Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not Necessarily the Reason for the Season: Jesus, a Middle Eastern Refugee Who Mostly Didn't Fight Back

One of the great things about diversity is the wide variety of views I get to enjoy. It makes me think and gives me different perspectives to consider. It also reminds me to apply critical thinking to situations -- especially those involving holidays and religion.

Take, for example, the "fighting back" and reminders to us of the "reason for the season" from certain religious individuals when it comes to Christmas.

Never mind that they ignore the pagan roots of this sensationalized, commercialized holiday.

Never mind that they disregard people with beliefs different than their own and with different celebrations this time of year.

Never mind that some of these folks at times can be quite hateful, violent, closed-minded, materialistic, hypocritical individuals.

A friend on Facebook made a very eloquent statement about Jesus. The post and the discussion that followed reminded me of who he really was: a Middle Eastern man who preached peace and forgiveness, and became physical probably only a single time to fight back and protest commercialism in a sacred temple of his god.

She said:

Dear America,

As we get closer to Christmas, I would like to take this moment to remind you of something very important:

Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, who from infancy was sought to be murdered. Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt as refugees for his safety. Jesus was a refugee for part of his life, a Middle Eastern refugee. When he returned to his homeland, Jesus spent most of his life preaching tolerance and spreading hope and love to others. He was never armed and didn't preach violence. Yet, he was put to death for being different by a government and religious leaders that didn't like what he had to say even though he didn't threaten them. The government and religious leaders chose to feel threatened by him because they thought he was a threat to their way of life, a very luxurious way of life that only the upper echelon of their society could afford while many lived in poverty. This was a society where the government and religious leaders stole from the people but still hid behind their beliefs to justify their actions. Because Jesus was seen as a threat, they crucified him. But even in his final hours, Jesus forgave those who put him to death.

So while you give gifts in his name, say grace in his name, and enjoy time with your families in his name, remember who he was. Remember what he stood for. Remember that he was different and that every time you walk into a Christian church where his crucifix is depicted, remember he was a Middle Eastern man, who was a child refugee, who called God by a different name that was put to death over the ignorance and intolerance of others.

Maybe that will remind you to not persecute or judge others unfairly. Maybe that will remind you that there's more to Christmas than your Black Friday items. Maybe it will remind you that there are others out there being put to death for no wrong doing just because they are different. Maybe that will remind you that none of us are better than the other. We're all human, we all live and we all die. Maybe, just maybe that will change the way you view the world and make your heart a little more open and tolerant to all people.



And then, when the topic changed slightly to how he mostly didn't fight back throughout his life, she later said:

Jesus being a Middle Eastern man had more to fear than anyone during that time, especially because he led a peaceful movement that disproved government and religious ideologies that you have to be rich to be favored by God. If anything, what he went through, being himself and standing true to his beliefs is something we all need to stop and examine before putting all of these young men to death. He didn't fight back when arrested and taken for judgement and sentenced during an unfair and swift trial. He didn't fight back when whipped at the pillar. He didn't fight back when he was taunted, beaten and tortured while carrying his cross. He didn't fight back when the nails were driven through his hands and his feet, and he didn't fight back when his cross was risen and he was left to hang there until death. No, instead he forgave. But he was seen as the bad guy all because he was different.

When we think of the individual some claim to be the reason for the season, let's remember who he really was and how he taught people to live.

Tornado Rainbow Triangle