Things I Think…
I was just a boy when I found out I had a problem.
Standing in the kitchen after school, my mom was describing an accident that my grandfather had earlier in the day. I’ll spare you the gruesome details but it involved his hand and a grinding stone. Hearing this, pain shot through my own hand and I felt as if I would pass out.
Fast forward to my teen years and a rare trip to the movie theatre.
It was rare because the closest theatre was fifty miles from my home and going to the movies just wasn’t part of our routine. In fact, the film we went to see was only the second one I’d ever attended.
The first had been “Snow White”…this one was for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
The climactic scene of the movie is when the (now lobotomized ) hero is suffocated by his friend, who then dramatically escapes the asylum.
The climactic scene for the friends that accompanied me was when the lights came up and I was so visibly and audibly shaken by the film that I was utterly dysfunctional…and completely humiliated by that.
I was an empath…though that wasn’t the word most people used to describe a man who couldn’t control his feelings.
I’ve learned over the decades to control myself… and overcompensate for what most thought was a deficiency in my mental health.
Still, in my mind I live in a world where I feel everything and believe that this is a gift from God as much as a curse from hell…though sometimes I’m not sure which it really is.
I tell you all that to say that something has happened in our culture that troubles me greatly…a lack of empathy for anyone outside of our new tribal identities.
A lack of empathy dehumanizes others and strips them of personhood.
The sickest aspect of this is that one must first sacrifice your own humanity before you can rob it from others.
Without empathy, people become problems to be solved, or worse, enemies to be defeated.
No society …or country…can survive long without a feeling of commonality and shared humanity among all people despite their differences.
Many in favor of defeating other people who differ, do so believing they act in service for the Lord.
“Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” (John 16:2–4 ESV)
Jesus warned us about acting this way…and instead directed us over and over again to love our “enemies”.
You have to acknowledge their personhood and feel empathy for them to do so.
That’s all I’m thinking about this week…because I’ve never felt so much anger from people in my lifetime.
I guess you could call it a prophecy update.
Make your own application…
Thank you for this post! A couple weeks ago I had a discussion with a friend had at church who I just assumed was vaccinated because she works in the medical field. She isn’t I could have easily panicked as I wasn’t wearing my mask, but we were in a fairly large space so I felt okay to continue talking She asked about my reaction to the vaccine, did I believe this or that (in my mind) false information, what did I think about government mandates…and we had a good conversation. The secret was that neither of us immediately ran to defend our position. We just talked like two old friends who trusted each other. There might be some hope if we could stop all the screaming.
I’d never felt that anyone was my enemy except for the guys who used to bully me back in high school.
Now I find the enemies are the scripture twisting MAGA-nationalists who eschew evidence-based science, vaccinations, paying for their 4 years of government spending and responsibilities to care about their neighbors.
As a fellow empath I affirm how it takes its toll.
I find strength by focusing on God’s presence in the moment and our call to be salt & light. Both require us to experience the rot & darkness of selfishness to enrich those who need us fully engaged, for us all to meet right where we are to show Jesus’ Way.
The challenge is to view these folks who we have severe disagreement with as fellow humans…who “feel” things differently or have had deep beliefs and feelings manipulated.
I know it’s not always possible…some deeply desire enmity.
I had a conversation with a man just this morning about this very issue. I seems to me in our individualized American Christianity, that we’ve lost the concept os “Us”. Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Giveus this day our daily bread”. Revelation 5, “
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”.
Inthe American church we are divided over the issue of Covid—vaccinate or don’t vaccinate; Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask. We define congregations as either liberal or conservative, for Trump or against him. Eschatological we are either premillennial or Amillennial—pretrib or mid Trib rapture. We are divided. And the sands thing is people will search for a church and look for a pastor whose teachings line up with their ideology. It makes teaching the truth very difficult.
It’s all reminds me of this story: “ Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.”
Now tell me again why it is I should become a Christian?
Love me some Emo Phillips!
Those who misunderstand the covid vaccone think that receiving the innoculation means you can’t transmit to another….. Not so.. .
