totally 3D. When you die as a human being, you take your mind with you as a soul. But you leave your physical brain behind inside your physical body. Your physical brain, being part of your physical body, is just as easily controlled and damaged by your conscious will power as your physical body is. Just as the bodybuilder can slowly but surely force his or her physical body to change shape, you (and yes, I mean you!) can slowly but surely force your brain to change shape.

 

This can be a good thing, or this can be a bad thing, depending on what belief system you choose.

 

I will further reduce these ideas to a maxim:

 

What You Put In Your Brain Matters

If you get up every morning, and think of your old friend Harry who once cheated you, and you say to yourself every morning, "I hate Harry. Harry deserves to be punished. One day I will get even with Harry," then what you are doing every morning is forcing your brain to try to grow new fibres (like neuronal dendrites, neuronal axons, and sundry glial cells) to connect to an idea called "hate." Your DNA, by the way, does not come with programming for "hate" because your DNA originates in your soul, and your soul has no programming for hate. However, just as your physical body does not naturally grow a perfect abdominal six-pack, but can be forced into it, your physical brain can be forced into building a paradigm labelled "hate." This paradigm becomes physically hardwired into your brain. It is not "just an idea" that has no physical reality. Hate is a series of interconnected brain cells that you have forced your brain to construct through constant repetition of your "need" for hatred and your "need" for revenge.

 

If the bodybuilder wants to return to a normal human shape, it will not happen overnight. Just because the bodybuilder suddenly changes his/her mind about having a six-pack does not mean the muscles, etc. will instantly realign themselves. The bodybuilder will have to patiently and carefully institute a new daily regimen to coax the body's tissues in a new, more healthful direction.

 

The same applies to your physical brain. If you decide you no longer want to hate Harry, but that instead you want to forgive Harry, you will have to persuade your brain to literally chew up the dendrites, axons, neurotransmitters, etc. that are currently plugged into your "hate paradigm." There's a little cluster of brain cells whose job it is to keep track of the "hate paradigm," whose job it is to inform you that it's time for you to have your daily hate-fix, whose job it is to remind you that you "hate" Harry, whose job it is to tell other parts of your brain that hate is, in fact, a very useful way to cope with life's stresses. (!) And that cluster sits in there till the day you die unless you "fire it," give it the pink slip, show it the door and tell it not to come back. It will go, and it will go quite happily, but only if you give it clear, consistent, continuous instruction. This means that you have to give your brain a new set of instructions to follow, a new set of instructions that are intended to supercede the previous set. The new set of instructions is the "boss," and the boss takes charge of sweeping out the old paradigm of hate, of literally pulling the plug on the biological circuits that are generating a false sense of "hate" in your poor, overburdened brain. This part of the job can be likened to your body's mechanism for getting rid of bruises on your skin. A bruise is visible to your physical eyes because blood has pooled under the surface of your skin following some sort of trauma. Your body sends in various specialized cells whose job it is to eat up the dead blood cells sitting in the bruise, and reabsorb the components into your body for reuse or disposal. The same thing happens in your physical brain. The "hate paradigm" is like a long-lived bruise, but unlike a bruise in your muscles, the brain-bruise will stay there until you give clear instructions that you don't want it anymore. But once you make that choice, your body will begin to send in specialized cells whose job it is to literally eat up and reabsorb the dendritic connections, etc. But this times time. And most of this work is done by your body while you are asleep. And sometimes the chewing-up process is so finicky and complex that you can have temporary side effects like headaches. It's like a construction zone on the highway. While the work is going on, the construction site causes slowdowns and detours. But in the end, when the smooth new asphalt is in place, you're grateful for the temporary but necessary inconvenience that created a much better highway.

 

I hope I'm making this clear. Forgiveness is not just an abstract idea. Forgiveness is also a biological process. And to learn how to forgive, you have to make allowances for the biological changes that will take place in your physical brain.

 

Would it be too much, then, to say that learning how to forgive can sometimes give you a headache?

 

No! A person who is learning how to forgive is a person who is undertaking to change the physical shape of his or her own brain. So you might get some temporary physical symptoms during the "reconstruction" phase. If you know this ahead of time, you will not be frightened or confused. Most important, if you know this ahead of time, you cannot be tricked by another human being into being told the headache comes from a supernatural source -- for example, negative energies, negative entities, past life karma, negative thoughtforms, the devil, or a wrathful God. It's just part of the natural healing process. Other parts of your body give off uncomfortable sensations like increased tenderness, pain, itchiness, and lack of strength while they are healing. The brain is no different. The fact that the tissues inside your skull have no immediate receptors for pain is irrelevant. I don't want to hear back from anyone who wants to insist the brain does not feel pain. This is false. The brain does feel pain; it just doesn't feel the pain inside the skull where the neuron's cell bodies are located. Instead, the brain generates pain impulses along the very long neuronal axons that stretch far into your body from your brain, and you sense the pain in your body, even though it's being generated inside your brain. So . . .

 

The first step in learning how to forgive is learning to understand it as a biological healing process.

 

That's enough for today. No doubt, some of you will soon get a headache.

 

Love Jesus

November 7, 2007

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Lesson 2

 

Readers who very much wish to view forgiveness as a mystical state of grace conferred on them by God are not going to like Lesson 2. Lesson 2 is all about the ways in which learning how to forgive is very much like learning how to stop smoking cigarettes.

 

If you've ever smoked and have tried to quit, you'll know what I mean when I say that the fight between your will power and your cravings is a bugger.

 

Learning how to forgive is a fight between your soul's will power and your Darwinian brain circuit's ongoing cravings. In the beginning, while you're first learning to forgive, you will be dismayed at the number of ways the Darwinian circuit of your brain can "trip you up" (i.e. give you cravings to hold onto your grudges and lack of forgiveness). There is nothing intrinisically wrong with you when you get these unloving cravings. You are not filled with "original sin." You are not being tempted by the devil. You are not weak. You simply do not yet have enough functioning, healthy brain cells in the soul circuit of your brain to take charge. Your task, as a Christian learning to forgive, is to understand this process, and to use your conscious understanding to help you stay the course.

 

God and God's healings angels will help you in the task of building more of the kinds of brain cells that you need. But -- and this is a non-negotiable but -- they will not help you if you don't actually want to learn to forgive.

 

Oh, you say, that's not fair! Of course I want to forgive! Why wouldn't I want to forgive? I'm a good Christian, and all good Christians want to forgive because that's one of Jesus' greatest commandments.

 

And I say to you that almost no Christians on the planet at this time actually want to learn to forgive.

 

Most Christians today expect God to give them gifts, blessings, abundance, and help in fighting their "enemies." Few Christians want to let go of their grudges, their excuses, their cruelty towards others, or their false judgments.

 

So let me warn you in advance: learning how to forgive means that you will be doing more than just learning how to forgive. Learning how to forgive means that you will simultaneously be learning how to stop blaming other people for your own mistakes.

