Monday, November 05, 2007

Heaven isn't too far away!

Luke 20:27-38

27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

This is a bit confusing, and seemingly pointless... but once we discover a few things, it really opens up!

  • Sadducees rely only on the Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament) they take it literally.
  • Marriage in the Torah was the way to live on past death. It was about keeping your name going rather than romance or love like it is today. It was also about property as men would trade some property for their wives. The father owned the daughter until some dude would buy her from him, basically.
  • If a guy dies, his brother marries his wife so that the name will live on. This is the Sadducees idea of "eternal life."
  • This was a polygamous society so a brother could marry the wife even if he was already married.
  • They are arguing about "life after death" not physical resurrection.
  • The Torah doesn't talk specifically or directly about life after death, so the Sadducees reject the idea.
So the Sadducees concoct this absurd story to trick Jesus into either choosing 1. the Jewish Scripture or 2. His promise of eternal life. Jesus doesn't choose either, but shows them how they are idiots by
  • reframing the idea of marriage, saying that his idea of eternal life has nothing to do with this institution of marriage which is ultimately self-serving and oppressive at that time.
  • Using their own scripture to show them how silly their little story is.
This is relevant because
  • Many "Christians" still read Scripture just like the Sadducees and molest it in a way that proves what they want to prove.
  • Jesus speaks to them in their own language to show that their own scripture talks about resurrection.
  • The idea of "heaven" isn't as simplistic as we like to make it... it may have a much deeper meaning.
  • Many people, Christians and other people like to make these kind of ideas literal so they can try to "prove" or "disprove" something. If it is not meant to be so literal and the beauty comes out in symbolism, metaphor and poetry... we don't get into these arguments and we find truth in beautiful ways.
  • This is a shift from "modern" logic and reason based thinking to "post-modern" creative and intuitive kind of thinking. Maybe Jesus was "post-modern" and that's why nobody gets him a lot of the time. (just a joke, kind of...)


james said...

I've always really liked the principles of Christianity and hated the rules. The morals that I live by are pretty much those exact principles that I was taught as a child in Sunday school. As I grew older though, I found the rules of the church to be oppressive and often totally backwards from the principles that I felt so strongly about.

I could be remembering things wrong, since honestly I haven't read the bible in over ten years, but my memory of Jesus is a man governed by principles who honestly didn't give a shit about the rules. I feel like if he was to walk into a church in America today there would be a good chance that he would end up having a similar conversation about some rule that probably has very little to do with the true principles of his teachings. And I feel like he would remind them of that, hopefully not by getting pissed off and throwing their shit in the street, but hey... it's happened before. And I wouldn't hold it against him if it happened again.

Rick said...

I'm going to combine comments from for your last 2 posts.

I read Luke 20:27-38, I have to admit that was pretty boring. Granted I can see how it had its value in the past but I'd like to think that most people don't view marriage as ownership or as way into heaven (except for those mormons). Maybe most Christians still have this superficial view, I dunno. I don't hang out with them.

This is how I interpret it. It makes heaven irrelevant. It's what you do in the moment that matters. It's not about following a given process. Why worry about following a process to get into heaven? That's only self-serving and completely missing the point. Like Buddha said, if you ever meet Buddha, kill him.

For example, I told you about the church that was built down the street. $10 million was the cost. All so they could get more members and preach to the choir. To me that's completely missing the point. Instead they could have used 10% to build homes, run shelters, (insert favorite community cause). There are somewhere between 100-120 homeless people in Ector County, 1 million could have gone a long way towards housing all those people.

As far as the other scripture, to me the problem with religion is that the way it communicates isn't very inspiring. Superficially the bible is critical and blaming. This sort of communication goes both ways, like that guy matt demonstrated, hell, even what I've typed previously. Typically the style in the bible is read as judging and people react with don't judge me attitude. That type of interaction isn't going to get you anywhere.

Imagine me telling James, it's a sin to have premarital sex. And James telling me not to judge others (throwing the stone or whatever). Neither side furthers the other. Me saying that to James wouldn't inspire him, and vice versa. I think that's the biggest problem.

I think if you want non-traditional people to show up, you'd have to find a way to inspire them, make them curious. Talking about the future and how to get into heaven, whether its a superficial view or a philosophical metaphor on how to live your life, just doesn't seem to do it. I think something more relevant to the now is needed. What exactly ... I don't know.

rev. todd said...

james... I couldn't agree more about the church getting in the way of Jesus and the "Principles of Christianity." This is really good input and probably the direction that I will go with it on Sunday. The more things change, the more they stay t he same. I think Jesus would get the boot out of many churches today just as he pissed the church people off on a regular basis then. It's obvious to me inside the church as I look at it from the outside, that this is as serious of a problem now as it was then... if not more serious because we should know better.

rev. todd said...

Rick... I agree on it being boring. This is one reason that I struggled with if I was even going to use it this week or not. It is hard to find the point as well, but I think it is becoming more clear as we talk about it.

I couldn't agree with you more about the church and how the money is used. The whole "preaching to the choir" thing is exactly what I am trying to avoid and even fight against. The "choir" sure wants to be the center of attention, I'll tell you that.

Great point about the Bible and how people read the Bible. I think this fits into the scripture this week as well. How to read the Bible is an important topic, I just have to weave it into the idea of the "rejecting church" (which won't be hard). The Bible puts people on the defensive because of how it has been used to oppress as both you and james have pointed out.

As far as getting non-traditional people to show up... I think 2 things. We have to get people in the church ready for them when they do show up and maybe instead of trying to get them to show up, we should take church to them... kind of like you suggested about spending time and money in the community living this stuff instead of just sitting around talking about it. Very good insight, my friend. Thank you!

Matt said...

Would the church improve without the idea of heaven?

rev. todd said...

Matt, I think you could certainly make a good case for it!