you don’t have to be a christian to dig Jesus

I was listening to 30 Seconds to Mars earlier.  In the song Buddha for Mary, this lyric comes up:

He said “there’s a paradise beneath me"

She said “Am I supposed to bleed?”

He said “You’d better pray to Jesus.”

She said “I don’t believe in God”

That said, in reference to this mostly irrelevant lyric, if you don’t believe in Jesus as God, you are likely not praying to Him in any sort of capacity.

This, for one reason or another, once again reminded me that in order to dig Jesus, to think Jesus was a cool guy, you don’t have to be what today’s society calls a Christian.  I actually think that’s one of the awesome things about Jesus.

I’m pretty sure Jesus never actually called His followers Christians, but rather disciples.  The term Christian was likely coined after Jesus was killed.  Disciples as in, we are supposed to learn from Him . . . follow Him, and not only when it’s convenient to do so.  As with anything to do with humanities or social science, I do believe our learning, especially on these sorts sociological issues dealing with human interactions [which is, hello, pretty much solely what Jesus taught on], is to our own interpretations of His words when He was teaching.  That doesn’t mean we might not be taking something He said not as He intended, but contrary to popular belief among certain circles, life is in no way black and white.

I’ve written before that I often hesitate to call myself a Christian.  In fact, my Facebook “Religious Views” simply say “i worship Jesus”.  I don’t even deserve to be able to worship Jesus, nor do I deserve to be here alive, but the very least I can do is lead a life of worship to Him in all that I’ve screwed up and He fixed.  So, I stray away from the Christian tag, even if that’s what most call me [and what I call myself sometimes for sake of simplicity].

As much as it perhaps demeans the love that salvation in Christ is to entail, many Christians believe in Jesus but aren’t interested in following His teachings.  They may believe in redemption and being freed from their sin, believe in the awesome teachings of Jesus, but what if one doesn’t actually live their life in attempt to fulfill the image of Christ?  (Not that, you know, anybody can be Jesus except Jesus, but that’s kind of the point, I think.)  They appear to use God’s forgiveness as a tool to eff up and then continue on as nothing happened.  In essence, they treat “Christianity” simply as a label not as a lifestyle.

Dan Brown, a YouTuber, made a video simply entitled Jesus.  He raises many points as a non-Christian that I agree with as a Christian, and I really appreciate the views he puts out here:

Okay, so here’s the deal.  I don’t agree with all of it, of course, but that doesn’t mean Dan is wrong.  Here are the points I agree with:

  • “My family never put pressure on me to accept their faith as my own, and I cannot thank them enough for that.  I’ve been raised to understand that religion and spirituality is a deeply personal journey.” 
  • “What He made of Himself, was a person completely unafraid to speak truth to power.”
  • “I’m not saying my Jesus is angry, but my Jesus isn’t nice to the point of inducing vomiting, either.”
  • “He was the people’s grassroots response to all overzealous society figures.  When the overzealous want to resort to needless violence, Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek.  When the overzealous wanted to take more that was rightfully theirs, Jesus declared that the meek shall inherit the earth.  And when the overzealous tried to turn the temple into a marketplace, Jesus got pissed off.”
  • “And Jesus definitely understood that religion is not something to be bought and sold.”
  • “It is un-Christ-like for any church to reject someone simply because of something they were born with and had no control over, such as, oh . . . their sexual orientation.”

Amen.

My Jesus, I’m pretty sure, is a badass.  Maybe Dan would agree with me.  Because Jesus taught right from wrong.  But He also LOVED and ACCEPTED those who had done wrong.  He never said [at least not in the research I’ve done this last hour] anything against same-sex relationships.  Jesus also never professed to be better than anybody else, even if He was the Messiah.  Maybe he was just a really cool dude.  Like Dan said about his belief in God, however, I do take comfort in the fact that there’s something at the end of this all, and I take comfort that Jesus had something to do with that.

I must also make it clear right now, that I take the Bible as inspired by God, but not the “infallible Word of God” as many do—maybe that’s the liberal social views in me.  If anything’s been translated and re-translated as much as the Bible has, things are bound to get lost, screwed up, and maybe even twisted into the way someone else who is not God or His messengers wants us to think.  Maybe I’m totally wrong, but just consider it.  Not only that, is that God never sat up there with a pen [or whatever they wrote with back then] and wrote the Bible and dropped it down here to Earth, and Jesus didn’t legit write anything in the Bible.  If He did, or even if somebody claimed He did, which nobody can claim, maybe I’d think differently, but at this point, I am of the point of inspiration and interpretation and growth and love through Christ’s teachings.  And while I believe there are things to be learned from the Old Testament, Jesus came and led by example of love and changed things, changed people, transformed lives and attempted to change the standard of thinking, which to me is much, much more of a lesson to be learned from, and should be a starting point for those of us who have accepted the gift of Jesus’ salvation into our lives.

I’m cool if you differ from my beliefs in salvation and God.  If you don’t believe in the salvation part, or even the God part, I do totally think that having an understanding of who Jesus was, even outside of the “religious” context, can only help make our world a more loving and tolerant place.  Even if you just believe He was a “he” without a capital H, and was therefore just a regular dude, maybe you too agree, like Dan Brown, that Jesus was a pretty awesome dude.