Em, is absolutely correct. Vaccinated or unvaccinated….everyone can spread it. I can not imagine why hospitals are not testing ALL their staff.. not just the unvaccinated. It doesn’t make any sense…unless it’s not about safety, but control.
It’s about serving based on the oath to do no harm to one’s patient. EVERY medical professional has a duty to prevent & minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the variants. Being vaccinated minimizes the spread, and helps keep hospital beds available to those in our local community.
Whatever happened to the simplicity of Christ. Nowadays with most Christians is all politics, vaccines, global reset/takeover, etc. Now two of my co-workers have surrendered their minds to conspiracy theories and its taking a toll on workplace morale. So much so that it affected me the last two days where I had to take some “help” (PRN) to calm down. I find it hard to tell who are the real Christians these days. The ones I see and hear from most have NO mention of Jesus in their lives, but seem angry all the time.
Some of the tribes believe they are channeling the righteous anger of God…which makes me wonder if they’ve read the New Testament…
I’m not an empath. It is a work of God that I feel compassion at all. I grew up very judgmental and critical, and still can leap to grand over-reactions in a single bound. I inhale derision and exhale sarcasm. It is a constant struggle to let grace seep into my seams & love warm my thick hide. Letting go of bitterness and disillusionment has been a long process. I probably need a good therapist. I’ve been able to mask these traits with a large measure of humor, which covers a multitude of sins in many circles, but is a poor-man’s substitute for the real deal. Some increased distance from much of my early church history has helped as has a hiatus from Epistles and Old Testament. The Gospels are my balm in Gilead.
I became combative as hell to save my own soul.
Sarcasm and cynisicm kept me sane.
The Gospels are slowly replacing that…the Epistles contribute to it.
We have a long way to go…
The epistles feed my need to be right, especially Paul’s insistent and combative (at times) tone. Jesus’ words cut through that and expose me as the one in need. I understand the epistles are far more than that, but it tends to be my takeaway.
I’ve stayed in the Gospels, then 1,2,3 John for the last couple years.
It’s been transformative.
Now, I’m getting ready to teach Romans…and all I hear is an argument every chapter…
It will be a challenge.
My Dispensational upbringing emphasized Pauline literature and hailed him above all except, reluctantly, Jesus–though in terms of quantity of exposure, the Savior finished a distant second. I cut my teeth on Paul’s strident tone, superior debating skills, and cutting tongue. While I don’t hold Dispy thought in contempt as many do, the argumentative superiority held by most of the main dudes didn’t serve me well. I long for the day when I can echo your “it’s been transformative.” Best wishes with Romans.
I totally resonate with this Michael.
Being an empath is both blessing and curse.
Now I know I’m not alone.
“No society …or country…can survive long without a feeling of commonality and shared humanity among all people despite their differences.”
This paragraph led me back to the preamble of the US Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
For the founders, the blessing of Liberty was to be secured and enjoyed within the context of a “union” (of states and peoples) that “establish justice”, “insure domestic tranquility”, and “promote the general welfare.”
Somehow, likely due in part from the lack of sufficient civics education in our schools, large swaths of our nation has lost the ideal of the “union,” and having lost that, what it requires to bring it about, and having lost those, ironically, liberty will not be secured after all.
What at best will remain is the facade of a liberty in name only. Liberty cannot really exist within the context of chaos, oppression, poverty and injustice.
I regretted writing this all day.
I don’t now…thank you.
“Is this to be an empathy test? Measurement of the so-called blush response.”
– Blade Runner
Considering this discussion on empathy, the movie Blade Runner explores this concept in both humans and the replicants.
Interestingly, the science fiction author Philip Kindred Dick believed that humans were defined, not by our intelligence or our technology, but by our empathy.
The human capacity for empathy, our ability to place our self into the experience of the other, is what makes us truly human.
“Somehow, likely due in part from the lack of sufficient civics education in our schools, large swaths of our nation has lost the ideal of the “union,” and having lost that, what it requires to bring it about, and having lost those, ironically, liberty will not be secured after all.”
