“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20: 16
“Anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.” Luke 7: 47
“I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.” John 10: 39
Words from Jesus.
Words that are not easy to understand sometimes.
Words which can be twisted and utilized for selfish purposes.
Some people who read the Bible love to think they know what Jesus intended with His words. However, there is a possibility they may not know His every intention.
Intentional fallacy is a term used in 20th-century literary criticism to describe the problem inherent in trying to judge a work of art by assuming the intent or purpose of the artist who created it.
Does the intentional fallacy apply to the Bible?
Are we willing to admit that it does?
People who need Jesus to be on their side make bold statements about His intentions. In a post on June 17th, I wrote that liberal democrats see Jesus as a revolutionary. Conservative republicans see Jesus as a personal Savior who has come to save the world from sin.
But who is right? What was Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth?
Pastor Adam Hamilton feels that “Jesus preached one gospel that has, unfortunately, been split by the church into two: the social gospel and the personal evangelical gospel” [Seeing Gray in A World of Black and White].
And after it was split, it was high-jacked by competing political parties.
Do you think Jesus intended to pit Christian against Christian?
Do you think Jesus intended to champion one political party’s claims and not another’s?
I think not. I think the title of Chapter Eleven is very appropriate, “Is Your Jesus Too Small?”
Yes people are making Him too small.
I guess it was inevitable. We are after all, only human. We are limited in our intelligence. Couple that with our out-of-control sense of pride and you have a dangerous combination.
Twisting and utilizing Scripture for selfish purposes.
Jesus did not really give any indication that He was a big social reformer. Yes, He had a place for women in His ministry but He did not speak specifically about women’s rights. Jesus called on us to care for the hungry, sick and naked but He did not specifically wage war on poverty.
What did He do?
He gave us words that implied we should tackle issues like caring for others regardless of their skin color or social background, or avoiding the use of violence or maybe even helping the homeless by building shelters or helping the sick by building hospitals.
I believe the nature of Jesus’s words were inspirational.
Have you ever spent time with a visionary? Visionaries hate to be pinned down. They hate to be pinned down with a question like “how are you going to do that” or “this is a very real problem that you need to address.” I see Jesus as a visionary who wants us to act on His words but He did not come to spend time with us, giving us all the details.
We will address the details as we submit to the reign of God and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, leading us to do the work of God, Jesus and the church.
I wonder what Jesus would think of a liberal or a conservative, claiming that He was on their side. I wonder what Jesus would think of a social justice democrat, claiming that He was a revolutionary or a personal relationship republican, claiming that He was here just to forgive our sins.
I sing in the choir at my church. I am a “newbie”. I have heard choir members talk about their view from the loft for years and did not make a big deal about it. But now that I am in the choir, my perspective of church is really different. I see people looking at the pastor, the choir, and “other things”.
I was in the choir last Sunday and I saw a strange man come in the back entrance of the church. He looked like he had just come in off the street. He was a good fifty yards away from me so I did not get a close look at him. He looked like he may have been a person of color and he was not dressed in his “Sunday” best. Immediately I wanted an usher to approach him and give him an information packet about our church but I did not see that happen.
The choir had to sing our “special” for the service and I focused my attention on the music and the choir director.
When we were through, I sat back down and looked at the back of the church.
He was gone.
I know this sounds crazy but what if that man was Jesus? What if He came to church and saw what we have done to His life-giving message and left…disappointed.
He found out His words were twisted and utilized for selfish purposes.