“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 19&20 – FINDING JESUS
As I’ve stated before, I grew up in a fellowship where Jesus was second to Paul when it came to what Christianity was about. Of course, Paul hadn’t died for the sins of the world, but that was basically all Jesus did-die for the world’s sins. What was important was getting the church right in structure and in the “acts of worship.” Next was to avoid all the sins that the Epistles listed that would harm the church and its mission to “save souls.” Believe it or not, but there was a critical catch phrase for those who called people to Jesus. They were said to “Preach the man and not the plan.” And I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t still out there.
“Saving souls” was my first sticking point. How do you save a soul without saving the whole person? Well, if you were interested in the whole person that might distract you from saving the important part, the “immortal” part. The problem is that “immortal” and “soul” are never linked in the Bible. And, Jesus said the soul could be destroyed, (Matt.10:28) even though there are those who say it doesn’t mean to “destroy.” Well, that’s another subject. But there was the idea formed that if you were interested in the whole person you were missing the point, and you were somehow a “liberal.”
I don’t remember when in my adult life I decided to try to find Jesus. I don’t mean to “accept the Lord.” I mean to find out what he thought was important and how to bring that about in life.
In the sixties I heard about Harvey Cox, a Baptist preacher who, along with others, refused to move out of a Boston neighborhood that was deteriorating into a rough place to live. He was stabbed, mugged and I’m not sure what else, but they stayed and made a difference. How long that difference lasted I don’t know. Then I read his “The Secular City” and found a view of Jesus that was daring and exciting. I began to see on the pages of the New Testament, not a carefully crafted Jesus, but something of a rebel. He didn’t look like the preachers I knew who wore grey suits and drove gray or black cars so as to not look too “worldly.” Yes, that was advice given to preachers. They were told to look like conservative banker-types. In fact, do you remember the Nehru jackets? Inspired by India they came to the US in the 60’s. (A bad styling choice, along with the leisure suit!) I heard of at least one preacher who was fired on the spot when he wore one to church. In other words, preachers were to be boring.
I think the problem with finding Jesus is that we find the Jesus we are looking for. In other words, we make Jesus in our own image. I’m not sure it can be helped, because we were not there and living in Jesus’ type of world. Therefore, we transfigure him into ours. Like a little book called “The Man Nobody Knows,” where the author has Jesus return home to Nazareth and go upstairs to his old room and look around, as if he lived in a modern house.
In more recent years books like “Joshua” came along. Joshua is another name for Jesus and it was about a kind woodworker who came into a small town and upset the religious establishment until (I don’t remember how) they got rid of him. It was a popular and worthy attempt, but those who were moved by it probably didn’t start living like that.
I’m not sure any movie about Jesus has captured who he was. Why? Because no one alive was there to see and hear him. What we do have is the record left by those who knew him or knew someone who knew him. Of course, added to that is inspiration. However, even with that we don’t know the conditions or circumstances involved in what Jesus said and did. What did he really mean when he said, in contrast to the “Eye for an eye” response, “Do not resist the evil person?” What did he believe about nonviolence? Would he (as the protesters for racial equality were taught) step in when someone was being beaten and tell the beater to beat him instead? Do we see any connection between Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and others who used nonviolence, and Jesus? In fact, there are many Christians who do not like Ghandi, King, Tutu and others who worked for equal human rights to be mentioned in the same sentence or context with Jesus.
Perhaps it is not so much that we don’t really know Jesus (we weren’t there with him) as it is we shape his teaching to fit our desired understanding. Jesus can become Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, bringing justice upon the wicked with his guns. It’s not that we’d actually make Jesus act like the Pale Rider. We would just say Jesus thinks it’s all right for us to act like the Pale Rider. We use his words to justify our actions, whether it’s the use of force or the use of nonviolence. He becomes the underwriter of our lives, even though we say he’s the model.
So can Jesus’ teaching become a guide for our lives? I think so. But in any discussion about the “hard” things he said concerning how we are to treat others you will get a multitude of answers. When the “issues” of today’s world arise, Jesus’ teaching and that of the Bible “become all things to all men.” The results are geared to make what he said more palatable to our personal and social views. The hardest things and the harshest things he said were about how others are treated.
It might be better just to do what we want and leave Jesus out of it, rather than do it and say he approves. (We pretty much do it that way anyway) Then if we get to live long enough we could test it by the passing of time and see if how we’d lived had made a more caring and loving world. Or we could look back in time and see what kind of person(s) made the world a better place for all kinds of people, regardless of any social, racial or ethnic differences. Who was it that put themselves on the line for equality and justice? Who was it that spoke up for the disenfranchised? Since I have not seen Jesus or talked to him, the best I can do when I read his words is to look around and see those who are also trying to be like him and start with being like them.
I guess it comes down to what view of Jesus we want to be our legacy.
CONCERNS: It was good to see Rich Crites at church last Sunday. He is exercising daily to get his strength back after his surgery. He has a few weeks of treatments left. Nick Nicklas, Leena’s brother is gaining weight and will soon be able to restart the cancer treatments. T. J. Hall has been shut in due to a waiting period to be sure his blood was ok after heart surgery before giving him some needed medicine. Wayne Phlegar is having pretty much constant pain issues. Keep the following people in prayer as they deal with or are recovering from cancer: Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Philip Pierces’ mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood , Joni Beach’s mother, Regan, the ten year old boy who had brain surgery
for cancer. Also Helen Nicklas, Martha Foy’s parents, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, and Melisha, who is still seeking work.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAY 20-25
Monday: I Samuel 16:1-13
Tuesday: Mark 15:1-20
Wednesday: Luke 12:1-12
Thursday: I John 2:11-24
Friday: I Peter 4:1-19
Saturday: Psalm 11:1-7
OUT DAILY BREAD: MAY 27-6/1
Monday: Psalm 119:57-72
Tuesday: Matthew 12:38-50
Wednesday: James 1:19-27
Thursday: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Friday: Romans 6:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 113:1-9
Several of our women are away today. Some are enjoying the weekend together at Lake Norman, NC and Judy McWhorter is at a quilting convention.
Today (May 19) is Super Sunday. It looks like it will be a nice day, so plan to stay and eat together after the service.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
There will be a steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
This evening is when we are preparing the meal for those with children in Roanoke Memorial Hospital who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. If you can help, see Martha Albert. The next date is June 5.
Stephanie Dixon has a new phone number. It is 354-2010. Make the change in your directory.
AROUND THE BUILDING
Most of you know that Rich Crites did the shrubbery and ivy trimming around the building, as well as being sure the sidewalk is swept on Sunday. Since he is unable to do that now, we need to plan to do it. The trimming will only need to be done occasionally. If you do it, please trim, not cut back too far. We can announce when this maintenance needs to be done and get together and do it. Maybe Rich will feel like supervising at times.
Judy Hall is calling all the knitters to take part in knitting the scarves that are given to the school children in needy areas of Roanoke. She has the yarn, so see her.
If you are interested in going to a Christian summer camp, information is posted on the downstairs bulletin board. The camp is High Rock Bible Camp and former member Kevin SIgman is a part of it. You can get all the information by going to highrockbiblecamp.org. The cost is very reasonable at $100.00 for the week. Check it out.
If the inside page of the bulletin looks a little crisper it is because we now have WordPerfect as the main word processor. It does a better job formatting, but it’s still a work in progress.