sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2015

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS


The Samaritan woman said to him,
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

John 4:9 (read 4.5-42) - NIV

 

Jesus often went against the cultural norms of his day. A good Jew would never speak with a woman in public, much less a pagan woman or a woman of questionable character. It would also be very humiliating for a man to show any dependence by asking a favor from a woman. But for Jesus, fellow human beings were more important than any social norm. Complying with culture norms can erect barriers and make victims.

For Jesus, there was a big difference between keeping a good reputation and relating to people according to their needs. He risked his reputation in order to be able to reach those in need. The welfare of the Samaritan woman was more important than his reputation.

Many Christians are overly concerned about what others may think about them. They think that to "give good testimony" is to do what others expect of them and act within good social standards. They try to move in accepted social circles and cultivate friendships with the “right” people.

Another striking aspect of Jesus was his humility. He never showed moral superiority. He never demanded moral conduct as being a condition for relationship. To the consternation of many "good" people Jesus associated with sinners and disreputable people. He often hung out with the wrong crowd.

The Samaritan woman was a conjugal failure. She was into her sixth relationship. She was an outcast and avoided other women by fetching water at the well in the heat of the noonday sun when all the other women were at home. She had lovers, but no friends. Who would be her friend? If it were not for Jesus, no one!

Cities are places of solitude. Millions of people live in solitude, homeless, unemployed, in poor health, underfed and inadequately educated. They are condemned to depend on charity and work for insufficient salaries that keep them in misery. The poor are exploited and prevented from escaping from their poverty. They are judged to be lazy and a burden to society. Poverty is criminalized rather than alleviated. The Samaritan woman represents this growing multitude of men, women, children and elderly people in a world of increasing violence and injustice.

The Samaritan woman was lucky. Jesus broke the barriers and reached her before it was too late. He restored the joy of living.

Are we like the disciples, looking on and letting our prejudices stand in the way? Or will we gain the courage to leave our prejudices and reach out to today’s Samaritans? Will we break social barriers and reach out in love?

 

JOHN 4:5-42 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Many Samaritans Believe

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

domingo, 25 de janeiro de 2015

NASCIDOS DO VENTO


O vento sopra onde quer,
e ouve-se o barulho que ele faz,
mas não se sabe de onde ele vem,
nem para onde vai.
A mesma coisa acontece com todos
os que nascem do Espírito.

João 3.8 (leia 3.1-17) – NTLH

 

Nicodemos, sem saber, estava amarrado, preso pela tradição. Era líder religioso e bem instruído dentro dos conceitos da sua seita. Certamente era zeloso e sincero. Tinha raízes, mas não asas. Queria voar. Alguma força o impulsionou a procurar Jesus. Jesus, na sua sensitividade e percepção espiritual, compreendeu a inquietação de Nicodemos e foi direto ao assunto: “Nicodemos, você precisa sair de novo do útero”.

Pegado de surpresa, espantado, Nicodemos exclamou: –Como? Já nasci uma vez! Como nascer de novo?

Jesus explicou que há diversos jeitos de nascer. Além do nascer do ventre da mãe é possível nascer do *vento de Deus. O vento é livre para soprar onde quer. É misterioso: pode ser sentido e ouvido, mas não sabemos de onde vem, nem para onde vai. Sendo nascido do vento, pode voar até lugares inimagináveis!...

Em outras palavras Jesus estava dizendo: –Nicodemos, você já saiu do ventre materno para poder crescer e tornar-se adulto, mas está “preso em outro útero”, a lei da sua religião. Para tornar-se filho de Deus, você precisa romper os limites que as regras impõem e nascer do vento (espírito) libertador de Deus.

O útero é indispensável para a nossa vida! Sem o ventre do corpo feminino, nenhum de nós teria chegado a ser um ser humano. Ninguém nasce sem mãe. Embora essencial, a barriga materna não é um lugar de permanência, é necessário sair para continuar viver. Nascer é ser expulso da mãe e cortar o cordão umbilical. A finalidade da religião é servir de “útero” para a formação da nossa fé, não ser veículo para nos levar para o céu (salvação). Deve dar condições para sair da dependência materna e ter autonomia para viver sem ela. Mães possessivas estragam seus filhos. Igrejas possessivas geram crentes mimados, submissos e dependentes. Nascendo do espírito, Nicodemos podia superar as limitações do seu útero espiritual.

