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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Honk if You Dig Jesus

Years ago, I was stopped at a redlight, reading the bumper stickers on the car in front of me. One of them read, "Honk if you love Jesus!" I happily, impulsively honked. And then observed the enthusiastically proffered middle finger of the motorist ahead of me. "Oh," I thought, "must not be your car."

Today I visited Lynn, who also encouraged me to honk if I love Jesus. Sorta. She offered a meme, The Jesus Meme, which is "five things I dig about Jesus." I really like what Lynn did with it, and I decided to give it a try.

1. He speaks to people in their own language. Not Aramaic. I mean, he met people where they were. If you were a farmer, he told you stories about farming. If you were a tax collector, he used money stories. A fisherman, he told you about fishing. He exemplified my Mom's teaching, "You treat the janitor the same as the governor." He spoke to people who were "beneath" him. Because he knew they weren't. And he wasn't afraid to confront people "above" him. Because there's no such person. He showed us how to do these things. God, I love that man.

2. He is steadfast. As a child growing up in an often chaotic environment, this knowledge was one of the things that made me decide to stick to him like glue. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). No need for anyone to wonder what kind of mood he's in, whether he's been drinking, whether he's mad at me today. Steady. Like a rock.

3. He understands what we're going through. This is especially meaningful to me as I continue to endure WTF Disease. I haven't yet found another human who knows what all these various bizarre symptoms feel like. But the one who is both creator and human being, would know (Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16). That comforts me. I'm not alone.

4. Jesus loves me, this I know. I dig that I am unconditionally loved. Humans talk about this, but I don't believe we can pull it off. Oh, we try. And if we really do try, we can manage it a good percentage of the time. But not always. Even parental love, which probably comes closest, is sometimes qualified with the knowledge that if that little (or big) miscreant weren't our own flesh and blood, he or she would sorely test our love ability. There's a condition -- you're my kin. It does me immeasurable good to be loved when I am at my most unlovable. Which, frankly, is most of the time, lately.

Some people talk about Jesus dying -- being beaten, spat on, crucified, as evidence of his love. All the things that were depicted in Mel Gibson's movie (during much of which I buried my face in Jif's shoulder; I'm not interested in seeing the violence). For some people, that is sufficient evidence of this extraordinary, supernatural kind of love. Not for me. Frankly, others have suffered, and do suffer, worse physical afflictions. Some even voluntarily, in the name of love. No, for me, what really made it sink in, what he did for me, was a sermon that I heard when I was eleven years old. I have never heard it presented in quite the same way since. But here's the gist of it: When Christ allowed himself to be killed to pay for the sins of mankind, he took on himself, into himself, those sins. Think of the worst you can think of. Genocides, child abuse . . . the worst. He took all of that onto himself, in our place. And not only those acts. But also the shame that accompanies such acts. And all the suffering that ripples out for generations to come, from such acts. And all the pain that preceded, that set in motion, that created beings who would perpetrate such acts. He became all of that (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that we can be reconciled to a perfect, holy God. For me, it is that unimaginable psychic suffering, soul suffering, that he endured, that speaks much louder of love than any level of physical torture could speak. I choose to believe it happened the way I've read that it happened. And that it meant what that sermon so long ago said that it meant. Greater love has no one, before or since (John 15:12-13) .

5. He is mysterious. Years ago, when LG was in preschool, I invited the children of one of the moms I had befriended, to attend Vacation Bible School with LG. Over the years, we have invited children of various religions and none at all to attend VBS with us. But that particular year, I admit, I was making an assumption about the children we were inviting. The father had a very German name, and the mother had a very Irish name, and I assumed they were Christian. What's more, I assumed either Lutheran or Roman Catholic. I was wrong. She declined my invitation, saying that she didn't want her children to learn the fairy tale of God. She and her husband had decided to be, and raise their children as, atheists, and they wanted no interference with their plan. I confessed to, and apologized for, my assumption. And she allowed that actually, I was right, in terms of how they'd been raised: Lutheran and Roman Catholic. But she said that in college, her husband had done exhaustive intellectual research which led him to the absolute knowledge that God does not exist. Alrighty, then.

