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Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Christian Path

To paraphrase Archie Bunker's summary of religion: "Faith is something that no one in their mind believes in."

George Bernard Shaw commented that Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it. A much-shared fallacy is that being a Christian does not mean you have succeeded in rooting out all elements of evil and discord in your life and personality. It's a constant challenge to walk the walk and talk the talk without at any time being a hypocrit. The nature of humanity itself is one where self-destruction can happen just as easily as grace and random acts of kindness. The constant all believers face is to walk the walk and talk and talk as much as they possibly can.

A more common hallmark for Christians has been to ask yourself in any given situation "What would Jesus do?" It's sad to note that in answering that question, you realize just how far off the mark so many publicly self-proclaimed religious leaders clearly do not ask themselves this question. The reality is that Jesus did not believe in forcing anyone to see things his way. Otherwise, he would have come down from the heavens and easily overthrown the existing government and exercised his considerable powers in a more direct way.

He didn't.

That should be a clear clue to a few that the path to the perceived righteousness of Christianity does not come as a legal restraint or a threat. But it's a clue many do not get. They don't wish to get it because the path they are on is about power to order the world the way they see it which has nothing to do with how Jesus lived and preached the gospel.

Do I think that Christianity is the only way to go? I can't possibly know the answer to that and neither does anyone else. I do know that understanding those who are different in any way only furthers our understand of life and the universe. It is not anyone's right to condemn any organized religion and it's nuts to pretend you know what the real deal is and the rest of us are in the dark.

If someone needs a kind word or support - friend or stranger - you offer that. If you can help someone, you do it and that includes listening. You don't look for things in return or glory in the process. That's not help - it's accounts payable and receivable you're running.

Nothing makes me feel more physically ill than hearing some politician anywhere claim that "God is on our side." Of course, most everyone who believes their cause is just says that. The reality is that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and nations, including the US, don't do that. Do I always blame them for that? No. But I know the lesson is to turn the other cheek yet if someone invades my home I will not turn the other cheek. I will try to smack the invader's cheek good and hard. However, I will forgive the invader so I feel that at least I am meeting my faith half way.

This meandering post has been in my head since Good Friday. Sure, lots of people have died horrible, lingering deaths and not just Jesus. Jesus had it easy compared to some others. But the lesson is about who suffered more but the why of it all. The focus for me as always been on the resurrection of Jesus and not his death.

Anyone can die. Not many people can live. Not many people can live well.

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