If The Bible Says it Does That Settle It?

Maybe you already want to say emphatically, “Yes!”

I mean, if God’s Word says something, then that’s final! Right? But what about when it isn’t?

Ok. So, let’s take a look at what Jesus says before I lose you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Can we just take a moment to notice that Jesus says, “You’ve heard it said, but I tell you…?”

Where had they heard it said? Oh, just the Bible. Torah. The law. But Jesus says, nah, don’t do that, do this instead. Do the opposite of that.

What? Can Jesus disagree with the Bible? Is he allowed to do that? Doesn’t he know the rules?!

No wonder religious leaders hated Jesus so much. He challenged their set “Biblical” ideas and was bringing them towards a new way. But new ways are so controversial. Yep. It did get him killed remember.

Jesus goes on to say, oh and also, remember when you heard (in the Bible) to love your neighbour and hate your enemy? You guys remember? It’s here in Leviticus 19:18. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbour as yourself.

Well… now Jesus is saying  take that love beyond your people. Include the ones who you didn’t used to. Make your enemies your people.

“I tell you, love your enemies.”

What happens when you love someone? They may just stop being your enemy. They may become included instead of excluded. The us and them might just become us.

See, here’s the thing. When we pick verses here and there, we can make the Bible say a lot of different things, because it does say a lot of different things.

But if we zoom out, take a look at the whole story, with all of it’s ups and downs, you start to notice trajectories rather than verses. I talk in more detail about this in my yellow and super edgy book. And these trajectories right through are heading towards radical inclusion, unbelievable forgiveness, and a new way of being which is always more loving than the last.

Rather than getting stuck asking “what about this verse and that verse?” try zooming out, stepping back and asking, “where is this heading?” and it would seem that the whole thing was and is heading towards a new way. A way that notices the lonely. A way that loves the ones the religious establishment may not. A way that eats with and enters into genuine relationship with everyday people—people who aren’t like us.

That trajectory is one which I am continually drawn to participate in, and one which I can and want to practice.

Oh, before you go, if you like this and get something out of it please share it.

And if you missed it, check out my previous post Accepting The Tension Between Decay And Repair.

Thanks for being part of the ongoing conversation.

Talk soon.

Jim.

 

 

 

 

 


Accepting The Tension Between Decay And Repair

Some time ago, I’m not exactly sure when, my focus shifted, and today it shifted even more. See, I used to focus quite a lot on afterlife, as though I had any idea what that would look like at all. This world was something to get through and then heaven or hell were the two possible destinations we could end up in when we die. Much of the Christian world still focuses heavily on these ideas.  I’m not here to argue over what happens when we die. I really don’t know. Not for certain. And I’m not certain that’s what the main point of the Biblical narrative even is. But what I know is that my focus shifted some years ago to ask a different question.

What about heaven and hell here - now?

Are people experiencing suffering, hurt and loneliness right now? And can I possibly bring heaven near right now? Is it more about choosing whether I will engage in decay or repair here and now for my own life and the lives I come in contact with?

That has been where my focus has headed over recent years. To bring repair as much as I can and to reduce the decay of suffering around me.

But I have realised something a little more which I guess is obvious and I have considered before (and even wrote about in my book, Taping Over God) but I was reminded of this important reality.

The decay or difficulties of life can’t just be removed to obtain some ultimate state of bliss. No. Some of it can be eased but some must just be accepted as part of life. Take aging for example. We don’t want it. We want to stay young forever so we buy all kinds of products that promise youthfulness so that we can avoid the reality that we’re getting old and eventually, we’ll die.

Or another example, sadness. We often want to be happy so we buy the happy meal, or the clothes or maybe we might sometimes do whatever we can to bury any of our emotions that aren’t producing happiness because we are trying to obtain ultimate satisfaction.

But what if, rather than seeing difficulty and suffering as something to escape to get to happiness one day (kind of like heaven one day) we embraced the whole of life as it is - hard, at times traumatic, sad and challenging?

I don’t mean create suffering. That’s absurd. But accept that it already exists. You have some of it, right? And it is part of the deep, meaningful, complicated, messy and beautiful life that’s yours! Stop trying to be rid of it. Sure, engage in doing what you can to bring repair, but rather than ignore or mask the other stuff, admit it. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. And embrace the tension of this life that will always be full of both decay and repair over and over.

After all, death and resurrection (pretty prominent Biblical ideas) aren’t one-time events. And they aren’t just something we believe happened to someone (Jesus) once. They are more than that. We are the very site of death and resurrection, on repeat—daily. It’s not depressing. It’s freeing. Decay and repair—here and now, and tomorrow, and the day after.

Embrace it all. Engage in it. Acknowledging the difficult and messy parts of our lives is what makes relationships that much deeper.

I hope we can all remove our masks a little lower and accept each other as we are. Perpetually in the tension of brokenness and repair, practising honesty in regards to our current reality but hope for a better reality. But not one void of emptiness. There is no magic formula to remove the emptiness we all feel at times. Just a continual process of life which juggles the tensions of happiness, mixed with pain, mixed with purpose, all creating the wonderfully complex thing we call life.

May our relationships be real, deep, and meaningful.

I have left room for so much further thought on these topics. Please be part of an ongoing conversation about things that matter, either here with me, or with those you love.

Jim.

 

If you’re interested in keeping up with whatever I’m up to elsewhere (which is not all that exciting!) here’s a couple of places we can connect.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JimStevensAuthor

Instagram @jim._stevens

And if you want to read more about all this rethinking God stuff you can check my book out here:

https://jimstevens.com.au/

or here https://tinyurl.com/y4wbc9gl

 


Let's Start A Conversation.

Oh hi there.

Jim here—your friendly neighbourhood thinker here. Thanks for stopping by to see what this is all about and giving me a few minutes of your time!

So, here’s the plan. What’s important to me is engaging in ongoing conversation about things that matter. And taking a look around, it seems obvious that faith of some kind matters. Not to everyone but possibly to you if you’ve come here.

I’m not interested in clichés, empty hype or converting people to my belief system. I’m interested in meaningful relationships and a genuine wrestling with ideas and holding them up to questioning to work out what really matters so that we can give our time to what we feel really does matter.

Many people I know have unfortunately often felt that certain questions or topics about faith and the Bible aren’t up for conversation in their communities (Maybe it’s afterlife doubts. Or who is included? Why does God allow suffering? Did Jesus have to die? Does prayer work? Is God really vengeful? Why does God seem so different throughout the Bible? And so many more…) and so I will use this platform as a way to initiate thought and hopefully conversation around some of these matters.

My goal isn’t to provide yet another place for people to argue online. There’s too much of that already, but rather this is a place for those who are perhaps unsettled or feel on the fringes of their faith community, or just have some questions and uncertainties, that maybe we can explore together.

If areas of your faith have at times unraveled, if you’ve felt unsure about parts of it but also unsure about whether or not you’re even allowed to talk about it, well you’re allowed here (as if you need permission). Let’s ask questions and dig together.

Wherever you’re at in your thoughts on these kinds of things, I look forward to the ongoing conversation.

Please, comment below, stay in touch and share this with friends who might like being part of something like this.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

Jim.

 

If you’re interested in keeping up with whatever I’m up to elsewhere (which is not all that exciting!) here’s a couple of places we can connect.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JimStevensAuthor

Instagram @jim._stevens

And if you want to read more about all this rethinking God stuff you can check my book out here:

https://jimstevens.com.au/

or here https://tinyurl.com/y4wbc9gl

 

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