Why do we keep punishing Jesus?

Jesus was hung on a cross for humanity’s sins. We know he was crucified because we have proof now, but the ‘why’ of this is up for interpretation. Christian folk have been taught that he was an innocent man tortured to save each of us, condemned for no reason but that he spoke out against the Roman dictatorship over the Jewish people, and the churches dictatorship over its own people. Oh yes, he broke a few tables along the way, but he never broke any ‘heads’, so he was calmer and quieter than some of the rabble who called themselves God’s representatives at the time. His message was one of love, peace and forgiveness – but that got lost along the way when the writer of Revelation turned him into the Vengeful Messiah the Jewish folk were craving .. sorry, the Christian folk were craving, after they converted.

Two thousand years later how much has changed? There are still people selling holy relics in the churches, only we call them music CDs and meditation tapes these days (or bits of the stone wall, imported direct from Mecca). Money still changes hands to buy redemption .. only now it’s called ‘give to the churches favourite charity’ (itself?). And our behaviour hasn’t improved, even after all this time, and all the sermons (or lectures) delivered from various pulpits. The Ten Commandments are still being ignored by most people, who go ahead and lust, steal and murder whenever it suits them. How many of them do you think care what God or Jesus will actually do to them after they die? Oh no, they’ve already turned their backs on that belief system .. and even if they haven’t .. the good Christians are murdering the commandments day by day.

I don’t really want to debate the commandments today, even though I think we should all put some serious consideration into re-inventing them. It’s not that they aren’t important, it’s that some of them don’t make sense anymore, given what Jesus taught us about God, and then there’s ‘honouring your parents’ which may end in you being abused by one, or both, of them. So let me get back to the point …

I was listening to Christian radio the other day, happily agreeing with what most of the speaker was saying, until something he said made me realise that we are constantly punishing Jesus. When we choose to sin we are deliberately denying everything he did for us by being hung up on that Cross. The teachings of the church, particularly when I was a child, was that each of us is born into sin .. the sins of our ‘fathers’ (does that make our mother’s relieved?) .. which actually means ‘the sins of our parents’. I have to ask why God would create beings that carried this sin for generation to generation (40 in all?) and how we escape it .. how about the 41st generation .. but no, the sin continues onto and into forever, and we can never be free of it, unless we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour .. (strange how we are lumbered with sin, but not allowed to benefit from the acceptance of our parent’s heartfelt connection back to God. When does the poison stop spreading through humanity’s veins .. and sin is a poison. It does make us ill). So I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and therefore I am rescued from sin .. in that moment. Ten minutes later I go outside, covet someone’s car or bus or bike, or wife (heaven forbid because I’m female .. and my husband would object :-)) and I am back to being a sinner again.

So I turn myself around, go back into the church, and if it’s appropriate, confess this sin, say the Hail Mary’s or various other prayers we all use to ask for forgiveness and everything is all right again .. until I go outside and, walking home, ‘borrow’ a lemon from the fruit tree down the road (and the sin is not mitigated by making lemon cake and giving the owner half), without asking the owner first. Whoops, there goes sin number eight. Or worse, I tap the statue of Mother Mary on the knee on the way out the door and thank her for everything she’s helped me with (all those prayers) and there’s sin number two, because all thanks should be to God, or so I am taught. And what about if I have to work a shift or two on Sunday .. do I spent Monday on my knees begging forgiveness, not just for that one day, but because I am a repeat sinner. Is the punishment worse if we consciously sin over and over again?

Dear Jesus, who removed the sins of the world (John 1:29) .. turns out you only gave us the grace to turn around and break the rules again. And if you did remove ‘the sins of the world’ why is it that the Christians think you only did it for them?

There are times that I stand outside the Christian faith looking in and wonder what God will truly do to all those hypocrites, liars, cheats and thieves, and that’s just among the clergy. If they are not good enough Christians, and I am only a lay Theologian, what hope is there for me, if I follow their leadership? The church set themselves up as the role model for humanity .. and yet the law is now chasing various churches for not producing their paedophiles on demand, for covering up thousands of cases of abuse, and convincing the innocent that they would be publicly vilified if they tell anyone that a priest was their abuser. And where is Jesus in all this .. still hung up on the cross, because he really needs to stay there otherwise we have no hope at all.

