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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Message of the Comma

A comma strings things together in a sort of list. Sometimes the comma tells us a lot about what is not there as well as what is there.

It came to my attention this morning that in the Apostle Creed (As far as we know, the first Christian creed) there is at least one important comma clue as to what was left out. It seems clear that it made a negative impact on the development of Christianity.

The creed, via a comma, jumps from born of the virgin Mary right to suffered under Pontius Pilot, leaving out the entire life and teaching of Jesus. There is no mention of love, forgiveness, relationship to God, breaking bread together, healing, caring, the call to bring God's Kingdom to earth or to anything else that Jesus lived and taught.

The omission of His life from the creed was one of the set ups that led Christianity into believing this or that as the main thing rather than living as He lived. It led, along with Augustine, Jerome and others, to focus on getting a get out of hell-free card, to saving being an individual thing rather than an "us" in a community encouraging each other to walk The Way. It spoke to ego, to control and therefore to shallowness.

I propose our lives should focus on between the commas. We would do well to scour the life of Jesus to find out what He lived and taught and do our best to live such a life. Turn from what others say about Him and engage personally with what we know, at least know from the earliest understandings as recorded in the New Testament. With the challenge of translation, I find it helpful to read various translations. I also find it helpful to explore the history of the first century, as context is important.

Life between the commas is exciting.

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