 

There are few things in the universe that are impossible. However, one of the impossible things is this: it is impossible to be in a true state of divine forgiveness towards others or yourself if you enjoy holding onto excuses, grudges, or self-pity. There is no place anywhere in your soul or in your soul's DNA for self-pity. By self-pity I mean an emotional habit involving whining; narcissistic, self-indulgent tears; insisting on seeing the glass as always half empty; a refusal to even consider the glass as being half-full; a chronic pattern of blaming everybody else for your problems; and a chronic pattern of viewing yourself as a Victim with a capital V.

 

I tell you this now to save you the trouble down the line of wondering what's going on in terms of your own process. Your own personal will-power and your own conscious desire to change are the Number One factors in your brain's ability to grow new, healthier brain cells. If you don't really want to change -- if you don't want to stop hating Harry because you get a high out of hating Harry -- your brain will stay the way it is today. No amount of prayer or meditation can change this fact. Let me repeat: you cannot pray your way into getting a more balanced brain by asking God to heal it for you. God will heal it with you, but God will not heal it for you. There's a huge, huge difference. God has free will. God's healing angels have free will. They will choose not to help you rearrange the cells and circuits of your brain if you are not genuinely interested in being a nicer person.

 

Why is the system designed this way? The divine system is designed this way because God has given each of us free will. God expects us to try to use our free will wisely. If we prefer to use our free will in intentionally harmful ways (and from God's point of view, the decision not to forgive is an intentionally harmful decision) then, well, you know, there are going to be natural and loving consequences.

 

One certain consequence for the misuse of one's free will is a buildup of stress hormones in the body. In other words, if you continually make unloving and unforgiving choices, your body will pump out large volumes of stress hormones. These stress hormones will in turn impair your immune function, and in high doses they are toxic to your own brain cells. Needless to say, this is not a good thing. You will get sick. Is this divine "punishment?" No. This is biology, and it's hardwired into your DNA. So don't think you can pray your way out of the consequences of your own intentionally harmful choices. You can't. That wouldn't be fair to anyone, especially not to God. God the Mother and God the Father carefully and lovingly designed your DNA so that there would be many checks and balances, many redundancies (redundancies are a good thing, by the way!), many ways to hear what your own soul is trying to tell you. The Cartesian mind-body duality is false. It is misleading. And it is ultimately damaging because it tells people their minds don't affect their bodies, nor their bodies their minds. Take Descartes's theory and chuck it out the window. Modern science has shown it to be false. Your brain and body are intimately intertwined. Your brain and mind are intimately intertwined. You can't separate them. They're not meant by God to be separated. Work with what God has given you. Deal with it. Deal with it in as loving and kind a way as possible. You're going to be human until the day you die, so you may as well work with God's system instead of against it. Let me assure you of three things (the psychopathic hubris of certain readers notwithstanding): you are not smarter than God, and you can't trick God into giving you what you think you want, and God is always a hundred steps ahead of the selfishness that originates in the Darwinian circuit of your brain. Put even more simply: It's God's way or no way. You can choose to be your best self, in which case God will choose to help you. Or you can choose to be cruel and judgmental, in which case God will choose to not help you.

 

You can choose to learn to forgive, or you can choose to say "To heck with that. Sounds too hard. I can't be bothered." You can use your free will in whatever way you please in the full knowledge that your own soul and your own God always gets the final say.

 

Note that I'm not promising you any easy or quick fixes. In contrast to the teachings of many Christian leaders, I'm telling you that you must apply your free will to the task of finding God's grace. I'm telling you that you have to rise to your own potential, the potential that God the Mother and God the Father already see in you. I'm telling you that learning how to forgive is hard in the same way that giving up cigarettes is hard. It takes time and will power. Some days the old cravings come out of nowhere. But don't judge yourself for this. Be kind to yourself on this journey of healing. Believe in yourself, as God already believes in you. Keep trying. Keep practising. One day you'll wake up, and the glass will be overflowing with forgiveness. And that forgiveness will be YOUR gift to God.

 

On that day, you'll feel God's grace.

 

Amen to you.

Jesus

November 9, 2007

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Lesson 3

 

In this lesson, I will compare and contrast the practice of forgiving with the practice of meditating.

 

Forgiving is a different practice than meditating. Forgiving is a parallel practice, a complementary practice to meditating. Forgiving is a practice that can be done separately from meditation. It can also be done in sequence with meditation. It is, however, impossible to simultaneously empty your thoughts and focus on a single point (for example, focussing on your breath) while at the same time engaging in the practice of forgiving. Meditating, as it's generally thought of, is a practice of calming your thoughts, limiting the number of thoughts that go through your head, redirecting your thoughts towards a specific point, and seeking stillness. Forgiving, on the other hand, is what I would call an "active practice," one that requires you to think more thoughts at a time, not fewer thoughts. It would be wrong, however, to conclude that the practice of forgiving allows you to put in your head any ol' thoughts you wish. The practice of forgiving requires you to put in your head certain specific advanced forms of thinking that will help you reshape your brain's physical structure.

 

Unless you are a highly adept meditator with many years of experience (such as a Tibetan Buddhist monk), the practice of meditation will mean for you that your brain is generating an overall pattern of alpha brainwaves. Alpha brainwaves (measurable on an electroencephalograph or EEG) create within your mind a pleasurable sensation of being calm, even slightly "zoned out." Alpha brainwaves are important to your overall health. They help your brain get control of the various centres in your brain and body that produce stress hormones. They help you diminish the overall levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. They help you feel more relaxed, and more able to cope with life's stresses. So from the point of view that meditation can help you generate alpha brainwaves, meditation is a healthy, useful practice for Christians.

 

The practice of forgiving, on the other hand, is not a practice that leads to the production of alpha brainwaves. The practice of forgiving will eventually change the wiring of your brain so much that you will be able to generate widespread gamma brainwaves.

 

Not many people today could be said to generate consistent, non-aberrant gamma brainwaves throughout the different regions of their brain. Gamma brainwaves are the highest known frequency of brainwave that can be measured on an EEG. Gamma brainwaves, you'll be pleased to know, are linked to a person's ability to experience frequent moments of intuitive insight, spontaneous creativity, deep joy, and an unshakeable sense of connection with God and God's love. At a quantum level, gamma brainwaves are a 3D harmonic of a 4D angelic communication frequency. In other words, if your brain operates on a regular basis in the gamma brainwave frequency, you will regularly be able to pick up intuitive messages from God and/or your own guardian angel. You will also feel great every day.

 

Why do so few people have these brainwaves? This isn't genetic. This is all about the way people use their brains. Returning to the Parable of the Bodybuilder in Lesson 1, if you choose to put grudges in your brain, you will grow big "grudge centres" in your brain, but since grudges don't belong in God's loving universe, the various brain cells in your grudge centres will not help you produce healthy gamma brainwaves. Instead, they will act like a bruised or traumatized area. They will use up resources. They will not supply beneficial resources that would be helpful to other parts of your body or brain. They will be a burden to your brain. They will not contribute to an overall pattern of health.

