I go on kicks.
I’m all in on a TV show, a food, energy drinks, whatever. It happens all the time (it’s usually energy drinks again). I think it comes from my dad actually. He was very much the same way. So if you’ll indulge me I’m back to the bible again. Back to what it means to us as Christians. More precisely, what do we do with it?
A close friend brought this whole idea to mind again
Practically how do any of us really know what to believe? What’s the process?
I suggested we start with Jesus. The answer strikes we as wildly ironic. It’s the quintessential Sunday school answer, yet one we so often refuse to use. Maybe it’s because we feel like it doesn’t count any more. Years of some kid saying “JESUS!” for every answer makes us feel almost stupid to even start there.
But we are Christ followers after all, so maybe we should consider dusting this tired and worn answer off.
So how do we do that? What does it look like to start, and I’d argue, end with Jesus?
Great question, glad I asked it.
I was talking with this close friend of mine. She’s struggling through the application of scripture. When do we hold tight to what appears to be a clear direction and when do we say “nope, cultural expression” or any other slew of reasons to let go of a direction.
As anyone who has ever spent any time with me knows, I start these conversations with a load of questions. I want to hear the story, the struggle, I want to get inside their perspective. It’s all so interesting to me.
A week or so later after having thought about it and mulled what was said we were talking again and brought this start with Jesus idea forward. I asked “where does this discussion start?” It was a specific scripture. She’d mentioned it a number of times and it was clear we were talking about what do we do with this.
We back up and started with Jesus. What did he ask us to do?
Love our neighbours
Love our enemies
Go and make disciples teaching them all that Jesus had taught.
So we start with what Jesus taught and see how this scripture fit in with his teaching. Which interpretation makes us more loving? Which breaks down oppression? Which puts the last first? Which leads to love?
For me the error that was being made was starting with a scripture, seeing its clear message and then saying I guess this is what we must do. But it missed Jesus. He wasn’t even in the discussion! The bible may clearly state something but to then just go ahead and follow it is crazy.
We follow Christ not the bible.
There is a great deal to learn from all scripture and we can absolutely find Christ and his love in all of it. But that doesn’t mean we just up and do exactly as it says. If it did we’d be stoning people and keeping slaves. And it seems extreme to use those examples because systematically oppressing people groups like slavery does is horrific and clearly un-Christ like.
But we continue to build and sustain systems that oppress. We continue to fight for our rights over choosing a self-sacrificing choice. We continue to put ourselves first, fighting for what is ours, holding tight to what we think we are owed or deserve. We continue to choose the bible over Christ. Be it keeping woman from leadership, demonizing the LGTBQ community, the continued refusal to see the oppression experienced by the black community in the US or the aboriginal community in Canada, it doesn’t matter. At best we are choosing the bible over choosing love. We are choosing the bible over Christ.
We start and end with Christ. How does this make me more loving, more generous, and more gracious? How does this choice give life to the oppressed? How will this love my enemy?
I’m going to take an aside here. How does this choice actually love my enemy, not the nonsense we tell ourselves to alleviate our guilt and forget that we’re complicit in generational oppression. I’m starting to seethe just thinking of the ridiculous and ultimately evil things I’ve been told about why things are or need to stay how they are. Why it’s truly loving for us to maintain our power or our control. Why it’s for the best to harm and dehumanize people. Just shut up. For one second, shut up and try to hear how we sound. God forgive us.
Few systems and structures aren’t designed to support a straight, white, male. If I’m fighting to maintain that system and structure, I’m probably fighting for oppression. If I’m fighting for oppression, bible scriptures in tow or not, I’m not being a Christian.