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Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday: "Greater Love Hath No Man, Than to Lay Down His Life For His Friends"

Lol, the above picture makes me laugh - because that's about how it would go down today, on both political sides. 

I know that the Catholic church - and its spin-off (my church), the Episcopal Church - distinguish two separate days and two different approaches for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - however - IMO, opinion, the two shouldn't be separates from each other, because they blend together and it's important they're together.

Because when you put together Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, they show the full spectrum story of Christ's enlightened nature versus our human nature in just a few chapters - an enlightened nature we should still strive to achieve and Christ said we could achieve. 

Even if we didn't have the rest of the gospels to tell us who Christ was, those two days/few chapters of scripture would be enough -(although I'm glad for the rest of the gospels, too:)

I mean, I get it, they were two separate days, but they weren't for Christ, he clearly had no time to sleep between the two,  one day turned into the next - last supper, continuous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, arrest, sentencing the next morning, crucifixion.

But that's us humans, placing unnecessary and irrelevant rules and regiment on things, just to make ourselves feel more in control of the world again :) 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about facts, dates and times things of events, and some semblance of order - but with some things, you can focus so much on irrelevant details that you miss the big picture, the cohesiveness of the entire arc of a story.

In fact, IMO, that is the problem with modern Christianity - we get so bogged down in irrelevant details and needing man-made rules and structure, that we miss the arc of the story and the over-arching message and actual words of Christ himself? 

I mean, does it really make a difference, this long after the event, to say: "No, you must act sad and somber until this day, because this happened on that day, and you mustn't say this or that, because this happened on the other day, and he died at exactly 3 p.m. on Friday?"

Because actually, we have no clue what the exact day and time of his death were, we were on the lunar calendar still anyway, we hadn't started recorded time according to his death, and we hadn't fully adopted the Roman Julian calendar yet, plus 3 o'clock where?  :)

I'm just saying, of course we should be focused on Christ's suffering and sacrifice - however - in focusing only on what we're "supposed to" about this story, and saying/doing this at a particular day and time, we may be glossing over/missing other aspects that contain important lessons for us in modern times? 

For example, how Jesus continued to show servitude and mercy to those now persecuting him, demanding his death, choosing a known criminal over him, abusing him, then finally crucifying him, wanting someone to blame and hurl their anger at - when just days before, the same crowd had just praised his entry into Jerusalem just a few days before, waving palm leaves, shouting his name and"Hosanna in the highest."

And even though he knew some of his disciples would betray him and deny him in just a few hours, he still washed the feet of his disciples in servitude - encouraging them to do the same for others.

He even healed his arresting Roman centurion officer's ear, after Peter cut it off trying to defend him, admonishing Peter for drawing weapons - who of course would go on to deny he even knew Jesus, just hours later.

Yet he still chose to go on on suffer abuse that no one should ever have to endure (simply because both church and state felt threatened by his genuine goodness and power of love) - out of love for us and to pay the price for our sin. 

Now, everyone who knows me knows that I respect all religions and incorporate wisdoms gleaned from them into my life philosophy.

The truth is, all religions have a similar "prophet," "divine/enlightened being" who died in tragic, martyring ways on behalf of their religion.

However, after a stint with atheism, I took several comparative religion courses, and the fact is, they all prophets/divine beings were martyred at roughly the same age, with the same criticism/persecution, and under similar tragic circumstances with one exception.

I decided to re-choose Christianity based on this one exception - though not the only one to be persecuted, suffer and die tragically, Christ is the only prophet/divine/enlightened being, of any religion, to expressly state his death was specifically for the purpose of redeeming all of us from sin.

His death would NOT be to make himself a martyr for his faith/religion itself - nor was it to redeem just those who already believed in him - he specifically stated his death would be sacrificing his life simply out of love and mercy for all humans.

However, that doesn't mean Jesus didn't ever get frustrated with us - he wasn't exactly a doormat, either. 

He called out church greed, hypocrisy, and arrogance (which probably didn't help him much, though he was right),  and he thought-provoked and stumped them with his wit.  

He even physically chased greedy butts out of the temple with a whip, that same week he died (which always makes me laugh; he'd never kill anyone, but he'd chase your sorry butt out of his father' house, if the situation called for it). 

Can you imagine the new blurb for that one?

"Enraged Jesus Chases His Own Followers, Including Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, and Paula White Out of His Father's House -  and the White House - with a Whip!"

And you know he probably rolled his eyes, sighed, and dropped his head in his hands, more than once, muttering "idiots" to himself, under his breath.

And yet still, in the end, when it came down to it, he still went ahead and sacrificed himself in forgiveness for them nonetheless. 

It kills me when we Christians say things like, "Well, that was Jesus, I can't do that and he doesn't expect us to."

Well, in a way, you're right, he doesn't expect you to die on behalf of other people's sins, no - however, you can make that kind of sacrifice and show that kind of love towards others, or he wouldn't have instructed us to do it, many times, now would he ?!? lol

And the way they often couch the above often it makes it sound like Christ doesn't know or wouldn't understand modern situations and their own modern struggles, and that if he did, he'd do it differently and the way they're doing it lol.

Oh, really?

You think whatever modern situation you're in is worse, harder, or trickier than what Christ had to deal with 2,000 years ago ?!? lol

Wow, that is some serious arrogance. 

Or they say, "Well, self-protection is love, too, our bodies are the temple."

Erm, right again - but again, only partly.

We shouldn't enable people that are harming the self or others, and we should also "shake the dust off our feet" of people with hardened hearts who won't listen as wasted energy.  

But oftentimes, what's also true is, we don't like to take a look at the fact/admit that maybe the other person just picked up the same rock we just threw at them first, too ;)

And self-protection gets confused with self-preservation and superior self-importance, yes?

But Jesus instructed us that "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends"  (John 15:13)

Thus, all of the above is just lame justification for us not doing what Christ asked us to do, because he know we were capable of doing it, same as him - or he wouldn't have asked us to  ;)

I was talking to my father-in-law (who is Catholic), the other day, who said he didn't think COVID was a plague sent from God, but did wonder if God allowed it to help us remember his mercy for us, which he asked us to extend towards each other, because our society has once again become absolutely merciless, sometimes in God's name.

Hmm, not sure, but I guess it could be.  I've wondered similar.

Mostly, I think we're just supposed to still find God's love despite it, IMO. 

Regardless, point is, to remember Christ's suffering out of love and mercy for us, as well as that he asked us to extend that mercy to each other, amen? 

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