Can the church make you more like Jesus?

"Resemblance to Jesus" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Resemblance to Jesus” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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We’ve known amazing people in the church. We’ve known terrible people in the church. I think, like anything, the church can be a useful instrument for change. Either way. Good or bad.

My guess is that people are in the church as they are and religion is used as a kind of cloak for that. Religion, usually, is a superficial treatment that doesn’t reach down to the core of our being to affect true and total transformation.

I think religion can assist us in that. But few allow it to.

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11 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    Good question, David. Does Religion … does it reach to the core of my being?

    As a believer, I do see God as a welcoming Heavenly Father figure. He gives mercy and forgiveness. The Bible’s analogy is that mercy and forgiveness ‘cover us’ like a shining robe. Fair enough.

    However, the core of the person, imo, just does not change. They are under that shining robe. They are still them.

    For example, I was raised to be a military-minded person. A young officer, so to speak, by the time I was 16. My personality grew in that direction. After all, I was the only son of a military career man.

    When I became a Christian at the end of 8th grade, I went on to memorize books of the Bible. And… interestingly… I learned all the verses on adventure, full commitment, overcoming, fighting, and submitting to authority. Much later, I ‘discovered’ a bunch of verses on healing the wounded.

    [I have become hard on many ideas, and soft on many people. Which has been difficult for some to accept, and I understand that.]

    My lovely spouse was raised in the church. However, she had a deep fear in her personality. We met in her church. We memorized the same books of the Bible. The. Same. Books.

    To this day, I remember all the verses on adventure, full-commitment, fighting, etc.

    My spouse remembers all the verses on protection, being safe, God will call others to the mission, and submitting by never speaking against God’s authority.

    We are approaching 60 years of age… and we have never changed in the core of our being.

    I think the Bible got it right in its analogy…. we are covered. We do not really change under that cover. However, we find (over time), a need to balance…. a need to make room for others that are different…

    and Caryn suddenly ‘discovers’ new verses that meet Caryn’s need for some ‘balance’…. and Caryn helps the wounded rather than just destroys….

    and … and Bonnie learns to make room for others to have adventure… and may choose to participate in a safer manner in safer ways….

    The core of the person does not change, in my opinion and experience. However, they can learn balance when they need to learn it… and having the ‘heavy’ of ‘God’s Word’ saying it is OK to ‘renew your mind’ and ‘transform’ gives us the ‘noble excuse’ we need.

  2. Thanks for sharing that Caryn. That problem has vexed us for centuries: If we die to self, who is it that kills us; who is it who dies; and who is it who remains?

  3. Bernardo says:

    And then there is birth, living, dying and being recycled in one of the great results of evolution, humankind.

  4. Ducatihero says:

    Yes, I think the apostle Paul would agree. Religion, people both can have good or bad, depending on the extent of resemblance to Jesus. Of course according to British values religion includes no religion so there is good and bad in atheism too.

    Caryn, what I hear you talk of is partnering in both adventure and safety with balance with God as a welcoming fatherly figure.

    I can only talk of what it has been like to die to self for me. What I have experienced is the letting go of the “me” god. By not making it about me but Jesus I find that paradoxically I have become more of my true self, letting go of a false self due to social programming and over identification with any particular group. As a seed that has to die in order for fruit to grow.

  5. Caryn LeMur says:

    Bernardo: nope. I will be embalmed. No recycling for me.

    However, I do hear that some people like that idea… and do the crematorium thing… and survivors scatter their ashes in the nearby forests… and we harvest the wood… and burn it.

    I guess that is the new Green Thing to do with humankind…. maybe it will lead to new labels in the Farm Store:

    “This fertilizer is 10-30-10, with ash from local woods certified free of human remains”.

  6. Caryn LeMur says:

    Ducati: I like what you wrote. Well said.

    Cheers! Caryn

  7. Ducatihero says:

    Thank you you for your support Caryn.

  8. Melody says:

    This idea of religion in some ways having to be able to solve everything, including character flaws, sounds so promising but often fails to deliver. It’s interesting because so many of the songs also point to this: Lord change me, fill me up again, light the fire again… It all shows that whatever happens as far as change is concerned, it often doesn’t last that long. Change eventually has to come from within, not without. Religion can help but in the end you still have to be the one to actually do it. It can serve as support, not as a magic wand.

  9. I agree Melody. Religion can be a useful tool. Like Buddha’s raft.

  10. Melody says:

    David, just googled Buddha’s raft again,I’d forgotten the clue… It also makes me think of Jesus’ saying: the sabbath made for man and not the other way around. Relgion and it’s rules as a tool, rather than a straight-jacket. In many ways Jesus was deconstructing and rebuilding faith as well 🙂