Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘faith

The Transfiguration

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

This video doesn’t seem totally biblically accurate, and isn’t nearly as wicked crazy cool as the Bible puts it. I don’t blame them for being scared.

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon,[b] and it[c] came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.[d]19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[e]

I’m really beginning to think that “demon” was a historical/cultural way to say illness or disease. I could be wrong, obviously, but it seems possible. Either way, Jesus is obviously getting sick of his disciples having sub-par faith, and he heals the baby.

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

22 As they were gathering[f] in Galilee, Jesus said to them,“The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

 

The Temple Tax

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying,“What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel.[g] Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Don’t have much to say about any of that, but I am anxious to get to the climax of Matthew’s book…

 

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Traditions and Commandments

1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Ohhhh BURNNNN! 

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Can I say it again? OH BURN! Jesus totally speaks to me. I can’t handle rules and traditions – not when there are serious issues that are often ignored. Yes, rules and traditions keep us safe and healthy – but what is more important? Health of the body or health of the heart and soul?

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[e]

Okay, I love Jesus and I see where he is coming from, but he sure comes off as a crusty ass hole right here (sorry, J-dawg). Yes, it’s been made clear that he only came to save/handle the Jews. But then again, what about that centurion? He wasn’t Jewish, was he? But I love this woman who won’t give up, and it pays off. Perseverance, baby. Jesus is such a sucker for faith. Note to self: HAVE MORE FAITH! It pays off.

Jesus Heals Many

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

 

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

He does it again, folks!

I wrote this on my personal blog about a year ago. 

I have what was recently described as an “ambiguous relationship” with the Christian church.  However, for all intents and purposes, most people would categorize me as a Christian.  But here’s the deal.  I hate religion – HATE IT.  I try to respect all people regardless of their religious preference.  However, I’d say I’m most judgmental of Christians, for a million unjustified reasons.  I’m working on that.  But I don’t like to be called a Christian.

Instead of saying I’m a Christian, I think the more accurate way to describe my spirituality is that I do believe that Jesus was who he said he was.  I deeply appreciate and respect what he said while he was on this earth and what he did for the people he met.  If you aren’t sure why I’m saying this, then read the Gospels (first four books of the New Testament).  To be honest, although I’m pretty sure I’ve read almost the entire Bible, the Gospels are the only books that I can point to and say, “Yes, THAT is what I believe in.”  If you want an explanation, just ask.  To sum it up, he showed the world what love means, by loving people that nobody wants to love.  I can’t speak for anyone who came after Jesus and claimed to be a Christian or who claimed that their rules or suppositions about what Jesus would have done were correct.  I can only follow what Jesus said for myself, as best as I can.  So please don’t assume that I’m anything like anyone else you’ve ever met who is a Christian.  And don’t assume that just because some Christian along the way said something totally awful to you, that we’re all like that.  There, I’ve covered both bases – some “Christians” are hateful people who probably aren’t really Christians at all (and I really dislike those people), and there are also lots of people following Jesus’ example and doing beautiful, terribly difficult, and desperately needed social justice around the world.  People who say they are something and act the opposite of it – it’s the same in almost every religion.  Period.

Ok, moving on.  I am not easily swayed by religious rhetoric.  In fact, I’ve learned to question what I hear at church or from church leaders, because lots of things I grew up believing were from God just aren’t (I’m not blaming anyone – it was just that it took me a long time to start critically thinking about religion).  So I have to really consider some things, check what the Bible actually says, and also weigh out what I think the context was for when and where and why a certain verse was written.  I do not follow blindly.  And I believe God gives us grace to do this – it isn’t a lack of faith in God; it’s a lack of faith in hubritic people who act like they know who God is or what God wants.  Sometimes I just need to study for myself.  And lots of Christians in my life have ostracized me for that.  I don’t really mind anymore, but it’s essential to know that this is a reason my defenses are up around Christians.

Unlike many people I know, I don’t believe God is a puppet master, humans his marionettes, and the world his little stage.  I detest the notion that everything happens for a reason – it doesn’t.  The world is both beautiful and scary, lovely and dangerous, understandable and chaotic.  Some people grow up in a ranch style house in America.  Some people grow up in a brothel and are raped up to twelve times a day until they are so riddled with AIDS and other STIs that they are thrown into the streets to die in their early 20s.

So I don’t often credit God for the things I see around me.  I thank God for good things, I ask him for wisdom when things aren’t so good.  I believe he hears my prayers.  I just don’t believe he wants to meddle with my life – I believe he wants to see what I will do with it.  I also believe that he can and does communicate with humans (especially the humans who are talking to him – that’s kind of how a relationship works, right?); sometimes we expect it, other times we don’t.  I think it’s important to be cautions of saying we heard God say something or we know God was behind something – it gives people a very warped view of God unless you happen to be right (and I’ve seen lots of people be wrong).  But as someone who is spiritual, even if it’s a cautious spirituality at the moment, I also have to call a spade a spade: when I am praying for something and I am given an answer to a question I haven’t even asked yet… well, I can’t give you faith in my faith.  You either believe me or you don’t, and that doesn’t bother me at all.