6 Things Jesus NEVER said!

Never has the bible been more available to us all. But sometimes, as I read social media, I wonder if this bible, available in so many versions and formats, is actually being read in full at all!

Some seem to base their world view on no more than Psalm 23, the first half of Ephesians, a few political preferences and the slogan that “God is love”. But this is not enough to develop a divine world view that truly sees God, as revealed in the scriptures.

Because of this probable trend in biblical illiteracy, I wonder if some are beginning to see God as a divine Father Christmas figure, that hell is a myth, our behaviour is irrelevant, repentance is old-fashioned and church should be a kindly club, just doing nice things for society, in the hope we will “win them over”.

As I read through the Gospels, I find they are packed with confrontation and controversy, that the epistles bristle with clear and direct lifestyle commands and that the Old Testament is full of fire and fear, as well as faithfulness and God’s friendship. So I wonder if we are, at times, putting words into God’s mouth that have never been there? Are we attributing fashionable slogans to the eternal Being that is God? And are those slogans subtly leading churches and Christians astray?

Sadly, I believe they are.

So here are some provocative little thoughts about this: 6 things Jesus actually NEVER said, that I think some Christians think he did… (remember I always write with a slight twinkle in my eye – just trying to get us to think, I’m not really this cranky!):

  1. “God’s love is unconditional”

I think we are now living in an age when true intelligent discussion is not really allowed. Instead, definitive sweeping changes are being driven by slogans like “Love wins”  “God is Love” and “God loves unconditionally”. While these sound great on the surface, three word slogans are not adequate to sum up the real truth of God’s love, holiness, the free gift of salvation or the cost of discipleship.

That is why we have a WHOLE bible to read, a book filled with as much terrifying might as it is mysterious mercy!

Many who quote “God loves unconditionally” subtlety seem to mean that “if He loves me, that must mean he approves of all I do, I can live how I want. He will not correct me, because that is rejecting me. He will not discipline me, as that is disapproval – and that’s not loving!” But biblical Christianity includes correction, discipline, change and repentance – it is not simply automatic approval. It is rather like the loving context of parenting – true love corrects and adjusts behaviour and belief, resulting in a mature, fully developed person.

God is indeed Love, but the bible shows he also hates, detests, turns over tables, shouts, cries, get’s frustrated with his dilatory disciples and says that we will remain in His love only “IF you obey my commands” (John 15:10). To try to grasp that God is love, without the context that God is also holy, will lead your theology astray, and will lessen your appreciative awe of His grace.

  1. “Church should be Inclusive”

Wow –  this is a hard one. The remit of the Church is to “make disciples” (Matt 28:19) which infers her members should be open to discipline, growth, training and development. To be a disciple is to be devoted to a teaching. Now, while our evangelistic “reach” should be all inclusive (although, Jesus was sometimes pretty non-inclusive with those Pharisees, did you notice?), true membership into the body is one that clearly includes church discipline (Matt 18:15-17 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over… if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.) the expulsion of members over certain issues (1 Co 5:1 expel the immoral brother), and even the shunning of those who will not rise to be a true disciple where able.(2 Thess 3:6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.)

While our reach should be all inclusive, local church membership is not completely unconditional.

  1. “Let’s make God so attractive, people come to Church”

OK, I’m being a tad provocative here, and I certainly don’t think we should aim to make church UNattractive! But while it is true Jesus said we should be a city on a hill and a light to the world – He also modelled a message that was offensive, rejected, hated by many and brought persecution to both himself and his followers. Jesus said the world “hates me because I testify that its works are evil.” John 7:7. He also said “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18+

While we would be crazy to try to be offensive and cranky, our message is not of this world, and we are not here to appease the culture of the day, but to bring heaven to earth – a kingdom coming! The Gospels, book of Acts and church history shows that a true church is, at times, a riot causing church! We don’t aim to offend, but our message is eternal, and not always loved by the temporal fashions of the day.

Some truly old Methodist church buildings have “escape hatches”, where the preacher could run and escape if the congregation were about to attack them because of their preaching! Not always loved, Methodism radically transformed the nation in its day. However, it was not by populism, but by truth, power and grace!

  1. “Whatever you do – don’t offend anyone” (or, “please be nice”)

It is sad to see many church leaders feel they must assume the posture of kindly chaplains, as if that is what church leadership is all about. Of course, once again, kindness is vital and godly, but if it is the only type of leader we consider “Christian” then our world view is not biblical. Biblical leadership can be confrontational, pioneering, brave, adventurous, wild, prophetic, dangerous, bringing truth as well as grace to our spheres of influence. Jesus himself had thousands turn away from him when his preaching became “strong”. His response to his disciples: “Do you want to go too?” (John 6:67)

  1. “God Doesn’t Hate”

Again, a modern misunderstanding of the concept of God’s love, leads some to think God hates nothing. The bible clearly shows he loves the whole world, but he also hates our involvement in certain behaviours:

Proverbs 6:16-19

 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
         haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
         a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Read that last line again: “He hates a person who stirs up conflict”. Our behaviour can put us in a place where God’s hatred is expressed – scary! Now, from my reading of the whole bible, I believe he loves the person, but hates the behaviour. Either way, let’s not aim to have our lives experience the hatred of God!

