Do you ever wonder what Jesus would think about what we’ve done with Christianity? What would Jesus think if he walked into your church one Sunday morning? What would he think about the Pope? What would he think about the various denominations and variations of Christianity? What would Jesus have to say about churches that embrace LGBT lifestyles, even allowing openly and actively gay ministers and officials? Would Jesus pace around a few minutes and then repeat the expulsion of the money changers?
I made the following tweet a couple days ago: Truth? “We’re like a duck that’s been raised w/ litter of puppies. Waking up is shattering experience: realizing we’re not dogs but ducks.”
What would it do to you, how would you feel, to hear Jesus stand up in front of your church and say “What have you people done? You got it all wrong…”?
Have we followed the Pharisees instead of Jesus and his Disciples?
Jesus and the writers of the Bible often spoke in metaphors. Metaphors are phrases having more than one meaning: a literal meaning, as well as another meaning that’s usually the true message being delivered. It’s a more intelligent way to write and speak. For example, based on what I said earlier about ducks and dogs, I could have said: “dawn is a cold awakening for the lost“. Well, it’s not a perfect metaphor, but you can, perhaps, see where it means the same thing as my duck/puppy story, however, literally it means something quite different. That’s part of the problem with people understanding the Bible. For example, circumcision is a literal thing, but in the Bible, its meaning is perhaps more in line with discarding the sins of the flesh… if you approach the Bible from this perspective, the perspective that the writers of the New Testament were intelligent, as well as anointed by God, then you can see past the literal and get at the crux of their meaning.
But what about translations? Surely metaphors are difficult to translate. That’s why I like Victor Alexander’s Ancient Aramaic New Testament translation**. Most all the other translations were translated from Aramaic to Greek and then to other languages. Lots can go wrong there by accident… and then there’s the ever present possibility of intentional corruption by churches that were/are arms of the state. I realize talking about translations, especially Aramaic vs Greek gets some people really upset, but after reading everything Vic writes about his translations, I believe he’s doing accurate work that is a useful tool in any Christian’s quiver. I will use his translations below. One of the best things about Victor’s work are his footnotes.
In looking around for some supporting documentation on how far off the mark we may be with where we’ve taken Christianity, I read Paul’s letter: Colossians 2. Now Paul, unlike us, knew Jesus (probably), learned from him, and saw him after his resurrection. Paul wrote this letter while in prison telling them how to worship, how to be a “church”, and to encourage them. What he says is quite clear: don’t worship the ideas of man, worship the one who died for you, the true embodiment of God.
Colossians 2: from Victor Alexander’s Ancient Aramaic Translation**
8. Beware that no human being saves you by philosophy and empty deception, according to human learning and according to the doctrines of the world and not of the Messiah, 9. Within the Messiah the entire physical manifestation of God is embodied.* 10. And within Him you are also included, so that He is the head of all thrones and powers.
*2:9 “Within Whom is constructed all Godhood bodily.”
16. Thus let no human being goad you with respect to eating and drinking or by the designation* of feasts, and argue about months and Sabbaths, 17. These things were mere shadows of what was destined, the Messiah however is the reality.* 18. And let no human being through the gentleness of spirit instill in you the obligation to worship the work of angels, anticipating what cannot be seen, and to vainly accommodate their own ideas of the flesh, 19. And [they that] consider not the head by whom the entire body is guided and held together with its appendages and members and is nurtured in God’s discipline.
*2:16 Figure of speech: “Divisions.” — *2:17 Literal expression: “The body.”
A lot of translations (I like to compare them when writing these posts) seem to write verse 17 as “Shadows of things to come“, where Alexander Vic’s Aramaic translation has “were mere shadows of what was destined“… that’s a big difference… to me Vic’s translation makes more sense… Paul is talking about the Jewish traditions and laws that came BEFORE Jesus… they are not the real thing, but were the shadows of what was destined (Jesus): don’t worship them, worship Jesus.
My takeaway from Paul’s letter is clear: we’ve screwed up big. We’re way off target, maybe not even in the ballpark. We’re like the duck in my tweet… we expect to start barking any day but we can’t, we’re ducks… and since we think we’re dogs, the possibility of learning to fly and be a duck is pretty remote.
I think most large church organizations are way off track. We’ve been worshiping the “process” not the source. We’ve been taught to focus on the things of this world and ideas of people who are mistaken at best or intentionally misleading at worst. That duck is never going to be a dog no matter how much it tries. Same with us, we’re never going to be what Jesus died for if we keep following the Pharisees instead of the Disciples.
Let’s backup to verse 1, Paul says (remember he was in prison when he wrote this):
1. I wish that you would know, but I have endeavored bravely on your behalf, and on behalf of those in Laodicea, and on behalf of many others, those who did not see my face in the flesh. 2. So that your hearts may be full of love, and that you may approach in love all that precious grace, and the edifying knowledge of God’s Sermon, of the Father and of the Messiah, 3. Through Whom are sanctified all the consecrations of wisdom and knowledge.
4. This then I am telling you so that no human being should mislead you by the redemption through words. 5. For even though I am gone from you in the flesh, however in the Spirit I am with you, and I am overjoyed to see your principles and the earnestness of your faith in the Messiah. 6. Whereas you accepted Jesus as your Messiah, then go forth according to Him. 7. Whereas you validated your roots and are fortified by Him, and you persist in that Faith that you have learned, so as you may be enriched by Him in devotion.
When I read what Paul wrote I’m skeptical of massive church organizations and all their rules and trappings. I don’t believe that’s what Jesus wanted.
Like Pope Paul IV said: “The smoke of Satan has entered the church“, the church as an organization has had a long history of working with, or being captive to, dictators and rulers. This is one reason our founding fathers left England and why they created the 1st Amendment. Being it’s clearly documented, it’s not paranoid to not trust. The current Pope is certainly more like a Pharisee than a Disciple: total political puppet.
Paul is pretty clear that Jesus should be an anchor for the church. The church should not move, bend, slide, or drift when anchored by Jesus. If the church is anchored, it should not bend to make sin acceptable, or to make false teachings of salvation true. Paul preaches love and acceptance but that does not mean diluting Jesus’ teachings, or making sins of the flesh acceptable. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
I’m pretty sure Paul would have some pretty strong words for what a lot of “Christians” do today and most “Church” organizations that exist today.
The mantra I’ve been living by since coming to these revelations is: stop going along to get along. If you keep supporting sin with your presence and your money, either directly or indirectly, then you are part of the problem.
More reading on this can be found in a previous article I wrote: What’s Hidden in Mark 13, Luke 21, and Matthew 24.
Until next time,
**In Victor Alexander’s Ancient Aramaic Translation he uses different wording for Jesus and God. He uses Maran Eashoa Msheekha which means: Our Lord Jesus the Messiah, and Allaha for God (that’s not the same as Islam which is Allah), so reading his translation is a little different. For convenience I’ve replaced the wording in my quotes above.