Nenhum sistema religioso possui toda a verdade e consegue atender a humanidade em todas as dimensões. Dentro dos nossos sistemas fechados o movimento do espírito é muito limitado. Precisamos instalar ventiladores, gerar uma brisa artificial...

O vento sopra em lugares abertos. Não pode ser confinado. Sua natureza é ser livre. Ser nascido do espírito é ser livre. É ultrapassar barreiras. É andar pelo mundo, atravessando fronteiras, montanhas e oceanos. Quem é nascido do espírito pode voar nas asas do vento e fazer a sua presença sentida no mundo. Não é confinado dentro de um sistema fechado de dogmas e leis.

Jesus convidou Nicodemos para romper as barreiras do seu útero espiritual e acompanhá-lo em uma nova aventura de fé. Este convite é universal e perene. Nós também somos convidados a nascermos do vento divino e sermos mensageiros do amor de Deus ao mundo!...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* No texto grego, vento e espírito são a mesma palavra.

 

João 3:1-17 – Nova Traduҫão na Linguagem de Hoje 2000 (NTLH)

JESUS E NICODEMOS

Havia um fariseu chamado Nicodemos, que era líder dos judeus. Uma noite ele foi visitar Jesus e disse:

— Rabi, nós sabemos que o senhor é um mestre que Deus enviou, pois ninguém pode fazer esses milagres se Deus não estiver com ele.

Jesus respondeu:

— Eu afirmo ao senhor que isto é verdade: ninguém pode ver o Reino de Deus se não nascer de novo.

Nicodemos perguntou:

— Como é que um homem velho pode nascer de novo? Será que ele pode voltar para a barriga da sua mãe e nascer outra vez?

Jesus disse:

— Eu afirmo ao senhor que isto é verdade: ninguém pode entrar no Reino de Deus se não nascer da água e do Espírito. Quem nasce de pais humanos é um ser de natureza humana; quem nasce do Espírito é um ser de natureza espiritual. Por isso não fique admirado porque eu disse que todos vocês precisam nascer de novo. O vento sopra onde quer, e ouve-se o barulho que ele faz, mas não se sabe de onde ele vem, nem para onde vai. A mesma coisa acontece com todos os que nascem do Espírito.

— Como pode ser isso? — perguntou Nicodemos.

Jesus respondeu:

— O senhor é professor do povo de Israel e não entende isso? Pois eu afirmo ao senhor que isto é verdade: nós falamos daquilo que sabemos e contamos o que temos visto, mas vocês não querem aceitar a nossa mensagem. Se vocês não creem quando falo das coisas deste mundo, como vão crer se eu falar das coisas do céu? Ninguém subiu ao céu, a não ser o Filho do Homem, que desceu do céu.

— Assim como Moisés, no deserto, levantou a cobra de bronze numa estaca, assim também o Filho do Homem tem de ser levantado, para que todos os que crerem nele tenham a vida eterna. Porque Deus amou o mundo tanto, que deu o seu único Filho, para que todo aquele que nele crer não morra, mas tenha a vida eterna. Pois Deus mandou o seu Filho para salvar o mundo e não para julgá-lo.

sexta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2015

BORN OF THE WIND


The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where
it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8 (read 3:1-17 below) - NIV

 

Nicodemus unknowingly was tied up to and bound by tradition. He was a religious leader and very well educated within the concepts of his sect. He certainly was zealous and sincere. He had roots but no wings. He wanted to fly. Some force propelled him to seek Jesus, and Jesus, in his sensitivity and spiritual insight, understood the concern of Nicodemus and went straight to the point: Nicodemus was told the he must get out of the womb.

Surprised and amazed, Nicodemus said, “How? I was born once! How can I be born again?”

