An Aboriginal Mental Challenge: Can You Read Without Preconceptions?

2021-02-27 G.K.ChestertonG.K Chesterton is the source for today’s blog: a challenge to do some mental gymnastics to discover something we may have been missing.  In his 1925 philosophical tome, The Everlasting Man, the “prince of paradox” presents an interesting challenge: to read a Bible story from an aboriginal mindset.  You see, we have Christmas and Easter, jewelry and architecture, names of streets, cities and buildings and so many myriad additional references in our world to that unique man, Jesus, that it is difficult to imagine anyone anywhere in our global community that does not know something about Jesus.  And depending on the source of that something, our views of Jesus have been significantly shaped by the introductions we have been given, whether from a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, friend, enemy, or Christian/anti-Christian teaching.  And Chesterton contends that much of our view, even in the “Christian west” is significantly distorted.

So I wish to challenge you, as Chesterton has challenged me, to do some mental exercising.  Set your mind as though you have never heard of Jesus, a Christian church, or anything “christian.”  Pretend for this exercise that your only exposure to the divine has been the thunderous clouds that bring rain and frightening lightning; a starry sky at night and the warm and sometimes burning heat of the sun at day; the long graceful hop of a wallaby or neck of a giraffe; the worrisome growl of a bear or roar of a lion; a baby’s sweet coo and cry and the caress of your beloved.

Begin by beguiling your brain into thinking you have never received a Christmas gift or hunted an Easter egg or walked on Christchurch Avenue or stood in front of the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral.  You have never heard of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul or John.  Equally, you have never heard of Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Rama or Krishna or Zoroaster.   Add to that, you have never been concerned with politics, social structure or economics; no Communists, Conservatives, Democrats, Greens, Liberals, Republicans, Socialists, Tories or any other ideology for guidance of a nation.

This is a difficult mental exercise, but I encourage you, that it is not impossible.  Settle in your mind that you have never been taught anything about any god or history of creation, whether theism or atheistic evolution.  You have never worried about issues of government or society.  Your mind has been focused all these years on eating and drinking to stay alive and whatever day-to-day activities were required to survive, be at peace, avoid enemies and enjoy your time on earth.

Now, with this mindset, approach a new short book someone has brought you.  Its title is very short, just four letters, L-u-k-e.  If you can find it in its original formatting, without chapter and verse numbers, all the better.  (Chapters and verses were added centuries later to make research and memorization easier.)

However, it is available at a website where you can look up your language in which to read it.  If English is your native language, I encourage you to use the ESV noted in the website connection.  If another language is your “heart language,” feel free to try to find it under the ALL tab when you pull down the languages from the little arrow by the default version that opened.
So sorry, Mongolian is not on the list . . . yet.  But Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog and LOTS of others are there.
Any Gujariti readers here? 😉

2021-02-27 Biblegateway

Now that you have emptied your mind of any preconceptions about this little story, begin with Luke’s introduction to his narrative for his friend, Theophilus.  Read the short biography at a single sitting if you can; in your heart language it should not take much more than 90 to 120 minutes .  Remember, you have never heard of these people, Luke, Herod, Elizabeth, Martha or Jesus before.  Your entire impression of these people will come from your reading this for the first time!

You may want to have a pencil and paper handy, and note what you discover about some of the characters introduced to you for the first time.  Questions are sure to come up, as we begin with no information on the culture or history of these people and events; Why did He say THAT!?  Why did she do that!?  Why was He so rude?  Why did that confuse them?  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be meek and mild? Aha, you’ve slipped from the aboriginal mindset and are remembering something you’ve heard.  Try again! 😁

If you want to dialog about your questions, email me (capost3k@gmail.com) or comment here.  No guarantees I have any answers for you.  Either Tim Keller or Rick Warren wrote (but I cannot find the referemce), “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, you have to wonder if he knows all the questions.”   (Similar to a Confucius quote.)

Here’s to hoping you have a good week and discover who Jesus really is.
Enjoy Peter Hollen’s and Home Free’s a-capella performance of Amazing Grace.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  C.S.Lewis

The Third Week of Sex – Lust vs. Temptation

This is distinctively a “guy article.”  The vast majority of women will not understand . . . cannot understand the nature of temptations to which a man is subject.  They are wired with “pink sunglasses and hearing aids” while we guys are wired with “blue ones” per Eggerich’s book referred to last week.  Of course, there are degrees of this, some women experiencing the same level of temptation from the same sources, but we are mostly different; not better or worse; equal, but not the same.  Equal, not in the sense that four equals two plus two, but equal in the sense of chocolate or caramel; both delicious, but different.

