Us and Them – Julia

“There is never just my answer” …

a) Julia: “What have we done with the Christian message to evoke this response?”
b) Denine: “I am not sure what she believes exactly. They call her a “new age spiritualist” which kind of scared me.”

Further to inviting extended thoughts and “comments” to be added as their own posts: … here is a third response. It has not been edited or changed in any way. And as this is (hopefully) not the last of such posts, nor is there any additional commentary from me. Please join the conversation in any way you like!

And, with my sincere thanks, take it away Julia!

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Julia: Gentle Breeze –

I am glad that you and Don were not offended when I asked the question:

“What have we done with the Christian message to evoke this response?”

It was a rhetorical question, a question I ask myself, perhaps a question I want to ask God?

Jesus spoke in parables.

I want to illustrate what I am thinking with a story, a series of stories. I hope that is agreeable to you.

Recently I was reflecting on the first half of the story of “The Fall” in Genesis. (Genesis 3: 1-13)

I thought: It seems an odd story to account for the fall of all mankind. I mean why should eating fruit off a tree cause such a catastrophe? There was no bad language, angry shouting, physical violence, torture or murder. What had they done which was so wrong? Couldn’t God just give them a ticking off and a second chance?

Eve and Adam were young. They had just been created. They were new to the garden. They had a whole Eternity to enjoy the resources within it.

When I was a child, I loved to play, with friends, my siblings or alone, in our lovely big garden. We had a whole childhood to enjoy the resources within it. There were flower beds, bushes to hide behind, a lawn to run on, little paths, and secret places to make a den. There was even a tree house in a spreading beech tree. There was also a laburnum tree. The laburnum had numerous tresses of yellow blossom each spring. It was beautiful to behold. The blossoms were highly poisonous.

In the garden of Eden, Eve was taunted by the serpent. Before its arrival she was happily content to enjoy the fruits from all the other trees. Cleverly the snake caused her to focus on the fruit on the one tree she was not allowed. Adam was with her. He had heard the instruction and warning directly from God’s mouth. Yet the snake managed to talk to Eve separately. And Eve did not turn to Adam to check out God’s words before she acted. The fruit looked ripe and delicious and God was mean to deny it them. In that moment she thought her judgement was better than God’s. And Adam passively followed her lead. He did not act as any restraint. He took the fruit without hesitation. They thought they knew best, along with the snake.

I knew from such a young age not to touch the laburnum blossom that I cannot even remember being taught that it was poison. My siblings knew it too. As children we played many imaginary games and gathered up leaves, berries, seeds from the other trees as part of the game. But we left the laburnum blossom alone. We fought and argued as siblings do, but we did not disobey the rule with regards the poisonous blossom. We protected each other from destruction.

I was led astray in another direction. When I was 7 a neighbour brought her 5 year old daughter to play with me. We played in the garden while our mothers went inside to put the kettle on. Immediately my young playmate coaxed me to take her outside the garden and onto the hillside behind. My older siblings would sometimes take me for walks on the hills; never on my own and never without permission. Feeling uncomfortable and with reluctance, I left the garden and began to climb the hill with my young friend.

Fortunately we were only half way up and still within sight and shouting distance when our two mothers emerged from the house and discovered our escape. Still feeling bad I was only too eager to return to their calls. They were bemused by my uncharacteristic behaviour rather than angry or frightened. I can still sense that I want to blame my friend. “She made me do it” I want to claim.

And so to the story of Judas and the reason for my question. In the secular world of England, or even just my neighbourhood, why do people sympathise more with Judas than with Jesus? I read out my poem “Resurrection” to my writing group. In it there is no mention of Judas, and yet in the discussion that followed my poem, he was the person we talked about.

Don’t blame my secular friends. I have jumped to the defence of Judas too, even when he’s not being criticised. Somehow it becomes twisted round. The snake causes us to focus on the plight of Judas instead of the prayer of Jesus to keep the other disciples safe. (John 17:6-12)

Poor Judas! Why was he condemned to Hell for all Eternity? Our modern sensibilities are not comfortable with the notion of Hell or the snake, the Devil, or Satan. That is tosh from the Middle Ages. We are too sophisticated to believe in that rubbish.

Poor Judas! Why was Judas made the stooge to carry the wrap in order for Scripture to be fulfilled? What was this powerful God about, making an innocent man betray His only son? Could he not be warned or stopped? God made him do it!

Poor Judas! What did he do that was so wrong? Peter messed up too and he became the rock on which the Church was to be built, so what was different with Judas? He just didn’t understand Jesus and what was going on, that’s all.

Poor Judas! Jesus was acting strangely. Perhaps Judas was trying to help Jesus by going to the Religious Authorities. After all they are the people who can be trusted to know what’s best. We may well have done the same as him.

Poor Judas!

And so I continue to ponder… And out of my pondering came the question.

“What have we done with the Christian message to evoke this response?”

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Thank you again, Julia.


8 thoughts on “Us and Them – Julia

  1. My first thought is that we have failed to bodily proclaim the word of God to folks. We have failed to put the effort into living a Christ centered life in front of others.
    We have changed the word of God to suit our own lifestyles today. Instead of standing as the word has from the beginning it is always changing.
    We live in fear of being offensive or different. However the word does separate and call us to change.
    From a Christian prospective we have become tolerant of sin in our own lives and others. Making excuses and living on grace alone. When we no longer drink milk but eat meat. We know right from wrong, but choose wrong.
    There will always be a us and them, because there will always be choices. Life comes down to a choice. Life or death.
    That my friends is the short version cold and hard, but intended with Love. May God have given me the words for life, to uplift and encourage and point others towards him with my thoughts.

