When Quoting Jesus Harshes Your Mellow


If the Internet were somehow the complete representation of the words of Jesus, the Bible would pretty much come down to this:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
—Mark 12:29-31

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
—Matthew 7: 1-5

Jesus, sword in mouthIn summary: Love God and love your neighbor—and don’t badly judge your neighbor, either.

If the Internet is any indicator, that’s the sole breadth of what Jesus supposedly said.

And thinking that is pretty stupid, when you ponder it. But then many of the greatest quoters of the Bible have actually never read it from cover to cover, so what should we expect?

When some bad stuff went down in ancient Palestine, a group of people came to Jesus for an explanation:

There were some present at that very time who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
—Luke 13:1-5

Yeah, He went there.

“Way to harsh the mellow, Jesus! Those people came to you for some comfort, not criticism. What a buzzkill!”

But you see, the thing about the Christian faith is that it’s not a departure from reality. It’s not the puppy dogs and rainbow-farting unicorns you see on the Web. It’s blood, guts, and in your face. It’s as real as it gets. And Jesus isn’t going to selectively filter what He says to people so they can feel good about themselves and bad about the bad people, which, coincidentally, is what Jesus is saying everyone standing before Him is, bad.

Good people don’t have to repent. Only the wicked, rotten, evil ones.

When Jesus tells the crowd, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” He’s not mincing words. He’s saying this:

That terrible thing that happened to those people? If you don’t turn from your own wickedness and turn to God, something like it is going to happen to you too.

Except the Bible also says that the bad thing that is going to happen to people who don’t repent is going to go on and on and on.

Jesus also said this:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
—John 14:6

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
—John 17:3

Jesus said a lot of things people should listen to.

Don’t be a total hypocrite in your judging. Love God and love your neighbor.

And don’t be a complete dumbass by selectively quoting Jesus without knowing the rest of what He said. Because whatever your agenda is in doing so, you need to get over it. Why? Because unless you turn from your evil personal agenda and turn to God and His agenda, you also will end very, very badly.

Losing Jesus


WaldoMore than anything else, I believe the cry of the human heart is to see and know Jesus. People may not be able to come to that conclusion on their own, but when put in the right perspective, the need becomes glaring.

Sadly, people have short memories and loyalties. Some have encountered Jesus only to lose Him somehow.

Protestants lost Jesus somewhere in the 16th century and seem curiously content to have consigned Him there.

Roman Catholics lost Jesus by focusing on everything related to Christianity that ISN’T Him.

The Orthodox lost Jesus amid a clutter of artwork intended to remind people of Him, as if He is no longer anywhere else to be found.

Charismatics lost Jesus by shifting their focus to the Holy Spirit, as if Jesus isn’t the one the Spirit points to relentlessly.

Cessationists lost Jesus because they stopped listening to what the Holy Spirit was saying about Him today.

Christian bloggers lost Jesus amid a cascade of words intended to prove how doctrinally correct they are 24/7/365.

Liberal Christians lost Jesus because they picked and chose what they liked about Him and rejected the rest.

Conservative Christians lost Jesus because they were conservatives first and followers of Jesus second.

It isn’t just some Christians who seem to have lost Jesus…

Jews lost Jesus because they didn’t seem aware that they had Him in the first place.

Hindus lost Jesus amid all the other deities they seem to keep creating daily.

Muslims lost Jesus by being the Roman Catholics of the non-Christian world and getting caught up in all the religious trappings that distract from Him.

Buddhists lost Jesus because they tossed out everything.

Pagans lost Jesus because they wanted everything but Him.

Communists lost Jesus because they couldn’t stop fighting over which of them would sit on His throne.

Socialists lost Jesus because they confused Him with bureaucratic government.

Atheists lost Jesus by making all of existence out to be this tiny, tiny box into which nothing can fit except for the hubris of atheism.

Here’s the thing: Jesus isn’t lost. The world’s people are.

Jesus said to His follower Thomas, who became known for doubting, just like us:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
—John 14:6 ESV

Only Jesus knows the way—because He IS the Way. Don’t lose hold of Him. And if you don’t have that hold on Him yet, ask and believe Him for it, and know that He will never lose you.

This World Is Not My Home—I’m Just Passin’ Through


A telephone call from my buddy Eric this evening told of a great loss to the Christian community: Larry Norman died at age 60 this last Sunday.

It’s fair to say that Larry was the progenitor of Christian rock music. Most music critics acknowledge him as such. All I know is that I absolutely loved his music. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Larry provided the soundtrack of my early Christian life.

That he didn’t fear what people thought of him and just told it like it was made him a precious commodity in an age when people shied away from flat-out truth. Larry also reached out to the people the contemporary church didn’t care about, drug addicts, street people, prostitutes, and on and on. That realness made him one of the few Christian artists to draw crowds in Europe.

A great performer, he could not only reinvent his music a million ways from Sunday (just how many remixes of his songs exist?), but I can’t ever remember laughing so hard than at one of Larry’s concerts. He was a true wit and laugh-out-loud funny.

To lose him so young is sad, but in many ways he was lost to us a long time ago. He suffered through years of declining health. A head injury suffered in an accident on a plane and chronic heart disease took their toll. The last time I saw him in concert was 1987, and he looked worn even then. He retired from active performing in 2001.

Legions of Christian bands and solo artists over the years have thanked Norman or attributed their genesis to him. He was a true original. Why should the devil have all the good music, indeed.