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Who Do You Say That I Am?


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GRACE

by Jenell

 

 

Just who is Jesus, and just "how" Jesus is, and what is there about who/how Jesus is, that I might hope to emulate, is at the core of my faith as a Chrstian. How can I ask in any situation, "what would Jesus do, what would He have me do?", until I understand something of who He is.

 

I turned to Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Lord in the judgement, separating those that came before him either to the sheepfold on one hand, or the goat pen on the other.

 

I observe this judgement is not between religious/non-religious, or Christian/non-Christian, but of those self-professed to be "righteous" (vs 37). Since elswhere Jesus instructed those that would enter into the kingdom of God be "more righteous than the Pharisees", I think that whatever Jesus means to be more righteous, so should that be my goal...to try to be as Jesus,

do as Jesus, accepting His example and guidance in that. Of course, this parable is always understood that we are to hope to be among the sheep, not the goats.

 

But then, I noticed...where was Jesus, He whom we are to seek to emulate, in this parable? Who was He in this parable? Yes, Jesus is sitting as judge over others' faithfulness and righeousness. I was obviously missing something! Not to suggest that I've never fallen into that role myself, more often that I'd like to admit, but still, it isn't something I am willing to accept as the position of true righteousness I should be attempting to emulate! That position confuses "righteousness" with "being (more) right (than someone else)".

 

But then I found Him, who He was, where He was, in ths parable. Jesus "identifies" Himself with those very "least of mine," those to whom what we do, we do also unto Him. He isn't identifying with the actors, the doers, but with those acted upon, done toward/for. And surely so, according to our Christian tradition, had He not only identified with them, He had actually, physically suffered among them, what the self-declared righteous did to Him at their

will when He was vulnerable. He, too, had experienced being humbled, at the mercy of doers who showed no mercy.

 

I also noticed that while Jesus separated and placed those that came before Him according to judgement into the sheep fold or the goat pen, those "least of mine" are not given to come before Him or be placed anywhere at all.

I concluded they did not come before Him in the judgment, and were placed nowhere at all, because they are already where they are to remain...sitting at the Master's feet, simply and humbly accepting...they are those that have comprehended grace. So, too, had Jesus, humbly accepted in comprehending grace.

 

And there, I found who Jesus is to me, and where I am to be.

 

As Jesus now turns to me and asks, "Who do YOU say that I am?" I can respond, "Lord, you are my place of refuge in grace."

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Conscience

by Jenell

 

 

Just who is Jesus, and just "how" Jesus is, and what is there about who/how Jesus is, that I might hope to emulate, is at the core of my faith as a Christian. How can I ask in any situation, "what would Jesus do, what would He have me do?" until I understand something of who He is.

 

I turned to Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Lord in the judgement, separating those that came before him either to the sheepfold on one hand, or the goat pen on the other.

 

I observed that this parable is not addressing individual people as they come before the Lord in judgement, but NATIONS. In biblical context, "nation" does not mean simply political/geographic nations as we most commonly use this word today. "Nations" referred to groups, collectives, of peoples, as in societies, ethnic groups, tribes, social, political, religious groups and communities. OT accounts of the history of God's dealings with Israel demonstrate that when God spoke through the prophets to call for certain responses and return to obedience to His commands, He most often addressed it to the NATION of Israel, rather than to specific individuals. God was calling for the people of Israel to construct and maintain a society in which these conditions God set forth were met and carried out. Of course any 'nation' IS made up of those individuals within the collective, the call was to individuals within it, each to do their part, as well.

 

Those 'least of mine' Jesus speaks of in this parable, those people that suffered, to whom the NATIONS either responded with kindness, or not, were simply the humble recipients of grace, not judgement, in this parable. It is the "doers" or "not doers" AS NATIONS that came before Him for judgement, to be dispatched to one side or the other.

 

Here I arrive at not only Jesus's call in Christ to personally respond to the needs and sufferings of others, but the call to social justice and social welfare issues affecting each and every person...to be, as a Christian actively involved in influencing others, in helping shape my "nations" of which I am a member, a citizen and participant. My "nations" include not only our political/geographical nation, but local and regional communities, churches, even my family and circle of friends and other contacts, of which I am a part. In the NT, that is stated in such instructions that as Christians, we are to be the salt, and as a lamp set upon a hill. We fulfill those roles by our examples before others, in both our treatment of others, and our willingness to stand in behalf of those less powerful.

