How Do We Appropriate God’s Grace and What Jesus? Did for Humankind?

Looking at Judas Iscariot from the lens of the teachings of Christ.

My husband and I did a synoptical, analytical, perceptual presentation of a limited collected information on the topic he blindly chose two weeks ago for last Friday’s small group study. We agreed on the outline and flow of the lesson. We finalized the written material and decided on the use of a Seder plate in the presentation for a sensory effect. The topic was about Judas Iscariot. The basic premise of the lesson is to encourage the mind to revisit the story of Judas that’s deeply embedded in most of the people’s consciousness and in possible theological biases. In our presentation,

1. We intended to challenge the group to question how we are personally appropriating who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for humankind.

2. We clearly indicated that the goal of the discussion is to open a conversation about the expanse of God’s love and grace.

3. We explained that the point of the study is to look at Judas Iscariot from the lens by which Jesus’ new command of love has instructed us to follow. Each person can draw an independent conclusion.

The obvious limitations of the lesson are:

1. We only had about 30 to 40 minutes to present it.

2. We only devoted a week of research and a few days to deliberate and consolidate our thoughts (although, honestly, I didn’t see the few days of deliberation as a limitation because I believe that the basis of how we discuss the materials is tied to how we see God’s grace. If the appropriation of God’s grace is just a matter of morality, ethics, and human justice, the assignment is easy.).

3. We are not trained biblical scholars.

Who is Judas?

What’s in a name?

The name Judas comes from the Greek name Judah which means “God is praised.” It was a common name among Jews of his time. The name in today’s time is the most dishonored and hated name in all of human history. Would you name your son Judas? In fact, in Germany, it is unlawful to name your child with that name.

Place of origin

Judas Iscariot came from the territory of Judah in the south. He was from a village of Kerioth. His father was Simon Iscariot (John 6: 71). He was the only one of the 12 disciples that wasn’t from Galilee.

Biblical Reference

– He was one of Jesus’ 12 chosen disciples and designated apostles (Mark 3:13-19)

“Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.” John‬ ‭6:65, 70-71‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

– He was appointed by Jesus as Keeper of the Purse.

– He was sent out by Christ to preach, heal, and was given the authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:13-19)

– He’s widely known as the betrayer of Christ. The disciple who would conspire with the chief priests to deliver Jesus to them:

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” Matthew‬ ‭26:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

– The deliverer of the Lamb of God to the altar of sacrifice.

“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.”

Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭2:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

– Judas the repentant.

“When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.” Matthew‬ ‭27:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Where there moments in your life where you formed a conclusive opinion of a person’s character based on incomplete information?

Was there a situation that prompted you to mostly assess what’s happening based on your emotional reaction if not a personal attachment to it?

Conjectures or Fact-based?

There aren’t enough biblical references and facts in the Bible that give a clear picture of Judas’ character prior to his betrayal of Jesus. Matthew, for instance, was a tax collector. Tax collectors during that period are known for their deceit and for increasing the collection so they can enrich their coffers. There was not enough information about Judas to give a sense that he was a thief or that he stole from the apostolic purse other than the words of John which were written many years after the death and resurrection of Christ.

The 11 disciples were with Judas during the three years that they were taught by Jesus and had done missionary work on foot with Christ. And even when Jesus finally sent Judas off to carry out his betrayal, they didn’t seem to suspect him, although John was tipped off by Jesus Himself as to who it was who would betray Jesus during the Passover meal, he still had no idea up to that point that Judas was conspiring against the Messiah for money.

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” John‬ ‭13:21-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

What we have about the character of Judas prior to the betrayal are at best just conjectures.

For instance, John in his gospel refers to Judas as a thief,

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John‬ ‭12:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

However, Matthew wrote a slightly different recollection of the event.

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew‬ ‭26:6-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Clearly, if you read John’s prose (which he wrote in his old age) you’ll see that he didn’t really like Judas. Would you blame him, though? However, could it also be that John, blinded by His resentment and enraged feelings towards Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, possibly failed to fully grasp Jesus’ New Command of love (humility, kindness, and mercy even towards your offender) that was methodically demonstrated to them in the Last Supper?

Let’s go back to Matthew 26. In the end, it was a shock to the 11 disciples that Judas would conspire with the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15).

Is the betrayal the beginning and the end of the story of Judas and Jesus?

Under the Covenant of Grace is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin?