What I didn't say to her, but what I will say now, is . . . that doesn't work. I am all in favor of intellectual research. In favor of critical thinking. Of skepticism, even. But applying the powers of the intellect to matters of the soul . . . that will always fall short. To me, that is comparable to the difference between understanding the chemical composition of chocolate, and actually feeling that chocolate melt in your mouth, tasting the sweet, the bitter, the creamy. Even if you can recite the chemical composition backwards and forwards, you don't know chocolate through the intellect. It doesn't compute. At least, you don't know it in its entirety. Another example: you can intellectually explore the act of jumping into a clear lake on a hot day. You can understand the physics of how you get there -- the trajectory of the jump, the force required to overcome gravity on your way there . . . and you can understand the physiological, biological changes of the various anatomical systems as your body goes from hot to cool, dry to wet. That's all good. But it's not the same as knowing what it's like to jump into a cool lake on a hot day. You've used the wrong tools, or at least, lesser tools, if you're trying to really know that experience. God -- Jesus -- can be understood through the intellect. But that's not how we're made. God is spirit. Meant to be experienced and understood spiritually. Through faith. Faith is the method through which we best know God. Certainly we should use the other methods -- intellect, emotion, whatever you choose -- but you haven't fully experienced God without doing so via your spirit. Your soul. That's what I believe.

Perhaps this is as good (or bad) a place as any to say something that I often think when I see comments from those who don't believe. Very, very often, since I began blogging, I'll see people comment on the site of a "believer," and say something like, "I wish I had faith like you do," or "I wish I believed in something like you do..." And I think, "Just do it." Let me explain. Some people believe in God (as a Christian, I believe in the mystery of the Trinity -- God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One) because they "came to believe." That is, a series of life experiences, perhaps even some mystical or miraculous experiences, led them to believe. Many more people, though, choose to believe. They decide to believe. There really is no wishing required. If you want to do it, do it. It is a choice. A decision. I do believe that when people make that decision, it is as a result of the Holy Spirit inviting them. And that can happen in more ways than I can imagine. But bottom line, it's a choice that we have the power and ability and freedom to make. Or not. If you're wondering whether it's for you, I would suggest a test. For a week, behave as though you do believe. See how that works for you.

I don't feel, never have felt, compelled to try to persuade anyone else to believe what I believe. I've never spoken as explicitly on this blog, of (some of) what I believe, as I am speaking here today. And it's fine by me if you don't agree with a word of it. That's between you and God. Or just between you and yourself.

Anyone (religious, not, whatever) is welcome to do the meme. Or leave in the comments here what, if anything, you "dig" about Jesus.

***

And with that, I'm outta here. I have an opportunity (read "invitation requiring very little $") to visit a state I've never visited before, staying in a friend's 200-year-old cottage for the coming week, so I am doing my darnedest to get me and the fam together to go and do just that. Hope to leave some time over the weekend. The place is not near any of you, to my knowledge, or I would have told you. Indeed, I don't think I have ever seen the state represented in my sitemeter stats. So when I get back, I think I'll post some pictures so you can guess where we were. Won't that be FUN? (Shut up.) And the handful of you whom I've told where I'm going, "Shhh!"

48 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Enola said...

I'm so glad I have followed all these meme/tag links and found your response. You certainly gave me food for though.

 
Blogger buttrrflyy said...

Well crap! I wanna know where you're going!

I'll be thinking about your words for a long time.

 
Blogger Traci said...

shoot! I signed in as the wrong person! hehe...I'm weird that way!

 
Blogger WILLIAM said...

What I dig about Jesus is he has an awesome Jump shot..(obscure refernece to a comment I left here a year ago.)

Have fun.

 
Blogger Lynn said...

