Uninvited thoughts, unavoidable temptations.

“Hey, guess what, we misinterpreted the Bible everybody. We were wrong!” I cannot begin to tell you how much I crave and hope to hear that. As someone who wants to spread the love and hope of the gospel to this secular city and the rest of the world, that is something I wish I could hear. That may be shocking to hear but if we were wrong about the interpretation of Scripture, that would make my life so much easier as an evangelist. If Christianity agreed with the shifting world’s beliefs and values, Jesus as Lord would be much more appealing. I desire that simply because I do want to bring as many people to Jesus as I can. I’ve always promoted honesty on this blog, right?

There is this unnamed temptation that I have to want to twist and interpret Scripture in a way that makes Jesus much more “progressive”. I do not promote this “cultural Jesus” but I am always cornered with temptation. Now before I stumble and say something offensive, let me try to clearly define what I mean as that word sometimes ties a political agenda to it. I use progressive as in this new wave of the Christian faith that looks at the Bible and says, “You know what, I don’t think this is right at all.” It is not taking the Bible for what it is. It is the complete disregard of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Or in other words, it sometimes can fall under a “pick and choose” religion where people solely focus on their favorite parts of the Bible and choose to blatantly ignore the uncomfortable passages. If your church only preaches out of the New Testament, tread those waters lightly. If your favorite pastor seems to skip over parts of the Bible, be careful.

My life would be undoubtedly easier as an apologist to be able to take the offensive parts of the Bible out. I wish I could tell you that God is filled with only love & grace and NOT wrath & justice. I wish I could tweak the parts of the Bible that talk about sexual immorality, money, marriage, the cost of following Jesus, etc for the sake of being relevant. I wish I could tell you that the wisest thing you can do is to live a life that indulges in all of your fleshly desires. If I could just paint Christianity as some feel-good religion, man, how I wish I could. That would make sharing the gospel a cakewalk. Hey, this is me being honest with you. Welcome to my blog. Grab your coffee.

I refrain from doing so because it is the same misinterpretation of the Bible that has caused so much abuse, pain, and confusion for people. I stand unashamed by the character of God. It is about truth and grace. I refuse to mislead you just so that you feel compelled to give your life to Christ. This goes for the wrath-centered version of the gospel. I will not stand on the sidewalk and scream at you about the judgment before God. I will not do that because the Bible is about truth and grace. There is harm when people just focus on the love of God as there is harm when people just focus on the wrath of God. You know this. You have been hurt and misled by who Jesus is because of it.

Constantly tempted to lie to you, my friends. I am tempted every single day with the hope that we just all misunderstood God and what the Bible says. It is always the same routine. I run across “cancellable” material in the Bible and my first instinct is to research the crud out of it to try to prove that there is something that was lost in translation. I have done this countless times. I encourage you to do the same because even pastors are not perfect and even pastors have unfortunately misconstrued Scripture. Read the Bible and understand the full context, friends.

Let me be honest with you, most of the time after all this research I better understand the character of Christ and it is not nearly as “cancellable” as it seems. Given the context of when it was written, why it was written, and what that means as I live my life today is often overlooked. Let me keep being honest with you, I say most of the time because there are times where I read it and I try to understand it, but I am trying to understand an infinite God with a finite mind. My friend, that is not a cop-out, that’s real life. If there is a God who is infinite, immutable, and sovereign, realistically speaking, I will never be able to understand everything about everything in the way that God does. So I can relate to you when you’ve read the Bible and thought, “How could a loving God allow or restrict this?” There have been numerous conversations where I have said, “God, I hear you. I honestly don’t like this, but I trust Your Character. I trust you.”

When it comes to the things I disagree with or the things that make Christianity awkward to stand by (without the proper context), I think about why I choose to follow this Jesus in the first place.

I do not follow Jesus because I grew up in a Christian family. I do not follow Jesus because He is a great coping mechanism. I do not follow Christianity simply because I faced hardship and my last result was to turn to an invisible God. I do not go to church because my church or The Church has shown nothing but loving-kindness, grace, or perfection. You know that is untrue.

After spending all this time deconstructing the Bible and investigating all the theories surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, I have found the Christian faith to be the most reasonable based on the supporting facts. When looking at the universe, evolution, and obvious order within our world, I see the need for a Creator. I see the only way for us to exist, given the Anthropic Principles, is by an intentional design and Designer. I see a broken world that cries out for a Savior and that is Jesus.

There are parts of the Bible that I disagree with. There are parts of the Bible that I do not really like. I have said, “God, I hear you. I honestly don’t like this, but I trust Your Character. I trust you.” That is not because I must do everything I can to defend the Christian faith. That is not because I have been forced into Christianity and therefore must stand by Christianity. No – I say that because I see the evidence for God. I say that because I see the evidence that supports the Bible. I know nothing compared to an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God. Similar to the player and the coach, we have different perspectives and more often than not I do not see the entire field the way that a coach would. I would never make the plays that the coach suggests but I trust her because I know she has a greater understanding. She sees the whole field when I barely have an idea of what’s in front of me. God sees your entire life.

I am reminded that Jesus claims to be Lord; it is all over the gospels. If that is true, that changes everything. Jesus changes everything in which we see and view life.

As much as I am tempted to sin and persuade you by any means necessary to convince you to give your life to Jesus, morally I cannot do that and praise the Holy Spirit for that one. When it comes to standing before God, I cannot stand before The Lord and shamefully and regrettably admit that I led people to Jesus with an inaccurate picture of His Character and His Word. I will share with you what I think about certain passages, but I will not compromise on God’s Word for the sake of being likable and relevant. I love and care about you too much to mislead you, friends.

You know where I stand. Christians, we must not forget all of the attributes of God and the characteristics of Jesus in how He loves. It is truth and grace. In our pride and arrogance, we must not lose sight of a Savior that ate with sinners. In our obsession over commandments, we must avoid becoming Pharisees. In our preaching of love, we must not lose sight of the Bible’s definition of love. We cannot lose sight of a God who is close to the brokenhearted. We cannot lose sight of Jesus who helped the poor. Christians, we need to stop avoiding sounding wise and judgmental and let the Holy Spirit just work through us. Making disciples is not about us. Sharing Jesus is not about you. God gets all the glory anyway. I beg that we understand this. I’m convicted.

Despite what you believe, how you are feeling, and the hardships you are currently facing today, all I ask is that you humbly consider this Jesus guy. I ask that you read the Bible and understand the context. I ask that you rely less on what seemingly wise or painfully embarrassing Christians have to say about certain Scriptures and ask that you open up the Bible and see what God is actually saying. Do not just read the red letters of the Bible, but read it and understand this beautiful picture that points to the need and fulfillment of a Savior across all 66 books that happen to share one spine. Do not lose sight of who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him. I pray that we can let the Bible and the necessary context speak for itself.

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.James 1:16-27

May my Christian friends be convicted of this. Thank you for reading. May God get all the glory and more. I pray as we learn more about who this Jesus is.

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