At church this morning, the Pastor Emeritus conducted the service, since the Pastor and his wife are away on vacation.

During and after the service, I thought about something.  I have felt oppressed by the Bible, but I have also been pushed by its teachings to try to become a better person.  The Pastor Emeritus was talking about his seminary days and how he helped a struggling student pass a Church History course.  I thought about the times when I helped other students, and how that was motivated by my Christian faith—-I was hoping to please God and others by helping people.  The Pastor Emeritus later in the service referred to Jesus’ statement that God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others, and I thought about how that passage has long oppressed me.

Would I have helped others had I not had a Christian faith, some sense that I was commanded to help others?  I don’t know.  My Christian faith is what got me a bit more out of my shell.  The Pastor Emeritus, however, said that he himself was motivated to help that one student because, back when the Pastor Emeritus was in high school and was struggling to pass Geometry, somebody helped him pass.  The Pastor Emeritus was “paying it forward,” so to speak.  Still, the Pastor Emeritus mentioned a time when he was a kid and his family was helping another family, and the Pastor Emeritus wondered why.  The response he got was that the Scriptures commanded it!

I think that remembering that we ourselves are or can become vulnerable is something that can encourage us to help others.  As much as I can’t stand Jesus’ statement that God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others, I think that it is useful in that it can make me put myself in the position of one who needs to be forgiven, and then I will be willing to extend forgiveness to others who need to be forgiven.  What trips me up is that I wonder if I should then have contact with those I have forgiven, and, if I don’t, does that indicate that I haven’t truly forgiven them?  What exactly does God want?  He should have defined his terms!

Anyway, these are commonplace thoughts on my blog.  I may be struggling with this stuff until the end of my natural life!  That’s not too bad, since I can find myself learning along the way.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Motivations

  1. I enjoyed your post very much James 🙂


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