I happen to agree.  Jesus is a pretty awesome Dude—but He’s also my King, my Saviour and the Life that is within me.

 

AFTER NOTE:

I know this may be touchy for some.  I’m entitled to this as much as you’re entitled to think I’m wrong.  I’m not about to change my beliefs as much as you want me to, and I’m sure you’re not about to change yours.  So if you want to smack me in the face with Bible verses in the comments, save your time.

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job 1-5

I keep veering off the reading plan – pressing through chapters the reading plan wants me to stop at because I just get caught up.  That’s a cool feeling.  I did it in Genesis because I got too excited [you know, Noah and the Tower of Babel and all] and I did it in Job today.  I was REALLY excited about reading Job, I’d heard a bit about him, and I’d heard he had a pretty crazy story.  I like crazy stories.

So I started using post-it notes when I was reading this morning.  It was awesome.  When I read stuff that caught my attention, I threw it on a post-it and stuck it to my wall.  This is part of what caught me today:

DSCF7040 In all that’s messed up, in all that sucks in his life about his family being killed and everything completely crumbling, not once does Job blame God for what is happening.  Instead, he worships Him in a display of pure passion, FAITH and grace.  He’s in the middle of discussion right now where I’m at, and it’s just rocking my world.

But man is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward.

Job 5:7

How cool is that?  That’s probably one of my favourite verses I’ve come across so far this part of my Bible journey. 

Tough stuff is what we’re made for – we are living proof.

workin’ through the Bible with @andydarnell

So I’ve been trying to do this for probably three years now.  You know, actually completely read the Bible.  Except I get otherwise distracted from it [because apparently the Bible is a big and intimidating book, even though it’s totally easily to break down into easily-digestible chunks and find a version of it that works for you to understand what God’s speaking into your life the best].

My translations of choice are The Message and the New Living Translation.  At this point, I’m waiting for Amazon to pop a Message Bible into my mailbox because I currently only have the New Testament, but that’ll be a couple weeks still since I ordered it right after Christmas, before I even knew I was going to take on this challenge.

Awhile back, I connected with Andy Darnell on Twitter and through his blog, and I’ve read a lot of cool stuff on his site that’s really motivating.  This year, Andy is making his Bible reading more public this year and posting his thoughts on what he’s reading on his blog—he’s what sparked me to try doing this again [related: the man is otherwise epic – he just tweeted a picture of moving a piano with a tractor, people].  So that’s keeping me kinda accountable to keep up with him so that his thought postings make more sense!  We’re logging-ish our progress on YouVersion.com [I am at 0.5% right now, as told by the nifty progress meter].  Like Andy, I’m following the chronological reading plan.  You should join us!

Unlike every other time I’ve tried this, I’ve got accountability, and I’ve got a plan [you know how I usually read it?  Patchy incoherent clumps.], and I’ve got a nifty web tracking meter.  So let’s make this the year I actually dig into the word of God.  With the help of my new church, in addition to my involvement making me feel like I should know the Bible better, I’m also actually excited about it for the first time as opposed to that old feeling of “Since I’m a follower of Christ, I guess I should be reading this thing”.  [We all know how I feel about expectations and ritual and routine don’t we?]

By the end of 2011, I will [hopefully] have completely read the Bible for the first time ever!

living water – chasm / john 4

The other night I was reading my Bible, and something prompted me to take a look at John again.  John is a cool book, I am a fan. 

There’s this Flyleaf song called Chasm.  I write a lot about Flyleaf, or I will, get used to it.  And I never really got the song before.  I’d listened to it, I’d read John, but it didn’t click.

Please give me something, I’m so thirsty, I’m so thirsty.

The chasm isn’t fixed yet, take this water, drinking ever deeper, living water . . .

 

So in the middle-ish of John 4, this lady comes up and Jesus is all “Please give me a drink”, and the woman is all confused at why Jesus is actually interacting with her.  Turns out the lady is a Samaritan and Jesus is a Jew, and it seems that Jesus is being Jesus-y again and not staying within society’s bounds–the woman doesn’t know just who Jesus is.

Jesus was kind of about the mind games, He was about making people think.  He turns it around and begins talking about Living Water, you know, like hydration for the soul.  Living Water, in reality, is metaphor [because Jesus liked those too] for accepting the sustenance offered for eternal life.

The chasm isn’t fixed yet.”  That emptiness inside?  It doesn’t get filled until we accept this gift; the gift of Living Water . . . quench our thirst, if you will.  Only then . . . will the chasm, the emptiness, be filled.  And until then, until we look our God in the eye and say “yes”, we are throwing away the precious gift He’s given to us . . . “spitting in His face with the rest of them”.

This song got so much more cooler once I knew the meaning behind the lyrics in the chorus.  Music makes things click for me.  If it hadn’t been for this song, I wouldn’t have read into that any deeper.

. . . Wouldn’t have drank any deeper.