Jesus showed who his Father is…by not “Grasping”

If Jesus is the exact representation of God (Heb 1:3), then God is not only nonviolent, but God does not grasp to be more than he should be. Some would ask, “why would God grasp at anything when he is almighty, all powerful, and everywhere at the same time?” This is an excellent question, but what I would like to propose is that God thinks more about you than he does about himself. Or better yet, God thinks you are more important than himself. That’s a big statement….and I truly think it is possible when we see Jesus representing “God’s very nature”. The verses I will focus on are again in Phil 2, god_is_love_by_riikardo-d70clskwhich say,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

I mentioned in the two previous articles that grasping and Love are antonyms. They cannot be more different than each other in terms of how Paul is describing Jesus in Philippians 2. What follows is that, if Jesus is God, then God also does not grasp…for selfish gain over any aspect of creation. If Jesus has emptied himself, so has God. If Jesus is a bond-servant, then so is the Father. If Jesus is obedient to the Father to the point of death, then the Father is obedient to Love to the point of being completely emptied of all conceit and selfish desire to be with Jesus on the cross (2 Cor 5:17-19). Continue reading

“Grasping” for Success cannot be Confused with Love

In my last article, I gave my thoughts on how Jesus did not “grasp” for relevance but knew that Love is the only true revelation of the Father. The idea is presented by Paul in Philippiansdownload (MG book) 2: 1-11, but specifically verse 5 saying,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Most people, in my past experience in churches, would say that Jesus shed his divine nature to become human. I do not believe that this is the best interpretation of what Paul is saying here. In an amazing book called Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology, The author, Michael J. Gorman, makes an excellent point that Paul is saying that Jesus, who empties himself of all conceit and selfish ambition, is showing that this is who God is….The very divine nature of God is “self-emptying”, or Kenotic. This makes so much more sense to me, when reading the Bible, than a lot of traditional interpretations of Protestant Theology. God gives of himself…he shows us the exact definition of Love. The kicker is, a lot of our definitions of love are the exact opposite of the kenosis of Jesus in his life and on the cross. Maybe our thoughts on love and who God is are rooted more in our ideas of who we want God to be? Just think about it….

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Jesus was the opposite of our churches desire to “grasp” for relevance…He was Love.

This is a paper I finished up reading and it has truly challenged me. Its called, “GRASPING GOD: Philippians 2: 1-11 in the Light of Mimetic Theory by Michael E. Hardin and Steven E. Berry. A paper presented to the Colloquium on Violence and Religion July 2005 in Koblenz, Germany”.  This paper really put a piece of the puzzle in place for me in my mind on the problems with churches being driven by success and results, like we have been discussing over the last several years. images3Those who put the effort into understanding Paul, here in the linked paper, are responsible for the thoughts and quotes that come out in here.

The point the article is conveying is that Philippians 2:1-11 has Paul explaining what the Gospel (good news) actually looks like being lived out in the Kingdom of God through positively mimicking Jesus as he displays the true nature of the Father. Paul explains this in verses 1-4 saying,

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

What would make Paul happy is to see those who follow Jesus to conduct themselves and live in a manner that has no selfish-ambition, no conceit, be of the same mind (mind of who?), be of the same love (love of who?), and with humility, regard another as higher than yourself. I won’t make this too long, but the paper is making the point that positive mimesis, in Christ, is a good thing. We all copy something and it is Jesus who has given us the ability to mimic him who is living out the love of the Father. Continue reading

Dave Buehring’s “Redefining Love”

I want to continue a thought that truth is subjective and that Followers of Jesus need to see Love as the foundation of their faith…not truth. I realize that this seems controversial, but hang with me and let’s see how this comes out the other side to start good conversation with each other. God_is_Love

I had an interesting, yet quick, conversation on Twitter the other day with a person named Dave Buehring, who has a ministry called Lionshare. Someone had pointed out a tweet that this person had made. We were both confused at the statement that he made saying “this redefining love trend”. The comment was interesting for sure, which you can see on Twitter saying,

“In the midst of this redefining love trend, we must remember that love is rooted in God’s character – and is always married with His truth!”

When I asked him what he meant by “redefining love trend”, he ultimately landed on,

“As a follower of Jesus, the Scriptures are my reference point for truth. God loves people and died to free them from sin.”

