Bible Posts

Love Your Enemy… Just Kidding!

Love Your Enemy… Just Kidding!

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that leave much to interpretation. Is it meant to be literal, or a metaphor, or a story, or poetry, or prophecy, or a handful of other writing styles?

And then there are the other verses that are shockingly simple. Yet those don’t tend to be any easier for us to understand or apply. Consider the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

That’s about as straightforward as it gets. But like another guy who heard Jesus teach about our neighbors (Luke 10:29), we tend to wonder which of our enemies he’s referring to? Sure, I’ll love my theoretical enemy, but surely this has limits right? The typical Christian in America today might have this list of exclusions to Jesus’ enemy policy:

(more…)

Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Gen. 1:26)

Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Gen. 1:26)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

We started week one of The Story at Central this week so I’ve been reflecting a bit on the creation narrative. Here we find another misquoted verse of the Bible which you often hear mentioned (out of context) today. As God speaks everything into existence we get to the verse where Adam enters the scene. Noticeably, things are different with this part of creation.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, underline mine)

(more…)

Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Job 1:21)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

Is it true that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away? It’s generally accepted to be that way. We often hear this at funerals or whenever some unexplainable disaster hits us. It’s a way of acknowledging things don’t make sense and throwing all responsibility to God alone. This statement originally came from the lips of a man who loses everything himself. In the book of Job we see the awful experience of a guy who loses his possessions, his health, and his children. He gets to keep his wife, although I have a feeling he would have traded her for one of the things he lost after she tells him to “curse God and die” (2:9).

Job expresses his reaction to his suffering like this:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21)

We sing worship songs with this lyric as you can see from the Matt Redman video above (at the 2:16 mark). If you’ve been around in church for the last ten years you’ve likely sang it. The context for Job saying it was worship as well (1:20). But stop a moment and consider what this means. If you lose your job, did God take it away? If a woman is raped, did God take this away from her? For the little child who is murdered, did God take them away? Is God the source of pain in our lives?

What kind of a sadistic view of God does this actually create?

(more…)

Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

As we’ve seen in other passages I’ve looked at in this series, many of the misquoted verses we know are the result of bumper stickers or t-shirts designed to inspire and encourage Christians. There’s nothing wrong with that desire. However, many of the verses or expressions that are used in these examples are more catchy than they are Biblical. Today’s verse is a great example.

Consider the way most translations handle Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” NASB95

(more…)

There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

Almost every major story or movie involves the good guys versus the bad guys. In most of them, the bad guys lose. I recently watched the movie Lone Survivor and was reminded how often we frame stories like this. In the movie (and even the trailers), there are clear references to the enemy as the bad guy and the fact that the Navy Seals are the good guys.

But the problem is that this is a false dichotomy. There are no good guys or bad guys. There are just people. People who make choices both good and bad. Certainly, some people’s lives are characterized by a dominance of loving choices or a dominance of selfish choices. But we are all capable of both and indeed we all experience both in our own lives. Some of the best stories include characters who you disliked at one point and then loved at another point in the story. We refer to them as a dynamic characters and they make for a much stronger story than a cartoonish depiction of a good or bad guy.

I had a conversation with my son Gavin this week. As I was laying him to bed for the night he asked me, “Dad, will Jesus protect me from bad guys?” I struggled with providing him with a theologically sound answer that makes sense to a five year old. It’s tempting to simply tell him “yes” and allow him to go to sleep feeling better. But even at his age, I want my son to learn that life is deeper than that. I told him that Jesus will always be with him, but that Jesus also loves the bad guys. He looked confused by this.

(more…)

Doing Nothing

Let’s do a little exercise with logic. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is what Jesus teaches in John chapter fifteen. It goes like this:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 15:5

Without Jesus you can do nothing. That’s pretty clear.

But this also means the reverse: if you end up doing nothing, you are doing it without Him.

If your theology can handle it, it seems to me you can boil the transformational process in Jesus down to two steps. Step one is what Jesus does in saving us. We cannot earn this or merit this by any stretch of the imagination. We simply accept it. Step two is our response to this unbelievable deal and how it changes us for the rest of our life. To have the second without the first is works-based religion and will never work. But to have the first without the second is to miss the point of what happens when we remain in Christ. Christians are often susceptible to either of these mistakes.

(more…)