 

The more grudge centres you choose to hardwire into your brain, the fewer places you will have available to produce the healthy gamma brainwaves you need.

 

You only have so much physical room in your brain. If you fill it up with crap, you won't have room for the good stuff.

 

Got it? What you put in your brain matters.

 

(By the way, if you're wondering why I keep saying "gamma brainwaves" instead of the simpler "gamma waves," it's because some readers will be familiar with the electromagnetic frequency spectrum of physics, which also has a frequency labelled "gamma." I don't want to confuse anyone.)

 

Thanks for your attention, folks.

 

Love Jesus

November 12, 2007

Edited by canajan, eh?
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  • 3 weeks later...

Lesson 4

 

In this lesson, I talk about what it feels like to forgive. For those of you who are interested in understanding what I, Jesus, taught during my ministry, I am about to explain what the Kingdom of Heaven feels like. (The Gospel of Matthew uses the designation "Kingdom of Heaven," which I prefer to Mark and Luke's Kingdom of God.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you start to notice the world is getting a little more complex and ambiguous than it used to be. (It's not the world that has changed, though, but your perception of the world.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you begin to ask God for answers to the really tough questions. (It's not the questions that have changed, but your willingness to ask them that has been transformed.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you begin to notice that you sometimes make mistakes. (It's not the frequency of your mistakes that has changed, but your willingness to acknowledge them that is different.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you find it easier to say "no" to unreasonable demands from others. (It's not the unreasonableness of the unreasonable demands that has changed, but your ability to recognize the unreasonableness that has changed.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you are willing to experience emotions of shame, guilt, or remorse without feeling shame about feeling shame. (It's not the emotion of shame that has changed within you, but your understanding of what that emotion means that has been radically altered.)

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when you are willing to go into a quiet, private space and weep tears of sorrow with God for the harmful choices you once made, and then come out of your quiet place and get on with your daily life.

 

You will know you are learning to forgive when your heart begins to hurt more than you ever thought it could. You will then ask God for help in coping with the pain, and in learning how to transform that pain into wisdom, empathy, trust, and knowledge.

 

Amen.

Jesus

December 1, 2007

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Lesson 5

 

Here are two prayers. One is a prayer I wrote yesterday for this series of teachings on forgiveness. One is a prayer I wrote 2,000 years ago (give or take) to address the same issue with my followers. You'll recognize the second prayer, as Paul co-opted it and took credit for it himself. Note that the second prayer, as I originally wrote it, ended where it ends on this page.

 

Please feel free to use the first prayer without fear of copyright violation. For the second prayer, I acknowledge the NRSV Bible.

 

 

THE COURAGE PRAYER

Blessed God,

I believe in the infinite wonder of your love.

I believe in your courage.

And I believe in the wisdom you pour upon us so bountifully that your seas and lands cannot contain it.

Blessed God, I confess I am often confused.

Yet I trust you.

I trust you with all my heart and all my mind and all my strength and all my soul.

There is a path for me. I hear you calling.

Just for today, though, please hold my hand.

Please help me find my courage.

Thank you for the way you love us all.

Amen.

 

THE LOVE PRAYER -- 1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-8A

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast [some sources read body to be burned], but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

 

 

I recommend that you make uplifting prayer a daily part of your practice for learning how to forgive. You needn't choose either of these two prayers. But please do not use any prayers that talk about or imply conditions such as original sin, unworthiness before God, or the existence of fallen angels (eg. Satan). Choose only prayers that overflow with the idea that the divine cup is half full, not half empty.

 

Blessings to you today and always.

Jesus

December 3, 2007

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lesson 6

 

So what is forgiveness? I will explain what I learned two thousand years ago, with the help of my angels and my loving Mother and Father, but I'll put it in modern terms to make it more relevant.

 

Forgiveness is not a state of grace that mysteriously descends on you. The Gospels report (not to their credit) that the Holy Dove descended on my head while I was being baptized. These passages have led many a faithful person astray because "descent of the Holy Dove" wrongly suggests that God singles out "special people," and confers on them special gifts through grace.

 

Am I saying there is no grace? Of course not. I'm saying that everything in God's good creation is grace, and to single out one event for one person is to highlight 1% of God's ongoing grace, and ignore the other 99%.

 

You are here, living a life as a human being on Planet Earth, so that you might understand, in your eternal life as one of God's angelic children, the transformative power of forgiveness. You are not here because you're unworthy of God's love. You are here because God trusts you as an angel, and God knows that when you die as a human being, you will take what you have experienced here and transform it into forgiveness and wisdom.

 

However, you do not have to wait until you die and return Home to Heaven. You have the tools available to you here and now to begin this transformative process.

 

Your primary tool is your will power. Forgiveness, as a divine experience, is 100% pure will power. There is no mystery. There is no magic. There is no ritual, no potion, no esoteric way to go about this except to learn to use your divine free will in the same way your divine Mother and Father use their divine free will to forgive the harmful choices you make. Although the method of forgiving involves no mystery, the result is filled with unending mystery. When you accomplish divine forgiveness, God's true beauty shines even more brightly for you, if such a thing is even possible (though it is . . .). In other words, I find it much easier to put into words how you can get to the place of forgiveness than to put into words what it will feel like when you get there. That is the sacred part of the journey for each person.

 

Forgiveness is what you end up with when you use your soul's Courage, Trust, Gratitude, and Devotion to make a permanent choice to wrap up a harmful choice in a permanent layer of love. The harm (caused either by you or someone else) is like the grit inside an oyster's shell. The grit hurts. But the oyster painstakingly covers the grit in smooth, nacreous layers that take your breath away with their beauty. The grit inside the pearl does not go away. But it is permanently transformed into a thing of beauty. The task of forgiving is like the efforts of the oyster. The task of forgiving is not to erase or deny the pain. The task of forgiving is to use your will power to turn the pain into a divine string of pearls.

 

I used the word "permanent" three times in the above paragraph. This is because I wish to highlight the difference between "forgiving" and "shrugging something off." What makes forgiveness divine is its immutability. Once God makes the choice to forgive a particular harmful choice you have made, God will never go back on the decision to forgive you. Their forgiveness for that action is permanent. They will not say to you, "We take it back -- you're no longer forgiven." They will not manipulate your trust by pulling the rug out from under you. They make the choice, and they stick by the choice.

 

Human forgiveness is meant to be exactly the same. The forgiveness in your own heart must be an unflinching, unshakeable choice that nobody can talk you out of under any circumstances. If somebody can talk you out of it, it's not real forgiveness. Another way to describe this is to think of it as integrity. Forgiveness is an oath you make, an oath you make to your own soul. Forgiveness is an oath you make to yourself that you will put a layer of love around the harmful choice, and you will never, ever remove the layer. You would not be a person of deep integrity if you broke this sacred oath. So you choose each day to keep your oath, and you choose each day to maintain the layer of love.

