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?