Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jesus Said That

I always find it curious when someone who is not a Christian proceeds to tell Christians that they are not good Christians. Usually, the phrases that get used are something like, "Judge not that you be not judged!" or "God loves everyone just the way that they are." Usually, this comes about when a Christian has voiced his or her opinion about some type of behavior being sinful.

Now, the first thing that a Christian must keep in mind is that this sort of argument is not to be taken personally. Secondly, they must remember not to get angry about this because it is patently silly. Silly things should not make us angry or defensive. If my buddy Matt tells me that he is the Queen of Sheba, anger should not be my first impulse.

Once these first two impulses are squashed, the third imperative can follow. That is, we must remember that the main issue is always Jesus. Who is Jesus? What did Jesus teach? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? This is far more important than debating marriage laws, polygamy, homosexuality, or whether or not someone should vote Republican.

So if I say, "I believe that 'gay marriage' is as ridiculous as a squared circle," and someone retorts that I'm being a judgmental bigot who is unworthy to call myself a human being, much less a Christian, because Jesus would never say such a preposterous thing, I need to think, "Heeeey...this person doesn't know about Jesus very well" not "Heeeey...he just called me a BIGOT!"

Here is something that Jesus actually said, "He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:34-36). Jesus makes some pretty big claims in this passage.

First, Jesus claims that God sent him. Next, Jesus claims that when he is speaking, he is uttering the very words of God. Then, Jesus claims to be the rightful ruler of all things because God gave him everything. Finally, Jesus says that whoever does not obey him will perish under the wrath of Almighty God. Jesus made it abundantly clear throughout the gospels that he believed himself to be the only way to get to God (John 14:6). He also defined marriage, and a great list of other things whilst he was here, including affirmations of the Old Testament.

This is how the Christian can deal with name-calling and misunderstanding. Jesus said, "It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household" (Matthew 10:25). Basically, if someone objects to the teaching of Jesus, even though it is a hapless Christian merely parroting the words of the Great Teacher, the one who is objecting falls under the condemnation of which Jesus spoke. In reality then, it could be Jesus who is the judgmental bigot who is unfit to be a human being, or he could be the King of the Universe who gets to make the rules for the creation that he himself helped make and currently sustains.


Anonymous said...

steven cornelius says:

I agree with your thoughts here Brad. What I find more curious than when non-Believers question us when we voice "opinions" on sinful behaviors is when fellow Believers question the condemnation of sin, as they recite the same misapplication of judgment Scriptures. Have you ever encountered that?

Brad Williams said...

I have. I would suspect that most of the people who would quote this verse in or out of context would probably claim to be a Christian.

It's a bad verse to use out of context. This is a warning for people who are judging others, not for the ones being judged to use as a foil against them.

Anonymous said...

I think I've only heard the "Judge not lest you be judged" quote out of context, and always assumed it was indeed intended as a reprimand against Christians judging (people whom they consider to be) sinners.

About Jesus' affirmations of the Old Testament, does that include some of the (and I mean this in a non-judgemental way) reprehensible laws found in Deuteronomy? Because I've been told those laws were rendered null by Jesus, and were specific to those Old Testament societies.


Brad Williams said...


Jesus affirmed that the Old Testament was indeed the very Words of God. I'm not certain which laws you would think are reprehensible? Perhaps the stoning of adulterers and homosexuals?

I would not say that Jesus rendered such laws "null." Instead, I would say that Jesus has ushered in an era of greater grace. After all, being stoned to death for transgression is not nearly as bad as suffering in hell for it eternally, right? Jesus taught about hell fairly often. I'm not sure any punishments in the OT are as severe as hell.

Anonymous said...

Deuteronomy 22:22: If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

Exodus 21:15 Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29: If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

Deut. 22: 23-24 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.


Anonymous said...

I know it's easy to pick and choose things from thousands of years ago in an effort to make the people who lived in them look barbaric--I'm sure you can find equivelantly awful things in other societies around that time. The explanation I've received is that the OT God intended those laws for that particular time and place, prior to Jesus' death-by-salvation deal. That strikes me as moral relativism, but I guess if God IS morality then He can change it as it suits him. Or do you think those Old Testament laws are applicable to the present day? :)


Anonymous said...

Couple of embarrassing typos there, but hey, at least I capitalized God's pronoun!