Updated: Jan 27
A couple of days ago I did a search of the core values of Christianity. As expected, there was a list of good things to do, each with a quote from Jesus to give it support. Things like forgive others, love everyone, take a vow of poverty, turn the other cheek, and things like that. Since it was the core values of Christ-ianity, it was a very New Testament list.
The only Old Testament rule on the list was always love God. Nothing was there recommending a Christian should always have God with you when you rush an enemy’s camp, killing everyone who is a heathen and trying to kill you. Nothing like always cut the head off the giant you knock down with a stone from a sling-shot, so he doesn’t come to and get back up. There was nothing about fighting to defend your beliefs.
There certainly is nothing wrong with following a list of core values of Christianity, if you can actually live up to them. However, if you spend every day telling everyone you love them, even the ones stealing your wallet and identity, planning on ruining the credit you used to have, before you gave up worldly possessions, then if the collections guy finds you and slaps you around, trying to take your coat off your back, remember not to hit back as you give him your coat and gloves.
It seems to me that people mistake the New Testament as a Replacement Agreement. At the same time they read “Old Testament” and think “old” means last year’s model, like those books are as worthless as a 2010 I-phone.
When Jesus walked the earth, HE was the new covenant sent by God to be written on our hearts. Nothing was written about him at that time. So, when the young rich man asked Jesus, “How can I be sure I will go to heaven?” The first thing Jesus said was, “You know there’s the Law?” The rich young man got excited, saying, “Man, I’ve been following the Law my whole life.” It was then Jesus said, “Good!” Of course he also added, “Now if you really want to get to heaven, sell your possessions, give the profits to the poor and do as I do.”
You will notice, not once did Jesus answer the rich man by asking him to get a pencil and paper to take notes. Jesus never said, “Forget the Old Testament. That will just get you fired up and make you want to go slay someone. Do this instead: 1. ______, 2. ______, …”. No list handed out by Jesus. Just in the four Gospels alone, there are way too many “core values” to list and then check-off every day, just to be sure one actually qualifies as being Christian.
This is how Jewish people set the table for the Passover Seder meal.
When Jesus gave his disciples the bread and said, “Eat this symbolically, as a way to remember me,” he was saying, “This bread is like the Holy documents that are the Old Testament, and any other new documents you guys may write too. You can digest those words and find reason to believe it was prophesied I would come.” To be Christian, you have to actually discuss the Holy Bible. You have to chew on the words, because they are unleavened and flat. You have to work to make them soften and rise inside your body. They have to nourish you.
Jesus then gave his disciples the wine and said, “This wine is symbolic of the new covenant I bring, which will be written on your hearts. Whenever you drink this, remember me.” Jesus meant, “Wine does not need to go through the intestinal system to start making you feel different. It comes quick and alters your state of being. It makes you do things you ordinarily would not do. Like that, I will send you a different kind of “spirits,” of the holy variety, and you can remember my deeds when they become yours.”
So, all the things that are listed in the “core values of Christianity” can only be accomplished by people high on the Holy Spirit, acting like Jesus. That is because, like Jesus, one possessed by the Holy Spirit is with the Father and the Father is with that one, in spirit. To get to that point, one has to spend some serious time pouring over the stories of the Old Testament, comparing notes with the New Testament. After your mouth has worked itself tired from chewing, and your tongue is dry from the bread soaking up all your saliva, then let the wine pour.
You will find that if you have not cleared the space around you, and if you have not slain a few demons trying to block your path, and if you have not made your space safe so you can begin to learn your faith well enough to defend it, without notes and cheat sheets, then you will always find yourself way too distracted to ever do anything on the “do good” list.
Always remember that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before he began to work miracles; and it was during that time he was tested by Satan. Jesus told Satan like it was. He said, “You’re blocking my view of God. Get behind me or get lost.” That same attitude should be number one on any list of core values for being Christian.
R. T. Tippett.
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