Let’s blame the schools…bullspit.
Maybe it’s the lack of leadership at every level of the culture and the realization that what leaders we have are full of greed and vice.
Maybe it’s the teaching of history…properly.
Maybe it’s a combination of many factors…but let’s blame the schools.
“likely due in part”
Thanks for writing this Micheal. I do not think that I would qualify as a empath, but there are some points of commonality (is that a word) that I can see in myself in the healthline article you linked to.
So in my life, I can come across as not seeming to care for others. What struck me one night, and it was quite the visceral experience, I was watching a Hollywood action flick (Rambo, not the last one, but the previous one where he was rescuing missionaries in Myanmar), and I noticed myself wanting to jump into the movie to pummel the soldiers who were torturing the civilians. I’ve never had that kind of reaction before to watching a movie.
I don’t watch movies at all unless I know they have a happy ending.
They cause me huge stress.
It’s possible that as you age you’re coming into a place where you’re more comfortable with “feeling”.
Could be Micheal. What originally was my intention to be entertained, left me with a rather unreal experience. And in the spirit of full disclosure, my favorite movies tend to be milqutoast, easy-going classics. I HATE horror movies or movies where people are being abused. That ain’t entertainment.
But more than that, I appreciate some good, honest music by good songwriters. Always enjoyed hearing about your musical interests, along with others here too!
I’m a big comic book movie guy…and I assume that they will have happy endings.
The second to last Avengers movie damn near put me in therapy…
I have to be careful with music as well…even more so.
In regards to the Avengers movie (2nd to the last one), it does set things up for the win (albeit with sacrifice) in Avengers: Endgame.
I hated the ending of Infinity War. Didn’t enjoy Endgame much better.
Going to see Venom 2 and Shang-Chi this weekend. I expect them to be pretty dark, too.
Michael, we took a theater-full of junior high kids to see that Avenger’s movie as a rewards field trip. The ending nearly resulted in mutiny! 😉
“It’s a cliff-hanger!!” I kept yelling from my bunker…
…will go to see the final “best” Bond movie this weekend. Daniel Craig has hit home runs on each, but I love Skyfall most.
Craig played a good Bond ranked #2 in my book. Sean Connery of course, was and will always be the standard by which other actors are judged. I agree about Skyfall, that is the pinnacle of Craig’s run as Bond.
Gentlemen, i am sitting here tis chilly morning watching a Jimmy Swaggert Bible study (panel of 5 men of various stripes). They agree with my late grandpa that Russia and China will be used of Satan in the last days. They also declare that the U.S. is in a non recoverable decline. “God gave them over to strong delusion.”.
Yes, i listen to Swaggert occasionally – my late husband said he confessed his sin publicly, God forgave him and we should, too. ..
My question is, do any of te learned in Scripture here have any opinions on this?
All of that is pure speculation.
It begins with an assumption that these are the last days and that America is central to God’s plan for the ages.
I’m sure every other empire in history would have assumed the same about themselves…
As far as Jimmy’s repentance…
Swaggart comes from a grossly dysfunctional and abusive family and culture.
His wife is a shrew.
Having said all that, I know he believes what he preaches…which I can’t say about most I’ve dealt with…but he is disqualified from the pulpit …multiple times.
The Lewis/Swaggart clans are a southern tragedy played out in real life and in front of millions.
Jerry Lee and Jimmy Lee are now old men cramming for finals…
Russia, China, and US in scripture are pure speculation. Is it possible? Sure, but there is no revealed symbol in Scripture that would lead us in that direction.
US given over to strong delusion? Yes, but it has nothing to do with our rise or decline in world standing. Our founding was not because of favor from God, and our decline will not be directly from his curse. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, and the US is just another in that long list that will one day be no more.
Swaggert. Yes, he is forgivable. His bible teaching, as seen above, is bad, though.
Michael got to it, before I did. He’s too fast 🙂
I always have to jump in when we’re talking about my boys… 🙂
Here’s the thing you have to remember about Jimmy.
