Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

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emPATHy … June 1, 2012

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Slavery.

For two hundred and fifty years in the United States of America, owning another person for your own profit and gain was considered acceptable. It may be difficult for some people to believe that such a mindset existed in our country–but trying to project shame on the event will not help us to understand what caused the phenomenon, and why even a hundred and fifty years later, this country wrestles with the issue of racial equality.

You see, a funny thing happened to Christianity after the resurrection of Jesus. After several different jaunts and jiggles, it ended up in the hands of the Roman Empire, which was completely conquered by individuals collectively known as Barbarians. Perhaps we should take offense–because they are our ancestors. They are the Visigoths, Huns, Angles, Vikings and Saxons.

The belief in Jesus survived this barbarian takeover, but they were not comfortable with the message of the Messiah. They saw no future in “loving your enemies” or “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you,” so they transformed the lifestyle of Christianity into a religious practice which mainly focused on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Even when they became Protestants, they still maintained many of the relics, rituals and superstitions of the Mother Church. Basically they came up with a theology that was very Old Testament, in the sense that it was believed to be quite proper to club someone over the head to get his leg of lamb. But instead of using Moses as the deliverer of the people to the Promised Land, Jesus the Christ was inserted as the new law-giver and the King of Kings. They managed to extract his message from this religious transformation and leave behind the suffering savior who will one day become the conquering king. Yes, Jesus became the ultimate Viking. Although he was defeated at Calvary, he resurrected to one day return in vengeance, to judge the quick and the dead.

These barbarians–our ancestors–made the journey across the Atlantic and settled in the New World. They immediately had a problem. The terrain, the weather, the lack of funds and the nature of this new kingdom gave them a swift kick in the pants. So rather than referring back to the message of Jesus–to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–they sought for more practical solutions. You might ask yourself how good Christian people ever resorted to slavery? We always make poor choices when we allow the bankers to control our conscience. It became a really easy three-step process once money became the issue.

1. “We need cheap labor or free workers so we can make money.”

2. “Those people down in Africa don’t look like us so they must not be as good as we are.”

3. “Therefore, we will go down, get them, and use them to create profit for ourselves.”

Gone was any thought of empathy. The definition of empathy is very simple. It literally means the action of understanding. Do you really think our ancestors sat down for even five minutes to try to understand what it was like for a black man or woman to be snatched from their homes, thrown on a ship for a long journey and then to arrive in a new country without freedom? Do you think they spent any time at all wondering if there was a way to improve the financial situation in their lives without destroying the lives of others? You see, long before a decision was made by the Dutch trade ships to bring black human cargo to this country as slaves, our ancestors had abandoned the true message of Jesus, true spirituality and therefore, any sense of a world view. They had turned Christianity into a religion of conquering and therefore, made it convenient to use it for their own campaign.

So since we haven’t had a major spiritual renewal in our world for a long time, and the blood and thoughts of our ancestors vibrate in our beings one hundred and fifty years later, we are therefore still under the curse of believing that there are some people who are not as good as we are. It makes us self-righteous, and after all, all decisions to be “holier than thou” end up with the participants looking ignorant.

This leads us to the second step oo the path of true spirituality and a world view–empathy. The action of understanding–which was exemplified in the philosophy of Jesus by the statement, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Was there any plantation owner in Georgia who would have allowed his son or daughter to be treated the way the slaves were in his county? Of course not. But once you believe that somebody is less than you, it is very easy to explain your abuse of him or her.

Somewhere along the line, as Rome was being pillaged by our ancestors, the message of true empathy and hope was abandoned in favor of force.  Because of that, we still are not sure what to do with the tainted history of our country’s involvement in slavery. There were people like Thomas Jefferson who knew it was wrong, and even wrote about it being a terrible necessity, but continued to own slaves, piously trying to overcome that shortcoming by freeing them at his death. Let’s be honest–if they needed to be freed at his death, they probably deserved to be free while he was alive.

I do not think we will ever get our footing in this country on the issue of racial equality until we abandon the Viking interpretation of Christianity and instead, adopt the universal message of Jesus, which is empathy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’ve even simplified it down this year to a broader spectrum of application: “No one is better than anyone else.”

Whether people act deprived or depraved in our presence does not change the fact that God is no respecter of persons. But it is not very difficult to make the journey into bigotry when you are financially strapped and your religion has been stripped of all of its empathy. Even today we continue to withhold civil rights from some of our citizens because we don’t think they’re as good as we are.  It is our generation’s offshoot of slavery.

So we now have two parts of the path–and you can immediately see how they move in synchronicity.

  • Apathy: “I don’t care what you do and what you are. I will not judge you. It’s not my business. “
  • Empathy: “I have made a decision to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.  In other words, ‘no one is better than anyone else.'”

We cannot shame our nation into regretting slavery, but what we can do is realize that slavery was caused by greed overtaking our sense of understanding the true heart of Jesus–and whenever greed is at work, we are willing to do anything to anybody to get what we want.

 

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