PASSOVER

Jewish settlement first came to ancient Egypt when Joseph son of Jacob who founded 12 tribes of Israel moved his family there during the famine in Canaan. Passover commemorates the story of the Israelites departure from ancient Egypt. Jews observe the weeklong festival with a number of important rituals, including a traditional Passover meal which is known as the seder, the removal of leavened products from their home, the substitution of matzo for bread and the retelling of the exodus tale.

In the original Passover in Egypt, it was not considered to be finished until the host declared the sacrificial lamb to have been fully consumed. Exodus 12:8-10. Under the covenant of law, the worshipers were not considered fully absolved of sin by the sacrifice ritual until the officiating priest loudly declare the Hebrew word “kalah” which means finished. And a priest would only say kalah after the last lamb of the day had been ritually slain and consumed.

We Christians refer to the Upper Room Passover meal as the “Last Supper.” Note that the last words written to have been cried out by Jesus from the cross was, “It is finished” — kalah.

Let’s revisit the story of the Last Supper (The Upper Room)

Passover Festivity in the Upper Room

Just like in the ceremonial festivity of Passover, let’s examine what’s in the Passover that was led by Christ. Let’s see what elements of God’s plan for the redemption of humankind are to be found there.

1. The officiating Great High Priest —Jesus Christ.

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews‬ ‭9:11-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

2. The Seder plate (unleavened bread, bitter herbs, lamb, charoset- a mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine). The lamb is a remembrance of the feast of God’s salvation. The blood of a spotless lamb is a symbol of salvation in Egypt.

Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

The matzah symbolizes the hardship of slavery and the Jewish people’s hasty transition to freedom.

“Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” John‬ ‭13:26-27‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

3. The bath ritual —- the washing of the feet by Jesus of His 12 disciples. Each of the 12 disciples, In anticipation of the Passover, would’ve already administered a mikveh bath, in order to be ceremoniously clean (John11:55). Of course, the Scripture is clear that none of those rituals could really take away sin (Romans 3:20).

Jesus who was “born under the law” while not neglecting its requirements, never added to its demands. Thus, he could say, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but he is completely clean.” But He also said that not all of them were completely clean. This was a reference to Judas who was about to betray Him. (John 13:10-11)

In washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus was symbolically demonstrating to them the new commandment of love. Jesus was fully aware that Judas had conspired against Him. Through the lowly act of washing somebody’s feet (including an individual who would represent the worst of the humankind), by the Messiah –the only faultless human being — Jesus was pointing ahead to a “new order” of spiritual things.

Again, the Scripture is clear that none of those rituals could really take away sin.

“This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.” Hebrew 9:9-10 NLT

4. The true sacrificial Lamb displayed and devoured.

“And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and everything used for worship. For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews‬ ‭9:21, 24-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Under the Covenant of the Law of Moses, “If you sin and break any of the commands that the Lord said must not be done, you are guilty. Even if you did not know about it, you are still responsible for your sin. You must bring a ram that has nothing wrong with it (or the same amount in silver) to the priest. The priest will offer the ram, and God will forgive you for the sin you did without knowing it. You are guilty, and you must pay the guilt offering to the Lord.” Leviticus‬ ‭5:17-19‬ ‭ERV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

5. The 12 representative descendants of fallen humanity.

Passover is not a solemn occasion but a family festival. Let’s see the display of grace during the Passover celebration with Jesus and His 12 Disciples in the Upper Room (Matthew 26:15). This feast was not just an ordinary Passover. This was to be a demonstration where Christ would give a new command. The following were his words:

“A new command I give to you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Of course, the disciples had been recipients of Christ ’s loving words and acts before. But in the Upper Room and at the Last Supper, He would demonstrate and command a new dimension of love. Judas would serve as an extreme example of what the term “unmerited favor” really means.

Does God’s mercy require a person’s suitability? Is God’s grace based on the individual’s meeting of specific requirements? Did Jesus cease to love Judas?

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John‬ ‭6:37-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Remember the words of apostle Paul respecting the non-believing Jews of his day.

Romans 11:28-29 NLT: Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.

Here are the words of Jesus when He addressed the multitude in His sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:44-45: But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

Would Jesus command others to love their enemies and fail to love His – even Judas — who is the epitome of Christ’s human enemies?

Do you believe that Jesus would tell and demonstrate to the 12 disciples in the Upper Room a new order of love and not follow it Himself?

