Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Justification

Justification, or being Justified, is one of those terms that has, sadly, taken on a Holier than Thou meaning, when it really shouldn’t. We’ve come to think that only those who lead a saintly life will be truly Justified before God. But is that true? Is God only looking for the Saints (with a capital “S”)? If so, what about the rest of us who just go through our daily lives doing the best that we can in a harsh (sometime anti-religious) world?

Once again English, and time, have done us an injustice when it comes to Justification. English because it’s a very poor language to translate other languages into. English typically has only one word for a given thought (such as “love”) and requires an adjective to fully describe it (“puppy love”) while other languages, such as Greek, have multiple words, each chosen to express a particular thought (eros, agapos).

Time because how we use an word in English, and what it means, changes through time. Love was once used to describe a tight affection between two people, now it means affection, sex, or how we feel about tonight’s television show.

Justification, or Justified, is the same. It can mean anything from how we stand before God to the spacing in this blog. Even in the first case it’s meaning has changed over the centuries. If you look it up in a modern dictionary it will likely describe it as being “righteous in the site of God” (righteous is a topic for a whole other blog) and so gives us a feeling that it is something only a few can obtain, while the rest of us wonder/fear how we will fare before the Almighty.

In a word, Justified has made God unreachable. Jesus would shudder at such a thought.

The Greek and Hebrew words for Justified (δίκαιος and צדק, respectively) have a much simpler meaning – to be as God intended you to be, or, to be true to yourself, and to others.

  • A judge who passes judgement fairly, without malice or prejudice.
  • A landlord who treats their tenants as if they were family. Keeping the property in good repair, charging a fair price, opening their home to everyone equally.
  • A tenant who keeps the home they rent as if they owned it. Not defacing it, fixing what they break, understanding that the landlord has problems as well, and is not perfect.
  • A shop owner who is open to everyone, regardless of race, creed, nationality, or any other marker used to discriminate.
  • And the individual, who looks at everyone as a brother/sister, and treats them with love and kindness, even if they are not treated the same way.

In other words, and far more eloquently that I am capable of:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Justification isn’t all that hard to achieve, and isn’t only for the Saintly. Simply treat everyone you meet with love and courtesy, just as you would want to be treated, regardless of who they are, or how they treat you.

God created us all: Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist. Whether they are black, white, straight, or homosexual, male or female, conservative or liberal, or any other way you choose to categorize someone, they are all children of God. Made with love and through love, and deserving of your love. Do this, and you will be Justified before our loving God.

Vote Like a Christian

In a month Americans will gather together for their quadrennial trek to the poling place in a lackluster drove, a tradition that has occurred every four years since 1788. Sadly, American’s interest in this groundbreaking event is sadly not what it should be. In the nation that created the modern concept of voting for a country’s leader we have rarely even topped 45% voter turnout. Afterwards we are more than happy to top 50% in people dissatisfied with the results. Lately one party has consistently sat out participation in the 4-year term when their party doesn’t win, denying acceptance of the official outcome, sour grapes in an event in which they did not participate. I would like to request that this election season we vote like Christians, and, yes, there is something we can glean from the New Testament on this topic.

First, we are not going to get into whether Jesus would be a Democrat or Republican – IMO, neither. Jesus was apolitical, not getting involved in the Roman political system, or even the Jewish political system of the time.

Now, into it. Voting is not a religious duty or obligation, it is the most secular event event in America. Turning it into a WWJD event is a travesty. In Jesus’ time elections did not occur, but he did address the secular world and its intrusion into the lives of Jews – taxes.

Luke 20:22-25 (RSV) Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a coin. Whose likeness and inscription has it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Voting is Caesar’s law, not God’s. Vote your conscience, but don’t drag God into the debate.

If you lose remember that it is not the end of the world. Conservatives have had to live through Clinton/Obama, and they have survived. Liberals have had to live through Bush/Trump, and they have survived. Whomever wins is the President, and is due all the honor and respect of the office, regardless of how you feel about the person. Going around yelling, “He’s not our President, we do not support him” it about as childish as you can get, like a 3-year-old stomping around upset because he can’t have ice cream because he didn’t eat his veggies. Remember what Paul teaches us about worldly authority.

Romans 13:1-2 (RSV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

And this was in a time when defying authority could, and did, cost the lives of Christians. If your party loses, at least you will not lose your life. So, give the winner the respect, honor, and obedience that God asks of us.

Finally, remember: politicians lie. It’s a fact. Groups that run ads for politicians lie, whether the candidate approves of the message or not (approval doesn’t mean they guarantee there are no lies in it). And regardless of what they promise, they rarely deliver. If they did, what would they run on next time? Politicians have been promising to fix Social Security since they wrecked it in the beginning, no one has lifted a finger to solve the problem (other than cutting benefits), no one will so long as they can use it as a bargaining chip for votes. Our healthcare system is a mess, and it always has been – I’ve been under private, Obamacare, and Medicare, they all suck. If you think any politician will fix it then ask them one question – will they give up their coverage and go under what they are proposing? No one has, no one will. Get over it, live peacefully with the results.

So, vote like a Christian – vote your conscience and live peacefully with the results. Let the secular world deal with it. Don’t look at your brother with hatred for his view that differs from your own, instead try to see what he sees, why his view is different from your own, for from his view he is just as valid as you.

Matthew 6:34 – 7:5 (RSV) Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

 

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Antipascha

This is the first Sunday after Easter, in the west it is known as White or Low Sunday. (more…)

The End is Near

Today is the Palm Sunday, the final Sunday in Great Lent. (more…)

Renewal

Today is the fifth Sunday of Great Lent, the Gospel story James and John trying for a power grab. (more…)

Faith and Love

Today is the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, the Gospel story is about the healing of the demon-possessed man. (more…)

Pride without Prejudice

Today marks the third Sunday of Great Lent, the Gospel story is about Jesus telling us to pick up our cross and following him. (more…)

Love and Hope

Today marks the second Sunday of Great Lent, the Gospel story is of the paralytic who is lowered through the roof of a building. (more…)

Faith

Faith is the subject of the first Sunday of Great Lent. (more…)

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