The lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
We come off all holier than thou but fall short by lightyears. We claim we want to be more like Jesus, but we must be speaking about the Spanish guy with the same name who owns the realty company, and his wife is an architect. They live not too far away and we see them from time to time at the local gym, restaurant, or park. Yeah, it must be that Jesus, and not the one in the Bible—not the one we call the Messiah, our Savior.
We can’t possibly want to be more like Jesus because we have the mindset that “It’s all about me, my feelings, my wants and needs, my desires, my body, my house, my car, my material possessions, my sexuality and sensuality, my…my…my…my”. While Jesus was about the “we” and the “us”, and about serving and representing God, our heavenly Father-Mother.
What Jesus Could Have Done
Jesus could have gone off and started slapping, punching, and kicking his disciples whenever they got out of line or disrespected him, and definitely when they betrayed him. He could have gone off and started tearing up things when the Jews tried to put reigns on him to control when he healed the sick, wounded, and diseased. You know he had no problem turning over the tables in the temple. Jesus could have really acted a fool with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and others.
He could have slapped or punched the first soldier who walked up to him to take him into custody for his crucifixion.
But he didn’t.
Yes, he knew he was disrespected, betrayed, and treated worse than a stray, rabid dog; but instead of cursing those people he lovingly gave his life to save theirs, and to prove in his resurrection God’s realness and power—and that there is no death, only a shedding of our human bodies and a transition to another level of existence.
Yes, Jesus was hurt; yes he cried, but revenge was not in his heart or on his mind. So why should it be on ours?
What We Should Be Doing
If we’re to be more like Jesus then we need to stay prayed up, rested, and ready to spread God’s love and Word around the world to anyone willing to receive it. You’re not to browbeat and force people to align with your beliefs. Love them and keep moving right along.
We should smile more even when someone’s frowning at us. That frown is their problem, not ours. Don’t let their anger and resentment rub off on you. We should laugh more because it soothes the soul. We should dance more because it’s a way of rejoicing and praising God through movement.
We should take care of our health and our bodies because they are gifts from God, and only ours temporarily. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we can’t possibly do the work God has planned for us. You can’t effectively help others if you’re serving as dead weight.
We need to stop living as victims and start living as ambassadors for Christ. We need to start forgiving more because we want forgiveness; and if we can’t give we can’t receive. We need to stop being so self-absorbed about what did, didn’t, has, hasn’t, is, or isn’t happening in our lives—and start living as though we’re glad to be alive, and grateful that God wakes us and protects us each day. We should be grateful each day for our family and loved ones, and for the things we take for granted— like the ability to blink our eyes.
Our Entanglement With Religion
We need to stop being so obsessed over the religion of Christianity and the denominations of it, and start being committed to Jesus’ teachings and daily walk. Jesus despised the dogma and blindness that forms through organized religion. He was irritated by the people who knew and professed God’s law, but also violators of that same law. God was changing things up and using Jesus to share it with the people, but there were so many fractured groups, that the majority of people rebuked him rather than embrace him.
Ego, pride, greed, and shame are nasty dis-eases that rot you from the inside out, and destroy anything and everything around you. So how do you think Jesus would feel knowing that roughly 100 years after his ascension, some of his followers had converted traditional and Hellenistic Jews into a new religion called Christianity?
Knowing that the same trappings and negative influences would be there, and then year after year seeing us fall into those traps, I’m sure Jesus just shook his head in disbelief, and God said, “They clearly have to learn the hard way. But I won’t come at them Old Testament style”. That of course is my opinion on how the conversation could have played out. Yes, I added some twisted humor at the end. Lighten up a bit.
Look at us now, more than 2,000 years after the ascension of Jesus, roughly 1900 years of organized Christianity, and look at the fractures within this religion. We have numerous denominations because none of us can get on one page, one accord. Everyone wants to translate it their way, speak it their way, live it their way.
But who is really doing it Jesus’ way? Who is doing it God’s way?
