By William (Willie) Cameron, Jr. –
Thoughts for Easter 2017.
This 21st century in which we live is new in many ways and old in many more. If people who lived in proceeding centuries could see us today, they would be amazed.
Think about it. How about Adam with a telephone? “Hello, could I speak to Eve?” Or Moses with a pair of binoculars? “Joshua, look through these and tell me if that is not Pharaoh and the boys on our tails ’bout three miles back.”
What if Columbus had GPS on his three ships? “Captain Chris, sir, according to the GPS we are off course.” If Prince Phillip the Navigator had had access to DNA testing, would he have deemed the people of Africa less than human and relegated them to the status of slaves?
Currently in 2017, we have all these things and more; yet we continue to view humanity in the same light as our ancestors. We think that some people are better than others, and it’s shameful. Sure, financial status goes from rich to middle-class to poor, but money should not make one person somehow better than another.
How about what a person does or doesn’t do in life? Should this be the barometer of how people are treated? I think not. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That statement tells me that what a person looks like is not that important, and another old saying, “Beauty is only skin deep,” kind of puts the ugly-versus-pretty argument to rest. In the end, all of us are born and die, so the differences between us are really irrelevant.
Reality, of course, tells a different story.
I’m not saying that people should not be rewarded for the heights they achieve in life. But perhaps those rewards are too high sometimes, considering the real needs of all of mankind.
This is really what Jesus of Nazareth was talking about and working toward as he tried to move the old conservative ways toward new ways of thinking, which would benefit both the haves and the haves-nots. Progressivism! That’s not to say that he disagreed with the old truths of right and wrong; he disagreed with how those rights and wrongs were being judged according to who was being judged.
Jesus was an Israelite, and as such was aware of his people’s belief that they were the chosen people above all others. Yet there are examples in the Four Gospels of him dealing with Gentiles on an equal basis. His encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well comes to mind (John 4:1-40). The Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) asked Jesus to heal his servant to which Jesus replied, “Yes!” A Greek woman asked Jesus to restore her daughter to mental health (Mark 7:25-30), and he did so. These examples say that Jesus did not let conservative attitudes of that day keep him from moving forward to new ideas.
Jesus was crucified because the religious leaders of the day were afraid his teachings would lead to them losing their power and status in the Jewish community. The day he turned over the money changers’ tables in the Temple was the last straw. (Matthew 21:12-12).
Twenty-first century Christians have a hard time dealing with people who don’t agree with how they see things. Some Christians even look down on other Christians who differ in their ideas about current issues. It is their aim to force their ways of thinking on the opposition by whatever means necessary, legal or otherwise. Jesus never told his followers to take this road to legitimacy. To force people to believe as you do and do as you do is another ancient way of thinking. “Might Makes Right,” so if I conquer you, then you must become as me.
Check world history and see that the Roman Empire, upon turning Christian, used force to make the entire western world Christian. Jesus never asked his followers to take up the sword to further his cause. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), tells the story of Jesus giving marching orders to his followers. No mention of coercion is recorded. The tenth chapter of Matthew seems to be Jesus sending the Disciples out on a training mission to spread his teachings to others. What he tells them to do about those who didn’t want to hear them had nothing to do with coercion. He told them to move on and leave these people to their fate. (Matthew 10:14-15).
Lastly, Jesus was not a fan of violence, and I base this theory on what he told Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was arrested: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:51-52). He also seemed to favor keeping religion and government separate. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:13-17).
All these things point to Jesus looking forward to a time when all men and women would be valued equally.
Isn’t that a progressive philosophy?
William E. (Willie) Cameron lives in Asheville. He can be reached at (828) 280-1930.