HELPING YOURSELF AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
said to "go wash in the Pool of Siloam." Jesus expected sick
people to do something. He ordered them to "Stretch forth your
withered hand;" "Go and show yourself to the priest;" "Take up your bed
and walk!" Jesus never encouraged people to sink into self-pity
and give up. Applying for assistance, taking necessary medication
and allowing others to help can be difficult for AIDS patients. Feeling
good about yourself is a great step toward healing and hope.
I write this in the summer of 2001, great progress is being made in
funding and research for treatment of AIDS. New powerful and
effective drugs are being developed, and hope for prevention and cure
continues in the field of medicine. But the need for spiritual
truth and compassionate support for people with HIV/AIDS never lets
up. Do what you can. Become informed about AIDS. Join
with others who give special care to people with AIDS. Be part of
the solution and take care of yourself. Be here for the cure!
"YOUR INNER JESUS"
Update for March 9, 2004
March 9, 2004, is my birthday. I was born seventy years ago on
3/9/34. Yesterday I lost the job that I have had for the past 4
years that has made it possible for me to give a gift copy of my book
to every MCC clergy person in the fellowship that I could locate and
contact since the book was published the last of January 2000. I
have given hundreds of copies of my book to others at conferences that
I have led and have sent many gift copies to readers of my website.
book and website are both being translated into several other languages
by people who are committed to helping get my message out to as many
others as possible. I am grateful for you and what you have done
to spread and share the good news of God's unconditional accepting
affirming love for all GLBT people.
checked Google again yesterday and saw that "Bible Abuse" is found on
610,000 other websites now. My website and book are being used in
GLBT small group study throughout the world from Taiwan to Texas.
I receive e-mail almost every day from gay and lesbian people who tell
me that finding "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" on the Internet
has saved their lives.
THE NEXT STEP
am at Yogi's fork in the road: "When you get to a fork in the road,
take it!" God has yet to show me what to do next as I face
multiple forks in the road ahead of me. I have no fear of the
future. God will clearly show me what to do. The most
pressing next step is to go to Phoenix March 19-20 for the conference
there that I discussed last time. (See information below)
next most pressing step is to work on and finish my next book, which
will be on the subject of "YOUR INNER JESUS." The exact
title will be developed later. The extraordinary success of Mel
Gibson's movie about the Passion of the Christ has been a clear
reminder that millions of people are still very interested in Jesus and
long for a clear understanding and experience of the "Real Jesus."
YOUR INNER JESUS
have written a lot lately about experiencing God and the Spirit of
Jesus within your own mind and heart. See my recent
updates. The "Real Jesus" is already with and within you.
Nobody has to tell you or lead or mislead you in your experience with
Jesus. You already have within your own life and spirit the
presence of God and the humanity and spirit of Jesus that you can
discover and experience for yourself. My next book will explore
and explain and provide study helps and "lessons" to be the logical
sequel to "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse."
GOD'S WILL BE DONE
1958 I was on an archeology study tour to Palestine and the Middle East
with a group led by Dr. William Morton, professor of biblical
archeology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I had just
finished my second year of study. Dr. Henry Turlington was with
us in the group. Dr. Turlington was professor of Greek and New
Testament at the seminary. Both Morton and Turlington wrote
textbooks and sections of the Broadman Bible Commentary (which now has
been withdrawn and deleted from the Baptist Bookstores by the current
leaders of the SBC).
we were in Damascus, Dr. Morton and Dr. Turlington received news from
their wives to tell them that they along with 11 other seminary
professors had been fired by the trustees! Morton and Turlington
were part of a group of thirteen professors who had challenged the
ethics of the President of the seminary and offered their resignations
unless the President was removed. The trustees supported the
President and fired the 13 professors.
Dr. J. J. Owens, one of the thirteen and professor and a textbook
author of biblical Hebrew and Old Testament, decided to stay at the
seminary after this event. A year later, I was in my
graduate work and became Dr. Owens' student assistant and taught Hebrew
sessions in his absence. I learned a lot from Professor Owens and
from all that was happening. I also was a friend of the President
of the Seminary, Dr. Duke K. McCall.
GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
group visited many of the sacred places in Jerusalem, including walking
with thousands of pilgrims of every race and language and religious
tradition in the regular Friday tour of "Fourteen Stations of the
Cross" ending at "The Pavement" under ground where tradition says that
Jesus stood before Pilate and was condemned to die by
crucifixion. All of this was extremely moving to me and to
everyone in our group.
at the end of our stay in Jerusalem, Dr. Morton asked the members of
our group to share their most meaningful experience in Jerusalem.
Dr. Turlington told his. He said that he returned to the Garden
of Gethsemane alone after the group had visited it. He sat beside
the large flat stone, about 5 feet square, that is the traditional spot
where Jesus fell on his face and prayed to God: "My Father, if it is
possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as Thou
wilt.." (See link below.)
said that as he sat there meditating on the words of Jesus, he noticed
that the edge of the stone all around just inside the very low iron
fence, about 6 inches high, was stained brown. He wondered
why. Then a visitor came and knelt beside the stone and leaned
over and kissed it. Henry said he then realized that the brown
stains were left by the millions of pilgrims over the centuries that
had leaned over to kiss the stone where Jesus prayed the final prayer
that led to his betrayal, torture, death and resurrection.
admired, respected and learned from all of my seminary professors, but
I think that nothing else has so profoundly moved me and stayed with me
as much as being with Dr. Henry Turlington to hear him share his Garden
of Gethsemane experience with the rest of us.
LET GO AND MOVE ON
and Morton left Southern Seminary and like ten of the others went on to
teach in other places or become pastors and writers and continue their
ministry to which God had called them. One of the great
privileges of my ministry was to be pastor of a Baptist church in
Norfolk, VA, when Dr. William Lumpkin, one of the thirteen and my
teacher and friend as well as a gifted and important writer of Baptist
history, was also pastor of a Baptist church in Norfolk.
I look back over my own history in study, writing, pastoral ministry,
travel, work with MCC and everything else, I rejoice in what I have
learned from others and from my own life and realize and am renewed and
energized by the thoughts of where God is leading in even the smallest
details of what is happening now in my life. God runs the
universe and everything that exists. To be in God's hands and in
God's work is to be safe and productive no matter what forms or shapes
God decides to use to mold and teach you and me so that God can use us
of my closest friends has been trying to help me in this time of
financial crunch, even suggesting that I should shut down my website
and the updates. I have no intention of closing my website or
abandoning my update e-mails to you. I do need some financial
help if you can give it. God will show me the way and will fully
equip me to follow it.
LET GO AND LET GOD DO IT
of my favorite statements is in Psalms 46:10: "Be still and know that I
am God." The words "be still" in Hebrew mean: "Cease striving,"
with the marginal reading: "Let go, relax."
woman working in a southern cotton mill was trying to fix tangled
threads that had clogged the loom and stopped the machinery. The
foreman came to her and said, "What in the world are you doing?"
She replied, "I was trying to fix this mess and I am doing the best I
can." The foreman said, "In a situation like this the best you
can do is to call me!" When life gets tangled and the machinery
stops, call the expert to come fix it. This is some of what "Let
go and let God fix it" really means.
is very hard for me completely and in faith to "let go and let God do
it." I want to fix it myself. There is nothing that is
broken that God cannot fix.
said, "The God who made all things out of nothing can make something
out of you only when you become nothing." So, like the old
saying: "Here goes nothing!"
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623
See Matthew 26:31-39
Click here for latest Yahoo news about GLBT people and issues
Meanwhile, the Same-sex Wedding March goes on.
"INSTRUMENTS OF CHANGE"
Saturday, March 20, from 10:00 AM to noon, I will lead the first
Session of study and dialogue on "Instruments of Change: our view of
the Bible" for GLBT people at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 7901
N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85020. For information, write to
"WWIC" (Welcoming Witness for Inclusive Church) at Post Office Box
87447, Phoenix, AZ 85080, or e-mail to WelcomingWitness@yahoo.com.