For all the agony that he suffered for us in those three hours or so he was crucified, we have given him two and half million+ hours more through our own thoughts and actions. When do you think it will be enough, and he can come down off the cross and help us to be the people we can be, through his example .. loving, kind, generous, forgiving, tolerant, peaceful, thoughtful, God filled? Sometime soon I hope.

In a world full of fear and hatred being a God-filled person and trying to ‘lead by example’ can be incredibly difficult, but that is no excuse for not trying. Jesus was a human being just like you and me. He put his life on the line for us, as a living example of what we can achieve, with a little determination, a touch of temper and a strong desire to change the world. He started small. Look at the society God chose to drop him into, and the challenges of no ‘mass communication’, apart from anything else. Word of mouth was the best form of advertising then, and it still is. Leading by example still gathers hearts and souls together. Now we have the internet, and tv and movies, and what do we produce .. more programs to create horror and fear .. just look at the nightly news and their focus on disasters ..

But then, I am getting off the topic again ..

When Jesus saved us he knew we were sinners and that we needed a representative between us and God, and so he put himself there, human fears and all. Can we make ourselves a representative who stands up for what Jesus believes in, although society might ignore us or laugh and make fun? Can we ask him to come down off that cross for each of us now? You see, when Jesus was alive, there was no Christianity, there was only God. Jesus was not Christian, he was not exclusive, or inclusive, he wanted to talk to everyone about his Creator. The Christian church is closing its door on its own reality right now, because it is run by sinners seeking Revelationianic outcomes, rather than the truly loving ones that Jesus taught us about. Because .. when you think about it for a moment .. you will realise that, if Vengeful Messiah ‘came’ now, heaven would be very empty, and most of us would be in hell, suffering with the demons. Where would you be?

Love & Peace
Ama

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Did Jesus love in accordance to the law …

I have spent the last few days answering comments from people on a couple of my blog pages, as well as the usual work I do, so had no time to blog. I was considering many questions in the process, and was given a very good one (actually two, but the other will have to wait) by a lady in one of the comments. I ended up writing over 1500 words, as a comment, and realised that it fits well as a blog, with a bit of restructuring and explaining .. so here goes.

Let’s define the Law as the Ten Commandments, for those are the ones that I think apply to Christianity.

A few days ago I watched a program on Moses and the Ten Commandments by a very intense Catholic lady, who, when someone did not agree with what she was saying, or say what she wanted, would talk straight over the top of them, and demand they answer in a way to suit her needs. Well, the program never said it was unbiased, but, going by the reaction of my family who are not madly Christian, it would have once again confirmed that staying away from Christianity and their judgmental beliefs and attitudes is a good idea. I don’t agree with that, but I do think the lady was a living example of why people run away from the church .. and in doing so run away from God, and that, to me, is heartbreaking.

And then Heather from Move From This Mountain asked me if I believed that “Jesus loved in accordance to the Law”, and at first I thought ‘Yes, he did’, but when I took it apart, I had questions. This is my reasoning –

I do not believe that all Ten Commandments provide a set of boundaries for moral behaviour, given that the first four are all about who God is and what He wants as suitable worship. But I do think it’s good to have those guidelines as honouring God is very important to me. The rest of the commandments do give us structure, but I have reservations …

1) I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other God’s before me.

I am grateful to God for my whole life, but I not aware of any ancestors from Egypt, nor Jewish ones, thought we can only follow our family lines back to Charles 2nd in England most clearly, though you never know. Does that part apply to me? It might? Do I put any other God before Him .. well, I was taught there was only one God .. so where do I find any others? Or were the preachers lying when they said there was only one God? Yes, Moses followers did make a golden calf and worship it, or whatever God it represented, but if it didn’t represent a real ‘god’ then why were we told not to put any other god’s before Jehovah?

2) You shall not make yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven, above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

There’s a heck of a lot of stuff to answer in this one:

Do I believe in a jealous God, who will punish the children for the sins of the parents .. no. What did the children do to deserve that, or is that a threat to frighten anyone considering having children? But didn’t God say ‘go forth and multiply’, or words to that effect? So by not having children, because you fear what God will do to them when you sin, aren’t you sinning already, by not doing what God wants? I will honour and worship Jesus’ God, but I have no time for a God that fears that I will not follow It so much that It has to be jealous of a graven image? If you take the words of the Bible literally, I think paintings are out .. so God and Adam touching fingers (The Creation of Adam) means that Michelangelo has gone to hell, though he’s probably there already, given that he was not interested in women.