 

Each harmful choice that is forgiven is its own pearl on your divine string of pearls. You do not have just one big pearl that keeps getting bigger and bigger. You have separate pearls for separate acts of forgiveness. Each time you experience pain that must be forgiven, you build a new pearl using your divine free will and your own innate Courage, Trust, Gratitude, and Devotion.

 

This is the manner in which your loving Mother and Father forgive you.

 

I invite you, as my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, to step through the portal of wonder that will open for you when you choose to forgive.

 

Love Jesus

December 16, 2007

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Forgiveness is what you end up with when you use your soul's Courage, Trust, Gratitude, and Devotion to make a permanent choice to wrap up a harmful choice in a permanent layer of love. The harm (caused either by you or someone else) is like the grit inside an oyster's shell. The grit hurts. But the oyster painstakingly covers the grit in smooth, nacreous layers that take your breath away with their beauty. The grit inside the pearl does not go away. But it is permanently transformed into a thing of beauty. The task of forgiving is like the efforts of the oyster. The task of forgiving is not to erase or deny the pain. The task of forgiving is to use your will power to turn the pain into a divine string of pearls.

 

This is a beautiful metaphor, and it fits perfectly with what you're saying. Thank you!

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Lesson 7

 

Lesson 7 is a reiteration of a post I placed in another thread (Ann Coulter - the Voice of the Far Right). I'm reintroducing this material because of its relevance to the material I've written above in Lessons 1 - 6. Please consider this information carefully. It holds the key for many of you who seek your eternal Mother and Father. Ask God to help you find the courage to face those aspects of your own life where you are choosing status anxiety instead of compassion and forgiveness. Amen to you.

 

Jesus

February 1, 2008

 

***************************************************************************

 

Jesus here.

 

The thing you must ask yourself about an individual such as Ann Coulter is this: how did she get so far from the Truth? How did she get some far away from the Way, the Truth, and the Life? It is not a sufficient answer to blame the devil or any other evil-type entity. You must blame the individual herself and the cultural values that have shaped the way her brain works.

 

Inside Ann Coulter's angry, judgmental, cruel brain is the high frequency energy of her very lovely, very kind soul.

 

Needless to say, her soul is getting very little air time.

 

If her vitriol stems not from the devil, and not from the soul within, then where does it come from? This is the question you must hold uppermost in your own mind as you struggle to forgive Ms. Coultor -- and forgive her you must.

 

She is -- how shall I put this delicately? -- not choosing to be the best person she's capable of being. She's not choosing to integrate the best of her soul's potential with the best of her human potential. Instead of choosing compassion, she chooses status anxiety.

 

Now, you might say, "That's crazy! Who would choose status anxiety? Nobody would choose status anxiety voluntarily! Maybe it's not her fault. Maybe she doesn't have enough serotonin in her brain or something, because nobody in her right mind would want to be overcome by status anxiety." And I, as an angel, say to you that individuals make this choice all the time, quite consciously and quite voluntarily. And I say to you that when you continually make choices in violation of your soul's needs and your God's needs, then you create pain and suffering for yourself and others.

 

So what is status anxiety? And what can you do about it in your life as a Progressive Christian? The first step for you is to allow yourself to consciously accept the fact that status anxiety exists. If you don't believe something exists, you spend no time working to resolve it. You must "name the problem" before you can heal the problem. You must be honest with yourself. Status anxiety is the fuel for the part of the brain I've described elsewhere on this site as the Darwinian circuit of your brain (as opposed to the soul circuit of your brain). The Darwinian circuit of your brain is your biological toolkit from God. It allows you to exist in a 3-dimensional world on a temporary basis (that is, until the time of your physical death). Its role is supposed to be subordinate to that of the soul circuit in your brain. The role of the Darwinian circuit is to help you meet your body's physiological and safety needs -- food, oxygen, fresh water, clean and safe housing. The role of your soul circuit is to help you meet your soul's need for love, belonging, self esteem, self actualization, and service to others. This is the part of your brain that gives you the "feel good" natural high that comes from living in the Christ Zone -- from living with compassion and empathy for others. This is the part of your brain that's supposed to be getting all the air time. Unfortunately, as is excruciatingly plain from the behaviour of many people in the world around you, some individuals choose not to live with compassion and empathy. They choose to ignore powerful impulses coming from the soul circuitry of their own brain. They choose to ignore their own inner wisdom, their own conscience, because they've decided instead to settle for the much lesser "high" of the Darwinian circuit. They've decided to settle for the fleeting, unfulfilling dopamine high that comes when you get to carve a notch on your status belt. "Look at me -- I just got a fancier car than yours. Nyah nyah nyah. My kid just got into Harvard. Nyah nyah nyah. I'm a size 6 and you're a size 8. Nyah nyah nyah."

 

You get the picture.

 

Status anxiety is a dysfunctional state as far as God is concerned. Status anxiety means you're worried about yourself, and what God's going to give to you. By comparison, a person living in the Christ Zone worries about others as much as about himself/herself, and always tries to be of service to God for God's sake.

 

Status anxiety always leads to a religious experience based on status anxiety -- "Who will get into heaven first? Who will be punished first? Who will be rewarded first? Who will be rewarded best?" This religious experience relies on getting notches on the status belt -- who said the most prayers, who said them most faithfully, who gave the most money, who followed the most Old Testament laws (and don't forget those ever-so-horrid Old Testament laws about slavery!)

 

The most, the most, the most. The best, the best, the best. How has this mentality ever helped humanity -- or any other creatures for that matter -- on this beautiful planet called Earth?

 

You would be naive to conclude that millions of people don't actively crave this lesser high. Not only do they crave it, but they assiduously apply their conscious will, their conscious brain power, their intelligence, their talents, their experience, and their very own children to its pursuit. They choose the status anxiety and they dump the compassion, the empathy, and the very conscience from their own brains. It's very much an either/or proposition. You can choose to seek all the fleeting, ephemeral, micro-second highs of status anxiety . . . OR . . . you can choose to try to live in the Christ Zone, as I did. You can choose to live a life where most of the time you feel literally empty inside -- horribly, anxiously empty, unloved, unfulfilled, unconnected to God, and unconnected to your own self because you are -- or you can choose to live a rich, emotional life filled with intense comfort, peace, joy, connectedness, grief, sadness, forgiveness, and physical health.

 

It's your call, folks. You have to make the choice. God won't do it for you. God won't do the work of turning you into your best self, either. You have to make the choice. Then you have to stick with the choice. Every. Single. Day. You have to make the choice every single day to be the best self you're capable of being.

 

Maybe God will decide you need a new car, and maybe God won't. But you know what? You won't care one way or the other, because you'll be too busy being happy to look at the "notches" on the belt God is weaving for you.