"LIGHTS IN THE DARKNESS"
Update for February 1, 2004
are living in dark times. All of the news that I see now about
GLBT people and the public acceptance of same-sex romantic
relationships and marriage is gloomy and depressing. State after
state is moving swiftly to pass anti-gay legislation into law and
forbid gay marriage, deny same-sex partner benefits and take away other
civil and human rights from being enjoyed by GLBT people. What
can we do? We can be lights that shine clearly in the darkness.
"Ex-Gay" homophobic religious establishment is generating most of this
darkness with the willing cooperation of greedy politicians and
misinformed social and community leaders. Now Bill Fritz, the
Senate Majority Leader, who is a medical doctor from Tennessee, has
come out against giving any recognition to GLBT partnerships.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE
can demonstrate in your own life the love, honor, self-acceptance and
respect that you expect from others. Jesus said: "You are the
light of the world; Let your light shine, so that others may see your
good works and glorify God." (Matthew 5:14-16)
It is always better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
can you become a more effective light in the world? One way is to
learn all you can about Jesus and to follow the Spirit of Jesus in your
own life to demonstrate the powerful positive light of truth and love
in your relationships with others. Small group study in homes is
a great setting for this kind of learning and dialogue. Use my
web site and book as practical guides and for information.
reading through the Gospel of John in a good large print literal
translation (such as the New American Standard Bible). It can be
done in one sitting, but you probably will profit from better
understanding if you take several sessions to read and meditate on all
READ AND STUDY PHILIPPIANS 2:12-18
speaking of working out your own liberation ("salvation") with fear and
trembling, Paul says some important words: "Do all things without
grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless
and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked
and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
You can make a difference simply by being different.
BURN IN ORDER TO SHINE
Light consumes energy. To be a
light in the darkness is costly and consumes your energy and time. You have to burn to shine.
do you need to let go and give up in order to shine as a much needed
light in the darkness of your world today? You are an individual
and your situation is not exactly like that of anyone else. You
have to decide for yourself what direction your life should take now in
order for you to let go and become the light that changes the darkness
into truth and love around you.
DIE TO LIVE
gave a lot of emphasis to letting go so that you can really live.
"Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." Taking up the
cross does not mean getting sick or losing your job. It means to
follow Jesus in taking responsibility for the faults and failures of
others and do what you can to stand with others who suffer.
of my favorite stories is of the little boy who was sick and needed a
blood transfusion. The doctor suggested that the boy's younger
brother, who had the same blood type, should be the donor. The
parents talked to both of the boys and explained the situation.
They asked the younger brother if he would give blood for his
brother. The little boy thought for a while and then nodded his
head and said that he would.
next day before they took the boys to the hospital for the blood
transfusion, the youngest boy started taking loads of his toys in his
arms and leaving the house then returning to take out some more.
His parents asked him what he was doing. His reply was, "I am
giving all of my toys away to my friends, because I will die when they
take my blood." His parents were shocked that he had
misunderstood. He thought that they would take all of his blood
for his brother, and he knew he could not live without blood!
Maybe this is why Jesus said that "a little child will lead them."
What do you have
to let go so that you can be the light of love and truth in your world?
IF YOU CAN. I have encountered some financial challenges in
keeping my office space available and in the cost of maintaining and
replacing two computers along with two DSL connections and web hosting
expenses. If you want to help support my Internet and book
ministry of helping GLBT people around the world cope with religious
and bible abuse and help to meet this financial need, please send a
Dr. Rembert Truluck
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623
you send a contribution of $100.00 or more and request my book, I will
send you a signed gift copy of my book, which sells for $24.95 plus
packaging and postage.
Update added September 23, 2001:
"FEAR AND HOPE"
(On the Sunday of the Spiritual Celebration in Yankee Stadium 9/23/01 in NYC after the
Terrorist Attack on New York 9/11/01)
"Don't Be Afraid Anymore"
is the title of Troy Perry's book about the history of MCC and his own
pilgrimage out of fear into self-acceptance and confidence as a gay
minister of the gospel. LGBT people know well the meaning of the
"Fear Factor," a term that is being used on television news to speak of
the mood of the nation today. "Homophobia" ("fear of
homosexuality") has been analyzed, studied, debated, and challenged for
the past 30 years, since the term was invented by psychotherapist Dr.