In my experience, God is not that small, that frightened, that fragile an ego, that It has to demand our undivided attention – otherwise we would all be monks and nuns .. and why doesn’t He/it appear to be doing so now? Where’s the smiting? Why did it stop? And why are there all those statues of Jesus, Mary and various saints in many churches of many faiths? Why aren’t the buildings burnt to the ground? Perhaps God understands that some people need a statue of Jesus up there in front of them, to help them focus their thoughts as they talk TO Him, not the statue. I agree a cow might not be a good symbol, but .. then I have wonder, if Jesus had been a cattleman, would cows have been ok? Did Moses ask God specifically to ban idols when he went to get the second set of tablets, just to put a stop to the cow worship? We will never know, and I have always wondered what the difference might have been between the first set of tablets that Moses brought down to the people, after being in God’s presence all that time, and the second set when he went back up the mountain in a flaming temper!

And the last question .. if God has steadfast love to the thousandth generation of one of his followers, what happens if the 627th generation decide to go with Buddha instead? Will he break his promise to the 1st generation to damn the children of this one for their parents change of belief?

3) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Do I take the Lord’s name in vain .. I might sound like I do, usually when I am groaning about someone’s puzzling behaviour .. I even look to the sky when I said ‘oh God!’ .. it means ‘help me to understand, to be kinder, and more loving, because I need your help’. Does this mean I am damned or not? And what happens if we say it by mistake .. which anyone is capable of doing .. oh yes, we can go to confession and be forgiven by a living man, hopefully God is not mad at him and accepts our repentance – at least if we are Catholic.

4) Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.

I love having the 7th day off, but I do not follow the Jewish custom of doing nothing on those days .. but that doesn’t mean I am not talking to God in my heart and my mind while I am tilling the garden to grow food .. or attempting to .. this amount of rain is killing my plants. The ground is just too wet where the vegetable gardens are. I respect the strength of the Jewish people who honour God this way but can only imagine the struggle it must be ‘not’ to do things I would not ordinary consider as work. And then there is the thought of which day is the 7th day? What day of the week did God start making the earth on? That comes from a midnight conversation with my partner about this question. Personally I can’t decide whether Saturday (a couple of religions), Sunday (Christianity) or Monday (the beginning of the business week) is suitable.

5) Honour your mother and father, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Honour thy mother and father – that’s a tough one .. I believe honour and respect are earned, and should not just be handed out to anyone. I taught my children to respect their elders, as I was taught, but once they were old enough to see that the elders can often be nastier than children, how could I ‘make’ them continue to do so? I show respect to all people, even after they prove themselves unworthy of it, but I find it hard to respect someone such as a paedophile, and would not expect my family to honour them even if they ‘were’ a close relative.

6) You shall not murder.

Do not murder .. I’ll get back to that one. I’m going to end up turning that into a blog. Your question about the death penalty led to some interesting musings while I was cleaning my home this morning. Short answer is – I agree for the most part, but my question is ‘when is murder not murder’?

7) You shall not commit adultery.

I agree it shows no respect for any of the parties, including one’s self.

8.) You shall not steal.

Do not steal – I agree, and in a perfect world that would be logical in a society where everyone had enough of everything to live comfortably, but society isn’t like that. If you respect yourself, you can respect others and allow them to have what they have, without envying them so much that you have to ‘take’ what they have. But then, some people have nothing, and would die if they didn’t steal to eat .. does God see such extreme cases and understand, or are the laws arbitrarily applied? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and they do what they must to survive, because we don’t hear about God helping them by putting money in their hands – otherwise it seems the rich are getting more help than the poor, and yet the poor will inherit the earth – so who is helping the rich, and why?

9) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Do not bear false witness – do not lie. I agree with that one. Morally it is simply wrong. You have to be very clever to be able to lie well, and maintain the facade it creates around you. Far simpler to tell the truth, also far more hurtful at times, and what do we do in circumstances where lying would save someone’s life? Do we honour our moralistic stand, or do we keep someone safe?