Wow, Susie! Great post! I figured folks would just roll their eyes at my post because of my previously stated relationship with organized religion. I was worried that people would not be able to separate Jesus from what they call 'religion'.

:-)

I'm glad the post was so well-received. Thanks for your response, Susie, and for coming back over to tell me that yours was posted. Sorry it took me so long, we're having power outages (and fires) because of all the lightning, so I have been away from my computer since early this morning. I hope you have a fabulous weekend. I'll look forward to seeing the pictures.

 
Blogger Karen said...

Have fun on your vacation. We'll (okay, I guess I'm speaking only for myself) look forward to the fun of guessing where you were based on your photos when you get back.

 
Blogger Susie said...

enola, it's a very provocative (in a good way) meme. Thank you for passing it around. And welcome :)

traci, you so crazy. Well, crap! You'll just have to guess! And now I'm wondering which words you'll be thinking about :)

william, yea, yea, with the dunking. I remember ;)

lynn, well, thank you. I thought your post was quite beautiful. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure that Jesus would recognize Himself in what we now call religion.

karen, thank you. I'm SO looking forward to getting away. I'm hoping to discover that WTF is in the water here.

 
Anonymous Pat said...

All very beautifully said. I especially like the response of trying to come to an intellectual conclusion to believe.

May God bless you and your family on your time away.

 
Blogger eclectic said...

I dig how Jesus looks on you. Also? I hope you have yourselves a grand ol' time wherever it is you're going!

 
Anonymous sharkey said...

I really like your chocolate/faith analogy. So true. The Go Jump in the Lake analogy could be useful with some people too. :)

Have an awesome, awesome getaway!

 
Blogger Ern said...

My parents' pastor says that the closest example of God's love here on earth is the love of a grandparent for a grandchild.

 
Anonymous dawn said...

have an amazing time susie!!!

can't wait to see the pics. I'm not too familiar with US geography...ah heck who am i kidding, I'm not that good with Canadian either, but, i'd like to try to see if i can guess :)

safe travels

 

Traveling mercies, susie. Enjoyed your post very much; thank you for sharing.

 
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

You certainly put much more work into yours than I did into mine, Susie! You wrote 5 homilies and I just quoted scripture. Thank you for what you have shared.

 
Anonymous sarahgrace said...

This is the first time I've commented here, and I've been reading for just a bit. Helllo :)

I just wanted to say what a breath of fresh air this post was. You've very eloquently said what I wish I could explain to people about God. I really appreciate your take on things too. It's nice to find someone who accepts that they are human, and isn't trying to be the "perfect christian."

Thanks for sharing.

 
Blogger Robin said...

Great post! It'll certainly give me lots to think about. I agree with Sharkey about the chocolate and lake analogies. Actually, that part would make a great sermon - I always enjoy sermons more when it "relates" to me as a person, than just quoting scriptures (with no offense to Nick, whose blog I enjoy very much).

Jesus loves me, this I know. I dig that every day...it's gotten me through some tough times.

Have a great vacation and may you come back healthier, happier and please God, WTF free!

 
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Last week hubs and I were rudely cut off in traffic by a red Escalade..the driver continued to drive erratically and when he was honked at or looked at strangely by other drivers he matched his driving habits with rude hand gestures. When we arrived behind this guy at the toll I noticed the "fish", you know the one, and a big ol' bumper sticker that read, you guessed it "WWJD"..indeed buddy... We are all blessed that we are loved unconditionally. Jesus is THE MAN (and the Way, the Truth, and the Light).

Have a wonderful vaca, can't wait for the pics.
xoxoxoxo

 
Blogger Traci said...

Well crap again! I hate guessing! Hehehehe...have a lovely time wherever you're going my sweet, sweet friend. I think of you every single day and pray (?) you're finding some peace during your battle with WTF.

 
Anonymous Amy the Mom said...

