Jesus Is Love And Forgiveness

Jesus is the embodiment of love and forgiveness. By His reckoning, the entirety of the Hebrew scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament, could be summed up as love God and love your neighbor as yourself, (Mark 12:30–31, Matthew 22:36–40). Technically, from our perspective, Jesus left out the third part of the OT, the Psalms, but the Psalms are based on the two parts He mentioned — the Torah and the Prophets — so it’s reasonable to assume He meant the whole thing. My Christianity is based on this assumption.

Jesus was not always clear. He used parables and stories to teach, and some of His teachings require some thought and study to understand. It is also true that we read Jesus’ teachings in translation, from within a culture unlike His, and twenty centuries later. We cannot possibly understand what He meant if we are not willing to learn about His context. In my own experience, every time I have studied any passage that seemed to contradict the assumption that Jesus is always teaching love and forgiveness, I have learned that my initial understanding was incorrect.

An example: here on Medium, I found a comment by an atheist who cited Luke 19:27, “But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” as an example of Jesus calling for people to be killed. I knew this passage because it had bothered me until I learned more. I pointed out that the passage cited is part of a parable that Jesus told His disciples on the way to Jerusalem. The parable presents the kind of ruler that the disciples would have expected. That’s how rulers behaved in that time and place. Jesus then went on to behave exactly the opposite way. Jesus assumed His kingship during His trial — Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”, Matthew 26:64, is the specific moment. He went to the Cross as a king to His throne. Jesus enthroned was anything but a tyrant who demanded the death of those who opposed Him.

The atheist who I was addressing was pretty gracious about it. He acknowledged that he had taken a passage out of context, and cited one from Deuteronomy that suited his purpose better. I didn’t bother finding the explanation for that one because it was pretty obvious that he was just going to keep cherry-picking verses out of context. I don’t have time for that game. Jesus didn’t engage in petty arguments with those who denied Him.

Again, Jesus preached love and forgiveness. He always sought the marginalized and outcast members of society and proclaimed His message to them. He consistently opposed those in power — whether that power was the Roman state, or the Jewish leaders. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30–37, Jesus elevates a Samaritan, who would have been a religious outcast, over a “priest”, one of the religious elite. Love mattered more to Him than religious affiliation.

As a Christian, I am supposed to love everyone. I freely confess that I am not able to do that. I have been involved in the arts my whole life, so I’ve interacted with the kind of people who gravitate to the arts. That means I’ve been around LGBTQ+ folks, in addition to being one myself. I have no trouble loving the queers. The people who challenge me are the political conservatives, especially the ones who pervert the teachings of Christ for their own ends. I interact with some of those at every family function. I am able to avoid conflict, but I have a really hard time loving them. I’m willing to have God change me, to have my stone heart transformed to a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 26:36).

Christianity is in a tough spot in America right now. The popular idea is that Jesus stood for homophobia, sexism and general condemnation. This is the best case for the existence of Satan that I know of. Unable to defeat Jesus, the devil circled around and distorted His teachings. I don’t know how that will play out, but I’m not worried about Christianity dying out. There have always been people who heard Jesus’ message and received it as good news. If anything, I’m excited to see what He’ll do next.

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Middle-aged trans lesbian Christian opossum. Trying to work out a comprehensive theology and failing.

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Luther von Wolfen

Luther von Wolfen

Middle-aged trans lesbian Christian opossum. Trying to work out a comprehensive theology and failing.

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