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19 August 2011

5 Things Jesus Taught That We Apparently Ought Not Take Literally (Part 1)

Welcome, kids! A fabulous multi-part series begins today. Each day we'll take a teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, and I'll explain why each one was probably not meant to be taken literally. Let's jump right in, shall we?

1) "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way." (Matthew 5:11-12, NLT)

Why shouldn't we take this literally? First of all, when people mock us, persecute us, and lie about us, it's usually not because we're following Jesus. Typically people do things like this to us because of things like our really bad hair, because we may have a more cushy job than the next person, or maybe we have a terrible attitude about whatever seems to be bothering us at any given moment.

Second, when people do act like this toward us, we Christians most frequently react in a variety of ways, none of which is "getting happy" (though there are the rare exceptions). Rather, we get angry or depressed, we might decide to stop talking to the offending person (or worse, we may un-friend them on Facebook), and if someone lies about us we'll make every effort to clear our good name, usually by degrading the other person.

I can't think of too many people I know who've been glad in the face of persecution. Unfortunately, I don't have a great record, either.

So it's obvious from the way most of we Christ-followers behave that Jesus didn't mean for us to take Him literally here; just look at the evidence. I'd say that tradition and history are on the side of Jesus being figurative with the "joy in trials" statement. What He probably meant is that if you consider yourself the type of person who might hold up well under such circumstances, everything is just fine and you will be blessed.

Stay tuned as we present another eye-opening exposition tomorrow!

Please note that while there is truth to much of what I've written above, I was going for thick irony in the conclusion.


Chris Rigoni said...

I actually take it to mean something slightly different. There is a very important part of that verse that should be examined: "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers." The "because you are my followers" part, I believe means He is referring to when they do these things because we are His followers, and only because we are His followers. Being persecuted because we follow Jesus, talk about Him, share the Gospel, etc... Also, the "trials of many kinds" section I believe are used to teach us. The second have of James 1:2-4 refer to creating perseverance. This perseverance is in direct reference to being better followers of Christ, or more like Christ. As the word says, as iron sharpens iron. Other people, whether they are mocking us or not, whether they are a friend or not, sharpens us into what God would have us be. The difficult people in our lives are not there by mistake, and running from them will only prevent God from working further in our lives.

Lisa Laree said...

At first, I thought 'What???' and then I read some more and thought 'OOOhhhhhh....'

Yes, judging by the traditional and current behavior of most folks that follow Christ, I see your point.

Wicked sharp point, I might add.

Chris Rigoni said...

I now see the enormous irony plane flying over my head after your personal explanation. After retaining my dignity, I will admit that I didn't get it, but now I agree with Lisa, wicked sharp point :)

John King said...

maybe im way off here...if so please help....correct me...
If a Christian is doing something bad or bad to you. The Bible says we should sit down with the person an attempt to work it out to Glorify God. In my case, after being told by others to do it. I did. Instead of Glorifying God. Due to the other person was untruthful during a sacrete time It destroyed a intire family. so heres my question...Dean wrote taking them off your facebook list etc. I'm sorry, but I say if the other person is unwilling. Than move on. God didn't say I had to respect them. By just moving on so to speak. There is less problems that can occur. Its a domino affect. This sounds like a coward. But trust me the other way. It kills you from within and evil wins...

Dean Lusk said...

You've talked before about not being instructed to respect someone who has done wrong to us, and I personally think that's okay. I don't see it as going against Scripture.

Remember that I was being sarcastic in the post on purpose. But the serious thing is that in this case Jesus was talking about people persecuting us because we are following Him.

An example might be making a decision to move to Libya or something because the Holy Spirit made it clear to you that you should be a missionary there, and having people tell you how stupid you are, or saying that only a nut-case would do it. (That's the best I can think of right now.)

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