Wow-that was so succinct and....real. I struggled through CS Lewis's Mere Christianity, and while I appreciated it on an intellectual level, your paragraph really says it all. You're just a delight, Ms. Susie. I hope you have a wonderful vacation, I'm thinking it's not Minnesota or Wisconsin (I live in the former and we have a cabin in the latter) because we don't use the term "cottages" here.
Enjoy!

 
Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Firstly, I really really really hope you and your family have a lovely lovely lovely time away at the "cottage" (I'm guessing New England somewhere).

Secondly, this was a beautiful and thoughtful post, Miss Susie. Of course, after you described the mouth-watering chocolate, I kind of lost focus...

I'll be thinking about you, love.

 
Blogger Susie said...

pat, thank you :)

eclectic, after so many months of sitting on my butt, Jesus may be the one thing that still fits.

shawkey, if I ever use that illustration for a sermon, that will be my title : Go Jump in the Lake!

ern, interesting. I was not close to my grandparents, so I can't say for sure. Speaking for LG's grandparents, though, they do seem to overlook the little things that parents can nit-pick.

dawn, thank you. I'll try to get some good ones :)

htgt, you're most welcome. The part about not knowing God through the intellect was what seemed to me somehow related to what your teacher (?) shared recently. Enjoy your time away, too!

ssnick, I don't know about all that. I thank you for the passages you shared, among my favorites.

sarahgrace, welcome, and thank you for saying such kind things. I have no illusions of being a perfect . . . anything. Anymore. EXCEPT . . . if we weren't flawed, we wouldn't be perfectly human, would we? That's part of the design.

robin, thank you. From your mouth to God's ears. I would love to leave WTF in that faraway place.

elizabeth, this reminds me of the first time I saw "WWJD." I didn't know what it meant. I was talking to a neighbor, a very strong Christian, who was complaining about people running around with WWJD on their persons. I said, "Yea, I've seen that. What is that?"

"What would Jesus do."

"Oh. Well, apparently he would have cut me off today on Route 40."

Gotta be real careful when you're advertising like that.

traci, thank you. Once again, I am grateful for everyone who contributes, from a distance to my healing. Or, until then, those who contribute to my feeling well enough to go sit on my butt in more pristine surroundings.

atm, thank you, that's so kind. Rarely am I called "succinct," I'm afraid. You're right, neither of those states. Although, I must say, "cottage" is my word, not the owners'.

ck, you're warm :)

 
Blogger lawyerchik said...

Susie, I love your number 5. You write very well about an issue that some people don't like to discuss because of its personal-ness to the individual. And you're right about the choice: we choose to believe or not believe, and that makes the difference.

The thing is, the "faith" that is discussed in the Bible more along the lines of "trust" or "trustworthiness."

Suppose you tell a friend that you have faith in her. Usually, that means two things. First, you are sure the person you are talking to actually exists. And second, you are convinced she is trustworthy; you can believe what she says and trust in her character.

In the same way, faith is knowing that God is real and that you can trust in His promises. You can't trust someone who isn't there, nor can you rely on someone whose promises are not reliable. This is why faith is talked about in Hebrews as the substance of things hoped for and as the evidence of things not seen. Both words carry with them a sense of reality. It isn't wishful thinking.

Faith does not make God real. On the contrary, faith is the response to a real God who has made Himself known to us:

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me" (Isaiah 45:5-6).

The Bible has never called for people to leap into the dark. Instead, we are called to step into the light. The Christian gospel is not a message that revels in ignorance. It is the revelation of God in the person Christ, so that we might know there is none besides Him. Christians are called to see things as they really are, and not as he would simply like them to be. We trust in a God who has revealed Himself. We believe because He is real.

Those can be difficult things to accept in a world filled with so much pain, torment and sin, but the difference between "blind faith" that is never questioned is that it is weak faith - if God could not stand up to inquiry and questioning and scrutiny, then He wouldn't be God.

Yet He is - and what we know of Him gives us a basis on which to trust or rely on Him for what we do not know yet. That's what Paul meant when he said, in I Corinthians 13, now we see as in a cloudy mirror, but soon we shall know fully, even as we are fully known.