George Weinberg in his book on "Society and the Healthy Homosexual" in
THE FEAR FACTOR
is a part of everyone's life. Managing your fears is part of
becoming a whole healthy person. Jesus said many times, "Don't be
afraid!" (John 6:22); and (John 14:26): "Peace I leave with you; my
peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled (to "stir up, disturbed, unsettle, throw
into confusion"), nor let it be fearful ("timid"). The theme is
continued in 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love
casts out fear, because fear causes pain ("punishment, torment"), and
the one who is afraid is not yet mature in love."
opposite of peace is not war; it is fear. Fear dominates the
thinking of millions of people in the world because of ignorance,
hunger, tyranny, oppression, sickness, natural disasters, and human
enemies. Millions more are afraid because they are misinformed,
misunderstood, abused, diminished and rejected by established religion
and other negative cultural forces.
fundamentalists often have written to refute me and say that they are
not afraid of homosexuals. They have missed the meaning of
homophobia, which includes their fear of homosexuality in
themselves. I am not afraid of homosexuality or
homosexuals. I am, however, afraid of homophobic
fundamentalists! I am afraid of ignorance. I am afraid of
sick abusive religion and religious oppression and I avoid them at all
cost. I hope that you do also.
FEAR CAN PARALYZE
I was in South Carolina at Hunting Island Beach in August, many little
deer roamed the park. Just before daylight and just after dark,
many of the deer walked around in the roads. The speed limit was
set very low to protect the deer. Every time that I drove after
dark, I saw little deer standing quietly in the middle of the road
staring at the headlights and not getting out of the way. I
stopped and waited for them to move on.
can paralyze us and set us up to be like frightened deer in the
headlights. The forces that we fear do not stop and wait for us
just because we are immobilized by our fears. Many of us have
suffered great disasters in our lives simply because we did not see
disaster coming or because we were afraid and did not know how to move
out of the way.
Hope, love, joy, and
peace are the four key words of the upcoming Advent season, when we
celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world at Christmas time.
They are the words most associated with deliverance from fear in the
life and teachings of Jesus. It is not by accident that the
largest MCC in the world is called the "Cathedral of Hope."
is an important ingredient of healthy living at every age and in every
area of life. Years ago, I took my college religion students to
visit the Bethea Baptist Retirement Home in South Carolina. The
director met with us and explained the purpose of his work. He
said that the main objective of the center was "to build and sustain an
atmosphere of hope." Now that my mother is a resident of the
Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center in Laurens, SC, I can even more
appreciate this objective.
our basic needs for safety, shelter and food, we need hope and a reason
for living. Frustration and hopelessness can so dull our sense of
self-esteem and drain our energy that we give up and quit trying.
Take away hope, and you take away life.
DON'T GIVE UP
give up on yourself or anything else that is of real value to
you. Don't give up on God or on finding a spiritual path that
really fits you. Don't give up on your friends or your
family. You may have to establish realistic boundaries for your
own peace of mind and get negative people out of your life, but you can
still demonstrate your love and care for people who do not understand
or accept you. The Spirit of Jesus within you will help you to do
this, for Jesus demonstrated love and care for those who misunderstood,
betrayed, denied and rejected him.
definitions of "hope": "To cherish a desire with anticipation;" "to
desire with expectation of obtainment;" "to expect with
confidence." See Romans 5:1-11 and 8:18-25 for details of hope in
Jesus. (Take the time to read and meditate upon all of chapters
5, 6, 7, and 8 of Romans.)
for the best" is a common slogan, but "the best" never comes without
courage, faith in yourself and hard work. Unrealistic
expectations regarding what others will think and do can invite
personal disaster into your life. Hope is not gullibility or
wishful thinking. Hope grows out of realistic, logical, practical
thinking about yourself and your life situation. Self-acceptance
and self-esteem are the foundation for a lively sense of hope about
"TOIL AND TROUBLE"
double, toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble" is the
repetitious refrain of the witches in Macbeth, Act IV; Scene 1, as they
cook up evil for other people. You can spend your life
concentrating on your "toil and trouble" or you can focus on the new
life of liberation and hope that you have found in following
Jesus. You can choose to wallow in your problems, sufferings and
self-pity, or you can "turn your eyes upon Jesus" and look full into
the face of God that is also in you and "the things of the world will
grow strangely dim in the light of God's glory and grace."
