This morning I got thinking about ways in which we ignore or distort Jesus’ teachings (note the “we” there – that’s me implicated as well!). Why do we do this? Well, to put it bluntly, Jesus’ teachings are hard!
Jesus’ teachings are sometimes hard to understand, but even when they’re pretty clear, they are even harder to put into practice. They make us uncomfortable. They might make us unpopular. They force us to confront our fears and prejudices, or face up to our own sin, or otherwise dig deep into the darkest parts of our hearts. They force us to action, to not just speak about loving others, but to actually love others in the way of Jesus.
Well, I had a little fun with all that on Twitter this morning, tweeting a few #ThingsJesusDidntSay:
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment – but be as passive aggressive as you want.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “If your right eye causes you to sin by looking lustfully at a woman, insist that she dress more modestly.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you – as long as they’ve got a good credit rating.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “I tell you, demonize your enemies and dehumanize those who oppose you. Much easier to keep things straight that way.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Love your neighbour as yourself – except for the one that looks different, or thinks differently, or…”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Pray this way: ‘My Father, my own special Father, no one else’s Father…”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Pray this way: ‘Our political and economic empire come, our will be done, on earth as it is in [insert nation here].”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Pray this way: ‘Give me for the rest of my life all the luxuries that Madison Avenue tells me I need.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Pray this way: ‘Forgive us our sins, whether we forgive others or not.'”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Judge others, or you will be judged. It’s not about compassionate concern for the other, it’s about truth!”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “In everything, do to others what they have done to you.”
#ThingsJesusDidntSay “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord,’ will enter the kingdom, but only those who have the right doctrine.”
I say this was a bit of fun, but of course there’s a serious side to it. Many of us, especially as Mennonites who grew up on the Sermon on the Mount, are so used to Jesus’ teachings that we actually miss their radical significance. We’ve made them comfortable – for ourselves, that is, not for others. We may think they’re about some special religious realm, when in fact they’re about life right now, right here, God’s kingdom coming on earth, God’s will being done on earth.
So what did Jesus actually say about these things? Check out Matthew’s rendering here – but be careful, because you might just have to change the way you think and live.