 
Blogger Squirl said...

Susie, that was so well put. Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Susie, you took the words right out of my mouth. That was such an awesome post. I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it.

Bear with me while I go off on a tangent....there was a quote I recently came upon from an author by the name of Charles Fort. Now even though I don't agree with all of his beliefs, the researches of his biography quoted this as his principle: "People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels".

His studies revolved around the paranormal and what not, but his basis of trying to make others understand that science and it's facts are objective, how facts are interpreted depends on who is doing the interpreting and in what context. (kinda going from that one husband who said he absolutely came to conclusion that there is no God...wish I was that smart!) :)
Fort died from leukemia around like 1832 because he didn't trust doctors. Interesting man.

 
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

"Gotta be real careful when you're advertising like that."

Susie, I know, right? I mean if you're representin' at least scale back on the hand gestures ...twenty years ago in my young twenties. newly married and fresh out of college, I threw down some road rage of my own...merging onto the highway from a ramp, the car in the merge lane wouldn't make way for me to get onto the highway and I was quickly running out of road..I snapped and (to this day I can see this in slow motion) I lifted my hand and was cranking the old middle finger at the offending driver..just as the finger was raised to full glory I looked to the left at the driver and got the shock of my life when I saw that it was an elder's wife from my church..O-M-G!! She looked over at me just as I switched the middle finger to the pinky finger and turned my frown upside down to a wide, excited smile...."Hi" I mouthed waving my pinky finger...she waved back and smiled. Still don't know if she saw my initial gesture...my dumb twenty something mind chose to believe she didn't, but I couldn't look her in the eye for the longest time. I don't recall ever doing that before, but I certainly never did anything like that again...

.....at least not in my own car, without sunglasses and within 10 miles of my neighborhood.

I keed, I keed.

 
Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

Amen, sister. Just do it.

I dig Jesus because no matter what trials I have in this life, I know I'm not doing it alone.

 
Blogger Sea Sang In Us said...

Honnnnnnk.

Chocolate Theology, mmmmmmmm.

 
Anonymous Katy said...

That's some good preachin'! I'm so thankful that intellect is not required to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. My grandmother used to tell me a true story that illustrates this: One day a new preacher moved to the mountain community where she grew up and he needed help learning his way around. Her mentally retarded brother Fred showed the preacher the best way to walk home. The preacher later said that Fred showed him how to get through the woods and he in turn showed Fred the way to salvation.
Your thoughts on intellect and faith are an answer to prayer. I have recently been struggling with how to witness to someone in my life who claims to be an agnostic. So, thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and writing this blog entry. And have a good family vacation.

 
Blogger Andrea said...

Preach it sister!

I dig Jesus because...He loves me even though I don't deserve it.

And with regard to the bumper sticker guy...that is EXACTLY why after we sold the old van (with the Chinese representation of the Jesus fish on it), I decided not to get another fish. Because I know myself too well.

 
Blogger Susie said...

lawyerchik, have an opinion, why dontcha? Volumes can be, and have been, written about what faith is. A point of yours that I would amplify: God is not threatened by our questions. God gave us a brain with which to inquire and think critically, and discriminantly. It would be a sin not to use it.

squirl, thanks, sis. I'm struggling today, to get things together to leave. I SO want to leave. I'll get there.

jennifer, thank you, that is interesting. I like that perspective. It makes no sense to expect that we would all seek or experience God or faith in the same way. To me, that is one of the things that makes God a "good parent." Ask any successful parent of multiples and they'll tell you that children cannot all be raised the same way. They have different needs, different temperaments, are motivated and inspired in different ways. God gets this. I believe.

elizabeth, good save! I wear a cross (necklace) a lot, and try to be mindful that I'm "representin'." I screw up waaaaaaaaaaaay too much to wear a WWJD anything.

umutha, that's right. Never alone.

ssius, welcome. Nice honker.

katy, wow. Few things could make me feel more honored than being told I was part of an answered prayer. It's especially meaningful to me that you said that now, when I feel SO not very productive in the world. And thank you for your lovely email. I'll write back when we return. xxx

andrea, you Christian bitch! ;)

 
Anonymous Ortizzle said...