are not floundering about and distressed by the temporary winds of
change that never let up or die down. We know that whatever else
may happen, faith, hope and love will remain, and the greatest of these
the truth of God that you already know. You don't need to learn
anything new. Just act on what you already know about
Jesus. The safest and most hopeful path already lies under your
feet. You are the best person to make the right decisions for
you! You already are moving in the right direction. Let go
and move on with courage and confidence. Take others along with
you, if they want to go.
of you are receiving this e-mail update for the first time.
Welcome! I hope that you enjoy and pass on to others whatever is
helpful to you. These updates are not intended as professional
advice, and they are not intended to do your thinking for you. I
simply share with you the way I see issues and events that we all are
facing. Think for yourself. Gather accurate reliable
information for yourself. The Internet gives you detailed
information on every subject you could possibly explore in millions of
web sites. You have to be selective, of course, but the
information is out there. What you think and do is far more
important than any of my ideas or suggestions.
the background and point of view of any author you read. Know
your own background and point of view also. Read and study my web
site and take time to read "About the Author"
in my web site and book to learn my background and point of view.
to viruses and other problems on the Internet, I do not open
attachments in my e-mail. If you want to send me something, copy
and paste it in your e-mail.)
Update added September 14, 2001:
(on a National Day of Prayer concerning terrorism)
Jesus prayed. Jesus wept.
A powerful part of the picture of Jesus in the Gospels is Jesus praying
and the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. (See Luke
11:1-13 and read this passage today). Another important image of
Jesus is in John 11:35-36 where "Jesus wept" and demonstrated his grief
at the death of his friend. Read all of John 11:1-57 for
encouragement and insight into the meaning of hope in the midst of pain
President has called upon all of us to join in a day of prayer and
remembrance today. Prayer means many different things to
different people. Whatever prayer means to you, consider spending
some time in prayer today. The word for prayer in biblical Hebrew
meant, "to lift up" and was a reference to the traditional posture of
prayer in lifting up the hands toward heaven in a gesture of reaching
out to God.
Prayer is basically
some form of turning to God and communicating with God in whatever ways
fit your personal experience and beliefs. Prayer can be aloud or
silent. Prayer can be with others or alone. Prayer can be
in a church or in your closet. Prayer can be angry or sad.
Prayer can be humble and soul searching. Prayer can be a brief
cry or a long time of reflection. Prayer can be your personal
means of deliberate connection with God.
YOUR CRY FOR HELP
years ago, I read a book called "Prayer" by O. Halesby. It was
simple and practical, and helped me gain a very important perspective
on prayer. Halesby pointed out that your need is your most
eloquent prayer. He used the example of how parents respond with
love and care to the needs of their babies without the babies having to
ask for water, food, protection, affection or anything else. The
needs of a baby say everything that needs to be said to a loving
parent. Jesus commented on this in Luke 11:33.
and facing your own personal needs can be an effective form of prayer
that opens you to God and to the love and encouragement that you
need. Praying for others can help you to examine yourself and be
more open to God's help for you and can prepare you to minister in
practical ways to others.
PRAYER CHANGES YOU
changes things, because prayer changes you. Prayer and reflection
can help you to sort out your own values and your view of
yourself. Prayer is not a waste of time. Prayer is not an
attempt to change or manipulate God into doing what you want.
Prayer as demonstrated in the life of Jesus is a form of letting go and
letting God inform you and lift you up to a higher and healthier
spiritual dimension of living.
helps you to face and deal with conflicts, uncertainly and
confusion. I was in Atlanta and San Francisco as the AIDS
epidemic began and grew into an unspeakable horror for our GLBT
community. MCC congregations provided a place for prayer for
multitudes of confused and suffering people. I participated in
some of the all night prayer vigils, just as many of you did.
spiritual issue that repeatedly came up in times of prayer and sharing
was the feelings of guilt in people who were HIV negative. Why
are my friends dying while I go free? Prayer provides a setting
for you to deal with all of your feelings, no matter how confusing and
uncertain they might be.
