Close, faraway

As I am up to the gospel of John chapter 15:20-21 (verses 20-21) in my reflections here is my reflection on those verses from the Bible:

These verses predict a rather somber and bleak future for the twelve disciples of Jesus. In using the well known modern expression of something unfortunate befalling someone, the disciples’ future is unfortunate, not a matter of wealth and prosperity, but on closer analysis their lives will not really be a matter of good or bad fortune if this is how we use an expression of luck in the modern world.

In the Bible I find no evidence to support luck in God’s dealing with his people. In this case, it seems more a matter of people’s choosing to act on God’s people. They choose to be offended by the disciple’s leader, Jesus, and in being so, attack his people, his disciples.

In his long monologue, seemingly spoken during his ‘last supper’ with his twelve disciples, Jesus predicts that his disciples will emulate him in being persecuted. Antagonists will pay attention to what the disciples teach and preach, their ‘words’. Their confession and profession of faith in Jesus is put under the microscope. Antagonizing people do this not because of the disciple’s faith itself, but because of the object of their faith, Jesus.

Are those who persecuted Jesus’ disciples completely ignorant of Jesus, his works and his mission and origin? Do they know nothing about him?

In my view, they do not listen. They see Jesus from their own lens, meaning Jesus and his message offends them.

If the antagonists knew whom they were persecuting — they may change and turn to him out of his goodness and life that they get to know. But do they appear selfish, not thinking of the other — Jesus?

In my own selfishness, how do I not think of Jesus? How could I persecute him unknowingly? And how could anybody? Pray that we can serve him closer.

Book Went Like Hot Cakes

David Moxon (Author, A Once and Future Myth): The publisher and printer of A Once and Future Myth, an applied theology of The Lord of the Rings, was the Wellington Anglican Church House Bookshop and it was released in 2004. The booklet was a cottage industry paperback, not hard bound and not intended for distribution beyond New Zealand. It included a focus on the New Zealand experience of the filming, Peter Jackson’s interpretations, as well as an applied theology of The Lord of the Rings.

“I thought it would interest some of the NZ Christian community mostly. It is actually out of print now. I wasn’t expecting it to sell so quickly or in such numbers. They all went,” says Archbishop David.

“However I genuinely think there are better books available, particularly The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood, published by The Westminster John Knox Press (2003), which I believe is available and a very good interpretation of Tolkien’s Christian literary base. In my correspondence with Tolkien’s daughter Priscilla, who was one of the first people along with her brothers, to hear The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings read aloud, she said that Ralph Wood had been to see her before publishing. I sent her a copy, which she hadn’t seen. I believe she approved of its general tenor.”

Heaven and hell

I do not usually form a reflection, devotion or piece of inspirational literature from something that is on my mind. In fact, I was triggered to write this on hearing a news item on television. So, it was something that was put on my mind…the news item and myself sort of converged and I was left with my thoughts.

My issue was to do with beliefs and how they are held. I understand why there is a move to moderate beliefs and teaching. It is because of violent extremism. I do not condone violence at all and it should be challenged.

What about any sort of wild belief of peaceful rational people that is not moderate or moderated? I am thinking of a belief in heaven and hell but held in a rational way that is non-violent and non-extreme. In fact, no one likes to think about going to hell. I don’t, but I have.

Such beliefs are roundly ridiculed but religions still teach it in rational, peaceful ways. Jesus even warned about hell and he was the most peaceful man who lived even sacrificing his own life for others.

So, what should happen to beliefs like heaven and hell and how heaven should be obtained if held in a rational, peaceful way? I guess this is the point of moving away from extremism to moderatism. Rational, peaceful individuals may still hold a strong belief rationally and peacefully without needing to change others, but just be able to present their beliefs out there and not hurt others. But where would one draw the line?

In terms of heaven and hell, there is the belief in such and telling others or warning others about hell and encourage on how to get to heaven. But there is the messenger’s own life in the spotlight as well. What is the messenger doing to keep on the road to heaven? This, indeed, is the question. For many can speak about it but also miss out.

In my experience, I have feared going to hell. But I also experienced the grace of Christ. Between these two extremes I have endeavored to follow and serve Christ in my life as it is. I am human, I am fragile, I am weak, but I am God’s, and stronger with Christ even though I am one of the chiefs of sinners…But I am getting better.

In terms of talking about heaven and hell — I would not like to give someone the impression they are going to hell, such a horrible, horrible place. I would not like to condemn someone with such a thought. Such a terrible thought. I would like to make sure I am living the life that gets me to heaven, with God as my helper. For such, there isn’t an opinion. Only one’s faith in Christ, which God accepts, and my life, which should not reflect violence.

Processing

Inspiration can come in the guise of people just sauntering past your bedroom window. And from the guy in the supermarket who bowls you over with something quite interesting. Something is said. Inspirational. Where did my mind go when I heard that? Into another realm. I did not even conjure it. The inspiration came to me from outside. What shall I do with it? Accept it or reject it?

Process it? Take it? Use it?

Now for the negative. Followed by the positive. It may not be any good. It may be the kind of ‘inspiration’ which is unhelpful. It may blind one to what’s real. Outsiders will be back tomorrow and then their inspiration will be dealt with according to that time. For now, I remember their inspiration. But I processed it into what’s helpful or what’s not. And remember that whatever I am inspired by is somehow also part of me–but as I say, processed into what is helpful or useful or good.

Now the positive. Maybe it is just artistic inspiring. One can also take the positive charge in it. Or maybe one just needs to eliminate the thought all together as it is unhelpful in the here and now yet with the view of one day taking it apart for further dissection into its various potentialities as art, as vision, as the human experience.