 

Within the Christian community as a whole, positions toward social justice and a society's responsibility toward well-being of the whole of the society as well as toward the weakest and most vulnerable within them are widely varied, and often contentiously debated. But where ever any Christian, as an individual or part of a collective, finds themselves along that spectrum, the issue of how we are toward "these least of mine" matters, deeply, to why we call ourselves

Christians.

 

As Jesus turns to me and asks again, "Who do YOU say that I am?"

 

I can respond, "Lord, you are my conscience, my moral compass."

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  • 2 weeks later...

INTEGRITY

 

 

 

A common metaphor encountered in Jesus's sayings and other N.T. writings is that of the nature of plants as it demonstrates what I have come to think of as the spiritual principle of "consistency throughout." As is the root, the plant, the fruit, and the seed, so is, by parallel, the heart, the mind, the behavior, the deed.

 

Matt ch 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of THORNS, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good

fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

 

That things didn't turn out the way I would have thought, hoped, planned, in the course of events, and even within relationships, has been a major source of not only personal real life difficulties, but also stress and anxiety over the course of my life. Recognizing that at the root of so much of these difficulties has been inconsistencies between my professed intent, my beliefs about what I was really trying to accomplish and why, in many of my actions and behaviors, and the true emotions and feelings of need underlying them, has been a significant

stage in my personal growth.

 

Modern psychology supports the concept that we make decisions out of emotions (e-motion = ellicit motion) to a far greater extent than intellect and reason. We tend to do what we "feel like" doing, and then seek what seems rational-sounding reasons for our choice. We tend to do the same concerning our more overarching attitudes and beliefs. We make decisions and judgements according to "how we feel", and then seek, after the fact, what seem rational

reasons to support our choice.

 

The commonly used psychological term is "Ego defense." These

are ways people commonly attempt to relieve psychological tension, or "cognitive dissonance", when at some level, often sub-conscious, we have recognized some inconsistency between our professed beliefs and our actions, an in-congruency between opposing/conflicting beliefs held simultaneously.

 

For that the human mind is so very good as self-delusion, tricking us into not seeing even ourselves what we may be doing, how do we discern our own inconsistencies? In my own faith walk, realizing such inconsistencies in my own supposed "beliefs" with what was expressed through my behaviors and actions was one of those significant "repentance" moments, in the sense of a turning point in some of my thinking.

 

Luke ch 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig TREE planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig TREE, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

 

As the common adage goes, one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing you've been doing, expecting different results. Recognizing this idea of a spiritual principle of "consistency throughout" helped me see I needed to redirect my attention to the outcomes of my various life experiences, the results, the "fruit", to find the real "root" of my difficulties. As I began to see the true nature of so many of my "plantings", my life dictating choices, I was forced to see some truths about my beliefs systems that were difficult to bear. My heart was clearly not always where I had thought it was.

 

Just as the husbandman in the parable above, in many, I first reponded by just trying to do harder or better the same things I had been doing all along. and of course, they didn't work toward bringing any better outcome than they had in the past. Being honest, I must admit that is still too often how I first react, before such an incongruency in my life makes it into my conscious awareness. But having recognized this form of human error within myself, I am further along the path than I was before.

 

Having to root out and toss old ways of doing, of thinking, of being, when we realize they just aren't producing good fruit, is hard and often painful work. I've come to refer to the process as digging out splinters and thorns, that have become deeply embedded in my flesh, festering beneath the surface. Opening, digging out, discarding, so necessary to healing and growth, is

the only relief from the continuing psychic pain and spiritual discord.

 

As what are called "Ego defenses" are dismantled, and the underlying need for them removed, we move toward consistency throughout, and the peace of being whole and undivided, of single mind, and a mind that can as intermediary, integrate heart with fruit through behavior and deeds. The spiritual principle of "consistency throughout" becomes at once both the call and the way toward wholeness and soundness that brings peace to heart, mind, and soul.

 

When Jesus turns to me and asks: "Who do YOU say that I am?"

I can respond, "You are my call, and my way, to integrity."

 

Reference:

From the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:

in·teg·ri·ty (n-tgr-t) KEY

NOUN:

1.Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

2.The state of being unimpaired; soundness.

3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

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

ETYMOLOGY:

Middle English integrite, from Old French, from Latin integrits, soundness, from integer,

whole, complete; see tag- in Indo-European roots

Edited by JosephM
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