Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 7
Step 8
Step 9
Step 10
Step 11
Step 12
Give Yourself Time
Follow Jesus' Steps

Step 8:
Read And Study The Gospels

Learn the content of the Gospels, especially LUKE and JOHN. Saturate your mind with the life of Jesus.  Become your own expert on what it means to "follow" Jesus. Many people have found that they gain a better picture of Jesus by reading through the Gospel of Mark (only 16 chapters) in one sitting.  Use a good modern language translation for this exercise.  You will notice things about Jesus that you did not realize before.

A few years ago, my friend Paul, who was director of an AIDS support ministry in San Francisco, was going through a lot of stress about his work.  He agreed to read through the Gospel of Mark and let me know what he learned.  When we met a couple of days later, Paul said he read Mark and did not like what he learned!  I asked, "Why?" Paul answered, "Jesus had volunteers who did not show up too!"  Why don't you read through Mark and see what you learn about Jesus that speaks to you.  When you do this, please e-mail me and let me know what you learned.

John 20:30: "These have been written that you may believe (continuously believe) that Jesus is the Christ, the child of God: and that believing (following) you may have life in Jesus' name."

Studying and learning the story of Jesus in the Gospels is necessary if you really want to "follow Jesus" in your spiritual recovery and growth.  Learning the content of LUKE and JOHN will take time and discipline.  Learning these inclusive and Jesus centered documents can be made easier by sharing your study with at least one other person.

Further discussion of Step 8 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:

(Click on the Bible references to see them.)

Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 25:35-40; Romans 15:1-7

Luke 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 23:49, 55-56; 24:1-11; Mark 16:14

Matthew 27:39-50; Mark 8:14-21

John 9:1-38

On to Step 9

The following material was added on May 18, 2001:

Sean, one of my readers, responded to my last update on "Following the Wrong Jesus" by suggesting that we need a book on "JESUS FOR DUMMIES"!  It has a challenging ring to it.  We have computer, Internet, web site, technology and dozens of other books "for dummies".  In many areas of our rapidly changing world, we are all "dummies" and not experts.  My copy of "The Internet for Dummies" says it is: "What to do when bad things happen!"

The more I explore and study the details and relevance today of the Bible and the truth about Jesus, the more I realize that I am still a "dummy" and have only a smattering of the knowledge and understanding that I need to help others experience the real Jesus.  We are all "dummies" about God and spiritual issues.  As John 1:18 reminds us: "Nobody has seen God at any time."  Since there is no hard evidence about God, we all imagine God in our own personal distorted "dummy" ways.

I looked up "dummy" in Webster's, and I was not prepared for the definition: "one who is stupid"!


"Jesus for Dummies" should include the facts that are obvious even to dummies.  What are the facts?  How can these facts be made clear and simple enough for any dummy to grasp and understand?

To begin with, it seems to me that Jesus was a "minimalist" in that Jesus worked hard to simplify his teachings and make them easy for a child to understand.  Jesus kept it simple.  One invitation for all: "Follow me."  One "new" commandment: "Love one another just as I have loved you."  One commission: "Make disciples of all people."  It really is that simple.


Underlying all of the actions and teachings of Jesus were the values of love, compassion and courage.  Love is acted out in all of the dealings of Jesus with people.  To have compassion is to feel and experience the feelings and experiences of others.  To live with courage is to act on your confidence that God is with you and within you.  The presence of God through the Spirit in your life calms your fears and gives you the confidence to accept yourself and others and to be your true self no matter what others might think or do.

Love is "the greatest thing in the world" as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 and expounded by Henry Drummond in his brief book by this title.  "Love covers a multitude of sins" and the bottom line about love in the New Testament (1 John 4:18) is: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear causes pain."  "We love, because God first loved us."


Jesus demonstrated his commitment to love and truth.  Political power is based on deceit and the threat of violence.  Spiritual power is based on love and truth.  The startling contrast between Jesus and worldly power is always evident throughout the Four Gospels.  The use of force or deceit to gain religious control was completely foreign to the Spirit of Jesus.  Jesus would die before he would lie or hate.

Spiritual truth is elusive and comes by insight and revelation more than by reading and studying.  The truth will set you free.  Jesus gave the final answer to what truth is by saying: "I am the truth."  My entire ministry has been devoted to correcting religious misinformation and making accurate factual information available about who you are, who other people are, and who Jesus really is.

Unless we speak the truth in love, others do not perceive what we say as truth.


Jesus was human.  Jesus refused to perform magic to feed himself in his temptations.  He refused to be enticed into denying his humanity by jumping off the Temple to be miraculously saved by the angels.  Jesus became hungry, thirsty, tired, angry, and lonely.  Jesus experienced pain, betrayal, grief and death.  Jesus entered fully into his real humanity and showed how being fully human can both glorify God and serve other people.

Jesus accepted and felt good about himself and worked hard to help others accept and feel good about themselves.


The Four Gospels are our primary sources about Jesus.  Where did the Gospels come from and what has been their history?  See my web site material on "Hebrew and Greek" .  Notice especially the material on "Translating the Gospels."   The Gospels pose many problems of authenticity, editing and additions over many centuries.  See the work of the "Jesus Seminar" .

Even if we have to reduce the reliable material in the Gospels because of obvious editing and later additions, the picture of Jesus is quite clear and is consistent with the basic understanding of Jesus in the writings of Paul.  Jesus clearly accepted and affirmed people that everybody else rejected and condemned.