    Peace, love, Humble

    Much love Tom

    • I agree with what you say when you say: ” Life comes down to a choice. Life or death”. I think we can be both ‘us and them’ depending on which choices we make, life affirming choices or destructive ones. At any time we can go in either direction. My sister used to say we battle between the light and dark within us even when we are God’s children. Judas had the privilege of walking with Jesus for three years and at the eleventh hour he chose no longer to trust Jesus but to go his own way. I wonder if that is the difference between Judas and Peter. Even when Peter was denying Jesus he was still his follower, still connected to the other disciples, still knew in his heart that Jesus was his everything. He was just too scared to admit he knew him when he was without him.
      Much love, Julia

      • PS. I like your spelling mistake. I made one two. It amused me when I realised I had written: “Why was Judas made the stooge to carry the wrap” when I meant “carry the rap”. It sounded as if Judas was carrying a delicious sandwich!
        Someone once said to me that its good when there are mistakes in church services. It shows that humans are working together with God.
        And for me it keeps me humble with my feet on the ground!

      • Yes and Peter unlike Judas did not commit Suicide. You know my wife and I were talking about Judas today and no where in the Bible that I can find does it say Judas went to hell. He hung himself so some folks assume he went to hell. Since the Bible does not say he went to hell and to me sin is sin although some count others sin greater than theirs, how I don’t know. So you know these things are a waste of time to pursue. It is better to pursue or own salvation and do our best to live a godley life before others being obedient to God’s word. Since we do not know the things God does or think like God. I was driving down the road today and it came to me about a young man in my grief share class that had lost his sister. We were in a church library talking, a group of men. He was taking God’s name in vain using four letter words I don’t want to say. In my heart I cringed and judged him for that. When I myself have said the same words. I also have been to church before with sin on my heart. So what is the difference between him and me. Sin is sin, except I am trying to live a holy life and be considered of others serving them. He showed no remorse for his sin and was very pleased about it all. I prayed for him. He is hurting also just in a different way. It’s not my place to judge him, but to give him hope and grace. I won’t judge Judas either. We have to be careful of the choices we make. The Lord commands us to forgive 749 times in a day. I think it’s clear it’s more important to forgive than to judge. After all I have been forgiven.

        Much love Tom

  2. Here is another look at how I sometimes look at life. This is an email on grief I receive daily. I hope it adds a positive thought to Judas and Jesus.

    Society often concerns itself with keeping up appearances, maintaining the status quo, and covering up problems, as if pretense will somehow make things right!

    “We want everything to be glossed over,” Rev. John Coulombe observes. “We want everything to be gilded with gold. We think it should be tidy and nice.”

    But life is not “tidy and nice” and pretending it is will hinder your healing process and make it even longer.

    Remember that your view is not God’s. Realizing this, draw close to Him and listen to His wisdom. His perspective on your grief is the one you need to seek.

    “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    Holy God, teach me to grieve wisely, knowing that You truly understand my hurts and my needs and knowing that Your way for me is far better than society’s expectations of me. Amen.

  3. Hi Tom again,
    I like what you say about “keeping up appearances, maintaining the status quo, and covering problems, as if pretense will somehow make things right”. You are right-life is not tidy and nice and pretending doesn’t help.I discovered that when I had to face up to my problems. I felt stripped naked in front of God. And yet he clothed me.We are loved immeasurably if we but realise it.
    Love to you and your family, Julia

  4. I wonder if there is another question: What, how and where can we do more to evoke more responses asking what, how and where?

    For it seems to me the response is less important than the conversation. The converting (to what?) less important than empowering just one. Maybe we have become scared of questions. Scared our answer is not the right answer. Scared to be shown up as bad Christians. Followers of the way who have lost their way. We don’t want to let down God, and we don’t want to let down ourselves, nor to spoil our cultivated image.

    Yet I sense we may also be seeing history through selective memory. Ignoring the many wrongs (and rights) throughout the ages. Thinking we bear the responsibility for keeping God safe in this generation, this era. Talking ourselves out of the team: I am not worthy, I am a perpetual sinner – what’s the point, I prefer to be a sub – let the first team squad take my place … and maybe something of this age: I don’t want to tarnish my relationship with my Father – best keep it safe and sound out of sight. Best keep God safe and out of sight.

    Yet I look back and see full churches. Full of duty and status quo. Full of duty done once a week. Enough duty not to get in the way of the rest of the week. Enough duty to be seen to fit in. And maybe just enough duty to get to heaven. The world is full of bloated organisations. Full churches do not necessarily mean full hearts or souls.

    So I wonder … Is there more to be gained by looking at what we are not … Or looking at what we are. Being strong in what we are. Or being weak in what we are not. Being (okay with God) proud of who we are. Or being scared of who we are. Scared of what others might think.

    Judas … Indeed poor Judas. Why not poor Judas. And now the door is open, He will be amongst us, cuppa in hand, listening, guiding, loving. I think that your poetry reading opened a door. And when He knocks, and the door is opened …

    That is where the magic happens. If we allow.

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