|From a non-Christian trying to score points against Christians politically.|
My point began actually with a sermon the other day on Luke 9, specifically here:
Luk 9:57 And it happened as they were going in the way, one said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.
Luk 9:58 And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
Luk 9:59 And He said to another, Follow Me! But he said, Lord, first allow me to go and bury my father.
Luk 9:60 Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
Luk 9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow You, but first allow me to take leave of those in my house.
Luk 9:62 And Jesus said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
The pastor touched on each of these three men with excuses in turn. The first was oblivious to the cost- he likely thought following Jesus would be a fun ride on the popularity train. The second, he pointed out was being ambiguous; the phrase "bury my father" in that culture didn't even mean that dear ol' Dad was dead yet, but that he couldn't leave until he was, and sonny had his share of the estate. Thus, he really just wanted the title, without the work. The third guy was much like the second in that he was reluctant to leave, but his reasoning was a bit different- he had a few things that, gosh darn it, were just more important than Jesus. Once they were satisfied, he'd be more than happy to tag along.
Another preacher that same night made a parallel point: You do not go after God, God calls you. This was a lesson I learned when I, in my stupider days, studied Runecraft. Not the game, the magic. The runes are set up in pairs and sets, and each is to be a balance to its mate. And in the runes there is a certain pair that illustrate my point.
This is Algiz. As I understood my runeset, Algiz represented man reaching up to God. As you might guess, man can reach all he wants and never touch God.
Algiz's partner is Sowilo.
Anyway, what I want you to see is that the motivations of these men- and the motivation of my fictitious poster- are human-driven, not God-driven. Amusement. Prestige. Popularity. All things that lessen, cheapen the relationship between man and God.
Yet another pastor mentioned the Muslim viewpoint on Jesus. Jesus, or Isa to them, was a blessed human- but human. Not only do they deny His divinity (like some so-called followers of Jesus do), but they say He will return and CONFESS He is not divine. But this is not the thing that I noted most in the Muslim conception of Jesus. Instead, it was Isa's- and Allah's- motivations in the whole thing.
Islam believes Isa did six great miracles- but not exactly the ones we know, or why He did them. The biggest was when the disciples requested a sign. Not like the Pharisees, who would have accepted any old sign (and believed none), but a specific sign. A table laden with food was to come down from heaven, with enough food to feed the masses for forty days-
Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."
They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle."
Now, in Christian faith, when the Pharisees asked for a sign, they were told, "a Godless generation will receive no sign except the sign of Jonah"- the only sign they would get is when Jesus would die and rise again. But here, not only was it acceptable for Isa to do magic tricks to convince His followers, but some traditions (there's that tricky word again, Catholic friends) say that that STILL wasn't good enough, and He had to turn a great big fried fish into a great big LIVE fish before they were satisfied. The quran, it seems, never does mention whether Allah answered His prayers for the table coming down; later "scholars" assume it did, based on the "traditions".
The second miracle that got me was after Isa had raised back to life the same three dead people WE believe He brought back from the dead, the Pharisees claimed he could only do that to the "recently dead," and that the raised up had "probably fainted". So they took Him to the grave of Noah's son Shem, who'd been dead a couple of millennia anyway, and made them raise HIM. Which He did. Satan tried to get Jesus to prove His power by the much easier task of surviving a jump off of the Temple. He refused.
Now these two have to me a similar theme- They are things that OUR Jesus would have never done. OUR Jesus only did miracles to glorify the Father; Isa seems to like doing them to prove Himself. But the real topper is the Crucifixion "story."
See, in Muslim land, Jesus was to be crucified, but at the last moment, Allah played the old shell game- He made Simon of Cyrene "appear" to look like Isa, and while Simon died on a cross, Isa was "spirited away" to paradise. No saving of sinners, no sacrifice once for all- just another cheap parlor trick so that "good always triumphs over evil." And Isa will come back- to rule the world under Sharia Law for
(I might not ought to mention this, but it occurs to me that most Christians believe Simon was a black man. All those black Muslims and nobody whining about, "Oh yeah, Allah, put the N___ on the cross". Just sayin', like I said yesterday, "a bill of goods" is inappropriate, unless it's YOUR bill of goods.)
So here we have a Jesus designed to be just enough like the real thing to be attractive, but nothing close enough to be effective. Puts you in mind of another story, set in Eden, yes?
(And at this point, since I mentioned "enough to be attractive", here's another difference. The Muslim Isa is described thusly:
-A well-built man of medium/moderate/average height and stature with a broad chest.
-Straight, lank, slightly curly, long hair that fell between his shoulders.
-A moderate, fair complexion of red or finest brown. (Kind of the "Saul" of Messiahs.)
While the Scriptures describe the coming Messiah:
Isa 53:2 For He comes up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; He has no form nor majesty that we should see Him, nor an appearance that we should desire Him.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not. )
So what do we draw from this, other than a screwy concept of Our Redeemer? Well, what I'm getting at is that all of these stem from the same source- a mankind led by Satan to find any possible motivation to follow Jesus other than the REAL, and only, reason to follow Him: That our sins might be forgiven by His blood, that we may be heard when we worship and pray to the Father, that we may serve in obedience to Him.
Some want to follow Jesus for base motives. Some want to follow, just at a distance. Others want a Jesus whose motivations always make sense to them. Me, I had a problem several weeks ago because I wanted Jesus to acknowledge that my knowledge of His motives was more important than just having faith. In trying to tell myself I couldn't be as effective of a servant HIS way, I was actually saying, screw faith, I want to be "equal in knowledge". Kinda brings us back to that story in Eden again, yes?
It's no wonder Paul said,
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.