 

Amen to you, beloved angelic friends. We love you!

Love Jesus

April 29, 2007

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Good to see you again, Jen! :)

 

The most, the most, the most. The best, the best, the best. How has this mentality ever helped humanity -- or any other creatures for that matter -- on this beautiful planet called Earth?

 

Ain't that the truth!

 

You would be naive to conclude that millions of people don't actively crave this lesser high. Not only do they crave it, but they assiduously apply their conscious will, their conscious brain power, their intelligence, their talents, their experience, and their very own children to its pursuit. They choose the status anxiety and they dump the compassion, the empathy, and the very conscience from their own brains. It's very much an either/or proposition. You can choose to seek all the fleeting, ephemeral, micro-second highs of status anxiety . . . OR . . . you can choose to try to live in the Christ Zone, as I did. You can choose to live a life where most of the time you feel literally empty inside -- horribly, anxiously empty, unloved, unfulfilled, unconnected to God, and unconnected to your own self because you are -- or you can choose to live a rich, emotional life filled with intense comfort, peace, joy, connectedness, grief, sadness, forgiveness, and physical health.

 

I think this sums it up pretty well. It's a conscious choice to "live in the Christ Zone" as you're putting it, or to not. Granted, I think there's a lot of pressure in our society to not - we live in such a consumer-driven culture - but ultimately, maybe it really does just come down to the individual's choice.

 

It's your call, folks. You have to make the choice. God won't do it for you. God won't do the work of turning you into your best self, either. You have to make the choice. Then you have to stick with the choice. Every. Single. Day. You have to make the choice every single day to be the best self you're capable of being.

 

That's a good point, and I'm glad you brought it up...it's not an easy choice, and it's one that must constantly be upheld. But then isn't that the case with anything good in life? You have to work at it. If you want to be in good physical shape, if you want to keep up good relationships, you have to work on them every single day, too. Sticking to our choices can be hard, but they pay off in their own way, too.

 

Thanks for this :)

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Lesson 8

 

In this lesson, I will look at the Christology of forgiveness.

 

I have two important thinks to say in this lesson. The first thing is this: You must know as part of this teaching on forgiveness is that I, Jesus, am an angel and a child of God. But I am not the Christ.

 

This is not to say there is no Christ. There is a Christ archetype, a Christ energy, a Christ story. But that Christ story is the story of your divine and eternal Mother and Father. In other words, when you speak of the cosmic Christ, or the Christ that is in the beginning, or was in the beginning, you are not speaking of Jesus. You are speaking ONLY of God, and here I specifically define God to mean God-the-Mother-and-God-the-Father-together. This is a non-Trinitarian understanding of God. It is also a non-monotheistic understanding of God. It is the understanding of God that I, Jesus, taught and shared with others two thousand years ago. This is not revisionist theology. If you read the Gospels carefully -- even the Gospel of John, which is greatly problematic -- you will see that I speak of "Abba," which is the Aramaic word for Father. And you will also see that Spirit -- "Ruah" in Hebrew, which is a feminine noun, and which I often used to refer to our divine Mother -- is clearly present in my teachings.

 

Those of you who have studied the development of church ideas and doctrines will already know that the concept of the Trinity was developed after my death -- several decades after my death, in fact. I did not teach or believe in the idea of the Trinity. This is evident from a careful reading of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Trinity -- which includes the fully human and fully divine Jesus who was set in stone in the 4th century by a bunch of powerful male bishops and political leaders -- is not there in the Gospels, and I don't intend to argue the point, because anyone who wants to see this self-evident truth has the means at his or her disposal to prove it to themselves. Pick up a good, solid, scholarly translation of the Bible, such as the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, or the New International version (perferably a Bible with solid scholarly commentary and footnotes) and figure it out for yourself. You don't need to take my word for it.

 

Many devout Christians believe with all their minds that the sky will fall down if they accept the truth that the Trinity was not -- and could not be -- a core teaching of Jesus. The devout Christians who want to hang onto Trinitarian doctrine are not the Christians I am talking to. I am a realist, and I am fully aware that it is far more important to many Christians to hang onto the authority of "church tradition" and to the status of their particular "Christian traditions" than it is for them to be open to God's living message of love. There is nothing I can say to persuade such persons, and I will not try. They have to cross that bridge with God in their own way and in their own time (which, to be blunt, will likely be when they die and return Home to the Other Side).

 

Please note what I am saying: I am saying that while there is no place for a Trinitarian understanding of God in the core teachings of Jesus, there is every place for a Christ-centered understanding of God in my teachings, and every place for you to continue to think of the mystical Christ as part of your religious experience (as long as you remember that Christ=God, NOT Christ=Jesus!).

 

The second thing I need to say is this: There is no place in the Kingdom of the Heavens (as I taught it) for the teachings of the woebegone group I call "The Hardly Boys." The Hardly Boys are the Church Fathers and the later theologians who taught a message that was diametrically opposed to my message. I call them the Hardly Boys because if you insist on following their guidance on spiritual matters, you will hardly have any chance whatsoever of knowing in your human lifetime what it feels like to be wrapped up in the sublime cocoon of God's ever-present love every moment of every day of your human life. Some of the best known of the Hardly Boys are the apostle Paul; the Neoplatonic Church Father Augustine of Hippo; the "nothing-is-good-enough-for-God's-satisfaction-but-blood-blood-and-more-sacrificial-blood" nice guy Anselm (who died in 1117 CE); and, of course, "good-works-are-######-without-grace" Luther. These are only four examples of people I list among the Hardly Boys, but they're well-known examples, and each has had profound (and negative) effects on the development of Christian doctrine.

 

You are, of course, welcome to keep their doctrines and their profoundly pessimistic teachings about God, as long as you're clear on the fact that you are voluntarily and consciously selecting the teachings of Paul, Augustine, Anselm, and Luther in place of -- and in oppostion to -- the teachings of, say, well, Jesus!

 

One indisputable fact is that Paul, Augustine, Anselm, and Luther simply hate to talk about the Parables of Jesus found in the Synoptics. How do I know this? I know this because Paul, Augustine, Anselm, and Luther do not write about the Parables. They ignore them. When they quote from the Gospels at all, they generally choose small, single phrases which easy to twist and meld to their own pessimistic purposes. Luther, of course, is also famous for saying that the canonical Letter of James is an "epistle of straw," which is most interesting, since I wrote half of the existing letter of James myself. (For those of you who haven't read yet what I've said on this matter, I was the author of James 1:2-27; James 2:1-8; and James 3:1-18. I also wrote the prayer to love in 1 Cor 13:1-8a).