Jesus explained that there are many ways to be born. In addition to physical birth from a mother's womb, one can be born of the Wind* (Spirit) of God. The wind is free to blow wherever it wills. It is mysterious: it can be felt and heard, but we do not know from where it comes or to where it goes. By being born of the Wind, we can fly to unimaginable places!

In other words Jesus was saying “Nicodemus, you have you left your mother’s womb of in order to be able to grow up and become an adult, but you are stuck in another womb, the law of your religion. To become a child of God, you need to break the limits that that womb imposes on you and be born of the Wind (Spirit) of God.”

The uterus is essential for our life. Without the female body none of us would be here today. No one is born without a mother. Although essential, the uterus is not a place of permanent residence, we must get out of it in order to continue to live and grow. Physical birth is the process of being expelled from the body of the mother and cutting the umbilical cord. The same can be said of churches. They can serve as "wombs" for the formation of our faith, but we must go beyond them in order to have spiritual maturity. They should give us a start, but we must not become dependent of them. Possessive mothers spoil their children. Possessive churches generate spoiled, submissive and dependent believers. By being born of the Spirit, Nicodemus could overcome the limitations of his spiritual womb.

No religious system has the whole truth and is able serve humanity in all dimensions. Within our closed institutional systems the movement of the Spirit is very limited, and the most we can do is create artificial breezes with our human made fans.

The real wind blows outdoors and cannot be confined. Its nature is to be free. To be born of the Spirit is to be free to overcome barriers, cross national borders, climb mountains, span oceans and sweep through the whole Earth. Those who are born of the Spirit can fly on the wings of the wind and make their presence felt around the Earth. They are not confined within a closed system of dogmas and laws.

Jesus invited Nicodemus to break the barriers of his spiritual womb and accompany him on a new venture of faith. This call is universal and perennial. We are also invited to be born of the Divine Wind and be messengers of God's love to all on Earth.

-----------------------------------

*In the Greek text, wind and spirit are the same word.

 

John 3:1-17 – New International Version (NIV)

JESUS TEACHES NICODEMUS

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

domingo, 18 de janeiro de 2015

A GRANDE FESTA DE VINHO


Jesus fez esse seu primeiro milagre
em Caná da Galiléia.
Assim ele revelou a sua natureza divina,
e os seus discípulos creram nele.

João 2.11 (leia 2.1-11) – NTLH

 

Jesus não era um puritano austero como a igreja normalmente o retrata. O Jesus festeiro, alegre, sorridente, com copo de vinho na mão, bebendo com os amigos, incluindo os pecadores, raramente recebe atenção. Este foi o primeiro retrato que o Evangelho de João fez de Jesus. O primeiro milagre que João retratou foi salvar uma festa de casamento em Caná da Galiléia!... Transformou água em vinho para alegrar os corações dos participantes. O noivo estava passando vergonha porque o vinho havia acabado. Jesus salvou e alegrou a festa com a “fabricação” de uma quantidade grande de vinho (entre 480 e 720 litros)! A cidade ficou conhecida como o lugar onde Jesus havia transformado água em vinho (4,46). O ministério de Jesus no Evangelho de João começou e terminou com vinho. O último ato de Jesus, antes de morrer foi tomar vinho barato (19.29-30).

Os outros Evangelhos, também, retratam Jesus usando vinho, tomando-o socialmente com os “pecadores” e com os discípulos. Foi usado como símbolo do Reino do Papai e para representar o seu próprio sangue.

Jesus foi muito mais alegre e festivo do que as igrejas geralmente o retratam. Para chegar até nós, a história de Jesus passou por duas traduções lingüísticas: do aramaico para o grego e do grego para o português. Perdemos “as jogadas” de palavras da língua original. O texto chega até nós, estéril do conteúdo humorístico. Os eruditos de lingüística conseguem captar lances de humor que deveriam ter deixado os ouvintes dando belas gargalhadas!...

Temos muita dificuldade em associar humor com a santidade e conceber um Deus brincalhão. Talvez uma das indicações que Deus tem um agudo senso de humor é a criação do ser humano. Ao ver as nossas “palhaçadas”, Ele (ou Ela) deveria estar “morrendo de rir”. Fazemos muitas coisas absurdas, dignas de provocar risadas. Ouvi dizer: “Não se brinca com coisas de Deus”.--Será que Deus não brinca? Não tem humor?

