By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

This is a companion blog to Heal Our Church and The Bible Through Artists’ Eyes.  Each of these blogs seeks to heal the divisions at various levels of the organized church, specifically, and divisions among people of different religions or of no profession of religious belief, generally.

This blog is based upon a Sunday School study I had prepared for our local church but was not presented.  In the study, I do not justify or condemn any of the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transexual) community.  Instead, I address positions that various “Christian” groups have taken on the subject and their claims of scriptural support.  We will also examine what it means to “love and do not judge.”  I am a United Methodist and even Methodism is conflicted about how to treat the GLBT community. I may ask questions concerning any position, but I will seek to fairly represent each.

As to judgment of the issues, I ask several questions: How much are we in a position to judge another’s actions? another’s claimed sexual orientation?  As to those who say “love the person, hate the sin,” I ask, “Can you do both well at the same time?”  How can we know what is good and right from what is bad and wrong?  Is it my job to judge what is right or wrong for another person if what that person is doing has no impact upon me?

Most of all, I want to embasize that we all have sacred worth.  I ant to celebrate that.  If you have personal stories relating to the subjects raised, would you kindly share them?  I want to avoid “alienating objectification,” platitudes and superficial judgment of these issues that affect real people.

The overarching theme of this blog will be, like its related blogs, the principle Jesus taught: “By their fruits you will know them.”  What better expression of such good fruits than through the eyes of Vincent Van Gogh?”

The Good Samaritan VINCENT VAN GOGH

Source: http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vangogh/vangogh56.html.  What interests me most about this painting is that the outcast, the Samaritan, is aiding the man, the Jew, who was badly beaten and left at the side of the road, whereas the religious leaders are retreating into the background.  It demonstrates in the concrete what it means to be a good neighbor.

As a United Methodist I note that a large number of retired bishops have signed a statement seeking to strike anti-GLBT language from the Book of Discipline, which is much like a constitution in other organizations.   whereas there support for inclusion of all people is welcoming, yet nonetheless disturbs me that more active bishops aren’t also advocating change.  You may see their recent statement at http://www.rmnetwork.org/act-now/take-action-form/letter-to-the-bishop/#signatures.

In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that “when the Son of Man comes in his glory,” those who loved their neighbor in tangible ways, fed the hungry, comforted those who were hurting or visited those in prison are invited “into the Kingdom to receive your just reward”.  In that passage, the reward of the kingdom was available to everyone who bore good fruits, regardless of religion, orientation, nation or clan. Non-Christians, whether self-proclaimed agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, or “whatever,” you are also welcome to visit and share your own experiences of the divine, of the ineffable and of accountability, forgiveness and reconciliation.

I highly recommend Religious Tolerance, at http://www.religioustolerance.org/, as a phenomenal resource of a wide range of religious topics ranging from theistic to atheistic, Western religions to the most remote. It is exceptionally well-organized and well-written. In the language of its own welcome:
<blockquote>We welcome evangelicals, secularists, religious conservatives, religious liberals, Deists, Wiccans, other Pagans, progressives, animists, theists, fundamentalists, Atheists, polytheists, humanists, Agnostics, etc.</blockquote>

So, welcome to our fruits.  We hope you find them nourishing.  If you wish to bring your own fruit to share, we would be honored and blessed.

Wishing you the blessings of peace and love,

Robert Wheeler

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By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

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