Clearly Jesus didn’t come to be our thought police.
It seems too many people (I was included) seem to take Jesus with a great deal of fear for doing something wrong, because not only is He telling us how to behave, now He’s telling us how to think, too, and if our thinking is wrong we’re going to go to hell. Therefore, we have Jesus holding us to standards we neither know how to achieve nor can we escape them. It finally occurred to me, if that what Jesus came to do, then He’s basically just an ogre, grown out of “Old Testament” thinking … that now Jesus is going to get you not just for how you behave, but HOW YOU THINK!! :eek: To me, that sound like the “Bad News,” like it’s just OT on steroids.
But far be it from that, Jesus had a different plan. The reason He came was as our thought COACH, not thought POLICE. He knew that the difference between dualistic thinking which was the only kind of thinking going on at the time w.r.t. religion until Jesus changed it, was not capable of attaining the right “attitudes” to be brought to heaven, even with dogmatic following of the Law.
So it’s really quite the opposite. Jesus didn’t come to be a “strong man,” as much as He came to show us how to defeat the Strong Man of a poor attitude, so we could fill the newly cleared out wineskins, with new wine. The beatitudes are our roadmap to having the right mentality.
Example: When Jesus said that anger against a brother is tantamount to killing the brother, He wasn’t saying those were equivalent actions. Nor was He saying that as long as we think it we might as well do it. The problem lies not in the action itself, but in the mind willing and desirous to do it and modern science can back it up. The brain wave patterns that we undergo wishing someone were dead, are similar by empathy to that of a person actually planning it. That’s how the human mind works, and this is why Jesus said what He said. He was trying to show us a mental state called “the kingdom” which is wonderful and captivating, and He knows we’re not going to get there unless we have reconciled our selves (mentally – physically is optional and conditional) with those with whom we differ.
And again, what about not coming to the altar to present gifts (or take Communion) when we have something against a brother? I’ve heard people bad mouth a brother before and after Mass without missing a beat. Then they take Communion as if it were just any old piece of bread because God can’t work miracles in a mind that is shut off to Him. And we wonder why our lives are empty? Why doesn’t God answer our prayers? Well, he sent a coach in person with a followup coach after Jesus died, to explain to us to get our heads our of our derrieres and quit judging and hating each other. And once having judged, apply forgiveness. We should stand on His advice and trust He really is the Way, the Truth, and the LIght.
It’s not about a “cheap behavior contest” or an “exit plan for the next world.” Jesus came to bring us into His kingdom, which is here and now just for the taking … but you have to ask for it not just by request but by doing what it takes to achieve and maintain a receptive mind. Listening to (not always trying to figure it out but just let it sink in) the Word is a good part of it. Jesus came to show us how to live with the fruit of the spirit, right where we are, given WHATEVER station we have in life.
More examples. He didn’t tell slaves to obey masters because it was right for them to be slaves. He told them that because He’s showing them that they don’t have to suffer mental polluted thinking just because they are in an undesirable situation. He was not here to force the hand of those in charges, but to minister to the underlings so they could grow a new mentality. In another example, He didn’t call the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” because they wanted to see righteous behavior done on the outside, but so that they would understand that the outward behavior in not the deal-maker. Matt 23:23 sums it up rather nicely:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others."
So he accused them of tithing, which He told them not to stop, but to get their merciful minds in order. Note what else He said they have done, in subsequent passages: they clean the dish like they are supposed to, appear beautiful, build and adorn tombs of the righteous. All good things, but nothing without love (1 Cor 13)
So what? Are we a-scared of Jesus because He’s reading and judging our thoughts, or are we comforted by Jesus because, fully knowing how we think, gives us the medicine we need for our minds and hearts to be healed?