Associamos a piedade com solenidade e falta de humor. Ser brincalhão é considerado leviandade. É “mais santo” ser sério, fechado e exigente do que simpático, aberto e liberal! É usar Coca Cola e Guaraná em festas de igreja e proibir vinho. Mas, para Jesus, o convite ao Reino é convite à festa! Jesus foi criticado por curtir a vida até com pecadores. Mas, ao fazê-lo, Ele estava já vivendo o Reino.

João Wesley afirmou que a religião triste é religião do diabo. A medicina reconhece que o riso, a alegria e o espírito festivo fazem bem ao espírito e ao corpo. A alegria é milagre de Deus e Jesus passou esta alegria para os que o cercavam e estavam dispostos a recebê-la.

 

João 2:1-11 – Nova Traduҫão na Linguagem de Hoje 2000 (NTLH)

JESUS VAI A UM CASAMENTO

Dois dias depois, houve um casamento no povoado de Caná, na região da Galileia, e a mãe de Jesus estava ali. Jesus e os seus discípulos também tinham sido convidados para o casamento. Quando acabou o vinho, a mãe de Jesus lhe disse:

— O vinho acabou.

Jesus respondeu:

— Não é preciso que a senhora diga o que eu devo fazer. Ainda não chegou a minha hora.

Então ela disse aos empregados:

— Façam o que ele mandar.

Ali perto estavam seis potes de pedra; em cada um cabiam entre oitenta e cento e vinte litros de água. Os judeus usavam a água que guardavam nesses potes nas suas cerimônias de purificação. Jesus disse aos empregados:

— Encham de água estes potes.

E eles os encheram até a boca. Em seguida Jesus mandou:

— Agora tirem um pouco da água destes potes e levem ao dirigente da festa.

E eles levaram. Então o dirigente da festa provou a água, e a água tinha virado vinho. Ele não sabia de onde tinha vindo aquele vinho, mas os empregados sabiam. Por isso ele chamou o noivo e disse:

— Todos costumam servir primeiro o vinho bom e, depois que os convidados já beberam muito, servem o vinho comum. Mas você guardou até agora o melhor vinho.

Jesus fez esse seu primeiro milagre em Caná da Galileia. Assim ele revelou a sua natureza divina, e os seus discípulos creram nele.

sexta-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2015

THE GREAT WINE PARTY


What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee
was the first of the signs
through which he revealed his glory;
and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:11 (read 2:1-11) - NIV

 

The Jesus of the gospels was not the austere puritan like person that the church usually portrays. A cheerful, smiling, partying Jesus with goblet of wine in hand, drinking and laughing with his friends which included sinners, rarely gets attention. This was the first portrayal that the Gospel of John made of Jesus.

The first miracle that John described was Jesus saving a wedding party in Cana of Galilee! He transformed water into wine to gladden even more the hearts of the participants who were already a bit tipsy. The groom was greatly embarrassed that the wine had given out long before the end of the celebration, but Jesus saved the party and cheered the partyers by instantly making between 120 and 180 gallons of fine wine. The city became famous as the place where Jesus transformed water into wine (4.46). The ministry of Jesus in John's Gospel began and ended with wine. The last act of Jesus before he died was to take cheap wine on the cross (19.29-30).

The other gospels also portray Jesus as drinking wine with "sinners" and the disciples. He used wine as a symbol to represent his blood and described it as being part of the Kingdom.

The gospel Jesus was much more cheerful and festive than churches generally portray. To come down to us, the story of Jesus went through two language translations: from Aramaic to Greek and from Greek to English. Translation loses many plays on words (puns) of the original language. Because of that, the text comes to us sterile of humorous content. Linguistic scholars can capture bits of humor that should have left the listeners and the readers of that time roaring with laughter!

