There are two distinct types of abuse.
There is physical abuse, punctuated by an attack against body, heart or mind. It leaves cuts, bruises and scars. It is nasty, evil and inexcusable.
The other form of abuse is neglect. Being commissioned to perform a responsibility, someone decides to set it aside in favor of other pursuits, leaving that which was meant to be cared for destitute.
Although a case could be made that the religious system continues to physically abuse Jesus of Nazareth by crucifying him weekly in sermons, attempting to stimulate some sort of passion from the congregation, I shall step aside from such discussion in favor of presenting the true abuse.
We preach a Gospel of salvation which includes emphasis on “one time only, better do it today, this could be your last chance, hell is hot, Jesus loved you so much that he bled, and don’t you want to go to heaven” rhetoric in an attempt to frighten hearers who have already heard this many times before.
Meanwhile the real message of Jesus–the one that makes him our intimate, elder brother, and also affords the planet an opportunity for peaceful cohabitation–is often read aloud with the energy of reciting last week’s grocery list.
If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to love Jesus. If you’re going to love Jesus, you’re going to get to know what’s close to his heart. And when you get to know what’s close to his heart, you will no longer be satisfied with a crucified Savior, but instead will become a disciple, pursuing a dynamic lifestyle.
You don’t have to go any further than the first three beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus was all about. Matter of fact, I could spend the rest of my life elaborating on that trio and never run out of material.
It begins with the reality, follows with a challenge and culminates with wisdom.
The reality: we are happy because we are poor in spirit.
The reason that makes us happy is because we can stop trying to be spiritual instead of human. Once you find your classification, it’s so much easier to compete. Not an angel, not a saint, not a theologian, but rather, a human who is impoverished in the realm of spirit.
First realization: I am human and it is good.
God said so when He got done creating us. I don’t think He lied. Sure, we’re unpredictable, but since He’s not afraid of that, why should I apologize?
This is followed with a challenge. “Blessed are those who mourn.”
I have emotions and this is good.
Although we try to suppress them, these feelings continue to pop to the forefront, churn up our throats and waggle our tongues. Rather than deny them, we should use them to feel, to laugh, and most certainly, to mourn–to escape being uncaring bastards and instead, weep over the loss and pain in the world around us.
This climaxes with a bit of eternal, precious wisdom. “Blessed are the meek.”
Although there is a campaign to promote the notion that the more we brag, the stronger we are, the human race actually has a tendency to cut the stilts out from under those who try to walk too tall.
We honor humility. We are geared to destroy pride, even when it dwells within us.
Humble: “I am weak and it is good.”
In these three statements Jesus establishes a Gospel which is not only able to be mastered by humans, but can also be passed along as the living bread of truth that we all desperately need before we starve to death emotionally and spiritually.
I am human and it is good.
I have emotion, and it is good.
I am weak, and damn straight–it is good.