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20 August 2011

5 Things Jesus Taught That We Apparently Ought Not Take Literally (Part 2)

The honor, respect, and obedience due Jesus Christ and what He taught is often sadly lacking among those who claim to be His followers. We seem to be incredibly hard of (spiritual) hearing, or maybe we're just too thick-headed to really understand sometimes.

I'm reminded of a scene in Monty Python's film The Life of Brian (a movie which many understandably find shockingly sacrilegious). Jesus, standing on a hill far away as He teaches a large crowd, says, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." The little group in the scene has been arguing and as a result others can't hear, so an agitated man asks, "Could you be quiet, please? What was that?" He's told by another man, "I think He said, 'Blessed are the cheese-makers.'" A woman expresses her puzzlement, "Ah. What's so special about the cheese-makers?" A man attempts to clear things up by saying, "Well obviously it's not meant to be taken literally, it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products."

Too close for comfort. We try to listen but Jesus' voice is drowned out by everything else going on around us and we just pick up little bits we hear from others, often far afield from what Jesus really said. Often we honestly don't care to listen (and Jesus' teachings seem to fit quite nicely into two hours on Sunday, anyway). On that note that we will commence with the second teaching of Jesus that is apparently not meant to be taken literally.

(I didn't want to spell it out, but if this all sounds like I've gone a bit crazy, please put on your Irony Glasses and read it again.)

2) "So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." (Matthew 5:23-24, NLT)

Why shouldn't we take this literally? What I see first is that most of us don't go to a temple to offer a sacrifice, so that automatically puts this passage in "good example" territory, sort of like a witty sermon illustration.

And as with yesterday's point number one, we have tradition on our side. Not many Christians actually do this, right? If someone harbors resentment toward us and we know we're in the right, that's the other person's problem. I probably don't need to mention that grudges are apparently okay, otherwise followers of Jesus would not hold them.

So as with yesterday's non-literal teaching, since we have so little evidence of this happening in the Church, we can safely file this one away in the "good thing to keep in mind" category, as well. Jesus must have meant that if this is what we aspire to do in our hearts, that's good enough, whether or not we actually follow through with it.

(Finishing on a serious note, one thing to notice is that Jesus said that I shouldn't offer my sacrifice if someone has something against me; He doesn't say it the other way around. Of course I must not let my own ill feelings linger, but here Jesus is talking about going to those people who have something against me, have mocked me, persecuted me, or lied about me -- whether they have absolutely no reason or a very good reason.)


John King said...

After reading part 1 posting my opinon. I now have read part 2 an the first line I read was about respect. Something i touched on in part 1. I understand what your saying. But this doesn't account for all things we may indure in life. and as I said in pat 1. please correct me where im wrong. Because to be honest i've done all of those things mentioned. I Went to the Alter many times trying to lay it at his feet. For a few days I would think it over. And the Evil just came back each time worse than before. So again this ismy question. Do we have to respect evil. I dont men someone who stepped on your toe or cut you off in traffic. But a person who deliberately continues to do evil upon you. For those of you who dont know me. Im a follower. I want to learn. Grow. Before being saved, I would have handled my problem physically. I thank God everyday, for not allowing that to happen to me. Ok I wrote on part away....let me have, am I wrong. meanning there are different circumstanses to every issue. Some minor, some family breakers.

Dean Lusk said...

You said, "But this doesn't account for all things we may endure in life," and that's an excellent point. That's why it's so important that we stay immersed in the Word and in tight fellowship with other believers (even though that can even bring hurt sometimes). By knowing Scripture, I do believe that there is an answer for everything in life that we will encounter.

I think today's post is going to be the hardest one in this situation. Loving your enemies... I guess my question would be, is it possible to love your enemy without respecting him? I honestly don't know if I have an answer to that. I think it's possible because I have no respect for a terrorist who would kill innocent children. But I am commanded to love that terrorist somehow!

With me as a human, that simply isn't possible. With God, all things are possible. Only if the Holy Spirit regenerates my heart -- gives me a new heart like His -- can I actually love that person and pray for blessings on them. Not "blessings" that will help him kill more people, but blessings that will somehow bring glory to God Almighty. That he would come to know that he is loved by God and by God's children...

Dean Lusk said...

That doesn't directly address your situation, but I think there are some common things to pull out of it...? I'm still learning, myself. I see things in my own life that make me ashamed, but I hold onto that truth that as we run in pursuit of God, He will keep changing us to be more like Him in how we live, love, and relate to others.

It's a journey that can be long and tiring, and sometimes painful. But the reward is knowing God more completely. He is the reward!

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