We have a hard time associating humor with holiness and envisioning a playful God. Perhaps one of the signs that God has a keen sense of humor is the creation of humans. Seeing our "antics" should leave Him (or Her) dying of laughter. We do so many absurd things worthy of provoking laughter. I’ve heard the expression "Don’t play with the things of God". Does God not play? Doesn’t He or She have fun?

We associate godliness with solemnity and lack of humor. Being playful is considered to be lightness. It is "holier" be serious, closed and demanding than friendly, open and liberal! It makes us use Coca Cola and cool aide instead of wine at church festivals. But for Jesus, the invitation to the Kingdom is an invitation to a party which includes wine! Jesus was criticized for enjoying life with sinners. But, in doing so, He was already living the Kingdom.

John Wesley said that a sad religion is a religion of the devil. Medical science recognizes that laughter, joy and a festive spirit are good for mind and body. Joy is a gift of God, and Jesus shared this joy with those around him that were willing to receive it.

 

John 2:1-11 – New International Version (NIV)

JESUS CHANGES WATER INTO WINE

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

domingo, 11 de janeiro de 2015

PALAVRA, LUZ, AMOR E VIDA


A Palavra era a fonte da vida,
e essa vida trouxe a luz para todas as pessoas.

João 1.4 (leia 1.1-18) – NTLH

 

João afirma que Jesus é a Palavra de Deus. Por meio da Palavra, Deus criou todas as coisas e nada foi feito sem Ele. Esta mesma Palavra dissipa as trevas e “ilumina todas as pessoas” que vêm ao mundo. A Palavra de Deus é viva, atuante e presente, cumprindo os desígnios divinos em toda a criação.

A Bíblia é testemunha da Palavra, não a Palavra em si. Dizer que a Bíblia é a Palavra de Deus é negar o que ela própria diz. A Bíblia, feita de papel e tinta por mãos humanas, é sujeita a manipulação. Ela é usada como pretexto para apoiar uma infinidade de dogmas e doutrinas, estabelecimento de normas e regas, formação de uma grande variedade de igrejas rivais e manipulação de homens e mulheres. Mas sua finalidade é outra: falar da Palavra que ilumina a humanidade.

Os seres humanos têm a tendência de criar ídolos e adorá-los como se fossem divinos. Muitos cristãos fazem o mesmo. Atribuem como sagradas à Bíblia, à Igreja, à estruturas eclesiais (episcopado), etc., sem perceber que todas estas coisas um dia deixarão de existir.

Jesus, a Palavra viva e eterna, não é manipulável. Há tentativas de manipulá-lo e limitá-lo a grupos exclusivistas. Mas Jesus é maior do que qualquer afirmação que podemos fazer a seu respeito.

O Evangelho de João dá testemunho a Jesus cósmico, acima de qualquer tribo, nação, raça, ideologia ou religião. Os outros três Evangelhos fazem mais ligação de Jesus com as tradições judaicas, com algumas aberturas para o mundo gentio. O Evangelho de João, escrito por último, apresenta Jesus muito ligado a toda a humanidade. Não é necessário conhecer os costumes judaicos para entendê-lo.

Existe uma Palavra só, mas ela não é necessariamente soletrada J-E-S-U-S, senão, seria impossível iluminar todas as pessoas. Como luz, a verdadeira Palavra chega a toda humanidade, independente da língua, cultura ou religião.

Mas muitas pessoas rejeitam a Luz. É possível soletrar corretamente J-E-S-U-S e rejeitar a luz da Palavra. Na atualidade, as pessoas que mais promovem guerra, preconceito e ódio, também soletram corretamente J-E-S-U-S e professam a fé cristã. Estas pessoas usam a Bíblia para promover a sua agenda de atitudes e atos contrários a luz da Palavra.

A luz da Palavra é amor!... Quem ama de verdade tem a luz e a Palavra habita neles / nelas. Os cristãos concordam, pelo menos de cabeça, que o coração do Evangelho é amor. A frase: “Deus amou ao mundo” é o Evangelho em miniatura.

