As I’m always welcoming new people to the blog I sometimes like to revisit an old post or two that sparked a good conversation, but may have been missed by those who weren’t around when it was originally posted. In light of the interest in my recent posts Blogmatics: The Cost Of Discipleship and Why Are Christians So Bad At Handling Criticism?, I thought this could a good contribution to the conversation and themes that underlie both of those posts.
Sunday morning sermons. Bible studies. Personal devotions. They’re all a waste of time.
Because these sorts of activities try to teach us about the peculiar sort of life Jesus called his followers to live. While that may sound like a good and important endeavor, it’s really a waste of time.
The truth is Jesus was wrong about a lot of things he said because they simply don’t work in the real world.
Jesus said you can’t serve two masters, but we know that life must be lived serving many masters, work, school, friends, fun, sex. Jesus is certainly among them, but we must serve all these masters if we are to live a whole and complete life.
Jesus said turn the other cheek and not resist evil doers, but we know that Jesus didn’t understand that when people come to take your life, you must respond with violence in order to protect yourself and others.
Jesus said to sell everything you have and give it to the poor because it’s easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, but we know that God really wants us to be rich or at the very least, not poor. After all, why else would he have given us all this stuff?
Jesus said never stop forgiving, but we know that there’s a limit to forgiveness. When others hurt us really badly, they don’t deserve forgiveness and they certainly don’t deserve grace.
Jesus said that even lustful looks are sinful, but we know that sexuality is a defining part of our identity and therefore something to be indulged in whenever we have the chance.
Jesus said the last will be first and the least will be the greatest, but we know that if we don’t fight for what’s ours we’ll get trampled upon by others and miss out on our just reward.
Jesus said to be humble, but we know that only the proud will thrive in life.
Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, but we know that real life demands that all our enemies be defeated and humiliated.
Jesus said be perfect, but we know that God will forgive us regardless. After all, why bother pursuing holiness when no one’s perfect anyway?
Jesus said a lot of things, but we know better. We know how life in the real world has to be lived.
Of course, we may never come out and say it that way, but our lives makes it pretty clear that we believe Jesus was wrong and that we know better than he did about how life can and should be lived.
We can fight battles till we’re blue in the face over the truth of Christianity, but every time we make decisions contrary to the teachings of Jesus our actions declare to the world that the “truth” is Jesus was wrong. In other words, every time we choose to destroy our enemies rather than love them or seek our own comfort over others’ needs or trust in stuff rather than in God, it’s like we’re winking at our critics and conceding “You’re right, Jesus was wrong.”
If we really believed Jesus’ teachings were the truth, though we would certainly stumble and fall in the pursuit of that calling, we wouldn’t spend so much of our time rationalizing or justifying why we choose to ignore so many of the things Jesus said. Though winning a debate may be momentarily satisfying, if “truth” is really as important to us as it seems to be, then the best way we as the Church have to prove the truth of Jesus is to incarnate the good news even and especially when it doesn’t make sense to do so.
That isn’t an easy path to tread and those who pursue it will certainly struggle and fall along the way, but for the Christian faith, ultimate truth is not found in rhetoric.
It’s found when Jesus’ words become our actions.
It’s found in incarnation.
Which means, until we stop making excuses and start living lives that intentionally seek to embody the gospel we preach, until then the message we proclaim to the world will continue to be “Jesus was wrong.”
Grace and peace,