This is my question. Is the “truth’ that he is talking about really just coming down to what he believes words in the bible say? In addition, is this “redefining love trend” addressed to all the people who do not agree with his interpretation of certain verses in the bible? If so, then this can create a huge problem.

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Dr. Michael Brown and his “Truth”

I came upon a guy named Dr. Michael Brown that has a radio show that, I can only assume, is listened to by many people. Therefore, it’s safe to also assume that Dr. Michael Brown has a lot of influence on his listeners. No doubt this is true. What I wanted to do is bring into question a possible point of where theology and doctrine can go down a dark path that seems to be acceptedlineoffire by so many. Here is a quote form Dr. Brown on March 27th, saying…

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: If we walk in truth, no matter how much love we have, people will be offended. Take it on the chin, and keep loving them in Jesus!”

I think this is backwards. What’s backwards? What seems to be backwards is that love can only come after truth or that truth is the foundation to everything…even love. I’m saying that this is a belief that could lead many people into a whirlwind of trouble. This can create a fallacy that justifies religious violence against those we have placed on the other side of the religious line. What needs to be stated, in my opinion is,

The Religious Vortex’s Bottom Line: “Truth can only come out of or even exist because of Love. Because if truth comes first, then truth is completely subjective and will be used as a weapon.”

What I am saying is, we should always walk in love and in turn truth will come out of that. Why? Because when we really get honest with ourselves, truth is subjective. Truth is subjective to whatever authority you allow to be placed over you. For example, most people will say truth is whatever their “pastor” says is truth….what they are told every Sunday morning. If you then translate love out of your subjective idea of truth that you gather from another person behind a pulpit, then love can easily be perceived as a weapon to those you are “trying to love with your truth”. Continue reading

Talking to our Kids about the Gospel – Part 2

So we don’t want to be overly religious with our kids…in reality, who does? I think being a fundamentalist is something that creeps up on you and you are in it before you even know it. We have seen it in ourselves…it caused us to be shallow, overly judgmental, and very hurtful in others perception-of-fundamentalismlives. We want to talk to our kids about who Jesus is and the Good News that He came to proclaim, like I mentioned previously, but we don’t want to be dogmatic about any religion when we have these conversations with them. Why? Because being dogmatic will always lead to hurting someone else. A main point in the bringing up of our children is to help them understand the true concept of Love. Love can only be love….it cannot be anything but that. It cannot be two-faced hiding behind an ulterior motive. However, we want love to mean many other things. A lot of times, we want love to be one-sided. We feel love when it bails us out, but buries those hurting us. Or, we think love happens when another person finally believes exactly what we think they need to believe….about anything. As parents, we disagree with this line of thinking and see it as against the definition of Love that Christ showed through his life. What cannot happen is raising a generation that feels the need to draw a line in the sand to say “I’m right and you are wrong”. Then there is no difference than what is shown in the picture I have attached to this post. We cannot teach our children to live in rivalries. We cannot teach them that love can be leveraged or used for personal gain. Nor can we teach them that hurting another person is ever right in the eyes of God. What is right and “truth”, like so many fundamentalists love to say, is……simple put…..Love. May we teach them this. Oh, and I hope to be that myself. Man it’s hard to do.

Talking to our Kids about the Gospel – Part 1

I want to explain the Good News of Jesus Christ to my kids. However, this is a tough one. Why? Because my wife and I are on a journey ourselves that is asking a lot of  questions. Big questions that really fly in the face of what we were taught growing up.no brain At times, we look at each other and ask one another, “what do we even say”? “How do we even say it?” We want to raise our kids well and teach them to be the best they can be, just like every other parent in the world, I hope. We want to talk to them about the God that we know. We want to share how the person of Jesus has molded us and shaped us. However, my wife and I both grew up in very fundamentalist christian environments. These were environments that were very dogmatic with no room to deviate from the core beliefs that were rigorously taught every time the doors were open without being “disciplined” by the members. We have come to the conclusion that we want to have conversations with our kids about Jesus without this dogmatic interpretation by churches that we grew up with. We just want them to know about Jesus and what he did. We want them to Love. We want to leave the dogma in the dust. We want them to learn how to think…to think with compassion for humanity. We don’t want them to look at a verse in the bible to determine what to do or how to love, but to know that love comes from viewing others as more important. We want them to be Real. We want them to be Gentle and Merciful with no violent view of God. We want them to be like Jesus….and leave the religion behind. Man are we in trouble…