His cousin was the first person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and will someday be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Jimmy was every bit as talented and only half as crazy.
He could have signed with Sun just like Jerry Lee did…but chose to spend years playing and preaching in tiny Pentecostal churches all over the South.
It was a hard road for a long time.
He’s a terrible theologian, but Lord, can he preach…
“terrible theologian, but Lord, can he preach…”. So. …
What do we do with the words, foolishness of preaching that saves some?
What puzzles me are the folk who, although “saved,” have no appetite for serious Bible study – renewing their minds. ..
My mind has been in desperate need of renewing….
“What do we do with the words, foolishness of preaching that saves some?”
We thank the Lord for it. I’m amazed that even some of my foolish efforts have been used in that way.
for the record, i am in agreement that when a pastor has sinned grievously (we all sin) and is unrepentant he has no standing…. plus an open confession does not return one such person to the pastorate…
that being said, can their wealth of knowledge be used to teach? ? ? undecided…..
“that being said, can their wealth of knowledge be used to teach? ? ?”
How would that work Em?
Should they profit?
Should their name be associated with the teaching? What would that teach?
Aren’t there plenty of Bible teachers present and past who haven’t fallen? I think we can get by without the fallen ones.
Giving a dramatic presentation, using parts of the Bible as a script, is not the same thing as preaching.
Good questions, Jean….
IMHO – we just don’t have enough qualified teachers, but….
should they be paid? I don’t think so
Teaching adult classes on Sundays still might have merit, especially if done in a question and answer style ….
P.S. Jean, we have many teachers in some of pur protestant “evangelical” community that, IMO, have no business teaching as their lifestylrs are quite careless
The New Testament is clear that teachers should be paid if possible.
Jimmy was disqualified from the pastorate and defrocked by the AoG.
He should have sat down and maybe taught away from the spotlight…but he’s a pathetic teacher.
He’s the best exhorter that ever lived…and I wouldn’t be in the faith today without his help.
Michael @ 4:26
Interesting comment on Swaggert…
My late husband, who didn’t overlook sinning shepherds, also felt that we should forgive the man as he seemed honest i his confession
The little i have observed since his serious sin episode makes me think he is serious about the Christian Faith…
Will have to look into the instruction to pay our teachers – must have missed it…. 😟
“This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak certainly for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
(1 Corinthians 9:3–14 ESV)
Jimmy had issues before and after his confession…which was both difficult and sincere.
He’s not qualified to be a pastor.
I forgave him, but I also knew that he should be done.
“The New Testament is clear that teachers should be paid if possible.”
Teachers who are qualified to teach. Men who are disqualified should not teach nor be compensated for usurping the vocation of Bible teacher.
The US is part of the now sleeping Roman Empire.
Reasonable conclusion – point taken. .😇
As Michael pointed out, Swaggart had the same problems after his confession and de-frocking. Only the 2nd time around (in 1991), he refused correction. But since he was an independent operator (not affiliated with any church denomination), he just stepped down for a few months and was back in the pulpit shortly thereafter.
Michael: I think Swaggart should have been evangelist and stayed in that lane, instead of becoming a pastor or teacher. Maybe things would have turned out differently for him.
Empathy and compassion are related, I think…
“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin.
It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” – Buechner
It is a gift. 🙂
Good thread – lots of points to ponder
I’ll let anybody borrow it who wants it at this point…
His wife got tired of sleeping in church basements and being dirt poor.
Can’t say that I blame her for that…
Swaggart. Rural Southern poverty has probably had a far more influence in shaping modern Evangelical thought than is realized.
Revived Roman Empire and America’s place in eschatology
My position is Dispensationism has a fatal flaw resulting in an unworkable eschatology. I say this based in observations since my childhood.
The crux is this flaw is J.N.Darby’s massive error (if I recall his notes) as he transitioned from Daniel 9: 26 to the following 27. Its a grade school level reading error. I was expected in 5th grade, in a Fundamentalist school, to practice better comprehension, then the forerunner of Fundamentalism.