 

Luther, of course, and many other members of the Hardly Boys, quote frequently and at length from the letters of Paul -- good ol' Paul, who never once quotes from the Parables (which were my primary teaching tool), who never once talks about the healing miracles that God the Mother and God the Father carried out during my ministry (except for the Resurrection, the meaning of which Paul completely subverts), who accidentally manages to "forget" that I did not say I was the Messiah, who frequently quotes from himself and from the Old Testament, but never from the Gospel of Q, even though a guy who by his own admission visited Jerusalem and spoke to my brother James must have had a copy of it, since he works so hard to counter what Q says (you mean you never noticed that before?) . . . and on and on and on, if you care to do some research about the writings of Paul. Again, don't take my word for it. Do the research yourself.

 

And while we are at it, I feel obliged to point out to you -- since nobody else is really doing it these days -- that Christianity is a faith tradition and a religious institution that is based 100% on mystical revelation -- on visions, on channelling, on revelatory experiences, on dreams, on prophecy, on angelic visitations, and on miraculous healings. This goes especially for the teachings of Paul, who bases his entire ministry on the "authority" that comes to him from his specialness in being set apart before birth for his work (Gal 1:15-16), and from the "vision" he had of Christ, the "vision" he himself never describes, but repeatedly uses in a "you-have-to-believe-me-because-I-say-so-and-I'm-a-very-special-messenger-of-God" kind of a way (Gal 1:11-12). (Think Paul talked about the conversion on the road to Damascus? Think again -- that was "Luke" in the Acts of the Apostles). So I don't want to hear back from Progressive Christians that there is no place in modern Christianity for miracles, mystery, and revelation. You have to work with what you've got. I was a mystic. Paul claimed to be a mystic. And just about every major Church thinker/theologican who has written about God up until the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation has been described as a mystic. So deal with it. Put it in a modern, scientific context, and either ask yourself in what way miracles have a scientifically verifiable role in God's very scientific Creation, or, instead, walk away from Christianity and be a "kinder, gentler atheist." You will never understand the historical Jesus if there is no place in your heart and mind for miracles, mystery, and the sense of wonder that comes from knowing that you're eternally loved by God, and there is no point in trying to imitate the life of Jesus if you're not willing to interweave faith and reason, hope and science, mystery and common sense.

 

These are not mutually contradictory concepts, the Hardly Boys notwithstanding. For God's sake, have the courage and the decency to believe in a God who love all their children equally, who do not predetermine who will be saved, who do not predetermine who will receive the gift of grace, who do not require Christ's bloody atonement and painful sacrifice as ransom for "original sin." Grow up, folks. Predestination and original sin and the devil are three core tenets of an integrated theological package, the chief aim of which is to prevent you from learning how to forgive. The Hardly Boys do not want you to know what it means for you to love and forgive yourself and your neighbour. They want you to feel like crap so you won't try to forgive yourself or others. They want you to feel like crap, because once upon a time each of these men felt like crap, because once upon a time each wanted to find an escape from his own individual lack of courage and lack of faith -- a lack of faith in a God who is not driven by hierarchy and status anxiety, but who instead loves women and men equally, young and old equally, disabled and abled equally, monogamous homosexuals and monogamous heterosexuals equally.

 

The key to all of this -- the key to knowing God's love -- is your own personal willingness to learn to forgive.

 

You can be as ethical as possible, as polite as possible, as generous as possible, as grateful as possible, as inclusive as possible -- all of which are exceedingly important to your soul and to your human happiness -- but if you choose not to learn to forgive, either because you think it sounds too hard to learn to forgive, or because you've listened to the Hardly Boys and are suffering from the illusion that it's not possible for human beings to learn to forgive, then you are shooting yourself in the foot, spiritually speaking. You're creating an enormous ostacle to your own spiritual fulfillment. You have free will, and you are within your rights to create such an obstacle if you so choose.

 

However . . . you should know that if you want to imitate the life of Jesus, and if you want to experience the mystery and miracle of God's love (an experience of redemption in Christ!) then you will have to decide to learn how to forgive.

 

Amen to you all. I love you, blessed and wonderful human friends! I love you, Mother and Father!

Jesus

December 20, 2008

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Hi Canajen,

 

So sorry to hear about your son. What a terrible loss to bear.

 

About your writing – I appreciate the emphasis on mysticism, and the parables.

I’d suggest not using the term Hardly Boys, because you seem to accept gays/ lesbians, yet that term reflects an opposite view.

Not sure why you bring in the trinity – do you see that as a hangup for people here? my approach to progressive Christianity is from an agnostic background rather than fundamentalist, so I’m not always aware of these things.

Paul doesn’t refer much to Christ’s teachings, but that was not the purpose of his epistles – they’re mostly responses to issues in specific groups. Paul must have really absorbed the message of forgiveness– he had to forgive himself for persecuting Jesus’ followers.

 

I haven’t had a great deal to forgive others in my life. But accepting myself, especially as a middle aged woman with a lot of wasted education, has been an unending process.

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

 

“In the long journey to be other than I am, I have struggled and not got far.” – Margaret Gibson

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I’d suggest not using the term Hardly Boys, because you seem to accept gays/ lesbians, yet that term reflects an opposite view.

 

Rivanna, I didn't know about there was a problem with this term, and I apologize wholeheartedly and sheepishly to anyone I might have offended, as this was not my intent. It's hard to keep track of cultural terms, especially ones that vary from region to region, and I just did not know this was a term that could give offense to gays and lesbians.

 

Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention!

 

Sorry,

Jen

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Paul doesn’t refer much to Christ’s teachings, but that was not the purpose of his epistles – they’re mostly responses to issues in specific groups. Paul must have really absorbed the message of forgiveness– he had to forgive himself for persecuting Jesus’ followers.

 

Jesus here.

 

Rivanna has raised an interesting point here, and I don't want to direct these comments to Rivanna specifically, because what she has said about Paul is being widely taught. But I want to address the idea that Paul must really have absorbed the message of forgiveness because he had to forgive himself. I want to address the idea because it's not true. Based on what Paul himself says, and on what Paul himself does not say, "forgiveness" was not central to Paul's teachings. There are a number of ways to prove this, and I invite readers to research it for themselves.

 

A simple way to start is to use a concordance based on the Greek New Testament. Strong's will do fine. Under "forgive" and "forgiven" you'll see few entries in the seven letters that most New Testament scholars think are Paul's (I think there are more than seven, but I'm happy to work with the current scholarly consensus). This is not solid proof, though. People can talk intensely about a particular concept without actually naming the concept. Most of the Parables I wrote that deal with forgiveness don't include the term forgiveness anywhere in them. You have to figure out for yourself that I'm trying to explain what forgiveness feels like. (Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable of the Vineyard Labourers), Luke 10:29-37 (Parable of the Good Samaritan), Luke 15:11-32 (Parable of the Prodigal Son)). These parables all get at the idea that forgiveness has no foundation in "merit." You can't earn God's forgiveness, nor can you give forgiveness to others on the basis of their merit, their position in the hierarchy, or the amount of time they've been standing in line, so to speak. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the Law. Forgiveness has nothing to do with Covenant. Forgiveness has nothing to do with status. Forgiveness isn't given only to those who are "chosen" or to those who are "special." God's forgiveness is given to everyone on Earth equally, regardless of whether or not they ask for forgiveness. This really sticks in the craw of people in various faith traditions who believe they've been standing in line longer and deserve to receive God's loving grace over and above their human brothers and sisters.