  1. “Your sins are forgiven – now do whatever you want!”

To the woman caught in adultery, without even a record of her obvious repentance, Jesus says “I do not condemn you”. That leaves some fundamental theologians twitchy, while some more liberal ones would love to teach from this, that this is God’s unconditional, “Do whatever you want” approach to our sin. But Jesus didn’t actually stop there. He finishes by saying “go, and sin no more.”

To a man just healed he said: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (Jesus in straight talking mode again!)

Perhaps humanity’s toxic pursuit of personal approval has invaded our theology, creating a liberal hope that God never has anything other than pure approval for us, in every way. This however, is simply not biblical.

I realise, in this short, provocative piece, I am picking and choosing only certain verses, to express a few less fashionable thoughts and extremes from the bible, Truly, I realise we are not on this earth to be cranky, unloving, judgmental and cruel. But also, the lack of true biblical “World view” of many Christians is worrying.

I also realise the Church currently finds itself in a tense time, as we wonder how to grapple with a society bent on new ways of moral anarchy and sexual confusion. But our response should not be a knee-jerk reaction that tries to re-write scripture to appease, but rather the discovery of innovative ways to reach a hurting world with grace, while allowing God’s bride to be truly glorious and holy.

Can I implore you to read the whole bible. I picked up a copy of The Passion Translation for my birthday (such a great fresh read!). I settled down the first few weeks, slowly pouring over the Gospel of John, catching a fresh sense of what Jesus was REALLY like. My conclusion – As well as loving and kind, He was wild, offensive, radical, truthful, a tad rude (perhaps “pointed” or straight talking is a better word – but many would call it rude if they encountered a leader like it today!), and he lost a lot of disciples because of his wild style. He was no soft, push-over. He was a powerful, confrontational figure.

As I read, I began to pray: “Jesus, I want to know the REAL you. What REAL love, REAL kindness, REAL truth is. I don’t want to make you a God in my image. I don’t want to pretend that things are true, just because I would prefer them to be. Teach me. I humble myself before your Word.”

Be really bold my friend. Read all the scary scriptures, as well as the nice ones, and ask God to give you a truly, biblical world view.

If you’d like some more radical thinking about Jesus, try this article: Jesus, What was He Really like?

Comments

24 comments on “6 Things Jesus NEVER said!”
  1. Phil Young says:

    There seems to be rather a lot of things which people say which aren’t from the Bible…such as ‘God helps those who help themselves’. And also not seeing the spirit behind a statement in the Bible (partly sometimes I believe, because of the particular translation). A lot of Christians referring to things being done in a service, say that they should be done’ decently and in good order’. OK, Scripture actually says that…but it can become very rigid and controlling. Anyhow, I always thought I don’t think it quite means that…and then I read a commentary or something, which said that an alternative translation for that passage is ‘with grace…and something else, which I don’t now recall..this was years ago. Anyway, this was exactly what I took that passage to mean and so was very relieved that I wasn’t necessarily wrong.
    What is unfortunate, as you state, is that many people don’t read too much of Scripture (maybe simply because they are not good at reading, or they do not have time) and then may take a lot of things on board if they don’t have time to think about what’s actually being said.

    1. Jarrod Cooper says:

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Dean Bell says:

    So good Jarrod to hear a preacher making comments like this in a public domain

    1. Jarrod Cooper says:

      Bless you Dean! Thank you!

  3. Chris Armour says:

    Not sure about the reference to “kindly chaplains”… I’ve always seen my role as a chaplain to ‘comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’. We are as hard-hitting as we need to be, otherwise we’re not truly doing God’s will. 🙂

    1. Jarrod Cooper says:

      Great thought Chris!

  4. Adam says:

    Everything you’re saying sounds good apart from mentioning the Passion translation which I’m told adds sections to the bible …I thought Paul said that even if an angel from heaven tries to add to the words from god then reject this….isn’t that what the writer did with this translation?(he translated part but added sections under the guidance of an angel called Passion?) At this point we’re going against scripture aren’t we? Isn’t this what the Christian scientists and jehovahs witnesses and Mormons do? (same set up with Joseph Smith and his angel) Are they our Christian brothers and sisters too ?

  5. JoJo says:

    Surely all those who like it to be black/white, in or out, do it like me, everyone else is wrong, everyone who expresses their faith differently is a heretics will love this article. You are really standing up for original Christianity. Go bro. Those who identify with a God who shares in suffering, sorrow, the longings and the sighings in a world due to his unfathomable love will possibly find it ego driven regurgitated words that do not sum up the spirit of the law. It does not fit with the God of the whole bible – who is slow to anger, abounding in love and understands our frailty.

    It sums up perfectly people who want to win and argument and be right. No thanks. Keep your Christianity. I am off to be with my tribe – the sinners. There is less judgment over there.

  6. Mark says:

    This message and the one linked to it is so much needed across the church today. Last night I heard Emma Stark at Rediscover Church also with a similar strong message. There must be a book in the making here.

Leave a Reply