Darby, and by extension Dispensationism, does not follow the progression of Daniel.
I Left Dispensationalism Behind (Pun Intended!)….
Some answers here:
Medical exemptions based on the fetal objection don’t fly…unless one has sworn off almost every drug including otc stuff…
If you’ve ever used any of these drugs…you have no legit fetal cell objection.
Acetaminophen, albuterol, aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec, and Zoloft…and this is a small sample…
From what you’ve described of your religious upbringing, you might be interested in the new memoir by Philip Yancey, “Where the Light Fell.” He was raise in southern fundamentalism. His story is really tough to read in places while fascinating at the same time…
NathanP–my criticism of Dispensationalism is very similar to yours–the fatally flawed eschatology. It is unworkable, like a home owner trying to upgrade intricate plumbing in confined spaces. The Left Behind series may have pushed many over the brink. I gave away my copies as White Elephant Christmas gifts. pun intended, but not achieved. 😉
To me it is more plausible/useful as it defines eras
Will our Lord reign on earth 1,000 years? Logically? It makes sense. One last trial to prove the long suffering love and grace of our Triune God… 🙆
I think the most troublesome (to us non Dispensationalists) is the emphasis on the Rapture (among the pre-mil folks) and the obsession with modern-day Israel. Dividing history up into eras where God dealt differently with people is not a problem for me.
When I worked for a Bible bookstore in my youth there were these popular illustrated large spread books called “Dispensational Truth”. Eye catching, they were the the early ‘70’s version of effective art in spreading the notion of “dispensations”.
After I learned that the thing we call “The Bible” was an compilation of the works of people during a very wide timeline, showing cultural evolution, and when questioned critically the assumptions behind dispensationalism are just one more pair of lenses we use to see themes which are, at best, a fanciful overlay, it is not surprising that the same basis of Bible teaching has brought us QAnon conspiracies.
Well, the history that Jesus inaugurated by His life, death, resurrection and ascension is all people invited into one church, with no promises reserved for anyone outside the one church of Christ.
When Jesus ascended to heaven to receive His kingdom, the devil was cast out of heaven per Revelation 12. John then hears the celebration of the martyrs:
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”
Here, at His ascension, you have the beginning of Christ’s millennial kingdom and rule.
“Here, at His ascesion, you have the beginning of Chriist’s millennial kingdom and rule.”
Doesn’t quite compute, dear Jean….🙆
BTW i am pretty sure the Church experiences the beginning of the tribulation period, but is removed before the bowls of wrath are poured out. But….
We shall see. 😇.. eventually we will see
Are you saying that the Father denied Jesus’ intercessory high priestly prayer: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
The biggest deception IMV with the rapture theology is that, contrary to the vast witness of the NT, it teaches Christians that God will shield us from suffering at one point or another.
This leaves some people with a disinterest or encouraging view of the suffering of the world because they think God is going to save them from suffering temporarily for their and the world’s rebellion against God.
Ahh, Jean. The Rapture sissies? They’ve got a test coming…
And NO. Of course i am not saying that the kingdom of our Lord has not already begun….
Our Lord was pretty clear that “in this world we shall have tribulation ( presecution).
I think everyone here has been through testings…
Our present world is permeated with evil, is it not?
Again – God keep
“Rapture sissies?!” 🤦🏼♂️
What helped me abandon Dispensationalism was reading a commentary on The Revelation of Jesus Christ by a Lutheran scholar who taught what the classic church maintains, which is it’s an allegory meant to inspire the church in persecution by Rome that Jesus IS The Lamb Who Was Slain Who Is Risen And Victorious. The narrative is uplifting, empowering and has sustained us for millennia moving us to social justice, progress and cultural improvement today, here, now. A stark contrast to the “it’s all gonna burn” narrative of Dispensationalism.
“it’s all gonna burn” ahh, guitar man, you’re leaving out the promise of a NEW heavens and a new earth….
Nope. That promise is, according to Dispensationalism, for a minuscule population.