Jesus não veio para estabelecer uma nova religião, nem reformar a velha. Isto seria limitar a Palavra a um grupo de privilegiados. A Palavra do Evangelho abre-se para o mundo todo. Pelo contraio, no decorrer da história, as igrejas levantam barreiras, barrando e separando as pessoas em categorias: salvas e perdidas, crentes e não crentes, eleitas e não eleitas, perdoadas e não perdoadas, boas e más, cristãs e pagãs, etc.

Pelo nosso agir solidário e o nosso falar sincero, temos o privilégio de apontar Jesus, como a Palavra que possa iluminar o caminho de todas as pessoas.

 

João 1:1-18 – Nova Traduҫão na Linguagem de Hoje 2000 (NTLH)

A PALAVRA DA VIDA

No começo aquele que é a Palavra já existia. Ele estava com Deus e era Deus. Desde o princípio, a Palavra estava com Deus. Por meio da Palavra, Deus fez todas as coisas, e nada do que existe foi feito sem ela. Palavra era a fonte da vida, e essa vida trouxe a luz para todas as pessoas. A luz brilha na escuridão, e a escuridão não conseguiu apagá-la.

Houve um homem chamado João, que foi enviado por Deus para falar a respeito da luz. Ele veio para que por meio dele todos pudessem ouvir a mensagem e crer nela. João não era a luz, mas veio para falar a respeito da luz, a luz verdadeira que veio ao mundo e ilumina todas as pessoas.

A Palavra estava no mundo, e por meio dela Deus fez o mundo, mas o mundo não a conheceu. Aquele que é a Palavra veio para o seu próprio país, mas o seu povo não o recebeu. Porém alguns creram nele e o receberam, e a estes ele deu o direito de se tornarem filhos de Deus. Eles não se tornaram filhos de Deus pelos meios naturais, isto é, não nasceram como nascem os filhos de um pai humano; o próprio Deus é quem foi o Pai deles.

A Palavra se tornou um ser humano e morou entre nós, cheia de amor e de verdade. E nós vimos a revelação da sua natureza divina, natureza que ele recebeu como Filho único do Pai.

João disse o seguinte a respeito de Jesus:

— Este é aquele de quem eu disse: “Ele vem depois de mim, mas é mais importante do que eu, pois antes de eu nascer ele já existia.”

Porque todos nós temos sido abençoados com as riquezas do seu amor, com bênçãos e mais bênçãos. A lei foi dada por meio de Moisés, mas o amor e a verdade vieram por meio de Jesus Cristo. Ninguém nunca viu Deus. Somente o Filho único, que é Deus e está ao lado do Pai, foi quem nos mostrou quem é Deus.

sexta-feira, 9 de janeiro de 2015

WORD, LIGHT, LIFE AND LOVE


In him was life,
and that life was
the light of all mankind.

John 1.4 (read 1.1-18) - NIV

 

John says that Jesus is the Word of God. Through the Word, God created all things and nothing was done without him. This same Word dispels the darkness and is the "light of all mankind". The Word of God is living and active and present, fulfilling the divine plan in all of creation.

The Bible is a witness of the Word, not the Word itself. To say that the Bible is the Word of God is to deny what it says about itself. The Bible is made of paper and ink by human hands and is subject to manipulation. It is used as a pretext to support a multitude of dogmas and doctrines, setting standards and rules, formation of a wide range of rival churches and the manipulation of men and women. But its real purpose is to speak of something beyond itself which is the true Word that illuminates all humanity.

Humans have a tendency to create idols and worship them as if they were divine. Many Christians do the same. They attribute sacredness to the Bible, to the Church and to church structures (bishops), etc. Someday all these things will cease to exist.

But Jesus who is the living and eternal Word cannot be manipulated. There are attempts to manipulate him and limit him to exclusivist groups. The American religious right makes him into a Caucasian with blue eyes and blonde hair who supports their biases. But Jesus is greater than any interpretation we can make of him.

The Gospel of John gives witness to Jesus as being cosmic and above any tribe, nation, race, ideology or religion. The other three Gospels connect Jesus to Jewish traditions with limited openings to the Gentile world. The Gospel of John, written last, presents Jesus as being very close to all mankind. It is not necessary to know the Jewish customs to understand him.

