Monday, March 4, 2013

Jesus : his birth and his death, but not his life!

On friday last I went to Gainesville, GA to hear Marcus Borg lecture at Breneau University. He made a statement that caught my attention, " a religion of the afterlife is of no threat to the way things are," I wrote it down and went home and posted it to facebook. After I posted it, I was done and could scarcely remember what that quote was today. It was however, another statement Borg made that didn't grab me nearly as much at the time, I didn't post it to facebook or twitter but I marinated on it for the next several days and it has now led me to this blog for the first time in a year and a half.

Borg was asked if he believed creeds, like the apostles creed and nicene creed could be a harmful element in Christian liturgy and life. His answer included far more than this, but this is what I couldn't shake, "the problem with creeds is that they examine Jesus birth and his death but do not say a single word about his life." This has led me to series of questions. Is it possible to emphasize what we believe about Jesus to the exclusion of what He believed? Do we care more about his titles than his attributes? Is it possible to know how he got here and how he left and not know who he was?

A few weeks ago I posted a link to information about a protest vigil being sponsored by Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the state of Georgia was scheduled to execute a Mentally challenged individual that evening, despite a supreme court ruling against executing children and the mentally challenged. One of my evangelical christian friends responded to that post with an unfortunately common misquote of Jesus, she said, "what about an eye for an eye, didn't Jesus say that?  I directed her to Matthew chapter 5 and answered,  No, he didn't! We debated further with little accomplished and I was faced with the question I had asked myself so many times before and yet had never found an answer. Here's the question. How can you claim to follow Jesus and yet be pro war, pro gun, pro discrimination, anti helping the poor and so on? Marcus Borg answered that question for me last Friday. You see, in much of Christianity today it is possible to disagree with or just disregard much or all of what Jesus said and how he lived as long as you proclaim his virgin birth, death, burial and resurrection.

Initially I viewed the Matthew 5 misquote as only that, a misquote or misunderstanding, probably due to only reading part of the chapter, but it is far more than that, it is a complete disconnect with who Jesus was. It attributes to Jesus, not just something different than what he said but the exact opposite of what he said. I never knew Dr King, but I know enough of what he said and stood for to not be fooled if someone told me he advocated violence, so how is it that you can "know" and "follow" Jesus and not recognize when someone misrepresents him?

Let's look past (or put down, if you observe lent) the emphasis on the virgin birth and the events of easter week and look at what he said, how he lived, who he befriended and see if we can't discover who he really was and is.