I teach in a Catholic high school. I would like your perimssion to give a copy of this post to the teachers in my school, especially the ones in the Theology Dept. That is one awesome argument for Faith, my dear. And put so well in the vernacular of the day. (I might just "re-phrase" the reference to WTF, though, LOL!)

Have a great, well-deserved vacation, Susie!

 
Blogger Platypus said...

Gah, I'm late, sorry. You'll be having a lovely time in the cottage by now and I've just realised it's presumably a holiday weekend for you guys with the 4th July coming up.

Lovely post and you know we all pray for you. Funnily enough, often in the strangest locations - I'll send you a list some time! x

 
Blogger lawyerchik said...

Yeah, everyone I know says the same thing: get an opinion! Think for yourself! (Sigh!) It doesn't work though..... I'm still shy and close-mouthed! ;)

 
Blogger judypatooote said...

Amen and I can't wait to see the pictures from your trip....I hope you take some pictures of the cottage...it sounds old....hehe

 
Blogger Platypus said...

Happy Sunday, Susie. I know you're not posting today but Sunday wouldn't be the same without a visit. :)

 
Blogger Squirl said...

I hope this means you're having a great get-away weekend.

Happy Sunday, sis!

 
Anonymous Christ√®le said...

Susie,

I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now (I came upon it through Amy's blog)and I have to say I have been brought next to tears many times, and caught myself smiling often also (you will have to excuse my English ><)
I have hesitated a log time before writing, but I simply wanted to say Thank You for your words, especially today. You have no idea how much they have meant to me...
God Bless You and the Ones you Love :)

 
Anonymous LadyBug said...

I'm a little late to the party, so I hope you and your family are having a wonderful week. It's so good to just "get away" sometimes, isn't it?

What I dig about Jesus, right now, at this moment? is that He placed you here, in this silly little blogosphere, where you touch so many hearts and lives each day. You are such a blessing to me, and to so many others, Susie. May you be rewarded tenfold.

You are, as always, in my thoughts and prayers, dear. Love and hugs to you.

 
Blogger Shocka Khan said...

I have not been here lately..but your awesome as usual,....stop frickin' up my decedant debauchery....k'

;>)

%The king

 
Blogger Effie said...

hoooonk!!

 
Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Susie darlin, I'm not just warm, I'm HAWT. And sweaty... the weather is steamin up again here.

I keep coming by here and wanting to go "HOOONK HOOONK", but somehow, that seems more like something Bucky would do.

 
Blogger Momentarily_Distracted said...

Absolutely marvelous post!
Have a wonderful time wherever you may travel.
Looking forward to the photos because I love trying to guess where it may be! It's pretty cool.
xxx

 
Blogger Judy said...

Even Jesus couldn't persuade some people to believe in him when he was right in front of them doing miracles, so you're right in not trying to "persuade." What's required of us is just what you did - go and tell your story. Then it's up to the Holy Spirit and the individual.
I'm a new reader and am glad to be here!

 
Blogger Kristi said...

Hi there! New reader here as well. :) Just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed reading through your posts and that I'm praying for you.

Oh, and a hello to Effie who commented a few back :D Long time no see! It's a small blogging world, isn't it?

 
Blogger Robin said...

Happy 4th, Susie!

Where ever you are!

 
Anonymous platypus said...

Happy 4th, Susie! I hope you're all having a lovely holiday. xx

 
Blogger eclectic said...

I stopped by to wish you a Happy Independence Day, too!! Hope you're watching fireworks and having fun with friends and family! Sending love to you.

 
Blogger Lynn said...

Susie, I miss you, but I am thrilled to come over and see that you are still gone... because I hope your vacation is turning out really well.

 


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