Sunday, November 03, 2013

What would Jesus do? (Philippians 2 version)

Sometimes I feel like the American church needs to forget everything it thinks it knows about Jesus and the Bible and go back to Sunday School. What would Jesus do? Fight those liberal Pharisees in the name of absolute truth? Fight against Roman taxation and imperialism? Purge his disciples of anyone who did not agree with him?

Philippians 2 is a good place to start. "Do nothing from selfishness or for empty glory but in humility regard others as more important than yourself."

What's that? Love your neighbors and your enemies?  Put others ahead of yourself?  Really?

"Think this way among you, which also was the thinking in Christ Jesus..." What are we going to hear? That he stuck up for absolute truth? That he fought statist thinking? That he put lawbreakers in their place? That he refused to compromise on principle?

How about this? "Although he existed with the status of God, he did not consider equality with God something of which to take advantage, but he emptied himself, taking the status of a servant."

But was that just around other Christians who were doing the right thing? Did he just help others who were in the right? Did he just help others who were in his group who agreed with him?  Those who looked like him and followed the rules? How about Romans 5:7-8: "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

And how about Philippians 2:7-8: "Having been found in the likeness of mortals and having been found in human form, he humbled himself, having become obedient to death, even the death of a cross."

That's what Jesus would do. He would die for his enemies.

I fear that much of the American church knows little of Jesus, despite its zeal for the law and angry sounding words. I fear that a good deal of what will resound from American pulpits today will little resemble anything truly having to do with Jesus. We are a lost church that is angry about the wrong things.

"Lord, Lord, did I not set everyone else straight about the right way to think and how to be a good American?"

"Depart from me. I never knew you."


Susan Moore said...

Yea, that’s it. Thank you.
We’ve lost the fact that the only ones who see the Word clearly are the ones glorified in heaven. Everyone on Earth still has Him figured out wrong in some way. Because of the Fall, we look through shattered mirrors: therefore, in the end some beliefs of each church may be correct, and some beliefs will end up showing to have been incorrect. There are some obvious correct beliefs that should be proclaimed, such as Jesus is the risen King and Lord God, and some obviously incorrect beliefs should be rebuked and other more correct beliefs should be encouraged; such as God no longer reveals Himself through signs, wonders and miracles (rebuke that), but that the Spirit does empower one to understand Scripture (encourage knowledge of the Spirit and living in the healthy fear of God with a humble and contrite, repentant heart).
Jesus knows this about us, He knows we are a mess. He knows that if left to our own devises we couldn’t find our way out of a paper bag, and that’s why He came to save us.
So those of us who believe we are saved need to turn around and shine the light He is inside of us for others to see, so that they can come out of the bag, too. In that way, whether it be in word or deed, we reflect His love for others to others.
On the continuum of the Common Language of God, my RC church may tie into the more literal, physical interpretation of the Word compared to where most mainstream protestant churches tie into it, particularly in beliefs about salvation and communion. You know what? I don’t think Jesus cares about that. I think He takes us at our understanding and grows us from there. What is vital to Him is that we love Him, and one another.
It’s all about relationships. Nothing else matters.
I know my RC church beliefs are unpopular among the protesters. But you know what? My church knows what love is. You know how I personally know that? Because they love and welcome ME.

Susan Moore said...

Dr. Schenck,
In my mind, it seems to start here:
“’But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:15-18).
Looking at, “you are Peter, and on this rock…” If I understand correctly, Jesus named Simon, ‘Peter’. Peter (Greek ‘petros’) means ‘Rock’. And then Jesus says, ‘and on this rock I will build my church.’
The RCs interpret that more literally by taking it to mean that on the physical person of Peter He will build His church, so thus began their Apostolic tradition. Most Protestant traditions interpret ‘rock’ to mean on the faith of Peter, not on His physical being. Which one is correct? Quite possibly both. The Common Language study on the word ‘rock’ from Genesis on is very involved and interesting.
Here is another one. The study on ‘bread’ is equally amazing. One needs to look closely at the meaning and reference in each occurrence of the word ‘bread’ in that study. Here is a quick synopsis of verses to look at; bread made without yeast (Ex. 12:8), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 23:15), give us today our daily bread (Mt. 6:11), I am the bread of life (Jn. 6:48), I am the living bread that came down from heaven (Jn. 6:51), This bread is my flesh, which I will give (Jn. 6:51)… Again, the RCs interpret that literally, referring to bread and body in the physical sense, therefore Communion for them is of His physical body (and blood). Protestants interpret ‘bread’ more to symbolize His broken body. Is one more correct over the other? Does it matter to Jesus?
I don’t think it does. I think He stand up and the angels start doing back handsprings anytime anyone remembers Jesus and acts in faith no matter what causes them to remember Him and be moved to please Him.
One thing I do know is true is this: I have a ton of energy. I am a very passionate person who knows that God lives inside of me. With learning how to live as a healed person, and being through everything I have been through in the last 5 years all the while recovering from a head injury that occurred 6 years ago that took away my nouns, ability to sequence (everything, including words in a sentence), and short term memory, it has been easy for me to internally feel off centered, and have to struggle to get focused on Christ again. Although my strength to remain centered and to find my focus again when I got ‘bumped’ improved greatly over time, it was not until I started receiving communion every day that I felt deeply centered and rooted in my faith: I found peace. Is that because I’m receiving communion every day? Or because I am finally perceiving the love of God from both God and His people every day? Or both?