This Word is not necessarily spelled J-E-S-U-S which would make it impossible for him to enlighten all people. As light, the true Word reaches all mankind in the form of Enlightenment (LIGHT) regardless of language, culture or religion. Regardless of religiousness or irreligiousness all who love are of God. The atheist can be just as much of God as any professedly religious person.

But many people reject new Light, preferring to live in the darkness of preconceived biases. You can spell J-E-S-U-S correctly and reject the LIGHT of the WORD. Today, the people who promote war, prejudice and hatred also spell correctly JESUS and profess the Christian faith. These people use the Bible to promote their agenda of attitudes and acts contrary to the LIGHT of the WORD.

The LIGHT of the WORD is LOVE! The LIGHT of the WORD dwells in those who really LOVE. The heart of the Gospel is LOVE. The phrase, "God so loved the world" is the miniature Gospel.

Jesus did not come to establish a new religion, or reform the old one. This would limit the Word to a group of privileged people. The Word of the Gospel is open to the whole world. In contrast, throughout history churches have erected barriers by barring people and separating them into categories: the saved and the unsaved, believers and non-believers, elected and unelected, forgiven and unforgiven, good and bad, Christian and pagan, etc., but love knows no barriers.

 

John 1:1-18New International Version (NIV)

THE WORD BECAME FLESH

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

domingo, 4 de janeiro de 2015

FÉ DO TEMPLO E FÉ DA RUA


Eles o adoraram e voltaram para Jerusalém
cheios de alegria.
E passavam o tempo todo no pátio do Templo,
louvando a Deus.

Lucas 24.53 (leia 24.44-53) – NTLH

 

Lucas é o único escritor bíblico que faz menção da descida do poder do Espírito Santo no dia do Pentecostes. Nenhum outro toma conhecimento do acontecimento. Toda a mística de Pentecostes está construída em torno da narração de Lucas no Evangelho de Lucas e nos Atos dos Apóstolos. Ele traça uma linha de continuidade, fazendo Jesus o elo entre judaísmo e cristianismo, entre Israel e todas as nações. Jesus não veio somente para os judeus, mas, através de seus seguidores a sua mensagem foi destinada a alcançar o mundo inteiro.

A mensagem é a boa notícia da oferta de novos caminhos (arrependimento) e graça (perdão) para todas as nações. Para Deus, não existem elites privilegiadas. Mas, para esta mensagem ser transmitida era necessário o “poder de cima”. Enquanto não chegava este poder, a fé dos discípulos era a “fé do templo”. Ficavam no templo louvando a Deus. A fé sem poder fica limitada ao louvor no templo.

Com a vinda do Espírito Santo, desceu o poder de dar testemunho da nova mensagem. Com as perseguições resultantes, os seguidores de Jesus foram espalhados pelo mundo. Saíram do templo e seu campo de ação se tornou o mundo inteiro. A finalidade da vinda do poder do alto era tirá-los do templo, não conservá-los dentro.

Passando os séculos de perseguição, com a legalização do cristianismo, a igreja começou a construir templos. Pouco a pouco, o templo cristão tomou o lugar de importância da sinagoga judaica. A grande manifestação de fé voltou a ser o louvor nos templos.

Hoje a igreja faz sua auto avaliação pela multiplicidade e grandiosidade de seus templos e casas de culto, pelo número de adeptos que consegue reunir e pelas manifestações de ardor nos seus cultos. O mundo é visto como território do inimigo e os cristãos devem se isolar dele. O alvo é salvar os mundanos do mundo e levá-los para dentro do templo. A fé predominante do cristianismo é centralizada no templo. A maior parte dos dízimos e ofertas é destinada a manutenção do templo com sua estrutura eclesiástica. No decorrer da história, em vez de penetrar as nações, o cristianismo substituiu a sinagoga pela catedral.

