Thanks for the thoughtful engagement! Here, however, is where I respectfully excuse myself from the conversation. I have lost nearly all interest in debating with Christians over myriad “interpretations” of Scripture. Not because I think I have a better interpretation (because I don’t believe that), but because I find that we — quite humanly — draw deep lines in the sand and build fences around our specific and sometimes nuanced beliefs that, ultimately, have little bearing on how we are called to live as others-oriented mimickers of Jesus. I mean no disrespect to your theological views, it’s just that I find the stories about Jesus and the stories he told as powerfully unifying, yet we Christians burn a lot of calories quarreling over our minor differences — in ways that too often create disunity. I find when I engage these debates, too much of my pride gets wrapped up in wanting others to agree with my views.
Where I am in my personal faith journey, is cultivating engagement with those who are compelled by Jesus, yet sense a disconnect with how the church sometimes fails to reflect the kind of grace, compassion and mercy that he did. In short, I am trying to do that in how I behave toward others — as an advocate of justice, cheerleader of authentic beauty, modeler of loving relationships and seeker of authentic spirituality. While far from being particularly great at those things, I’m trying to do that instead of peddling a certain belief system.
Grace and peace, John.