A lot of the time when we read the Bible we come away even more confused than we did going into it. For a ‘Christian manual’ it makes all the sense of an instruction diagram in an IKEA flat pack. (Hang on why does screw 163758 look exactly the same as 384912? Why does that weird cartoon alien guy still look happy doing this? I think the cupboard’s done… wait what’s that weird noise and where is the cat?) Continue reading
There is an idea among many Christians that once we die we will grow some wings, this old sinful broken world will be destroyed in a massive fire and we will all float up to the gates of Heaven, give St. Peter a high five and pick up the keys to our swanky new mansion. This is a nice idea except for the fact for the first Christians that it’s not the way they thought about the afterlife. It’s not how they talked about Heaven.
Actually what’s more likely is that this world, the one we are on now will be joined with Heaven and restored in a new and incredible way.
So if we think of the future in this way, what does this mean for the present? Continue reading
The Bible is boring. Let’s be honest here. Sometimes I am reading something and I haven’t a clue what the point of it is or why it’s there. There is a book near the start of the Bible called Leviticus that has a full list of rules that are just mental. But there is a point to them. Just don’t ask me what it is.
Likewise the Gospels (as the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are often known) begins with a family tree of Jesus. A list of his father, and his father’s father and his father’s father and..well you get the gist. A Russian doll situation.
It’s a hard list to read through, obviously because some of the names are so unpronounceable that you just skip them anyway. I mean if you have a hard time remembering the name of your second cousin’s first Aunt once removed at your next family reunion, be grateful your cousin isn’t called Zerubbabel. (Apologies if they are).
But if you do read through the names, you see that there are some familiar names there. Some characters you may vaguely remember from Sunday School. These guys are all part of Jesus family. A list of all his famous family members from throughout the Bible.
And I’m pretty excited they are there.
For most of us we have a negative view of Jesus and God sometimes. We are either so ashamed of who we are that we can’t live up to what we think Jesus expects from us or… we see Jesus and Christians as being so up themselves that we don’t want to relate.
But if you look at the names you start to see there are actually some pretty messed up people.
Like Jacob…who deceived his father into giving him his brother Esau’s birthright, by dressing up as him. Then ran away like a coward.
And Rahab…a prostitute.
Or David…who got another man’s wife pregnant, tried to trick him into thinking it was his and then when that master plan failed, murdered him.
That’s more than enough to be getting through one episode of Jeremy Kyle.
But yet they are Jesus’ descendants. This is his family. The kinds of people that we often think Jesus doesn’t like. Or the kind of people we’re told to stay away from.
It’s hard to live up to an idea when you think that idea is unreachable. Like the idea that Jesus expects us to live clean, sinless, perfect lives. And that’s the point of the list. Jesus names prostitutes and murderers among his family. Jesus didn’t come from a family with no skeletons in their closet. The closet is bursting at the hinges.
Our first introduction to Jesus is one where there don’t have to be any pretenses. Jesus didn’t hide who his family was and much of the crap that went on in their life and this means that there is a place for us too on that list. If Jesus can appear on the same family tree as all those guys is there anything worse that we could do that could stop us from appearing there too? If Jesus can be honest about his family surely we don’t have to worry about what he thinks of us.
If I take anything away from chapter 1 it’s that Jesus doesn’t hate me. A strange statement when we are told that ‘Jesus loves you’ so much. But sometimes Jesus seems so ridiculous and far from anything remotely relevant to my life that that is enough to start with.
I’m not sure how many of you feel about Jesus but he was compassionate, perfect, sinless, patient, forgiving and yet he chose to love us and he chose not to hate you.
He chose to count people like us as his family.
Maybe for now that is all you can hold onto.
But thankfully there is more to Jesus than not hating you.