‭‭ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬”So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

If Jesus was to demonstrate the full extent of his love (John 13:1), what better example could He have chosen than Judas? He washed and dried Judas feet. He gave Him the bread, a piece of the sacrificial lamb, and the wine. He did not reject Judas’ kiss and referred to Him as a friend.

“Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:48-50‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Judas was the “Adamic” representative of everything worse in a human planted a kiss on the One and Only faultless human, the antitype of all animal sacrifices ever slain on any Israel altars. With his kiss, Judas touched the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – the only True Sacrifice.

“He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].”

‭‭2 CORINTHIANS‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭AMP‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.” JOHN‬ ‭15:12-13‬ ‭AMP‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Under the Covenant of Grace, is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin or an unpardonable person?

“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled” (John 17: 12) “I have not lost one of those you gave me” (John 18: 9) How is it that Jesus can say in one place that Judas, one of his God-given disciples, is lost but in another place be quoted as having said, “I have not lost one of those you gave me” ?

In the three parables found in Luke 15 that Jesus taught there’s an undeniable great spiritual principle: God never loses all those that belong to Him. All three parables are connected by two Divine Truths (Ivan Rogers commentary):

1. The lost ones in the parables were never written off by their owner or father.

2. The lost mentioned in the parable was inevitably recovered by the owner or the father.

In the end, God only gave us two Commandments. Love God with all your heart and love one another as I have loved you. The question is how do you appropriate who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for humankind. If you are to spend a life of your eternity in the presence of God the father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, you’re there by virtue of who Christ is and what he did and not by virtue of what you did, or what race, religion, cultural and financial standing you were born.

The question then remains:

Is there a place for a remorseful Judas Iscariot under the Covenant of Grace?

The motivation of this study isn’t to put Judas Iscariot on trial. It isn’t to debate the discrepancies between the Gospels of John and Matthew nor to argue about the intent of John. The purpose of tonight‘s discussion is to revisit the principle of God’s Divine Grace and re-examine the New Order of love that Christ had methodically shown and told His disciples. As recorded in the Scripture the New Order of Love was inaugurated in the Upper Room and into the completion of the Last Supper. The goal of tonight’s discussion is to open a conversation about the expanse of God’s love and grace. The point of our study is to look at Judas Iscariot from the lens by which Jesus’ new command of love has instructed us to follow.

References:

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AoY5dWd1NI-dpl0rdul0U4tGs1vS

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/john.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/matthew.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/luke.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/mark.cfm

Judas Iscariot Revisited and Restored Discovering Grace in an Unlikely Place by Ivan Rogers

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/is-there-a-chance-judas-ended-up-in-heaven.html

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/scrip/a6.html

http://www.jesus-story.net/betrayal.htm

Share

Mercy Heals Your Soul When You’re Chronically Ill

Hallelujah Anyway Rediscovering Mercy

Chapter One Discussion Point

The truth in transformative grace received by faith is built on the foundation of love propelled by justice, mercy, compassion, and humility. In order to find the meaning of life, Anne Lamott in her book Hallelujah Anyway Rediscovering Mercy opines that we’ll have to face the great big mess especially the great big mess of ourselves. And in so doing, it’s up to each of us “to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere – inside and outside of us, all around us. And use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and honest connections with each other.”

I will not downplay the hardship I usually endure from the combined and overlapping symptoms of fibromyalgia, intermittent migraines with aura and nausea, episodes of a Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), digestive flares, and PMS.

Downplaying the challenges and effects of the aforementioned symptoms especially during episodes of a flare-up is shaming and providing a disservice to fellow chronic disease sufferers. The suffering is real. The struggle we face is real.

Last week was supposedly physically terrible for me, all evidence point to that inevitability. It was bad, physiologically. Mentally and spiritually, however, I was alright. By alright I don’t mean it in a self-righteous or unreal representation of handling chronic pains. I’m well informed of the pains and discomfort.

In some cases, certain medications used to treat the chronic illness may trigger depression. Be your informed wellness advocate. Check with your medical team and ensure that your doctors and medical support group are truly advocating for your healthcare and general well-being.

What I’m saying is that I am grateful that the full effect of the physical stress on the mental, spiritual, and social areas in my life was softened by the mercy I found in and around me. It’s not an easy process to develop this mercy and compassion awareness and skill.

