Religion is a Mixed Blessing

Jesus said, "Woe to the Pharisees! They are like a dog sleeping in the cattle manger: the dog neither eats nor lets the cattle eat." Gospel of Thomas 102

This is one of the sayings of Jesus that sounds very similar to Jesus condemnations of the Pharisees in the canonical gospels, and yet it is not in those gospels.  The Pharisees were a sect of Jews who sought to make every moment holy in their lives.  They sought to live the Torah and live as a holy people..making Judaism not just a religion of the temple but personal also.  This is a good thing.  So what is Jesus so bent out of shape about?  Within this movement there was also a scrupulosity that bordered on the absurd.  Where the commandment, "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk" came more and more questions till we get that one cannot eat any meat and dairy together, and it must be several hours between eating them...even today a kosher kitchen has two refrigerators to keep the meat and dairy separate.  The pharisees could argue all day on a minor point often twisting and turning the torahs commandments into something totally different.  They take the Torah, and make it impossible for the average man or woman to be able to interpret without the intermediary influence of the rabbis.   Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas challenges this notion.  People can come to God apart from religion.   Religion is not bad, but can hinder if it keeps people from coming to the Father as children of God.  We see that happening today.  We see women, gay people, and others kept from having a full place at the table..without a voice in many churches.  Gay people are kicked out of their homes, ridiculed, kicked out of their churches based on the law rather than a living relationship with God.  Jesus did not seek to form another religion.  He wanted people to have free access to God.   Jesus came as the son of God to help us know ourselves as sons and daughters of God.  He is our elder brother showing us the way.  This, I believe is the message of the Gospel of Thomas. 


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