Am I Living for Jesus or Just Myself?
A guy asked me whether I am living for Jesus or just myself. Whoa, hey, pal. Are ya looking for candidates for the Inquisition or something? Let's just take this all down a notch or two so we can discuss this without overly offending me. Let's change the question. Let's change it to... "Do I eat fish, or do I prefer to eat nothing?" In other words, let's do what Jesus would do and tell a parable.
There was a man named Moishe who liked to eat fish, but he did not like to eat meat. Almost all of the other people liked to eat meat, but not him. He only liked fish. One day his neighbor, Yitzchak, the kosher butcher, (if this was Jesus' story, most likely the characters would be Jewish) said, "Moishe, why don't you eat meat? All my other neighbors are in my butcher shop every day, but not you. Don't you think meat is good food?"
"I think meat is okay for other people, Yitzchak," said Moishe. "But I like fish. Fish makes me strong and healthy, and I am living a good life."
"But like ninety percent of everyone else likes meat," said Yitzchak, getting a little annoyed. "Why do you have to be an outsider?"
"That is okay for them, but not for me," replied Moishe. "Whereas I am on the outside of those who eat meat, I am on the inside with those who prefer fish."
"But how can you live without eating meat?" demanded Yitzchak, stamping his foot.
"One does not need to eat meat to live," shrugged Moishe. "One needs to eat food, but that food does not have to be meat."
Now, if Jesus was trying to make this point and not me, he would say something like, "As it is with the body, so it is with the spirit. Let no one tell you what is good for the body. Your Heavenly Father has seen to it that your body will tell you that. Let no one tell you what is good for the spirit, for likewise your Heavenly Father has assured that your spirit will tell you that. If God has seen to it that your body, that is temporary, knows what is good for it, how much more will he have seen to it that your spirit, that is eternal, knows as much?"
"But, Teacher," Thomas would probably say, upset and confused. (I never met a Jew named 'Thomas', actually.) "People eat the wrong foods all the time. They become obese, or their arteries get clogged with cholesterol, or they get diabetes."
"You of little faith!" Jesus might reply. "Let those with ears listen! Truly I say, those who arf down Big Macs, Whoppers, and super size fries will lay abed with tubes jammed up their noses. They see the fat hanging from their arms and belly and pretend it isn't there, and each footstep is a burden, yet they do not hear the message that their body is trying to tell them. When the spirit is fed on hate, spite, and judgment of others, so, also, each step becomes a burden, and life a barren trail through the empty wilderness."
Peter might then say, "Christ! Andrew says the Romans are coming."
To which Jesus might reply, "Okay, let us depart then unto Hebron, to the place they call Beth El, and there observe the Sabbath." And a great multitude followed them unto Beth El, etc.
In the Jewish religion we would call this a Midrash, that is, a story based on the original religious text that tries to clarify a point that isn't really made clear therein. With a Midrash, you have to bear in mind that it was some rabbi who wrote it, not the original writer of the text. Please regard this one the same way. We all know Jesus didn't say any of this stuff and I'm not saying he did. Also I am a long way from anything resembling a rabbi.
Back in Jesus' time, it seems, they still felt the need to give God a gender, though what an eternal being with no need to reproduce might need with a gender, I don't know.
Okay, end of disclaimers.
Looking forward to your comments.