What were the examples of mercy, you may ask? Three sessions of acupuncture spread through seven days, mentoring and coaching resources for my homeschooled 7th grader, household help provided by my 10th grader, Peanut M&Ms from hubby, excellent customer service from the car rental staff (my caravan’s ABS system had to be replaced), enriching book club discussion with kind women, text messages and phone calls from friends in my small Bible talk family group, phone conversations from my college kids, facial appointment, funny conversation with a new acquaintance, finishing two books, writing and publishing an article despite a slight cognitive issue, and etcetera.

The huge challenge in digging deeper into the heart of compassion and mercy is not just on the question of consistency but also in expanding the scope of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness that comes from the inner-self while holding on to the virtues of truth and justice. I’m getting the understanding now that the only way to get this right is by way of the faith I claim that received God’s gift of transformative grace. Faith that manifests a continuing journey of loving everyone everywhere and a complete understanding that this is the only acceptable offering to God. And as a consequent result of this manifested faith, I have also pushed myself to forge a whole new meaning to overall wellness and healing.

In desperation if not because of false comprehension of God’s divinity, our prayers lean towards childish cyclical requests.

Stay with me.

At some point in our mortal human existence, we all will get sick and we all will die. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. So why then are we devoting too much of our prayer time to petitions and cries for a healthy physiology and beggings for a delay on the inevitable?

It’s a waste of time and effort when the answer to our prayer for physiological and psychological vitality lies already in each of us: mercy, justice, hospitality, friendship, generosity, intelligence, fortitude, peace, and justice. In one word it’s called love. Here’s what Romans 12:9-19 (MSG),

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Mercy is the child-like love that’s lies beneath the cluttered drawer of a grown life.

I found proofs of mercy abound everywhere – from within and outside of myself. From the genius of science to the unexpected compassion of the person next to me. From witnessing the voice of reason to the blind eye of Lady Justice. From M&Ms to a brand new sink. From decaf espresso to an old man’s corny jokes. From a book on mercy to women’s compassionate exchange of viewpoints. From accepting my physical vulnerabilities to cooking dinner with my 7th grader.

Our physical body will age. It will get sick. It will face a trauma it can’t escape. Death will come upon us. Hence praying for physical immortality or longevity is pointless. Instead, why don’t we work on the love that’s planted inside of us? Why not enrich each other’s short existence on earth by loving on each other instead of asking God for something that’s obviously not His (or Her) priority for us? God has already provided us an answer to every petition we’ll ever ask of Him (or Her). Didn’t He (or She) say to Paul that His grace should be sufficient?

God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace is evidenced by the life of Christ. It is directed by the greatest and second commandments rooted in love (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s grace cannot be earned but it can be received by faith alone. Faith in God is founded and grown in shared love. It’s described in the Book of Micah as the only acceptable offering God requires, ”…to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The vision is to love everyone everywhere and the radical goal is to develop an attitude of “Hallelujah anyway.” This is where healing and overall wellness will come from.

Mercy. Recognizing the presence and importance of mercy everywhere – inside and outside of us, all around us. And use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and honest connections with each other. From the genius of science to celebrating each other’s uniqueness to the radical demonstration of compassion and justice for all.

Hallelujah anyway. Today is the only right time to rediscover the miracle and the healing power of mercy.

Share

Full-time Homeschooling Thoughts

Here’s sharing my thoughts after getting through the first week of full-time homeschooling with my 7th grader. Also, here’s offering a few tips I gathered along the way as an integral part of my brood’s school journey.

When things get tough and rough, don’t give up just yet. Instead, regroup and make sure you partner with an institution that offers a great parent support system and has education specialists who are always available to lend you not only the academic support but also the emotional lift that you and your student will need along the way. You will especially require both if you’re new to homeschooling. Find a partner school that has established mental health mechanism or counseling team. My family’s blessed to have the progressively growing charter school to accompany us on this journey.

My 7th-grader and I were a bit nervous starting on this new journey, but seeing the energy in the homeschool team of Springs when we attended the annual homeschool kick-off conference, we knew it’s going to be another spectacular year of wonderful learning.

My family has had a great experience with our charter school, Springs Charter School. The teachers and the administrative leadership and staff in the Murrieta Student Center became our community and family. If you’re conflicted or nervous about homeschooling, try a blended program first. The blended Montessori Academy experience of classroom instruction and homeschool we had over the many years among my four children, two of whom are already in college and the oldest is graduating in April 2019, have provided my 7th grader and I the effective strategic tools and confidence that we are now utilizing in our full-time homeschooling efforts.

