Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Controversy in what matters most

It seems like I'm always struggling with one writer in the Bible or another.  For a loooooooong time, it was Paul.  In fact, I spent a lot of time in which I refused to read him, harbored bitterness and angry toward him (I know... totally not a waste of time... yeah right), held him responsible for the misinterpretations of his writings, and so on.  It was ridiculous, to be sure, but I do maintain what I think to be the most important part of that long-time exercise in disbelief:  You should not quote Paul (or any Epistle for that matter) without also quoting Jesus (and I would prefer Torah and a prophet... wisdom literature for a bonus point) in agreement with him.  Paul is far too easily misrepresented, because much of Christendom has forgotten the context in which it was written.  Like Kierkegaard, I think this is a most heinous loss, and while it will not separate anyone from Christ, it will separate their minds from His.  People miss out on so many true meanings and liberations in His words by ignoring the context into which they were spoken.  Additionally they (like I) miss the agreements between Paul and Christ without first knowing intimately that context.

My suggestion?  Find an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and soak up what he says.  But you don't need to take my word for it.  Ask this guy about the benefits.  (Incidentally, he's the one who was able to start me on the road to reconciliation with Paul.)

But, believe it or not, this posting isn't about Paul and me.  It's actually about John and me.  John, John, John... So many people have a hard time with you, and so did I... until G-d spoke clarity into my mind.  Ironically enough, my name comes from the name John, routing through their Hebrew equivalents.  The coolest part is found in their meanings, which deal with Grace.  Don't believe me on the connection front?  Fine... you shouldn't just take my word for it, anyway: JohnAnne.  And, just in case you wanted another eerie connection: Saul.

So yes, lately, I've been having problems with John.  But, instead of letting that fester this time around, I immediately began seeking out those wiser than myself.  I prayed, I read, I talked... but it wasn't until I finished John and started again that G-d spoke into all of it.  I had to prove my faithfulness on the subject.  I had to show my commitment to truly seeking Him and not discounting what He has given me as a witness to Himself (scripture, in case you missed it).  This is what he gave me:

November 6, 2011
This is John's testimony.  Every testimony will be affected by a person's opinion and circumstance.  John very probably wrote this after the Temple was destroyed, and it was clear that Jesus woud not be coming back to "establish" His Kingdom in their lifetimes.  Therefore, John is probably writing with the mission of reassuring people of Christ's deification - that He is, in fact, G-d, and the fact that He wasn't doing things the way everyone wanted or expected (still) was not reason to discount Him.  (Hebrews was most likely written around this same time as well.)  John starts this illustration at the beginning of the world and goes up through Christ's time on Earth.
He's writing many years after all the events happened, so it's likely that he did not write in perfect chronological order or with perfect quotes from the people in the stories (especially since that was perfectly acceptable in the day), but he does write, capturing who Jesus IS.  He urges us to fully understand Jesus' situation as a deity and, consequentially, writes a very different Gospel from that of the Synoptic writers, who focus on the incredible revolution that Jesus brought.
And yes, you will hear John's emotions come out at times (especially in reference to Judas or the Pharisees), but it is important to remember the setting and who John was:  John is referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved."  That is, of course, his own testimony, but the writers of the other Gospels also acknowledge that Peter, James, and John were considerably closer to Jesus than were the rest.  That being said, John would reasonably feel rather more passionately about the people to whom he assigned responsibility for Jesus' death.
John writes with a very interesting perspective.  I would encourage you not to dwell on the differences in format, but to drink in what a member of Jesus' most inner circle has to say about Him.
And really, that's all I have to say about that.

What do YOU have to say about that?  I'd love to hear from you!


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