Which Stance?

The Bible is often made out to be a PG book. The “heroes” are turned into the stars of the show that exemplified what it means to follow God. While I agree with the sentiment here, a deeper look at the Bible shows that it is often R-rated.
I don’t want to get into much of that here as I try to keep my writings as PG as possible.
The Bible, IMO, was never meant to be a how-to book on life. It was meant to show us how these ancient people viewed God as they understood him at the time in their culture. Often, we attempt to retrofit archaic texts that were meant to guide an ancient people out of the societal rut they were in, but it doesn’t quite work. Instead, like with 1st Century Israel, we see Jesus presenting the opposite concepts from what they expected the Messiah to be.
It would seem our society has fallen back into the same rut. We vehemently defend the authority of the Bible while repeating the same mistakes that Jesus stated were being made during his earthly ministry. We continue to find verses that justify our biases and make us appear more righteous at the expense of others. Meanwhile, we claim to follow Jesus while ignoring how he lived. This, more than anything else going on in society, hurts our witness.
When Christians aren’t following Christ, they inevitably push others away from him. People are looking for love, joy, and peace. When Christians are only giving threats, condemnation, and self-righteousness,  those “others” are repelled and the Good News is relegated to, “I’m right and you’re wrong” (or worse). All of this creates a mess that Jesus died to clean up originally. Our stubborn insistence on the ideals that we’ve built, mainly on the premise of institutional religion, in turn deny Christ by how we live out our religious “convictions.”
Much of what I see on social media boils down to posts depicting what people want to hear. If it will garner “likes,” people will post it. Meanwhile, if someone doesn’t agree, scripture is manipulated, such as 2 Tim 4:3, to condemn that dissenter. Ironically, these same people paraphrasing the Bible verse are living out the very definition of what it is saying by only perpetuating cliches that others will agree to.
And so the cycle continues as the Bible shows also. The religious continue to agree with their constituents while ignoring what Jesus was trying to show. Faith is boiled down to whoever agrees with “me.” That’s not how the story went in the Bible though. The prophets and apostles, those trying to spread Gods message, all seem to have been severally persecuted, beaten, and/or put to death. In the end, we somehow continually devolve back into the same state of ignoring who Jesus calls us to be as Christians.
I don’t say this just to complain. I say this in hopes that some will wake up to the reality of Jesus’ love; that they will spread that instead. I have seen a few people begin to try to live this out. Many others have dug in their heels in adamant refusal to reconsider what Jesus was teaching. They’ve doubled-up on the threats and condemnation, and so we see a deeper chasm forming between those who are following Jesus in love and those who are claiming his name, yet not living out what he taught.
Note here, this has happened before and had a quite gruesome outcome (70 AD). God’s chosen people, as Jesus stated, were not being the salt and light. They instead took the most vehement stance against Rome and were eventually massacred. They thought they were under persecution because of the laws they were upholding. Jesus had already defined how these laws were meant to be lived—by love. Paul additionally defines that following the law by the letter leads to death (2 Cor 3:6).
Yet, here we are again for the very first time.
Jesus’ message was not about a vehement stance in law, it was about a vehement stance in love. It wasn’t about being “right,” it was about being love.
Which stance are we as Christians taking today?
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4 thoughts on “Which Stance?

  1. John, some time ago the phrase “the answer is always love, now what’s the question” popped out in my walk with my Lord. Since then I have struggled with portions of the bible. Not trying to make “it” fit – just not able to answer that phrase. What I am coming to appreciate is this: where love is not visible, the verses remain a jigsaw piece on the side – waiting to be placed into the whole. It becomes more and more difficult to abuse or use the bible.

    Love you writing, love your soul, love your heart. Thank you ((hugs))

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    • Thanks Paul. I agree. The longer I walk and talk with Jesus, the more those odd puzzle pieces fall into place in respect to Father’s plan and love. Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere as a random situation. Then God says, “That’s why.” Then the bulb comes on (and sometimes blinds me for a bit). Other times, it takes a great deal of thought and study to understand a concept as relevant to my walk, but it’s always God’s prompting for me to dig deeper. It seems, though, that it always circles back to God’s love for us.

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  2. I have been trying to walk in love and live in compassion. I find that my opponents are usualy far more conservative Christians who tie love with obedience. They don’t make it easy but they probably feel the same way about me.

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    • Oh yes, Jamie. I know that feeling all too well. I’m in a very similar situation. I was a very conservative Christian most of my life and tried to do all the things the local congregation mandated. My growth spiritually just wasn’t happening though.

      Many of the older generation I grew up with are the ones digging their heels in deeper in an adamant refusal to reconsider how their beliefs may be affecting their witness to others. They’ve also pushed me away in an attempt to ostracize me from their approval until I agree to their terms again. Sometimes, I’m afraid, those situations have to be left in God’s hands. As Jesus said—leave them alone, they’re blind guides of the blind.

      This isn’t condemnation against them. It’s simply moving on to others that Jesus leads us to. We can’t force others to engage in conversation and fellowship with us and attempting to do so may only cause them to react even more vehemently. It seems Jesus had these same problems with more conservative people and had to use some harsh words to break through to their callous hearts (ex. Matt 23).

      I really do feel for those people as I’ve known them all my life and I see how miserable they are in trying to uphold mandates that don’t seem to be working in their own lives. As was also the case with me, sometimes people have to hit bottom spiritually before they will begin to reconsider how their relationship with Jesus may be impinged.

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