The narrative of the present Kingdom of Jesus is for all.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language,”
Doesn’t sound like a miniscule population to me.
That’s my point, it’s not. It’s inclusive.
Per Jesus, not one is lost.
Oh, right. Universalism as opposed to Dispensationalism.
Of course Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(lo), God is/was not willing that any should perish…..
Josh’s 12:10 is true, however. Those who neglect/reject this great offer of redemption WILL perish…
I don’t think humility and self absorption are compatible…
God keep and keep us in edification
The lack of humility and the complete self-absorption of the non-prodigal kid didn’t keep his Dad from affirming His unconditional love for that child of His. Why would you think Dad wouldn’t do the same with every other instance of lack of humility and complete self-absorption?
What about my direct quote from Jesus? Is He lying?
Why do i think Dad….? “. Because…. 😇
Our Father (God) is HOLY. The prodigal i think you refer to, after his ignorant rebellion, came to his senses. Like 15:18-21
P.S. Scripture also declares that God takes NO pleasure in the deaths of the wicked.
Em, I’m not talking about the prodigal. I’m talking about the “non-prodigal”.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the HereNow presence of TheDivine, Union with The infinite-personal God The doing is now, the age-abiding-life is now.
The non-prodigal? Oh, okay….. 😏
Not quite… not quite here now, but soon
Whenever you place it on the timeline, Jesus still said some will not enter.
Look, I wish they would too, but the guy who owns the place said it isn’t going to happen.
Or, if the Guy Who owns it all makes a declarative game changing statement that settles all other declarations and they must be seen in the light of God, The Rule Breaker.
Changed His mind? Interesting. Could He change it again.
Love wins if Love is properly defiened.
Fake love loses.
He never changed His mind.
Our sacred texts are compiled by humans, edited by the same. The arch of the narrative is ultimately about Dad’s acceptance of His Children.
g-doggie. delightful to see you & read your comments. Much love to you.
Grace & peace to you, dear brother.
“The arch of the narrative is ultimately about Dad’s acceptance of His Children.”
Agreed, but He also gives us some parameters about who are His children.
In the story Jesus tells the listeners and grumblers at the meal that there’s no limiting parameter, they’re already Dad’s children. Dad never disowns either child, even when one completely acts out, dishonoring Dad. And Dad kindly reminds the entitled other child who judges both Dad and his brother that everything of Dad’s has never ceased to be his, even when he refuses to value and love his returned brother. What we have is a failure to see that Dad unconditionally loves His children and continuously lavishes all His resources to enrich them, without performance requirements.
Agreed, but its not the only story in the book.
All other stories need to be seen through the narrative of this story. The context of the story is that it is told to the people Jesus invited to the party He is at, the ones who were sex workers, tax collectors, immigrants, single moms, sons & daughters estranged from moms & dads, and moms and dads who were ashamed of their sons and daughters and had disowned them for bringing shame upon their family name. He was also zinging the skilled religionists who outwardly kept “pure” and were grumbling that those in attendance were the reason God allowed Roman oppression to come to Israel. Jesus welcoming and affirming the misfits, telling the 3 stories of The Lost Coin, The Lost Sheep and The Dad and His kids subverts the religious tests of proper belief, proper behavior, and the ugly entitlement of the perfect performers.
Interesting hermeneutic. Thanks for your thoughts.
There is a vast gulf between enabling and forgiving. Are we all sinners on planet earth? YES! ! ! Those who attended that gathering were a mix, yes. Did they all accept the new birth? Did they wish that they weren’t sinners? I don’t know. But without repentance, there is no way for God to forgive us. ….
God forgives us regardless of our repentance.
We humans miss all the benefits of God’s presence, God’s uplifting perspective on us when we insist on being transactional, and God’s perspective on when we fail and start telling ourselves we’re disqualified from our relationship. Dad wouldn’t let His partyboy’s disqualifying narrative he had been rehearsing to be a hired servant ever come out of his mouth.
The context of the stories is framed in the story of Luke 5:27. Notice, the proud religionists were grumbling at who was in attendance at the party Levi threw for Jesus. They expected to be there and we’re appalled at the new associates of Levi, the sleazy, unrepentant (according to the Law and that current purity culture). Why do you think Jesus told the 3 stories? To affirm Dad’s unconditional acceptance of all present.
sorry, “…were appalled…”
Autocorrect wasn’t correct
Unfortunately, in the same context, Jesus told another story about a party that ended with: “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Which further reinforces the narrative of self disqualification from their present invitation. They are not forever banished to hell for eternal punishment, they are choosing to miss out on the presence of The Party-Thrower, His company, His lavishing of bounty. They’re individually missing out on that event. Look at the openness of and generosity of The Party-Thrower, telling the community of those who never took the time to engage The Party-Thrower.
The proclamation to their world, and our world is, “Hey, don’t miss out on the generosity of The One Who Is Throwing The Party!”
“The proclamation to their world, and our world is, “Hey, don’t miss out on the generosity of The One Who Is Throwing The Party!”
Yes! Of course that implies that some may miss out. All the more reason to publicize the invitation!
Yes, missing out, not being damned to conscious eternal punishment in fiery hell.
It’s about the urgency of being invited, and the generosity of The Inviter.
I don’t know the exact definition of “missing out” and what all that entails, but I know that it won’t be fun.
So part of Jesus’ narrative is using the very human response of FOMO to drive us to Dad’s unconditional love, to get us past our false narrative of disqualification like The PartyBoy was telling himself after binging and realizing that Dad treats everyone pretty good.
My instinct (FWIW) tells me that the “observation” in Scripture that God ((the Father (Dad)) takes no pleasure in the deaths of the wicked has to do with hell….
Just feeling that a place called hell is unthinkable does not negate the fact of it
We’d do well to concentrate a bit on God’s holiness – pure, sinless, perfect.
And yet, by grace and mercy, we have John 3:16
God keep and keep us growing in the mind of Christ
Do you think newborn humans are immediately, upon their first breath, cursed with the stain of Adam’s original sin and and therefore deserving of eternal separation from The Father and deserving to suffer conscious torment in the flames of hell?
…or are we cursed in utero, deserving of hell just because we’re humans?
This is presumptuous, I know. But would the new heavens and new earth be the same without our unbelieving loved ones there? I hope Gods love for His creatures is so far beyond our understanding that there is Good News for all eventually.
I’ll say the amen…
Guitarman @ 3:36, i lost my first son at 14 months of age. I fully expect to see him in heaven.
Of such are the kingdom of God…..
Also, as we grow older, develop discernment we choose. We choose humility – God, be merciful to me a sinner.
Or in self satisfied pride we say, “God, if YOU are a good god, you will not reject anyone from their heavenly citizenship. I, therefore, am in!
An unpleasant fate/surprise awaits the rejectors of this great and costly redemption that God offers
My heart breaks for the pain you experienced.
I count on your hope.
it is hardly “self satisfied pride” to dare say, “God, if YOU are a good god, you will not reject anyone from their heavenly citizenship.”
Whenever we make this personal (a child we lost, a sister, brother, mom or dad or family member who has died) we MUST pivot to love for the answer.
Can any of us who have children or grandchildren, or babysit, or have nieces, nephews or cousins, neighbors who have children or grandchildren consider ever sending those children to conscious eternal suffering in a burning hell, separated from their family or you or the rest of humanity FOREVER? As a dad and granddad, I cannot. I’m going to say that, honestly, neither can anyone reading this. That makes you, automatically, a better parent than the god of that narrative which Jesus was dismantling.
Jesus’ three stories of The Lost Coin, The Lost Sheep and Dad and His Boys are about unconditional, un-earnable, un-disqualifyable acceptance.
(apologies for my poor grammar)
The coin is valued.
The sheep is valued.
The Boys also valued by Dad, a Dad broke all the cultural rules and norms of transactional earned, maintained acceptance and honor.
To insist otherwise is to have disconnected from love.