 

So far, it might sound as if Paul and I are basically on the same page. However, God's part in the mystery of forgiveness is different and separate from your part in the mystery of forgiveness. Paul is happy to talk about undeserved grace, but, you know, when you read his letters, you will not find in them a sense that forgiveness is a two-way street, that you, as a human being, must accept and absorb the gift of God's forgiveness, and that in doing so, you must accept the loss and the grief and the remorse for the mistakes you have made. Paul is not a man who teaches remorse or accepts the gift of remorse in his own life. When you read what he says about the way he persecuted Christians when he was a Pharisee, there is no remorse. In fact, he believes he was blameless because he was acting under the Law when he carried out his persecutions. This is not a man who has said to himself, "######, I really screwed up. I hurt the people who were spreading the teachings about love and forgiveness. I can't change what I did. But I know what I did was wrong, and there is no excuse for the harm I caused. I will learn from the terrible mistakes I made. I will accept God's forgiveness. I will forgive myself without making any excuses for what I did. I will not blame anybody else for what I did. I take full responsibility for my past actions. I will not blame the Law. I will not blame the devil. I will not blame original sin. I will not blame predestination. I am infinitely humble and infinitely grateful that God has shown me the mystery of forgiveness. I know now what Jesus meant when he said the last shall be first and the first shall be last. I don't feel "special" or "chosen" at all when I confront the reality of the harm I have caused to others. On the other hand, I feel so grateful and so humble in the presence of God's forgiveness that I feel uniquely loved by God. I know that God loves me and believes in me. I know that I will do better the next time because God believes in my Courage and my Strength to do what is right, because all of God's children are born equally worthy and equally beautiful in God's loving eyes, and I am one of those children. It is wrong for me to not trust God's integrity. If God says that I am a loving and worthy child of God, made in the loving and worthy image of God, then it must be so, and I will stop paying attention to anybody who says otherwise. God, please show me each day what this means."

 

Paul did not say anything like this to the churches he wrote his letters to. He told them to have unity amongst themselves. He told them not to separate themselves from Roman/Hellenistic society as a whole. He told them not to participate in "idol worship" (now there's a topic for a very long treatise!). He told them to accept his personal authority as an apostle. He told them to send money to the poor in Jerusalem. He gave them a Jewish apocalpytic spiel about the imminent end of time, and the return of Christ with trumpets and angels and so on and so forth (a prophecy which he had to continually revise when historical events proved him wrong, like modern-day prophets who have "missed" the date of the end-times). And he gives them lots of ethical exhortations and lists of virtues and vices. But he does not speak of forgiveness in the way that I spoke of forgiveness. He does not raise the spiritual bar for people. In fact, he lowers it. By the time he writes his Letter to the Romans, the spiritual bar he sets for Christians is far, far lower than the spiritual bar set for Jews by 1st century Pharisees/Rabbis. Read Romans Chapters 9-11 as a single thesis, and watch Paul's contortions as he single-handedly redrafts the definition of what it means to be "Jew" and "Gentile." This is a nasty, nasty piece of theology that does not deserve to remain in the New Testament.

 

Paul backed himself into a theological corner, and he couldn't get out of it except to blame "sin" and "error" on "inescapable cosmic forces" far beyond the ability of helpless, frail, weak human beings to cope with. This is immature. Unrealistic. Damaging. And extremely hurtful to God. Cosmic forces do not enter into the human equation of evil. Biological factors account for 100% of the human equation of evil. These biological factors include (but are not limited to) brain trauma, inadequate nutrition and poverty as they relate to brain physiology, toxins in the environment, psychotic illnesses and major depressive illness as they relate to mutually supportive relationships with others, inadequate education as it relates to the proper development of the soul/brain nexus, and so on. One important factor for brain health (brain health being the opposite of the dysfunctional condition that has come to be called "evil") is forgiveness. Forgiveness -- as anyone who has mastered the mystery of forgiveness will tell you, and there are many such people! -- forgiveness changes the way you relate to yourself, to others, and to God. It frees you from the need to blame others for your own mistakes, it frees you to find your own courage, it frees you to let go of the mistakes you made in the past and move forward with God's help into a present and a future of change, growth, peace, blessing, and grace.

 

Love to you all.

Jesus

December 22, 2008

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Isn't it recorded that Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" ? If so, it would seem to me that Paul acted in ignorance and after he repented (acknowledged his ignorance and changed his ways ) and accepted forgiveness he was excused/pardoned and in effect held blameless.

 

What would be the point in hanging on to remorse (moral anguish or bitter regret)? As long as he forgave others and himself, it seems to me his understanding was correct to consider himself blameless for his past actions because he knew not what he was doing by acting out his genetics, past conditioning and teachings up to that point. After all change was apparent in his life and there is no sense beating yourself up after you have accepted forgiveness. It seems he understood that he acted in ignorance and blame was not necessary.

 

Love Joseph

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Jen,

 

Just a quick note –

 

There are times in the epistles where you see remorse in Paul --when he calls himself a “wretched man” –“the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle” etc. and when he exhorts “Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” But Paul wasn’t writing a treatise on Jesus’ teachings. He was trying to help believers who had already found forgiveness and faith. He stressed mutual respect and care, solidarity as diverse members of one body--“God shows no partiality.”

 

Hope you all have a great Christmas!

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canajen,

 

Hope I didn’t sound insensitive – your topic is a good one. As you point out, Jesus’ parables, and his life, are a better illustration of forgiveness than Paul’s writings. His role was reconciling divergent types – to make room for both Mary and Martha, James and John, Romans and Greeks, Gentiles and Jews, etc.

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Lesson 9

 

In this lesson, I talk about what it feels like to be forgiven.

 

The feeling of being forgiven is hard to put into words. The feeling of being forgiven by one’s neighbour or one’s own child is an emotional experience that’s humbling and life-changing and emotionally intimate. It’s hard enough to describe forgiveness received from other souls on Planet Earth. The feeling of being forgiven by God is even harder to put into words because it seems so . . . big. It feels like such a big gift, such an incomparable gift, that words won’t suffice.