10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; wife; male or female slave; ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (my paraphrasing)

Do not covet your neighbour’s ‘anything’. Do not look upon what s/he has with envy in your heart, because it is a poison that can twist you up in knots, and our society is a nightmare for this with the ‘be like the Jones’ attitude, which is simply greed. I prefer my simple life. But I have a lot, when I stop and look around me – my family and friends, my safe place I live in, good food, clean water, beautiful surroundings (we live in an orchard), and bookcases covered in books, and other modern trappings, like the computers. I am very much blessed and thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on all of us, even when we are struggling, or think we are. But we have no idea of true suffering, for we do not live the way people in the third world live, and where is God there, at revival meetings knocking people down when His/its power touches them, or heals them, or filling their minds full of rapture, but not their stomaches. Can you starve to death on God’s Word, or are we supposed to eat the pages? Whoops, I just realised I have lost my temper for a minute (which is what happened when I wrote this yesterday).

The ordinances then go on to discuss slavery .. something I do not agree with.

The other night in the TV program I mentioned at the beginning one of the speakers lost his temper and made some very angry comments on the Commandments oppressing society, not benefiting it. At the time I didn’t agree with him, but having sat here writing this out .. in truth he might be right. Oh yes, they are great to give lip service to, but in reality our world stomps on the poor, those who have to steal to eat. And the rich get richer, just look at the Catholic Church and their abundance. They could feed the poor a million times over, and do they .. with their great collections of gold, jewels and other ‘idols’? What frustrates me most is that people see the wealth of most churches, the greed of some of them, and blame God for it, not man. They turn away from God because of it.

I prefer Jesus’ commandments “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself”.

Did Jesus love in accordance to the Law .. not in my opinion. He loved everyone, he talked about God with everyone, and I don’t remember him mentioning that El was a jealous God. Since jealousy and envy are sins, and Jehovah is jealous .. where does that leave us? And Jesus was not exclusive. He reached to everyone from the cross, if you believe what Athanasius wrote on the Atonement .. and I do. Maybe Paul is right, maybe Jesus did free people from the Law, since the Law came from Jehovah .. but I don’t think He freed us from moral behaviour. You cannot harm anyone if you think each thought through based in Love. And being me, I also think Jesus freed us from that jealous God. And God bless Him for that.

One last thought: Jesus said “until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished”. (Matt 5:18) We find it again in Matt 24:35, with whomever wrote Matthew telling us that no one but God knows when that would be. In my opinion, this means that Jesus’ death on the cross did not unbind us from the Laws of Moses, for the passing of heaven and earth are still being waited for in 2 Peter 3:10, and that was written long after Jesus had died. I think that is one of the many contradictions in the Bible. And as I have just said ‘where does that leave us now’?

And always more questions: ]

Do we need to be commanded to be righteous people? I guess we must, since so many people choose to follow a different path.

Can’t we follow our leaders and ask ourselves ‘what would Jesus do’ before each action, or unkind word? What does one do if they do not believe in Jesus, or dispute his nature, or whether he was a good man, a kind teacher, a false teacher, a prophet, God’s son, or a rebel?

What would our leaders do? And then I look at the various politicians in the world, many of who admit not to believing in God at all – and I wonder, as we are drawn into the darkness by the destruction of our faith, where it will all end? There was a reformation once, that split the churches into many pieces, perhaps we need another, to bring us all back together .. but I do not want a dictator for the whole world. Why can’t the ‘leader’ simply be Love?

Love & Peace
Ama

Mockery

After writing a brief list of ideas in my first blog, I’m ignoring them completely, to start with something different, but fundamentally important to the way I view God.

Fundamental .. oh yes, that’s where it gets me in trouble, because the fundamentalist Christians who pick up on what I write share the same intense devotion, but from the other side of the coin. You see, I believe that God loves us unconditionally, and that we should not fear Him. Shall I look the word up for you in the dictionary? “Not subject to a condition” “In an unqualified manner”. I can see where there might be some argument, because the Bible says that God only loves those who love Him, but … if its true, why did he send Jesus to save, through atonement, every living human being (so say the church fathers of old – Athanasius being one of them), and all the dead ones – the ancient prophets appeared from their graves after the resurrection and ‘walked among the people’ (Matt 27:53). The bible didn’t say ‘only the Jewish people will be saved’, and it couldn’t have been the Christians, because they had not been invented yet. So everyone must mean everyone.

