Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reasons to be Faithful, Part Three - a Pause in Lent

Welcome to the third Pause in Lent - it begins to feel like Easter is coming, now! I've started planning the Easter feast, and need to place an order at the butcher's in town. How is Lent going for you all? It's great to read your posts each week (and even comment on some this time) and to see what you are reading, thinking and learning. Please carry on visiting each other, and also commenting - I am really grateful for the comments which I've received, which show me that people are thinking about what I write and and about what I care about.
For my third Pause I want to continue with the line of thinking I started (thanks to CS Lewis) last Sunday. This started off with the idea that it's impossible for a team of people (the Gospel writers and disciples) or for an individual to invent a truly good person who is also completely consistent and likeable. If Jesus comes across as truly good and truly loveable in the Bible, that's genuinely supernatural! No human is perfect, and no made-up perfect person is loveable. Anyone read Horrid Henry? Think how awful his brother Perfect Peter is...

Moving on, people suggest that the disciples and gospel writers took the story of a good man, Jesus, and added on supernatural bits and pieces to make this good human into something divine. Is it possible that the stories are a mish-mash of history and superstition? Is it possible to say, 'Yes, Jesus said THIS, but he didn't do THAT?' I don't really think so. The stories are consistent, as I said above. You can spot made up stories about Jesus a mile off. Once a preacher in my childhood church read out some nineteenth century stories about Jesus as a boy which talked about how sweet and brave and loving he was. And how totally un-natural and inhuman and revolting, all the children thought... Ow, they were horrible! The real Jesus may be lovely, but he is hard work. He's not at all tolerant of hypocricy or privilege or the status quo.


So for me it's impossible to fall into a handy compromise along the lines that 'Jesus was a good man but nothing more'. Jesus didn't say he was 'nothing more'. He allowed people to refer to him as the Saviour of his people and referred to ancient prophecies as if they were about himself. He called God his Father, and encouraged his followers to do the same. Good people don't claim that kind of glory - unless they deserve it. CS Lewis says it comes down to three choices: either Jesus was mad (he thought he was the Son of God when he wasn't), bad (he pretended he was the Son of God when he knew he wasn't) or he was telling the truth.

When I went through my little crisis of faith I really didn't feel ready to compromise. Either there isn't any supernatural element in life, or Jesus is the real deal. I wasn't comfortable with a 'The universe is on our side and good things come to those who think positively' type of spirituality. I do believe that positive thinking is very important, but I don't see much evidence of that as a spiritual truth - it's more psyschological. Spiritually, for me it comes down to a decision about Jesus: is he made up or semi-invented, or is he real and telling the truth? Intellectually, I'm going for the 'real and telling the truth' choice. My emotions can catch up on that intellectual decision when they have time - it's not about current feelings, it's about fact. I have enough evidence from the Bible, from the lives of other people, from my own past and my present, to accept that, however I feel right now, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

9 comments:

Jane and Chris said...

This Christianity business is difficult!
Jane x

Betty said...

Great thoughts to go away and ponder, thankyou Floss. I am struggling at the moment with my thoughts and feelings as two friends who both have terminal cancer don't have much time left on this planet and it makes me question so many things. They, however, are both Christians and are completely at peace in their situations. I admire their trust and faith in Jesus and feel humbled this week and also ashamed at my own failings and doubts. Betty

Pom Pom said...

Amen. Amen. It reminds me of that Josh McDowell thinking that presented Jesus as liar, lunatic, or Lord. I like your thinking, good Floss.

Elizabethd said...

Lovely thought provoking post, Floss.
Have emailed you re LA dresses.

A garden just outside Venice said...

Hi Floss, I know this is not the right post to leave this comment, I just wanted to say hi and let you know that i keep appreciating very much your lovely blog :)
Michela x

@gaz112 said...

Mad, bad, or telling the truth?

I'm going to hold tightly to the latter!

Angela said...

Jesus IS the Real Deal!

Great post, Floss - thank you x

Kezzie said...

I remember using that same Narnia quote last yesr for my pause but not so eloquently!! He told the truth! X

Fiona said...

He most definately is the real deal.