KNOWLEDGE AS POWER
gives you insight into yourself. The more clearly you know and
accept yourself, the more strength you have to handle pressures and
fears that come into your life. Going through pain and grief can
help you to grow stronger yourself and prepare you to be helpful and
compassionate with others.
taught his followers that God would give them the Spirit to be their
teacher and to remind them of what Jesus had taught. The Spirit
would show them the meaning of what they were experiencing and would
give them the ability to handle pressure whatever new forms it might
take. (See all of this spelled out in John chapters 14 through
did not give his disciples or you and me a set of foolproof formulas or
rigid rules for spiritual success but gave and continues to give his
Holy Spirit to be our continuous helper to "stand alongside"
("paraklete") us to guide us and empower our lives. Through
prayer we are reminded that we do not have to struggle with anything
alone. No matter how complicated and frustrating life might
become, God is always the same and is always available with and within
helps you to remember who you are. You are a child of God,
created in the image of God with the capacity for communicating and
sharing with God. Nobody can ever take that away from you.
Don't let anyone even try!
PRAYER IS APPROPRIATE
is appropriate every day. On this day of extreme challenge to our
entire nation and to every one of us as individuals, prayer is not only
appropriate, it is a welcome path back to inner calm and the "peace of
God that surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:6-7)
am writing this as I watch the prayer service at the National Cathedral
in Washington, DC, and hear the television reports of further threats
of terrorism. As Billy Graham just said, the evil attacks on America
that were intended to tear us apart have instead drawn us together as a
more united people than ever before in history. Prayer brings us
together as prayer unites us with the Spirit of the living God.
God is with us. God is with you.
Peace be with you.
Update added July 28, 2001:
"LEARNING FROM PEOPLE"
we learn from the people around Jesus is of utmost importance for our
own lives. The variety of people who are recorded in their
contact with Jesus in the Gospels speaks to every one of us in some
special personal way. Just as we are a lot like Jesus, we also
are a lot like Mary, Martha, Peter, Judas, the woman at the well, and
the lepers, cripples, blind and outcasts. We can relate to the
Good Samaritan and to the prodigal son and his angry brother and to all
of the stories that Jesus told. We can relate to Pilate, the
priests, the Pharisees and the soldiers and criminals that crossed the
path of Jesus. The life of Jesus is also the story of a full
range of humanity, from the little child Jesus held in his arms to the
thief on the cross at the end.
from Jesus includes learning from each of the people whom Jesus
encountered along the way. We not only identify with Jesus; we
also identify with everybody Jesus touched and heard and loved.
You also learn from everybody who touches your life now or who has come
across your path in the past. God is in every human being, in
you, in those who live with you, and in those whom you encounter
throughout your life. Some you do not remember, and some you can
never forget. But every human who has touched your life has left
an impression that is part of you.
have you learned, both positive and negative, from the people that your
life has touched? Whenever you reach out and give to someone
else, you receive just as much as you give, but sometimes we fail to
recognize or appreciate what is coming to us from others. Jesus
never missed what was coming to him from others. Jesus did not
overlook anybody. Why do we?
LEARNING HARD LESSONS
of the people who have taught me the most have been people who hurt me
or gave me the most trouble along the way. Opposition always
makes you work harder. Conflict makes you think and reconsider
what you believe and what you are doing. We never welcome
criticism and rebuke, but we can always learn from it. Stressful
relationships can either tear you down or motivate you to grow and
change. It's up to you how you see people and how you handle your
own feelings and reactions. Others are simply being
themselves. You, however, have many choices as to how you will
relate to others and what you will learn from them.
the same people who gave Jesus the most encouragement and support were
also the ones who gave him the most stress and hurt. Peter, for
instance, hurt and helped, discouraged and supported, denied and
defended Jesus in many ways and in various situations.
thinking about this was triggered as I thought about Judas and his
resentment and jealousy, which could have motivated his betrayal of
Jesus. Judas obviously was upset because Jesus let the woman kiss
(repeatedly) and wipe his feet with her tears and possibly because the
"beloved disciple" replaced him in the favor of Jesus. This made
me realize that I was allowing myself to become resentful because of
what a dear friend of mine was doing with someone else, and I decided
very firmly that I did not want to be like Judas! (See page 328
in my book.)
