Tuesday, June 10, 2008
What I Believe (Part 2)
‘Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried’.

I believe Jesus left heaven, came to earth, in the form of a newborn baby, brought forth from the womb of a virgin. I think that’s an important fact or God wouldn’t have bothered to point it out to us. He spent a lot of scripture telling us the story, of Mary's angst and reassuring talk with the angel, her obedience to being used by God, of Joseph's concerns, for the character of this young woman, then her reputation, and another angel visit. Interesting that Jesus started out his life, in a small town, an illegitimate son. If he had been conceived as a result of the union of a human man and woman, then he couldn't have been God. So that's an unmoveable for me. Some have argued that 'virgin' means 'young girl' and it does, but further scripture makes it clear she was a 'young girl' that had 'not known a man', and I think it's pretty clear what Mary was saying there. She'd known men, she just hadn't 'known a man'. What I believe about whether Mary stayed a virgin her entire life or not, did Jesus have siblings that were younger or older than him, while it's a point of contention for some, to me it's not worth arguing over, so I'll keep that to myself. I know some of you will feel differently, and that's quite okay.

I grew up with a little nativity set, covered with moss that we'd pulled out of the trees in Louisiana, and tossed all around the floor, then set cows and sheep down, pointing them all at baby Jesus. I remember our mom would not let us put baby Jesus in there til Christmas morning, and the wise men, they had to wait til January to make their visit, because they weren't there when he was born. That warm fuzzy look of a little barn is nice, but history tells us he was probably born in something that more resembled a cave. It's hard to make a cave charming, even with Louisiana moss, so I'm glad we've clung to that dimly-lit barn tradition, even if it's possibly not accurate.

I believe he was fully God and fully man, always, all the time and I don’t understand that, I just believe it. Because, again, Scripture says so. He didn’t grow into the job of being part of the God-head, as some religions believe. I do sometimes wonder when did he realize who he was, how did he come to know it? Anne Rice touches on this in her book, Christ the Lord Out of Egypt, and it's interesting, as long as you remember it's fiction.. Full of suggestions that make for good questions, in heaven someday...

Scripture tells us he felt every emotion you or I have ever felt. He was tempted. Unlike us he didn’t succumb, not once. I assume that means he was sexually tempted, but he never lusted. I don’t know if he was ever married, as Anne Rice promotes in her two books. If we were supposed to know for sure about that then God would have made it clear. And he didn’t. He told us clearly Paul was not married, and Peter was, and it seems to me if Jesus was he might have mentioned that once or 99 times, and when Jesus was hanging on the cross, spending his last breath to assure his mother was cared for, I think he would have mentioned his to-be-widowed wife too, but he didn't, so I tend to think he wasn't. If Dan Brown (Davinci Code) or Anne Rice (Christ the Lord Out of Egypt and the sequel) is right, (and again they both say they're writing fiction), that Jesus married, then what if he and his wife conceived a child? That would be a whole different ball of wax. I believe we can take a stand sometimes on what is not stated in Scripture, especially if doing so would be a major point of our doctrine. Babies from Jesus and whoever running around would likely be worth mentioning. We have to be careful what we "believe' and what we 'think'.

We're told he got angry and didn't sin. I'm not sure I've ever pulled that one off. Usually I sin, then I get angry, and then I sin again. A cycle I've mastered. My anger / sin cycle usually always involves pride, and I've read that pride is at the root of all sin. So Jesus really did have 'righteous anger'. When he was throwing tables in the temple, he was angry and not sinning. Anytime I've ever thrown anything out of anger, I'm pretty confident sin was in the room. We accept that he was God, but don't we sometimes miss how amazing that is? That he lived his life out on this earth, amongst all us sinners, and he was perfect, without sin. He never once was jealous or envious, never gossiped, never lazy, never overate, never commited a sin by not doing something, he was never selfish, or prideful. I'm capable of sinning when there's nobody even around me, and the minute you put me around other humans there are so many possibilities. Yet he walked amongst us, for 33 years, being misunderstood, mistreated, and was without sin. Wow!

I believe He willingly went to the cross, and died a horrible death, because that’s what was needed to cover even my one teensiest sin, and it did, plus all the others of all mankind who choose to embrace him as the only way to an eternity with God. Past, present and future sins - all covered in that one moment when he died. He experienced all the emotions we do, he felt grief, sorrow, loneliness. He so dreaded the brutality of the cross that he asked God to remove that from him, if possible, and when God didn't, he went, not even defending himself in the process. He did not speak on his own behalf when falsely accused, and how easily I speak up, defending myself, a bit like a pre-loaded porcupine. He died. He was really dead, for three days. Just stop and think of those days, when Jesus was not alive on earth, what that must have felt like. Did even the air feel heavier? How did God feel those three days, sad, or victorious? Or both.

Liberals would likely call me a ‘Conservative’, while Conservatives could label me a ‘Liberal’. I'm somewhere in the middle of it. I attend a conservative, non-denominational church. (And to answer someone's previous question, we welcome gays' attendance, but we would not accept into membership someone who was currently living that lifestyle, just as we would not accept someone who admitted to currently being involved in an extra-marital affair, or co-habitating with someone of the opposite sex, while unmarried. Sinners are welcome at our church, since otherwise the pews would be empty, but membership requires an acknowledgement of sin, need for a savior, repentant heart, then you can join and serve!) There are issues at our church that I don't see eye to eye on, but every church will have that. My husband and I agree on the main doctrines our church holds forth, so that's where we attend, serve and give our money. When it comes to politics, I’m going to vote for whoever I think will defend the morals of our country, over who can fix the economy, or save the environment, or bring our troops home. The one is more important to me than the other because I believe the one to have eternal consequences, and I'm not sure about the other. I don't like today's gas prices, but I doubt they will matter 100 years from now. I don't care if a candidate is male or female or black or white, but their morals will matter to me. I'm not real thrilled with any candidate this year. I will vote for someone, because it's my right, my privilege, my responsibility, and I don't get to complain for the next four years if I don't bother to go to the polls. Like most Americans, I like to complain.

Feel free to disagree with me, on any or all of it. Just don't go sit in a corner mad, and keep it to yourself. Most of us aren't going to meet this side of heaven anyway, and when we're there none of this will matter. So let's talk about it. It's good to know what we believe and why.


  posted at 2:36 PM

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