O “poder de cima” é dado para levar os cristãos a viver sua fé em prol do mundo, não da igreja. O evangelho não se limita às práticas religiosas e morais. Envolve a participação plena na vida “secular”. A palavra “arrependimento” significa mudar de direção e seguir novos caminhos. No caso do evangelho, é seguir os caminhos da compaixão e justiça social na vida diária em todos os lugares. A boa nova do evangelho é que o perdão (graça) dá poder para fazer mudança de vida em direção à vida. É um caminho difícil a seguir, mas o poder de cima é justamente para possibilitá-lo.

 

Lucas 24:44-53 – Nova Traduҫão na Linguagem de Hoje 2000 (NTLH)

 

Depois disse:

— Enquanto ainda estava com vocês, eu disse que tinha de acontecer tudo o que estava escrito a meu respeito na Lei de Moisés, nos livros dos Profetas e nos Salmos.

Então Jesus abriu a mente deles para que eles entendessem as Escrituras Sagradas e disse:

— O que está escrito é que o Messias tinha de sofrer e no terceiro dia ressuscitar. E que, em nome dele, a mensagem sobre o arrependimento e o perdão dos pecados seria anunciada a todas as nações, começando em Jerusalém. Vocês são testemunhas dessas coisas. E eu lhes mandarei o que o meu Pai prometeu. Mas esperem aqui em Jerusalém, até que o poder de cima venha sobre vocês.

JESUS É LEVADO PARA O CÉU

Então Jesus os levou para fora da cidade até o povoado de Betânia. Ali levantou as mãos e os abençoou. Enquanto os estava abençoando, Jesus se afastou deles e foi levado para o céu. Eles o adoraram e voltaram para Jerusalém cheios de alegria. E passavam o tempo todo no pátio do Templo, louvando a Deus.

sexta-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2015

PEW FAITH AND STREET FAITH


Then they worshiped him
and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
And they stayed continually at the temple,
praising God.

Luke 24:52-53 (read 24.44-53) - NIV

Luke is the only Bible writer who mentions the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. No other writer shows any knowledge of it. All of the mystique that has been built around Pentecost is based wholly on the account of the writer of the Gospel of Luke and on Acts of the Apostles.

According to Luke the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the power that took the followers of Jesus out of the temple and projected them into the world. In this way it traces a line of continuity, making a link between Judaism and Christianity, between Israel and all nations. Jesus did not come for the Jews only, but through his followers his message was intended to reach the entire world.

For God, there are no privileged elites. But for this message to be transmitted it was necessary to "power up". Up until the outpouring of the Spirit the faith of the disciples was "pew faith." They were in the temple praising God. Faith without power is limited to praise in the pews of houses of worship.

According to Luke the power to bear witness to the new message to the larger world came with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After that the followers of Jesus were expelled from the temple and scattered around the world. Their field of action became the world. The purpose of the Spirit was to get them out of the pews, not keep them sitting there.

For the first three centuries the followers of Jesus had little or no political power and were scattered, blending in with the population. But with the legalization of Christianity the church began to build temples and separate itself from society. Little by little, the Christian temples became centers of spirituality. “Pew praise” became an important manifestation of the Christian faith.

The church came to evaluate itself by the grandeur of its temples and houses of worship and the number of followers it could bring together for worship. The world came to be seen as enemy territory from which Christians must isolate themselves. The goal became to save the sinful world by bringing it in to sit in the pews. Spirituality became centered in the temple. Most of the tithes and offerings were (and are) used to maintain the temple with its ecclesiastical structure. Throughout history, instead of penetrating the nations, Christianity replaced the synagogue with the cathedral.

Pentecost was supposed to lead Christians to live their faith for the sake of the world, not the church. The gospel should not be limited to religious and moral practices. It should involve full participation in "secular" life. The word "repent" means to change direction and follow new paths of daily living. The Gospel should inspire the practice of compassion and social justice in all aspects of daily life. The good news of the gospel is that forgiveness (grace) gives power to live according to what Jesus practiced and taught. Christians are called to live “Street Faith”, not “Pew Faith”. Pew faith is exclusive and legalistic, but “Street Faith” is inclusive and unconditionally reaches out to embrace the needy.

 

Luke 24:44-53 – New International Version (NIV)

 

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension of Jesus

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.