Sooner or later those who claim to follow Jesus have to wrestle at very least with what the four Gospel writers reportedly said HE said. It ain’t even close to all pretty.
One of a number of things I’ve been invited to do and have been is sharing a teaching from time to time in this Covid lockdown as we chaplains are not able to go into the jails and prisons at present. Our Cook Co. Jail team gather in conference calls to pray, look at The Bible and chat together each week.
So this past week I brought a 30 min. teaching on Psalm One. Then we did a 30 min. whatever you want to say, ask or disagree with go for it time. I always encourage this when I share in such a format because it encourages true, honest fellowship.
Toward the end of the time a bro., made a statement as a compliment to me and the gist of it was to thank me for not holding back on the hard words of Scripture when I speak. He added that when he’s been with me in CCJ I consistently do the same with the detainees.
My reply was pretty simple: “Part of my personal philosophy of life is to get the tough job done first, after that things get a bit easier. When I read God’s hard, sometimes even harsh sounding stuff in both Testaments (and there’s plenty) I have to often say I don’t like it, wouldn’t have done it that way, don’t understand or am upset by it – but I’m not God and don’t get to judge Him as He is the only Perfect Judge and will indeed judge us all rightly in the end.”
The point is that at times I disagree with Him and so do you if you’re truly honest and searching the Word regularly -at least in the terms I’ve just written. If and when we do that I’d suggest repenting quickly because if we only cherry-pick the biblical “ice cream” and ignore, toss, deny the reality of the rest of Scripture what we’re doing is not exegesis but eisegesis, we are not being honest in biblical interpretation nor perhaps our true thoughts, maybe even our own motives.
It can be like the guy who asked the other person “What do you believe?” and the reply was “I dunno -what do you want to believe?” and it’s all about me, my mind, my comprehension and ultimately I’m god, judge, the assessor of what’s true, right and good for God to do, be like, command (yes, that’s the term Jesus often uses) me or anyone else about. It’s all about me. But it ain’t and won’t be in the end.
If one strips all in the Bible but “the stuff in red” which the Gospel writers attribute to Jesus I can easily point out reams of really, truly hard, even by human judgment harsh stuff. Then again what you think about God isn’t the final say of Who God is -nor can you create Him and end up with the God in Christ as He represents Himself in the Gospels.
I’m like most people, I want to eliminate the personal cross bearing issues in Jesus’ words, commands. Don’t we all look for exits when it gets too hot?
So… yep, I honestly don’t look for those Bible texts as I read, do devotional time with the Lord, prepare messages and so forth, those things just happen to literally leap out of the Word at me in the process. I don’t LIKE all of that in-your-face-negative stuff, but it’s there and won’t go away because we don’t like it nor because it makes Christ followers or those who are not at present, repelled by such texts. It simply says what Jesus Christ Himself (in terms of the four Gospels) said.
You don’t get it both ways- believe in Jesus but erase His hard words because they often mean we must change, must accept God and indeed His judgment like it or not… or we (as I say constantly) become our own false deity. False. Deity.
Wrestle with Scripture. Be formed by it. Or pretend He didn’t say or mean what He said and meant. There are plenty of exits but only one Door of the sheep -His name is Jesus Christ.
The last thing we need is to cherry pick His words to us. As for us and –our-words which we are tempted to hold as so very important, sometimes versus HIS? This:
“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12.36
I blow it with my words all the time, repent a great deal for it! He doesn’t have to even when we want to dismiss, eliminate, throw them out due to the wrestling pain factor of His Words -which will be remembered forever unlike mine and yours.
Things to consider perhaps…
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn