A subjective interpretation of Jesus’ message about the forgiveness of sin…

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Quick summary: The purpose of this post is not to engage in any type of debate as to the efficacy of one religion as opposed to another (or the efficacies of religion in general as most religions carry a consistent fundamental structure). On my own spiritual journey I don’t really trouble myself with facts, if there is something helpful than that is good enough for me… I enjoy my minds inability to understand everything… this cognitive roadblock often frees me to simply be. Instead of a debate or a search for fact I am offering a subjective interpretation of the teachings of Jesus (whether you believe he existed or not or whether you believe he was who Christians say he was or not) that I find helpful in understanding the idea of forgiveness and the possibility of peace. I am going to suggest that the nature of humans is good and when we forgive (accept with compassion and empathy) the sins (traumas, offenses) that are done to us we are better able to not pass (with our own thoughts and actions) that sin onto other people… this is true justice… this is peace (heaven). To clarify I do not define myself as being anything in particular and I do very much appreciate the teachings of religions…

I have and have had clients who take great value from using their religions to help their therapeutic process. While joining them on their journey towards their goals I have grown a gratitude for the ways in which religion can help people. I therefore am on a path to increase my compassion and understanding for all religions as this growth has proved to be beneficial to my vocational role as a therapist, and to my desire to be the open-minded person I am when I allow myself to drop my resistance and my defensives.

What is sin? What is forgiveness? What is justice? What is suffering? What is acceptance? What is peace?

And how do you explain such philosophically and spiritually complicated concepts to the masses… to the masses which during the time of Jesus where still largely concerned with primary survival needs?

Humans have a very interesting relationship with metaphors, parables and narratives driven by a moral theme.

I enjoy theological conversations and I have been lucky enough to have met many different mentors and teachers from many different spiritual and religious backgrounds.

Specific to Christianity, I have been fortunate enough to listen to many radically different interpretations of the message of Jesus. I believe there is a spectrum that many Christians find themselves on… the spectrum ranges from interpreting the bible as 100% metaphorical or figurative to 100% literal… perhaps most people are in the middle (as with most spectrums).

My subjective interpretation of Jesus on the cross: He hung on the cross in mental and physical suffering, and though he had many followers, he asked no one to revolt and he asked no one for vengeful ‘justice’. He did not refer to his capturers as terrorists or the enemy… instead he spoke of them with compassion and labeled them the same way he labeled his followers (the sons and daughters of god – all are one – he avoided the idea of ‘us and them’, which is the minds way to justifying committing ‘sin’ onto others). He stated that he was to die for the forgiveness of sin; I am suggesting that his death was a symbol of how human kind can do so. Jesus did not resist his suffering… he accepted it… he did not hate or express vengeful desires for his offenders… he expressed unity, compassion, empathy and love for them… he died without hate in his heart… he died so that people could see that the root of sin is reacting to sins done unto them… if humans could hold compassion, empathy, unity, and acceptance for the suffering they will inevitably endure then they will cease to place suffering onto others (they will cease to cause other pain through sin)… If we allowed ourselves to experience the forgiveness which was displayed in the story of Jesus on the crucifix, a peace would exist… we would experience a spiritual evolution away from ‘sin’… and there would be ‘heaven on earth’.

The mind enjoys tricking us with ‘us and them’ cognitions… “this is who or what we are and this is who or what they are”… the mind does this in a feudal attempt to create a stable identity. It causes the world pain and suffering when we assign the rigid labels of ‘good’ and bad’, ‘enemy’ and ‘ally’, and ‘terrorist’ and ‘friend’ onto others. If we truly want to remove ‘sin’ from this planet the first step could be to stop labeling people as the enemy… these labels are just a way for people to justify committing ‘sin’… Jesus showed the people how to hold compassion and empathy for the very people who caused him suffering… I believe that this message is helpful to all people of all faiths. Again, this is simply my subjective interpretation of what Jesus was trying to tell the people. I hope that I did not offend anyone… the topic of religion often encourages a heightened emotional availability or reactivity… Forgive me if I caused you discomfort.

Forgiveness is the heart of justice

 

Peace is in acceptance

 

the path to peace in in compassion and empathy

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

13 thoughts on “A subjective interpretation of Jesus’ message about the forgiveness of sin…

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  2. If so how do we decide which system to choose?……The articles in this site delve into these issues but in brief here is a synopsis of my thoughts………….It is not responsible to simply accept what our culture teaches without question…….It is our duty as citizens of the world to recognize that there are many different cultures ……and beliefs. Its not likely that we just happened to be born into the right one!……If we are to question our cultures beliefs what standard can we use to determine right from wrong?

    • "If we are to question our cultures beliefs what standard can we use to determine right from wrong?

      -I love this question…"

      As a therapist I have worked with people who have done very 'bad' or 'wrong' things… not one of them was a bad person… at the root we are all good (balance) – i believe (which is just a belief) that we all have the ability to intuitively access the desires and purpose of the whole… to do so we could recognize the difference between the ego and the true self…. the true self will do right as it does not separate itself from everything else as the ego does.

      emotions are not infallible, but they do seem to be a bit better then cognitions at deciphering right and wrong. Empathy allows us to feel the consequences of our beliefs and actions… cognitions tend to distort our understanding… by this I am suggesting that we will know how to not wrong another by increasing our empathetic ability. Good question

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