This blog is for those attracted to Jesus but who question the baggage often attached to his message, so it has two large areas of focus.
The first area of focus is examining major harmful baggage issues that often detract from following Jesus freely. The second is learning who Jesus is, what he says about the loving Father/Mother, and how we should relate to God, to ourselves, and to others. I grew up a fundamentalist and later became evangelical. As I examined my beliefs, I discarded a lot of baggage that was added to the good news of Jesus, and I hope to help and support others who are on the same journey.
The Intended Audience for this Blog
If you are concerned about unreasonable baggage (rules and beliefs) often associated with Jesus, then this blog is for you. It is a message of Jesus without baggage.
1. First and foremost, this blog is meant as a support for those questioning beliefs they have been taught as true or even essential. This is often an extremely frightening process, so this blog is a safe place for interaction, questions, and support.
Those escaping religious baggage sometimes abandon Jesus along with it and really feel the loss. We are here to say that baggage is not part of Jesus’ message to us; you can certainly follow Jesus without it.
I don’t claim to be an ‘authority’, and I certainly don’t want to become an authority figure to replace authority figures people are escaping. I believe everyone should decide issues for themselves, but I am pleased if this blog provides information and help on your journey. The regular readers and commenters also give a great deal of support.
2. The second intended audience are those already on a spiritual journey from religious baggage and would like confirmation or conversation from friendly co-travelers. Readers here interact freely with me and with other readers. It is nice to be part of a community of like-minded persons, especially when you might not have that in your local area.
3. Finally, this blog is for those interested in Jesus but not the traditional baggage often associated with him, whether or not they identify as followers of Jesus. It is also for those who simply enjoy discussion and interaction on these important topics.
Let me make a clear statement. Many conservative believers and many atheists will disagree strongly with my views, but my purpose is not to persuade anyone to accept my perspectives on Jesus, God, or the Bible.
My objectives are:
- To offer for your consideration a foundation for following Jesus without baggage
- To offer support and conversation for those interested in Jesus without baggage or in the concepts involved
I am happy if my understanding of Jesus without baggage makes sense to you and is helpful; but it does not bother me in the least if you don’t agree with my understanding. I respect your right to your beliefs even if you disagree with everything I think.
The Meaning of Jesus without Baggage
Since the death of Jesus’ earliest followers, certain views have become accepted as ‘truth’ and those who disagree with these ‘truths’ are often excluded from the Church and are no longer considered part of God’s family. This is baggage.
I was raised a fundamentalist, which is an extreme form of evangelicalism, and I fully embraced Jesus at a very early age and accepted a lot of religious baggage along with that choice. Over time, I discovered that much of the baggage I accepted was not legitimate. I first abandoned legalism–the keeping of religious rules, but I also dealt with other baggage that came as part of my religious tradition.
However, I did not abandon Jesus. I still find the person of Jesus, as described by his earliest followers, intensely compelling. He resolves my alienation from God, myself, and other people, and he provides eternal life in his death and resurrection. Jesus is the most important thing in my life.
He included me in his invitation
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
I accept his invitation, and the invitation comes without baggage.
Major Baggage Issues
Most issues on which followers of Jesus disagree are not alarming or destructive, but some are very harmful. Some primary elements of harmful baggage I see among Christians today:
- The belief that the Father is an angry, capricious, vindictive God
- The concept of eternal punishment and torture in hell
- An insistence that the Bible is somehow inerrant in every word
- An over-emphasis on rules and doctrinal requirements
- Commitment to a literal approach to the creation stories in Genesis
- Disapproval and rejection of gay people
These views are not only misguided, but they create burdens instead of freedom and are harmful to our relationships to God, ourselves, and other people. We discuss these and other issues, and their ramifications, in this blog.
The Good News of Jesus
Religious baggage is not the only important thing we discuss on this blog. Opposite to the baggage is the Good News of Jesus. As we begin to learn and live the good news of Jesus, we no longer need (or want) to hold on to our baggage. Here are a few posts on the Good News of Jesus.
What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
God is not Angry and Harsh with Us as Many of Us Thought
God’s Love for Us Takes Away Our Fear, Guilt, and Self-Condemnation
Do You Still Feel Guilt and Fear because You Fall Short of what God Demands?
We are not to Follow Burdensome Religious Rules
We are Agents for Expanding God’s Kingdom on Earth
Death is Not the End because Jesus Offers Us Eternal Life and Happiness
When the Good News of Jesus Doesn’t Sound like Good News At All
To all the groups mentioned above–and more, I invite you to explore Jesus without baggage. And feel free to join in the conversation. ~Tim Chastain
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