And here’s another highly essential point and tip numero uno when you decide the homeschool route: don’t draw your strength and personal inspiration from someone’s generalities. It may be tempting to do so especially if you and your student are a little lost on how best to navigate your new world of learning. Don’t fall for it. Their story may or may not connect to your journey. Just the same the latter remains yours alone. Instead, find the right blend and harmony to yours and your student’s voice and build upon it. It’s imperative to your success and to your sanity (and your kid’s) that you make it your goal to Create Your Own Story.

Why have you decided to homeschool? Is it just a preference? A need? An experiment? A curiosity? A philosophical or religious decision? Do you see it as a means or the goal of education? Can you do this? Can your student do this? Is this right for you?

If you’re new to homeschooling, the first thing you have to do before you even start assembling your lesson plan is to gather up your applicable specifics and transform those into an affirmation that you can stand on. Here’s mine:

Having been raised by a public school teacher, having a background in the academic setting, having received an excellent training and experience in organizational management, having experienced the challenges of frequent geographical relocations while still a part of the military community, having learned from a few failed homeschool strategies, and being openly receptive to opportunities and resources for effective homeschooling are responsible for shaping and evolving my homeschool principles, philosophies, paradigm, and strategies.

This year is the first year that I am doing full-time homeschooling, although I should say that the ”full-time” reference may not be an accurate description. Aren’t parents involved with their children’s education all the time anyway?

My adventure with my 7th-grader to full-time homeschooling began last week, August 27! Although last week was a fruitful start of the academic year for us, we’re still adjusting a little bit and still experimenting on a few things. For the first week of September, Caly and I have decided to devote a good portion of her academic learning to assessment tests. Performance Diagnostic tests are a valuable tool in SMART goal setting and lesson planning.

I’m far from being a superwoman. I’m just aware of the importance of having a SMART plan and strategies that also place a level of importance on effective and healthy pacing.

Caly and I have managed to do a two-weeks worth of academic head-start. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t something that she’s forced to do. I’ve always given her a wide leeway in terms of time management and order of priorities with an exception on Language Arts (particularly reading and writing) and Mathematics. Those two subjects are on the non-negotiable list. We are also cleverly creative, practical, and holistic in our learning approach. And since we’re ahead of the schedule, for now, the pressure is low and the opportunities for the enjoyment of the process is high.

Based on my homeschooling experience and what I have been learning through the years of acting as my children’s educational COO, I wrote down eight guidelines.

Guide to Developing Homeschool Strategies:

1. You can’t teach your student everything, so don’t even try. You are only creating a stressful learning environment for your student and your family if you think pouring in more knowledge is better for the child.

2. Keep things simple. Create SMART goals.

3. Encourage passion. Your student’s passion is linked to her uniqueness and not to your idea of success and happiness.

4. The goal is to develop a love of learning. When your student is deeply in love with learning, you will see a motivation turning into goals, and goals into successes. Let her love of learning be the driving force of your child’s education instead of achievement.

5. Help your student develop critical thinking skills. Again, the goal is to help her develop a love of learning that’ll encourage her to become an independent learner. Your goal as a homeschool educator is to provide and allow opportunities for learning and not to dictate, impart or manipulate knowledge.

6. How would you define a successful day, week, semester, or year of homeschooling? Understand that success is not only multi-dimensional, it is also NOT a one-way path. So if your only idea of academic success is valedictorian standards, college education, or a narrow view and application of faith-based education, you’re in for a rude awakening. A speaker from Spring’s Charter School recent annual homeschool event says this, ”If success is a one-way path then we’re fighting for a spot that not everyone can fill.”

Here’s a video link of Ken Robinson’s lecture that will help revolutionize the perception of what education should look like for our children, https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms/discussion.

7. Doing something productive together all the time doesn’t mean there’s productivity or progress. Make space in your calendar for doing nothing or exploring something unimportant. And here’s a paradigm that’s worth shifting to: Some failures are successes in the making. What you conclude as a disaster may actually be the best opportunity for you to learn new and better things and start fresh.

8. There’s no one-size-fits-all methodology. Hence, never compare your homeschooling with that of another. Doing so will rob you of peace, joy, and wisdom.

If you’re a fellow homeschooler, enjoy the journey!

Share