There’s millions of so-called Christians that Jesus will look in the eyes and say, “I don’t know you,” just as the New Testament said that he proclaimed. Jesus told us God’s revisions to law and life. But just like the ancient times, we still think we know better. So we have to learn the hard way.
Self-Reflection, Accountability, and Healing
These past several years and these past few days, I have learned a great deal about myself. I’ve learned how I deal (and don’t deal) with pain, rejection, betrayal, and shame. I’ve learned how hypocritical I can be in my judgment of others. The self-righteousness that comes from judging people based on my standards and even pointing my finger to what the Bible says, is the exact same hypocrisy that the Bible also addresses. As though I’ve never done wrong—when I have, countless times—yet I point the finger at others. Hypocrite.
Just like me, other people are being molded. Just like me, they are doing the best that they can with the resources they have, and with the depth of courage, strength, compassion, peace, hope, faith, and grit that they possess. I am no better and no worse. They are no better and no worse. We’re all trying, learning, failing, and getting back up—over and over again. I must be more empathetic. Especially because I want and need more empathy. I want to be forgiven, loved, and understood. That means I should give these things, not after it’s given to me, but immediately and without contemplation.
The child says, “I will apologize when they do first”. The adult says the same thing. We are oversized children. And you can quote the Bible all you want about putting away childish things, and that adults know better. The reality is, we haven’t let go of childish behavior and things. That’s what makes this molding process so painful at times.
I had to put myself in check HARD, and although it was a painful realization, it was one that I’m glad I discovered now and not before taking my last human breath. I keep learning more about myself and the ways that I’m aligned, or not, with God. I have past due homework assignments yet God keeps showing me grace and mercy, while I would nitpick someone else about their mess.
I didn’t like what I saw in myself and I declared I would be quick to change for the better. Years ago I made some of those changes, some were lasting and still present now, and others only lasted for a short time. Some changes were desired but never actualized. Clearly, they required too much work and commitment on my part. They required of me what I expected of others, yet I wasn’t willing to do the work. So now I face those consequences and acknowledge what I did.
Years ago when this boulder of truth first hit me, it was my mom’s constant loving guidance that helped me to see things clearer. God used my mom and other people to help me see things that I was intentionally overlooking. Over the past few days it’s been the books that I’ve been reading and reflecting upon, that God has touched my heart and mind to SEE CLEARLY. I know better and I’m striving to do better. A work in progress, just like you. Leaving the shame and self-righteousness outside next to the garbage can. They’re not meant to bring inside, carry around, and be a part of us.
Let’s start anew beginning today, right now—this very moment. Push out the negativity and let in God’s gentle light. Self-righteousness is actually a mirror into your soul, showing the world all of the things you think you’re hiding. Truth reveals all. Stop pretending and start being. Jesus didn’t walk around blaming and shaming the commoners. He pointed the mirror to the self-righteous, to the ones that knew better but kept doing wrong because they could. Watch out, because God and Jesus have the perfect mirror just for you!
Stop with the shame and guilt, and start with loving acceptance. It’s not making excuses, it’s accountability and laying the foundation for healing and growth. I’m ready, are you?
Father, I want to be more like You. I want to be more like Your son Jesus. I want to show compassion and grace always, just as I want to receive it. I want to be slow to anger, and filled with love. I want to always see and have clarity, and rage prevents that. Rage is blinding and blocks alignment with You. Love is patient and it is You.
Father, I want to learn to forgive instantly, and not keep track of those who wronged me and their indiscretions. I don’t want my sins thrown in my face each day, so why would I do it to others? I want to be more patient and understanding. I want to stop being so quick to place blame because I am not blameless. I want to leave my judgments to Your discretion as that is not my role and purpose in life. I can choose and enforce my boundaries, and choose whom to associate with, but there is no need for me to villify and dehumanize them.
I want to live my life as You see fit. I have a lot of rough edges and I thank You for the constant molding to smooth them. In Your son Jesus’ name I pray to You and praise You. I love You. Amen.
I love you all!
Copyright 2011-2020. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved. All Prayers and Reflections are Copyright Protected by Natasha L. Foreman. BreakingBreadWithNatasha.com