Pages -- horizontal menu

The "Good News" According to Jesus

by John K. Stoner (November 20, 2017)

In today’s blog I will state some of the most basic of my understandings and commitments.  For you, and maybe as much for myself, I’ll try to write down what makes me tick.  Here is why I see what I see and say what I say when I look at our times and world.  

I said on Friday that I will generally start with fundamental principles based on history and/or Bible texts.  And I interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus.  That substantially shapes my worldview.  I do not think my reading of the Bible and human experience is narrowly confined to my biases though I readily own the fact that I, like you, have my biases.  Here goes.

The good news announced by Jesus is that what you have a number of times in your life suspected to be true is in fact true: the greatest power in the universe is love.

This stands in contrast and opposition to the view of empire that superior violence is the greatest force in the world.  

Love is a greater power than violence, fear or death.  

The practice of love as compassion, forgiveness and invitations to try again is where you should put your faith.  Take risks for love, for love will win in the end.  This is God’s will, this is the way God made the universe, and God’s way of running the universe.

God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God.  There I have dropped a brief definition of God, a word probably more misunderstood, abused and misleading than any other word in our language. 

Back to Jesus.  I said that his good news is something that you have a number of times in your life suspected to be true.  I want to enlarge  on that.  

Jesus called himself the “son of man,” or “the human one.”  He claimed to be something of the model human—I hope that does not disappoint readers who want me to say first and foremost that Jesus claimed to be the son of God.  I hold that we (or Christianity, or the Jesus crowd) would be further ahead if we started by taking seriously the idea that Jesus showed us first of all who we are, or who we can be.  Of course, by my, or classic Christian, understandings, he could not do that without showing us something centrally true about God, for we hold that we bear the image of God.  So what helps us see ourselves better also helps us to see God better.  That’s not the whole story, but if I have anything to do with it, I will not let you forget that Jesus taught that when we see ourselves better we also see God better.

Jesus is still important today because he said profoundly true things about human nature.  He taught that people are capable of loving both their neighbors and enemies, and should do it—to maintain human society and  make the world a livable habitat.  

He introduced the idea of “the kingdom of God,” which was the concept and claim of a new way of running the world, which did not assume it necessary use homicidal violence to “control” human nature. 

He taught serial forgiveness—his term was seventy times seven.   His followers were to be recidivist forgivers, because people often, usually, don’t get it right the first time.

He told stories of surprising forgiveness—a father who welcomed home a seriously wayward son—and generous empathy—a Samaritan (man of another religion, like a Muslim) who helped a victim of bandits after his own religious leaders passed him by.

Jesus did not present these moral behaviors of enemy love, repeated forgiveness and generous empathy as nice ideas for a few religious folk, but rather as a social strategy for developing a new society—a historically sustainable and psychologically attractive model of human relationships.   He called it all the “kingdom, kingship, or pervasive ideology” of the grain of the universe itself, or of God.

It is not hard to see even today that this was a new way of conceiving human, social and political relationships.  It stood in stark contrast to the dreams of emperors and kings with their armies, prisons, weapons and wars.   To believe that it would “work” took some faith then, and still does now.  But how much faith, compared to the faith that armies, prisons, weapons and wars are creating the world we want and the planet needs to survive another century?  

No comments:

Post a Comment