The world is moving so fast we don’t have time to blink. The news literally consumes us. I think I’ve seen it all but I run into stories of how well-intentioned people warp and misuse the message of Jesus. I don’t even recognize it.
I’m not talking about people who have different interpretations of Jesus Christ than I do. I’m not saying my viewpoint of Jesus Christ is the correct one. Nor am I saying I need to convert them. What I am saying is that you and I need to challenge the view where Jesus supports hate prejudice.
I see examples today where The Good News of God’s Love is turned around into the Bad News of Jesus. Jesus said: “Forgive seventy times seven” becomes forgive when you see someone who deserves it. Jesus said: “Love your enemies” becomes try once and if unsuccessful, find more enemies. Jesus said: “Love your neighbor” becomes love only those who believe in white privilege. Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers” becomes peace makes us weak and war makes us strong. Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful” becomes let’s not get too soft.
I see examples today where The Good News of God’s Love is turned around into the Bad News of Jesus.
Have you noticed the usual suspects on these crazy, hate lists are Muslims, gays, people of color and women. They always top the list. The Jesus of neighborly community, inclusive love and gracious forgiveness becomes a Judgmental, Firebrand Savior proclaiming an exclusionary isolation. I don’t recognize the Jesus of the Good News of God’s love.
We need a welcoming compassion. We need a neighborly kindness. We need a firm faith to live in a world gone off the tracks. I believe we need a faith life welcoming good health in body, mind and spirit. Yes, that’s what the word salvation means.
Why let these angry, harsh voices of exclusive discord hijack the message of Jesus? I believe we need to stand up for Jesus to proclaim “God so loved the world.”
The message of Jesus Christ is timeless because mercy is timeless, love is timeless, forgiveness is timeless and reconciliation is timeless. How we need to hear this message proclaimed today.
“For God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let the Scriptures Speak
Buy An Understandable Bible Translation: Speak to Pastors Eliot and Lawrence for recommendations.
Church Year: Epiphany means “to show”, “to make known”, “to reveal” the church’s service to the wider world. This season runs till Ash Wednesday, March 1 – beginning of Lent. Colors are gold and white.
Daily Scripture Reading: *Choose time of day *Choose a quiet place *Light a candle (symbol of God’s presence) *Begin with a prayer (Open my heart to your Word, O God.” *Close with a prayer (May your presence be with me today.”
In Conversation with Scripture: The Bible is filled with a variety of writings. A few examples – poetry (Psalms); history (Joshua and judges); prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah); Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John); the early Christian Church (Paul’s Letters) and end times (Revelation). It is helpful to know what type of writings you are reading. Again, check background information in your Bible.
Spiritual Practice: *When you read scripture, what word/thought comes to your attention)? *What do these words say to you? *What do you hear God saying to you?
Bible Readings For The Week: February 19, Sunday: John 10:7-16; February 20, Monday: Matthew 5:1-12; February 21, Tuesday: Matthew 5:13-20; February 22, Wednesday: Matthew 5:21-26; February 23, Thursday: Matthew 5: 27-37; February 24, Friday: Matthew 5:38-48; February 25, Saturday: Matthew 6:1-16. Pray your own prayers.
Dan Schmiechen is a retired minister and member of Linden Hills United Church of Christ.