March 17, 2010

Misquoting Jesus

Pray for fellow milspouse BB Mrs P and her family.
She lost her husband in A-Stan.
Pray, friends. Pray. And go love on her some today.
Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, and He will heal us;
He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.
He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.
Let us strive to know the Lord.
His appearance is as sure as the dawn.
Hosea 6:1-3
I don't know if you're like me, but I am drawn to social networking sites such as facebook primarily for the voyeurism. Okay, that's not strictly true, I also enjoy the ease of maintaining ties with friends and family, new and old. It really is a blessing.

Sometimes I see someone who is a friend of a friend of mine, and it's someone I sort of knew but not enough to friend request them (you know what I mean). But I go to their profile just the same, to see what's up. And I like to look through their groups, to see what they're into.

I came across someone last night, and saw at the top of their group list a group titled "I'm a Christian and I'm Proud." Well, all sorts of possibilities for exactly what type of group this was ran through my mind. Really, how many "I'm a Christian" groups do we need unless they are serving niche demographics, right?

So I click on it, and under Group Info, there was only one line:

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self, and this is the greatest commandment of them all." - Jesus

Pardon me for being stuffy, but if you're going to call yourself a Christian group, you could at least quote Jesus accurately, and entirely.

For the record, what He actually said is:

When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
Jesus said to him, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments." - Matt 22:34-40

Notice the difference? It's not exactly subtle. Jesus actually said, love God first. Love other people, but love God most. That's the greatest commandment.

This isn't exactly unique. It's become more and more common for contemporary Christian movements to put the focus on "loving people." And we should love people, obviously. If you think I'm saying anything other than that, that's Satan talking, not me.

But when we take our focus off of God and put it on anyone or anything else - even good things - then we aren't following Jesus. Because Jesus also said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

This is why it is SO important to be a student of the Word. If we aren't, we are easily deceived. After all, isn't that sort of what Jesus said? It's pretty close. And certainly there's nothing incorrect in saying that Jesus wants us to love people. Except if it's only "close," it's still wrong.

See, Satan uses this tactic all the time. Like, all the time. Believe it or not, he even tried it on Jesus.

So [Satan] took Him to Jerusalem, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you, and they will support you with their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. " And Jesus answered him, "It is said: Do not test the Lord your God. " After the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time. - Luke 4:9-13

What Satan quoted there (the bold part) is actually only partially right. Oh, you'll find those phrases in Psalms, but he edited them - paraphrased them if you will - to suit his own purposes. Look it up - it's from Psalm 91. Psalm 91 doesn't give us license to be stupid and not suffer the consequences. But that's exactly what Satan was daring Jesus to do.

Crazy, right?! I mean, this is Jesus. You're seriously going to try and mess with the Word of God to try and trick Jesus? But that's always Satan's MO. cf. The Garden of Eden, you'll see what I mean.

And how does Jesus respond? With supernatural magical powers? With high logic and big words? By changing the subject to something less confrontational or controversial? Nope. He answers with a verse of His own, quoted verbatim out of Deuteronomy. In fact, three times it's recorded that Satan directly comes and tries to tempt Jesus, appealing to His human desires, which were every bit as strong as ours, as we know Jesus to have been both fully human and fully God. And He doesn't need super-special special effects to fight him off.

Jesus's weapon of choice when faced with Scriptural error was (what we know as) the Bible.

So what does that mean for us? It means that, if Jesus found it beneficial - nay, necessary - to be so familiar with Scriptures he could quote them from memory even in times of great physical and mental strain (remember, this was at the end of a 40 day fast) then it follows that we should, too.

If we don't, it is only too easy to be misled. God's Word commands us against distorting the Scriptures and warns us about those who will do so and try to deceive us. For example,

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. - 1 Tim. 4:1-3
I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments...Therefore don't let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his fleshly mind. - Col. 2:4, 16-18
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. - 2 Tim. 4:2-3

And don't we see examples of all these today? It's common practice in "Christian" circles to say certain foods are (still) off-limits, that for the 'cause of Christ' or the Church that certain people shouldn't or can't get married, or to glorify angels, even considering them saints to be 'venerated,' meaning worshiped or prayed to. Now, not all of those teaching these things are dogmatic and say "You must!" But they may still say "You should." Either way, it's still wrong. Don't believe me? Read the New Testament to see what Paul had to say about the circumcision controversy of his day.

The point is, we need to do our homework. Or else it is too easy to be deceived when someone misquotes Jesus.

Want a good place to start? Listen here.
And for my non-theist friends who made it this far, thanks for reading.
I also highly recommend you listening to the above link. It's a great primer on Christian theology.


  1. very very well said. thanks!

  2. such an interesting post. love this stuff. :)

  3. I couldn't agree more with this post! PS: I think we have mutual friends on facebook because your picture showed up in my suggested friends lol.


    Ok, I haven't commented lately, b/c last time I tried to log on it said your blog did not exist anymore. So happy to see that you are still here. Love the new layout!


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