The final act of Jesus on the cross in Luke is the highly dramatic act of Jesus accepting the dying murderer next to him and saying, "You will be with me today."  This sums up the inclusive picture of Jesus given throughout the Gospel of Luke.


Religion has reduced Jesus to sets of propositions, doctrines and required beliefs.  The Gospels and our personal human experiences have expanded the reality of Jesus far beyond anything that can be pictured in art or can be expressed adequately in rules, creeds and church doctrines.  Church teachings not only are the product of long tradition and many mistakes of the past, they also are contradictory and confusing.  Breaking out of the spiritual bondage of traditional religion is consistent with the actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.

Churches differ and battle each other over what propositions are true and necessary.  Dozens of different versions of the Bible compete for acceptance.  Doctrines and propositions about God and Jesus are a retreat into the past, often the murky dim past.  Personal experience is now.  The Spirit of Jesus within is relevant, instructive and liberating.


Is self-acceptance the key to a new beginning in knowing Jesus?  Jesus began and ended in radical actions of self-acceptance.  All along the way, Jesus said: "Follow me".  Is the first step accepting yourself and affirming yourself before you can "accept" Jesus?  Accepting Jesus is meaningless unless you know and accept who you are as a human being in the image of God.

Jesus "for dummies" is the same Jesus for everybody.

Churches constantly demand that people should deny and reject their own true self and accept teachings and behavior that deny their humanity and exhaust their energies trying to play god in an unhealthy judgmental legalistic lifestyle.  There must be a better way.  The first step for all dummies is to admit and face the fact that what is happening is not working.  The computer freezes up, the "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" box will not go away, and the new programs simply won't work!


We do indeed need a "Jesus for Dummies".  Accepting and affirming your own humanity is a good beginning.  You are in the image of God and already have God's unconditional inclusive love and acceptance.  Whatever Jesus did was done for the entire human race.  You don't have to do anything.  Paul said: "As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)  That is an absolute fact for Paul.  It includes no required beliefs or rituals or religion.  God's acceptance of you simply is.

To enter into what is already yours, you have to become a "dummy" and let go of all religion and every legalistic judgmental control forced upon you by sick and abusive churches.  Perhaps Jesus really is for "dummies" only.  After all, Jesus did pick up a little child (about 2 years old) and declared that unless you turn around and humble yourself and become like this little child, you have no hope of experiencing God in your life! (Matthew 18:1-5)  Jesus added: "If you receive one such child, you receive me."  Does that also mean that if you become like a little child and receive yourself, you are receiving Jesus?

Is the real question not "Do you love Jesus?" but "Do you love yourself?"  How can you love and accept Jesus, whom you have not seen, if you do not love and accept yourself, whom you are?  Accepting yourself is the first step.  It is not the last.

For most of us, the hardest part of becoming like a little child is unlearning all of the religious conditioning that calls itself Christian, but isn't.  Read Philippians 3:1-14 to see how Paul came to this conclusion for himself by letting go of abusive religion so that he could really know Jesus.


Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 in the "Good News Bible" for Paul's powerful analysis of how God turns weakness into strength and foolishness into wisdom.  "God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to put the wise to shame, and what the world considers weak in order to put the powerful to shame.  God chose what the world looks down on, and despises, and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. This means that nobody can boast before God.  God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom.  By Jesus we are put right with God, become God's own people and are set free."

One of my great teachers, Dr. Eric Rust, liked to say, "God is not found at the end of an argument!"  Jesus also is not found at the end of a debate or within a list of rules and teachings.  Jesus is not found in abusive legalism, in keeping commandments or in judgmental religion.  Jesus is free from law and religion and cannot be found there.  Any genuine contact with Jesus liberates you also.

The real "dummies" are those who think that they already know everything and are so out of touch with the Spirit of Jesus that they think that their judgmental legalistic rejection of others is actually "holy living" instead of hypocrisy, which Jesus said was the road to destruction. (Matthew 23)

Becoming a dummy for Jesus means letting go of all of your imagined religious success and following Jesus plus nothing.

And all of this applies to me too!

With love and hope,

Rembert Truluck

The following material was added on February 10, 2002:

Step One: Admit that you have a vague incorrect view of Jesus and that religion has misled and confused you.

Step Two: Turn to God who is already within you as your basic source for knowing and following the Spirit of Jesus.

Step Three: Take the time to learn the basic content of the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Step Four: Question everything in the Jesus traditions that does not make sense or ring true to you.

Step Five: Search for and write down a list of the actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels that demonstrate something human and accessible that you can realistically follow and do yourself, such as accepting and celebrating your own humanity and having compassion for other people.

Step Six: Find or start a small group in your home that can provide a setting for dialogue, discussion, encouragement, learning, changing and growing.

Step Seven: Fearlessly face and challenge the misinformation and confusions about Jesus that seem to interfere most with your own acceptance of Jesus as real and relevant to you.

Step Eight: Start over in your own spiritual journey by letting go of legalistic judgmental religious literature, people and groups.  Don't listen to the ignorant misinformation of fundamentalists and other forms of self-serving religious confusion.

Step Nine: Search for and find resources from other people both ancient and modern that also have struggled with their own understanding of Jesus and have challenged the traditions and tried to cut through the gloom to see the real Jesus.

Step Ten: Accept yourself as you are, just as Jesus accepted himself, and build a self-esteem basis for being able to accept and follow the real Jesus that is beginning to emerge in your personal search and study.

Step Eleven: Take others along with you in your journey of discovery and clarification whenever you have opportunity.

Step Twelve: Act positively and with compassion on what you are learning and experiencing about the real Jesus.

On to Step 9


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