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If I ever posted inspirational quotes on social media, which I don’t because it would ruin my sarcastic win streak I have going on Facebook, I know which one I would post first. It’s a paragraph from Jack Caputo’s book What Would Jesus Deconstruct? that has inspired me ever since I read it when it came out in 2007.

Speaking of Jesus, Caputo writes:

“He kept one thing uppermost in his heart, the love of neighbor and of God, which was unconditional, the sum and substance of the Torah, and he treated everything else, however sacred it was in men’s eyes, as man made, conditional, flexible, deconstructible. His periodic flashes of anger are reserved for those who confused the latter with the former.”

Imagine that on a background of a warm golden sunrise coming up over the ocean and just try not to be inspired.

In fact, this has become a sort of mantra for me. Because it simultaneously asks me to do very important things:

1. Love more

2. Care about everything else less.

Or, to turn it into a question:

Do I love the person next to me more than that blankie of safety and certainty that’s woven tightly from my judgments about the right way to think, which politician God wants me to vote for, and my opinion about other people who break God’s rules?

Meh, if I’m honest, not usually. But that’s okay. Because that’s where I’m headed. What good is a mantra if you’ve already arrived? That’s the vision of the Christian life that inspires me. The day I can throw that old and far-too-small-for-me blankie in the trash will be a day of freedom, where I will be free to love with reckless abandon. Where I will be able to love like Jesus.

Until then, I’ll keep striving toward it. And an inspirational poster might just help.

sunset-3

This post was originally published in August 2016.

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas

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  • Gary says:

    You know you live in America when… commercializability of kitschy spirituality is the standard to attain.

    Wondering what Jesus thought is relatively trivial…

    Dealing with the Christians in one’s life? That’s an altogether different matter.

    • charlesburchfield says:

      Sounds like you actually have functional atheists who call themselves Christians. If you lay down with dogs you can get up with fleas!
      Parker Palmer well articulates a shapeshifter trickster empty shell form passing as belief he calls
      “functional atheism,” the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen. IMHO This causes pathology on every level of one’s life & leads one to impose one’s will on others stressing one’s relationships to the point of breaking. It often eventuates in substance/alcohol abuse, physical symptoms, being accident prone, sexual abuse, sexual difficulties, burnout, depression, and despair, as one learns the world will not bend to one’s will and one becomes embittered about that fact.

  • Gary says:

    You know you live in America when… commercializability of kitschy spirituality is the standard to attain.

    Wondering what Jesus thought is relatively trivial…

    Dealing with the Christians in one’s life? That’s an altogether different matter.

    • Sounds like you actually have functional atheists who call themselves Christians. If you lay down with dogs you can get up with fleas!
      Parker Palmer well articulates a shapeshifter trickster empty shell form passing as belief he calls
      “functional atheism,” the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen. IMHO This causes pathology on every level of one’s life & leads one to impose one’s will on others stressing one’s relationships to the point of breaking. It often eventuates in substance/alcohol abuse, physical symptoms, being accident prone, sexual abuse, sexual difficulties, burnout, depression, and despair, as one learns the world will not bend to one’s will and one becomes embittered about that fact.

  • Derek says:

    Not to take away from what you’re presenting here, Jared, but I cannot fully agree with you because you’re only presenting half the picture/counsel of God. I think you’re leaving out the significant aftermath resulting from Messiah’s resurrection, and subsequent Apostolic commission and teaching – which the early church devoted themselves to (Acts. 2:42). The full counsel of God contains critical doctrines that are foundational to salvation. The Apostle Paul, for example, suffered greatly, in love, for the sake of the elect and their salvation – found in Christ alone.

    • Gary says:

      Derek, not to shadow take away from the non-takeaway, I can’t fully agree with your soteriological emphasis either. Sadly, I just don’t see Christians transforming the world to something else/better in a observably differentiated kind of way.

      • Veritas says:

        They already have. You can’t see the forest for the trees because you live in the middle of it. Perfect? Of course not, but transformed it is.

        • Gary says:

          Perhaps, but honestly best I step back and look at history’s arc I don’t see it. You can accuse me of seeing the forest for the trees but I think I have to respectfully suggest the burden of proof goes with the claim.

          • Veritas says:

            I’ll take some concrete examples;
            The idea that each individual life matters because we are all children of God; that every one is my neighbor, like the Samaritan
            The institution of hospitals
            The education system
            The rejection of slavery
            There are more, but these rely on Christian ideas and were promoted by Christians in history.
            These same things are still being done by Christians and their organizations today millions of times over. Haiti, to name one place, is full of missions helping everyday in people’s lives through education, health care, etc village by village. There are large government run institutions but the bulk of work is still done person to person, much by Christians.

          • Gary says:

            I’ll take the first. I don’t really think Christianity has born clear witness over the centuries that each individual life matters. There are proof points one way. There are proof points that oppose. In my personal anecdotal experience when I hear the Christians in my life speak of outsiders, I find it rather disgusting.

    • Veritas says:

      The doctrines are to help us to understand who God is but what is more important?

      2
      And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

  • Derek says:

    Not to take away from what you’re presenting here, Jared, but I cannot fully agree with you because you’re only presenting half the picture/counsel of God. I think you’re leaving out the significant aftermath resulting from Messiah’s resurrection, and subsequent Apostolic commission and teaching – which the early church devoted themselves to (Acts. 2:42). The full counsel of God contains critical doctrines that are foundational to salvation. The Apostle Paul, for example, suffered greatly, in love, for the sake of the elect and their salvation – found in Christ alone.

    • Gary says:

      Derek, not to shadow take away from the non-takeaway, I can’t fully agree with your soteriological emphasis either. Sadly, I just don’t see Christians transforming the world to something else/better in a observably differentiated kind of way.

      • Veritas says:

        They already have. You can’t see the forest for the trees because you live in the middle of it. Perfect? Of course not, but transformed it is.

        • Gary says:

          Perhaps, but honestly best I step back and look at history’s arc I don’t see it. You can accuse me of seeing the forest for the trees but I think I have to respectfully suggest the burden of proof goes with the claim.

          • Veritas says:

            I’ll take some concrete examples;
            The idea that each individual life matters because we are all children of God; that every one is my neighbor, like the Samaritan
            The institution of hospitals
            The education system
            The rejection of slavery
            There are more, but these rely on Christian ideas and were promoted by Christians in history.
            These same things are still being done by Christians and their organizations today millions of times over. Haiti, to name one place, is full of missions helping everyday in people’s lives through education, health care, etc village by village. There are large government run institutions but the bulk of work is still done person to person, much by Christians.

          • Gary says:

            I’ll take the first. I don’t really think Christianity has born clear witness over the centuries that each individual life matters. There are proof points one way. There are proof points that oppose. In my personal anecdotal experience when I hear the Christians in my life speak of outsiders, I find it rather disgusting.

    • Veritas says:

      The doctrines are to help us to understand who God is but what is more important?

      2
      And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

  • Ifyesdo says:

    And everything looks more inspirational when you use the papyrus font too!

  • Ifyesdo says:

    And everything looks more inspirational when you use the papyrus font too!

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