So I stepped on a gentleman’s toes, as did a couple of others who believe as I do, and we were informed we were mocking God? To mock – the online dictionary says – To treat with ridicule or contempt; deride. Now I am puzzled. We were not ridiculing God, we are all believers ourselves, in many and varied ways. We were simply stating our opinions. Where was the derision – except, perhaps, in the voice of the rebuttal?

God created humanity. That is a given among the folk who believe in God. I am not going to get into a debate about whether we developed from omeba or not, its not relevant to this entire site. Having created us, God then gave us free will. He demonstrated that by putting Adam and Eve into Eden and telling them what ‘not’ to do. When you were a child didn’t you automatically consider doing the exact opposite of what your parent wanted you to ‘not’ do .. I know I did. It’s called ‘temptation’, and Adam blamed Eve for it, and Eve blamed the snake. Only who put the snake in the garden in the first place .. it couldn’t have been that pair .. or could it? And if God did it, then why?

That leads to another thought – did Adam have a wife before Eve, one he made too many demands of, and so she left him? Then why did Adam pretend to be innocent in the garden, or was that the second Adam (since there are two ‘creation’ stories), the one made from the dust of the ground? And if so, what happened to the first – did Lilith, who turned herself into a demon (make a woman mad enough and you better watch out?) happily destroy the one ‘created in God’s image’ (Gen 1:27)? And back to innocence .. this second Adam didn’t recognise that Eve had no clothes on until after she ‘forced’ the ‘apple’ down his throat? (He didn’t bite it and swallow it willingly, heavens no!) So ‘was’ he the ‘new’ being, or was he just completely st… um … unintelligent?

Hmm… ok, so it wasn’t an apple, but one fundamentalist did write that exact word recently, and I did ask him which version of the Bible he was taking his quotes from? And if Adam had had sex with Lilith he was no longer innocent, so what sort of game was he playing? And did she follow him through the gates into Eden, otherwise it seems she might have been in the garden longer than the humans? So why did God allow her to remain with his ‘newborn’ innocent humans? And what does this have to do with God loving us unconditionally? Well, he made Adam twice (Gen 1:27, Gen 2:7) after Lilith (may have) obliterated him. But what did he do with Lilith? She’s still around folks. And since she was not annilihated by God, there must be a reason – could it be he loves all his creations equally, and allows each of us free will .. well, the humans anyway. The angels were created to serve, and have no free will. When they had it, a few of them chose to ‘fall’, and that could be another explanation for Lilith. But that’s another story.

What is free will? It’s the right to make mistakes. It’s the right to accept God as Lord, or not. It’s the ‘free will’ offering in the local church. It’s turning left instead of turning right. What are the outcomes of our choices .. well, according to the Bible we have no choices, because everything we are, do and think is predestined – so God chose my pink jumper today, along with the weather, and when I would drink the can of drink on my desk here, and the death of the bee that the bird just ate outside the window. He also predestined me not to believe that ‘his’ Book is the true, unerring Word, and in that way predestined me to go to Hell. Does that sound like a God who taught Jesus to teach us to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’, and ‘turn the other cheek’? When Jesus said ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (John 13:34-35 NOAB 2001)’ was Jesus not being the Christ in that moment? Was he simply speaking his mind, rather than teaching us what God wanted us to know?

If God’s love is conditional, then how is it the priests of his church can allow people to ‘buy’ their way out of their sins, while indulging themselves in many of those deadly sins themselves? It might not happen now, but it certainly did in the past. Did the spirits of those people come back from hell, where they went even though they thought they were ‘saved’ by cash, and haunt the priests (and the dead priests each other) and demand their money back? You would think we might have heard one or two stories about that over the millenia since Jesus died on the cross .. but no. I won’t even touch on my own personal experiences with this subject of ‘where we go after we die’.

And back to the subject in hand – how does me saying that God loves us unconditionally mean I am mocking God? That got lost in the flow of thoughts, but its worth considering. If what I say doesn’t agree with what you believe, that’s fine, ignore me. Don’t accuse me of offending ‘your’ God, which also happened as part of that discussion. If God is offended I’m sure he can speak for himself. If I had to express an opinion of what God might see of those conversations, I would think he would be delighted that we are discussing him, looking up quotes in the Bible, and really considering what is ‘real’ and what ‘isn’t’ from our own points of view. Hopefully the discussion will draw each person closer to God .. or might even help one or the other of us to change our minds? Stranger things have been known to happen.

Enough for today,
Love & Peace
Ama Nazra