Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus which is a most interesting review of his impact on history and what has become of him walking the earth. Consider
orThe historical impact of Jesus’ thinking is so pervasive that it is often taken for granted. The record of his life and teaching, the Gospels, have impacted the world so much that they have been translated into 2,527 languages. The second-most-translated book, Don Quixote, has been translated into about 60 languages.
and finallyQuaker William Penn and Baptist Roger Williams pioneered political work to embed freedom of religious conscience in law. The influence of Jesus helped create a state where people could choose not to follow Jesus. In this way, and not only in this way, Jesus is present even in his absence.
Jesus outlasted, outmaneuvered, and out-thought every group, every power. But not just that. Mostly he just out-loved everybody. For Jesus in the garden had one agenda that superseded the agendas of all the others: love. “I’ll die on Friday.” On Friday, Jesus died for love. He said it was his choice. It wasn’t Pilate’s. It wasn’t Herod’s. It wasn’t Caesar’s. It wasn’t the chief priests’. It wasn’t the crowds’. He said, “I lay down my life for the sheep…. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”He wasn't just a good teacher. I recommend the book.
Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? which is another thought provoking book that I must also recommend. I find my thinking and views on lots of 'religous' topics evolving over time. This is a most challenging book much like Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived which I read last year and intend to read again.
From Red Letter Revolution:
and this older reference about Jim Bakker:And Wesley did die with only five British pounds in his pocket. All he had to his name was a Bible and five pounds. He had given away what he didn’t need. Lenny Bruce, who was known for being a foul-mouthed comedian, said, “Any man who calls himself a religious leader and owns more than one suit is a hustler as long as there is someone in the world who has no suit at all.” I wish he had been able to meet John Wesley. Most of us know John 3:16. Many Christians memorize that verse. But few of us memorize 1 John 3:17, which reads basically “If you have this world’s goods, and you know of a brother or sister who is in need, and you keep what you have while that person suffers, how can you say, ‘I have the love of God in my heart?’” That verse raises the question, How can I claim that I have the love of God in my heart if I could help someone who’s in need, but I keep what I have while that person suffers?
andI went to speak to a conference of Presbyterian ministers. The moderator of that group, prior to introducing me, said, “We must learn to distance ourselves from the likes of Jim Bakker, lest the world out there think that we are all like him.” When I got up to speak, I said, “First of all, this is no time to distance ourselves from Jim Bakker. This is a time to embrace a Christian brother who is suffering. If we don’t do that, we negate what Jesus is all about and contradict all that we say about unconditional love. We should be embracing him, not establishing distance from him in his loneliness and time of need. “Second, the only difference between Jim Bakker and the rest of us is that they haven’t found out about the rest of us yet. There is enough garbage in each of our lives that if all that was true about us was flashed up on a screen in the middle of a Sunday morning service, almost all of us would have to resign and run away and hide ourselves. Almost all of us have secrets, but we haven’t been exposed, so it does not befit any of us to condemn someone else who actually has been exposed.” There was a shock that went through that gathering of ministers, but none of them protested.
Jesus uses his harshest judgment on his inner crowd. After all, the only person Jesus calls “Satan” is the soon-to-be rock of the church, Peter. Jesus was continually scolding and sharpening his disciples. He was calling out their lack of faith and their judgmentalism. And he was pulling out the best in others, applauding the faith of folks like the centurion, the Syrophoenecian woman, Samaritans, and tax collectors. Jesus does exactly the opposite of what most of us do. Most of us find the best in ourselves and the worst in others. Jesus invites us to find the worst in ourselves and look for the best in others.Well, the book is about the words of Jesus in the gospels and focusing on what he says on topics like money, women, poverty, and inclusion. I have to recommend this book. There is much to consider here.
I'm currently reading Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters and Has Christianity Failed You? but I'll write about those another time.
Hope you are doing well and thanks for stopping by.
PS. I got to go to a fun wedding this weekend. The wedding party had a lot of fun during the ceremony. The person officiating over the ceremony knew both the kids involved and he had a great time telling stories about them. It was a joy to be a part of that event.