Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finding Meaning in the Gospels

What is the meaning of the gospels? I mean, why was it important to save these pieces of literature exactly? Is it to find the problems within the stories - to find the 'matching pieces' or the 'not so matching pieces'? Should I hang their validity on another's doubts about the claims?

I am not here to defend the gospels - they don't really need it. But I am writing to support what they do stand for - that is the values they teach and the meaning within them for 'life'. The gospels don't seem to be history books (or there would be more history in them). The gospels don't seem to be philosophy books (or there would be longer debates on ethics). The gospels don't seem to be pure mythology (or there would be fantastic creatures to think about besides humans). They seem to be just plain old theological texts (humans and understanding God).

Maybe it's nieve of me to think this but I think those gospels are about developing a better stance with humans via God - and this is placed squarely in the teachings (finding values, truths, and spirituality) we can read and live. The gospel is an idea about living the things we are taught and not much more beyond that. We learn in those teachings values about what God places value upon (or doesn't) - and that we should seek out those same things. It's a long process of life experience that happens while in the midst of the teachings (continual and has no end). We learn, we challenge, we live, we change. If there is a need for a heaven it is because this process never ends. The challenge is always to try to find God in the daily living experience.

People can deny their faith based on intellect alone but that does little to change the meaning of the writings, nor should it. The writings most plainly exist for humanity to experience the values of God and in these we find a whole hoarde of ideals: comfort, compassion, hope, faith, love, ways to deal with pain/hurt, contentness, acceptance, fulfillment, etc...none of the which are isolated alone to mere intellect. In these teachings I see the embrace of humanity one with another for the betterment of society around them (and within them). I see a value system that meets and greets you as an equal partner in the journey - that journey for the way, the truth, and fuller meaning to life. Examines all parts of the human journey and does so in connection human to human in light of God's words.

And this I saw in the gospels, a way of living that doesn't make light of human life, nor forgets it's roots are in something bigger than I can hold. When I think I have all the answers to life I soon realize it's not all about me - and I don't. How can I be so sure of myself while another's life breaks into pieces? In the middle of that connection, human to human, I see the embrace of the gospel message - 'love that person, do good to the people that haven't seen it yet'. If I look deep inside myself I see that same person - broken and afflicted, lonely and hurt, sometimes alone. There is something very compassionate about teachings that tell us 'to love our 'supposed' enemies' and 'do unto the least of these' - I think in that we look ourselves square in the eyes - and the pains we want healed can be.

But if you never see these things within the gospel and have some self-centered view of this book (or it has to meet so and so standard) - then you missed the miraculous part. You went looking for water to turn to wine when all you needed to see was a stranger's heart-beat at the first sign of hope. You wanted to see angelic visions when all you needed was to open your eyes to your child's smile. You wanted to see a stone move but a stone isn't what's causing the addict all their pain. And you think the miracle of the gospel is dead. There is better news waiting in your next handshake than in your next blog.


Anonymous said...

Your handshake must be really terrific because this is an excellent blog!:0) It's what we live that counts.


chris said...

This is one of the most thoughtful a eloquent post you have done. Great job!

SocietyVs said...

Pam, thanks for the comment and I am known for a very firm handshake (lol).

Chris, dude...you rock and I hope the knee surgery went well. Hoping the best for ya.

Jim Jordan said...

Excellent exegesis on what it means to be a follower of the gospel today. An edifying article and the last paragraph is priceless. Thanks for writing it.

SocietyVs said...

I got some new ideas for writing some new topics on biblical criticism - which I will unveil soon.

the_burning_bush said...

"If I look deep inside myself I see that same person - broken and afflicted, lonely and hurt, sometimes alone." Svs


Here's my answer:

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."
John 20:30-31