Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

deciphering jesus

2/4/13

 

In the main, the message of Jesus was not for all mankind. How do I know this? Because He said so  (Matthew 10:6, 15:24). Whenever Jesus dealt with Gentiles during His earthly ministry it was always incidental to His Jews only mission.  Furthermore, it is obvious from the book of Acts that the disciples, even years after Christ's ascension, had no understanding of a Gentile message from Jesus.

 

If Jesus ministered exclusively to the Jews, how do I decipher the words of Jesus to determine what applies to me, if anything? That has been the question throughout church history. Even a casual observer of Orthodox Christian teaching will notice that its tenets emphasize some things said by Jesus and ignore others. It is the universal state of all who propose to identify with Jesus. He was an amazingly counter intuitive man, who said some things that just don't seem real and viable. What is a person to do in those cases? Well, most of us just ignore what we can't readily accept and go with what the church says is vital. If you doubt that there are many sayings of Jesus that get a short shrift in the church's message, just read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) sometime.

 

Now, given what I have stated, one can easily claim that this sermon is a Jewish only message. However, I doubt many have ever heard that as the reason the church emphasizes ritual compliance as the mark of a Christian instead of living the Beatitudes or loving your enemies.

 

We are all in the same boat as far as internalizing Jesus is concerned; we are left to decide what that Jesus said we will honor as universally and eternally true and what was a message for another time, another place, and another people. To the extent we ignore any of His words, that decision has been made and displayed, whether we admit it or not. This fact is not an indictment of me or you. It is just an inevitability, given the breadth and counter intuitiveness of what Jesus taught.

 

Any admission, explicit or implied, that not all of Jesus is for us today, necessitates that we relinquish the idea that the Bible is our inerrant guide to acceptance by God. Simultaneously, it denies the church its assumed role as the earthly administrators of God's redemptive work in Christ. As soon as the human element enters the picture in determining applicability and arriving at correct interpretation of the applicable portion of the Bible, all claims of inerrancy, infallibility, and universality fall apart. Infallibility does not derive from fallibility nor is inerrancy maintained by error prone men. Such is the preposterous claim of Orthodoxy.

 

In the final analysis, what I make of Jesus and how I decipher His message must always be a personal decision. That decision could be simply to let the church decide for me, and many decide that way. That is their freedom of choice, and I must honor that for those who thus choose. However, claiming a personal but divinely sanctioned view, the rejection of which carries eternal negative consequences, is a monstrous act of self importance and spiritual arrogance. No one should allow that arrogant claim to stymie their own freedom to choose differently, perhaps embracing Jesus in terms of the Golden Rule instead of gaining salvation through church practices.

 

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