 

I understand this problem. I understand it’s hard to find the right words to describe such an amazing gift. It’s normal and natural to trip over your own tongue in trying to find words that can express the deep gratitude you feel when you really “get” that you’re forgiven. Unfortunately, most Christians have stopped trying to express it. Even worse, most Christians have come to believe that if they try to put it into words, they’ll be accused by God of being proud. They’re afraid they’ll be accused by God and their peers of the sin of pride. Of a lack of humility. Of presumption. Of daring to believe they’re worthy of God’s forgiveness. For most Christians, the sin of expressing their gratitude out loud is surpassed only by the sin of believing in their hearts that God pays attention to them – poor lowly unworthy worms that they are! – and dares to raise them up with the gift of forgiveness. How dare God do that! It’s blasphemy to say that God would actually forgive you right on the spot for your mistakes. There’s no mechanism in the Church for an outrageous divine practice of forgiveness that’s just between you and God, a divine practice that altogether bypasses the need for Jesus as Saviour and/or Jesus as Satisfaction for sin.

 

The Church has a number of traditions that involve intercession and sacraments, but intercession and sacraments aren’t the same thing as instant forgiveness from God. Intercession and sacraments are all about middle men and middle women. Intercession and sacraments are about status and hierarchy. You aren’t allowed to speak mano a mano with God. You have to go through the proper channels, and only then can it be decided whether or not you’ll receive a gift of grace. In this longstanding Christian tradition, grace is a fickle thing. You may or may not receive it. Most people don’t, say many theologians. This explains why the world is in such bad shape. God has given the gift of grace to a small and select group of people. The rest of the people on Planet Earth haven’t been given the gift of grace, so it’s not their fault they’re making such a hash of their lives. They can’t help it.

 

So goes orthodox (small “o”) Christian thinking.

 

At first glance, you might be tempted to argue that the whole point of the Reformation was to cut out the middle man/woman, and allow Christians to pray directly to God. Small problem: Lutherans and Calvinists were allowed to pray to God on their own, but they weren’t allowed to speak openly about God’s forgiveness. To do so was the height of presumptuousness, since the doctrine of original sin was still sacrosanct. Reformation Christians were allowed to read the Bible in their own language, and Reformation Christians were allowed to bypass traditional Church hierarchy, but the theology of forgiveness didn’t change. If anything, Luther’s theology of grace made it even harder for people to dare open their hearts to the gift of God’s forgiveness.

 

The Church today (including both mainline catholic and protestant denominations) seems to have decided to sidestep the theological dilemma it’s created for itself over the centuries by resorting to denial. By ignoring the topic of forgiveness. By making excuses for the fact that it doesn’t actually teach its members anything about the daily spiritual practice of forgiveness. By occasionally lying to its members and telling them it’s impossible for mere human beings to give or receive forgiveness.

 

Sure, many ministers and priests talk about the importance of forgiveness. But how many of them are standing in the pulpit and telling you how to do it? Or running weekend workshops and seminars on the topic? A few, but not many. They’re not telling you how to do it because most of them don’t personally understand it. It’s hard to teach something you don’t personally understand. And forgiveness – as I taught it during my time as Jesus – is pretty hard to experience and pretty hard to understand if you’ve been persuaded by years of seminary training that you have to impale yourself on your sword of humility, and reject what I taught through the parables on forgiveness.

 

The “sword of humility” is the term I use to describe a large body of Christian doctrine that deals with pessimistic ideas about the nature of humankind, the nature of people’s relationship with God, and the nature of sin. In brief, it’s the idea that a person of true faith and true service must be willing to accept their constant unworthiness in God’s eyes. When you’re standing underneath the “sword of humility,” anything you say that suggests you believe you’re worthy of God’s love, rather than constantly unworthy, will get you accused of the sin of pride, the crime of spiritual presumptuousness. To say you believe you’re worthy of God’s forgiveness will get you accused of a spiritual crime more heinous than breaking one of the Ten Commandments. The “sword” quickly falls on you, and slices off your budding sense of relationship with God. It makes you feel ashamed that you dared think for a minute that God cares enough about you to forgive you. You might be willing to accept in a grovelling sort of way that God loves you, but you won’t be able to deal with the shame the Church tries to inflict on you if you want to acknowledge and receive God’s forgiveness. Many people can be persuaded that divine love is distant, serene, detached, logical, not emotional. Forgiveness, however, isn’t like that. Forgiveness is really in-your-face, really present. If it isn’t emotionally intense and personal and life-altering, it isn’t forgiveness.

 

Matthew 20:1-16 tells the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard. The more charitable and compassionate of today’s theological commentators will tell you that this is a parable about God’s mercy, about God’s right to dispense the gift of grace as God sees fit, not a story about just reward, status, and economic rights. Their interpretation sounds good, but it’s wrong. It’s not a parable about grace. It’s a parable about what it feels like to receive God’s forgiveness. For you to be a human being in need of forgiveness is for you to be like one of the labourers in the vineyard. No matter how long you’ve been toiling in the spiritual vineyard, no matter what awful things you’ve done in the past, no matter how bad the mistakes you’ve made, God the Mother and God the Father forgive you. Today. Right now. There are no exceptions. Each day, everyone receives the same “wage” from God of total forgiveness. Straight from God to you.

 

Forgiveness is dispensed equally by God to all people, regardless of how long each has been “labouring,” regardless of each person’s expectations with regard to his/her relationship with God.

 

In other words, forgiveness is antithetical to status anxiety.

 

Forgiveness is antithetical to “chosenness.”

 

Forgiveness is antithetical to centuries-old Church hierarchy.

 

Forgiveness is antithetical to service work carried out beneath the “sword of humility.” (Which is not to say service work isn’t important, because service work is very important. Just don’t grovel while you’re doing it.)

 

Forgiveness is the most radical emotion you’ll ever experience as a human being. But in order for you to experience it, you have to let it in. You have to open your heart to forgiveness in the same way you have to open your heart to other positive emotions, such as love and trust. If you don’t want to feel it, you won’t feel it. If you’re frightened of emotions, if you’re frightened of relationships, if you’re frightened of trusting anybody (including God), you’ll receive God’s forgiveness each day, but you won’t be able to feel it. This relates to your brain chemistry, as I explained above. Your brain chemistry and your brain wiring dictate your ability as a human being to feel God’s love and to feel God’s forgiveness. If you can’t feel the love and forgiveness, it doesn’t mean your soul is defective: it means your biological brain needs to be healed. It’s a problem with your biology, not a problem with your soul’s integrity.

 

In other words, What You Put In Your Brain Matters. If you want to feel God’s forgiveness, don’t allow your brain to be cluttered up with the false belief that it’s presumptuous of you to accept God’s gift of forgiveness.

 

It is presumptuous to refuse it.

 

If you want to learn how to forgive, you’ll need help on the journey, and you’ll need to be patient with yourself. But the first step on this wondrous path is for you to accept with all your heart that’s it’s okay for you to gratefully receive God’s unstinting and ever-generous gift. It’s okay for you to trust the idea that you’re worthy of God’s forgiveness. It’s okay, because God the Mother and God the Father are your divine parents, and they think you’re totally awesome. Really!

 

With love to our beloved parents, and love to our divine family: You rock!

 

Jesus

July 17, 2009

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