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Summary: We are looking at what Jesus "really meant" and in doing so I hope that at this point you have come to at least consider that what you were taught about Christ Jesus, His claims, attitudes, actions warrant a reasoned second look.

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Part 15

It’s All about "religion"

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said 'Stop! don't do it!' 'Why shouldn't I?' he said. I said, 'Well, there's so much to live for!' He said, 'Like what?' I said, 'Well...are you religious or atheist?' He said, 'Religious.' I said, 'Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?' He said, 'Christian.' I said, 'Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?' He said, 'Protestant.' I said, 'Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?' He said, 'Baptist!' I said, 'Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist church of god or Baptist church of the lord?' He said, 'Baptist church of god!' I said, 'Me too! Are you original Baptist church of god, or are you reformed Baptist church of god?' He said, 'Reformed Baptist church of god!' I said, 'Me too! Are you reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?' He said, 'Reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!' I said, 'Die, heretic scum,' and pushed him off. --Emo Phillips

Dear Saints,

Now we come to the interesting part of our series, that part where I either totally incense some of or make enemies or receive hate emails from those who think global warming in the same terms as the earth is flat group. We are looking at what Jesus "really meant" and in doing so I hope that at this point you have come to at least consider that what you were taught about Christ Jesus, His claims, attitudes, actions warrant a reasoned second look. I could go on for several more sermons about what your Bible, the Book of Books, has to say about the Words of God and the Word of God. But for your weary heads sake I won’t, instead we will finish with one last point. What Jesus "really thought about religion" which is different than what most people think it is. In simplest terms "Religion" is mans attempt to reach to that Being outside himself. Religion, broadly speaking, means the voluntary subjection of oneself to God. In its strictest sense, religion on its subjective side is the disposition to acknowledge our dependence on God.., and on the objective side it is the voluntary acknowledgment of that dependence through acts of homage. It calls into play not simply the will, but the intellect, the .imagination, and the emotions. Without the conception of personal deity, religion would not exist. Judaism was the first tradition to teach monotheism, the belief that there's only one God. As Judaism evolved, the idea of God evolved, too, focusing on One unknowable, universal, image-less Being, Who, because the universe is framed in Love, requires justice of human beings.

Judaism tends to focus more on the way in which you practice and live in the world than it does on analyzing the nature of God. In fact, biblical monotheism is usually called "ethical monotheism" because of the very strong linkage of right acts to the belief in one God. While some religious traditions consider belief alone to be adequate, Judaism isn't one of them; to Jews, belief is most significant in light of the actions motivated by that belief.

What is unique, perhaps, to Judaism is the notion of arguing with God. For example, in the Bible, Abraham argued with God for the sake of the righteous citizens in Sodom and Gomorrah. He didn't just say, "Whatever you say, God" — he bargained! It's like the whole stage was set for a particular kind of exchange with the Divine. Jews are even called the "Children of Israel" because of the Biblical story of Jacob who wrestled with an angel and got his name changed to Israel, which means "one who wrestles with God."

While the idea of a complete surrender to faith, a surrender to God, is harmonious with many Christian and Muslim faiths, it's much less comfortable for most Jews, who are traditionally taught to question in order to learn more deeply. Judaism tends to encourage individuals to explore their own personal relationship with God. For those people who are comfortable with the idea of surrender, God-wrestling is not an easy concept. So when Jesus came on the scene, those who had set up a hierarchy of power in the realm of "religion" were aghast at what he said ( It is my personal opinion that He could have gone along with "those in charge" but he didn’t).

However the most striking, resented and dangerous of Jesus’ activities was His opposition to "religion" as it was understood in His time. This is what led to His death! Religion killed Him, better said another way Religion and politics killed Him. Jesus opposed all formalism in worship-ritual purification, sacrifice, external prayer and fasting norms, the Sabbath and eating codes, priest hoods, the Temple, and the rules of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes. He called authentic only the religion of the heart, the inner purity and union with the Father that He had and was able to share with His followers. And when thou prayest. thou shalt not be like the hypocrites, who are fond of standing up in the synagogues and at the corners of streets to pray, so that they may be seen by people. Verily I say to you, they have gotten their reward. But thou, when thou prayest enter into thy closet and close the door, and pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will reward thee openly. And when ye pray, be not garrulous like the heathen; for they expect to be heard for their abundance of words. Therefore, be not like them; for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:5- 8 )

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