DRAWN INTO CONFLICT
watch Jesus remain true to himself when he was drawn into the arguments
of the disciples about who will be the greatest and the petty debates
of religious leaders about details of the law. Jesus could relate
to many different kinds of people without being overwhelmed by their
attitudes and personal conflicts with each other. How did Jesus
do this? Perhaps it was because he had a higher power in his life
and a more important purpose in life that kept him focused on what
really mattered and not on the distractions that swirled around him all
keeps you from being drawn into self-destructive attitudes and
behaviors by dysfunctional people that come across your path?
What keeps you from letting other people's craziness make you crazy?
POSITIVE RESPONSE TO PEOPLE POWER
other people disappoint you and cause you to loose your cool, what do
you do? Do you let how others treat you control your life?
Do you alter your own self-image when others chip away at your
self-esteem and your basic desires for yourself? Just how
codependent are you? I have to confess that I have to battle
codependency all the time!
have always wanted and craved the approval and acceptance of people
that are close to me. If I don't get it, I begin to fall apart
and develop feelings of inferiority and failure. I have
frequently let how others feel about me influence me far beyond
reason. Have you ever done any of this? Or am I the only
don't really expect you to answer that, but I encourage you to think
about these things for yourself. Jesus established patterns of
relating to the people who touched his life that not only helped them
but also retained his own self-confidence and built up and demonstrated
his sense of purpose in the love and power of God.
WHAT DOES JESUS SAY THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS?
experience of Jesus dealing with another person most clearly speaks to
you and has helped you to learn something important about
yourself? Reading through the Gospels with this question in mind
can help you to relate to Jesus and grow in your own spirit in special
ways that fit you. You are not an island. And neither was
Jesus. All that we know about Jesus has been given to us in the
context of Jesus relating to and dealing with other people.
you study about Jesus, you are also studying the people in contact with
Jesus and studying yourself in relation to these people and to
Jesus. It's never simply a matter of what the words mean now or
in the original Greek. It is a matter of human nature, your
personality and feelings and your real human encounter with Jesus
within your inner self.
be afraid to just let go and be your real self and get into the
feelings that the stories arouse within you. This multi-level
encounter with the Jesus of the Gospels can be tremendously liberating
and profoundly revealing. Whenever you contemplate Jesus and the
people around Jesus, you are examining yourself also.
JESUS AND PEOPLE
Jesus, people always mattered most. The story of Jesus is also
the stories of the people around Jesus. In the Gospels, we always
encounter Jesus in the context of people. To Jesus, the people
individually and collectively were the reason for his life and
teaching. People to Jesus were more important than religion or
week I received my copy of the newspaper published by South Carolina
Baptists, "The Baptist Courier." This July 19, 2001, p. 14 issue
contained an account of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting June
28-30 and focused on their vote against homosexuals in the
denomination. The article stated: "The 701 to 502 vote came after
long-time leaders warned that such a move would mean the demise of the
CBF because more traditionalist churches would cut off funding to the
group." Never before have I heard
Baptists say so clearly that religion is not about people; it's about money!
IDENTIFYING WITH JESUS THROUGH PEOPLE
identify with Jesus is to identify with people. Following Jesus
includes how you relate to others in every dimension of your
existence. Jesus made clear his identification with people when
he declared: "Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these
my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me." (Matthew 25:40)
are more like Jesus than you are different. Jesus was special, of
course, but so are you and so is everybody who comes into your
life. Jesus was a human in the midst of other humans, and so are
you. The word of God becomes human ("flesh") in Jesus and also in
you. What are you building upon this magnificent sense of
identification of yourself with Jesus of Nazareth? Perhaps how
you relate to people is what really matters most.
where does "religion" fit into all of this? Perhaps it
doesn't. Maybe Jesus has led the way for us to go beyond religion
to something far better. I certainly hope so.
The first thing that Jesus did in public
was to listen and ask questions. –Luke 2:46
"Before you can help troubled people,
you first have to sit at their feet and
let them be your teacher." --Wayne E. Oates