Devil Made Me Do It.jpgThere are three sources of temptation and none “make you do it,” as the comedian used to say, “The devil made me do it.”  No, I am afraid we must face it that“each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14)  However, the temptation may not originate with the self, as in Jesus’ case in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.  He was “led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

In other cases, temptation may come from without, but not necessarily from the devil to whom we often give too much credit.
 “There are six things that Yahweh hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
1) haughty eyes, 2) a lying tongue, and 3) hands that shed innocent blood,
4) a heart that devises wicked plans, 5) feet that make haste to run to evil,
6) a false witness who breathes out lies, and 7) one who sows discord among brothers.”
(Proverbs 6:16-19)  There is no demon mentioned in this passage which is couched between Solomon’s warnings about adultery and fornication. (See Proverbs 5-7.)  Rather, these are temptations that come from other sources in the world.  Granted it is a world corrupted by the evil one, but every detail of corruption is not to his credit nor blame.  He is neither that smart nor attentive to trivia.

World, Flesh and DevilThus, our three sources of temptation are the world, the flesh and the devil.  However, the crux of it is our human nature makes temptation tantalizing.  It is our lack of self-sufficiency, our need for outer sustenance, or our desire for physical human comfort that appeals to us and makes us susceptible.

This was true even of the God-Man, Jesus, who was God in human form; the Eternal Son of God, coequal with the Father and Holy Spirit, eternally pre-existent before the creation of the world, and through whom the world was created (Colossians 1:15-19; Philippians 2:5-8; John 1:1-3)  We will not go into the nature of the trinity (see June 4, 2018), but just note that Jesus was fully God and yet, fully human.  And the human side of Him could get hungry, needed to sleep, would wake with a hard-on, had human longings, could bleed and feel pain.

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)  This verse reveals three important things to remember about temptation:
1.  We are not alone when facing temptation!
2.  Temptation is conquerable!
3.  Temptation is NOT sin!

Not only did Jesus face the same temptations, every man you know, every man you see, every man who has ever lived has faced the same temptations that you and I face (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).  Bottom line is I am not that special!  And neither are you.  This is important to remember, especially in the context of sexual temptation, distinctively a “blue sunglasses” temptation.  Most guys feel special when a woman pays them attention.  Most women can be made to feel special by a guy’s attention, but a woman’s sexual temptation is different from a man’s.

However, it is only in the committed faithful relationship of a husband and wife that specialness is true.  It is when he said, “You are the only woman for me,” and when she responded, “You are the only man for me,” that each of them became truly special.  Any other “specialty” is a certain road to Sheol (Proverbs 5:5).

No matter what the source of temptation, internal or external, the battle is finally fought in one’s own heart and mind.  This puts it within the range of victory!  The truth is that it is up to me if I am willing to be suckered into believing a decoy for joy.  It is also up to me to reject the artificial for the real.

The hardest part for most men to discern is when temptation becomes sin.  The old adage is, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your tree, but you can stop it from building a nest!”  Most of us will feel guilt over the fact that we feel temptation, but this is a misplaced sense of fault.  Only you can tell when you have stepped across that invisible line into letting the bird start his nest, but there is no need to feel guilty about it flying overhead.

Temptation of JesusRemember even Jesus felt temptation!  He really was hungry when Lucifer invited Him to short-circuit His redemptive path and turn rocks into bread; haven’t you and I lusted after a donut or piece of pie that we thought would satisfy?  Jesus really wanted to show the world that He could do us all good; all He had to do was jump from the Temple’s top and everyone would believe in His miraculous power, right?  Jesus reeeeeally wanted to rule with justice, mercy and grace; and what a wonderful benevolent Master He would be!  All He had to do was worship the “prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2)

But in each temptation there was a deception that Jesus called out.  And in every temptation we face there is a hidden lie that the world, our flesh or the devil will try to hide.  If we can identify the bald-faced lie this will remove the temptation’s power.  “That donut really will not add that many calories; that money will not be missed by a big corporation; that woman/man would be so nice to be close to; no one will know about this porn.”  But the temptation is NOT sin!  It is the yielding to it that is.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)  Mercy is not getting what we deserve; grace is getting what we do not deserve.