Thank you so much for such an inspired, candid conversation about bullying the last couple of days. Lots of great stories were shared, and I don’t thank you often enough. Thank you for making this blog what it is with your insights and candor.
Strangely, the whole topic of bullying led me to an unexpected thought for today’s post.
There are a whole lot of Jesus’ words that we have preserved. We have them printed in red ink, highlighted, underlined, and quoted in endless devotionals.
But we still ignore them.
For whatever reason, Jesus said a lot of things that we just don’t take seriously. Maybe we think Jesus was speaking figuratively, or with hyperbole. Or he just wasn’t talking to us. Or he’s just full of it. Whatever the reason, there’s a whole lot of red words that might as well be changed back to black.
Here are my favorite words and teachings of Jesus to flat out ignore.
“Turn the Other Cheek”
This was the first verse I thought of while bullying was on my mind. When I had a bully who wouldn’t leave me alone, my parents didn’t tell me to try to get along. They told me to curse him out, punch him, and fight like I wanted to kill him, and we’d clean up the mess later if I got in trouble at school. It took a lot of goading on their part to get me to not turn the other cheek. And with kids committing suicide, and terrorists running loose, this is definitely not a popular teaching.
“Sell Your Possessions”
This one has given me the most trouble over the years. Sure, we justify ourselves by saying that Jesus was talking to that rich guy, not all of us. After all, we’re not that rich. And we know that our money isn’t getting in the way of our spiritual lives…
“Gouge Out Your Eye”
Obviously, this is hyperbole. Jesus even made fun of his disciples for taking him too literally at times. If we did this, we’d be blind, mute torsos with bloody stumps for limbs.
Still, Jesus never said he was being figurative. Not even a “JK!” or “Psych!” in the margins or footnotes. It makes me wonder just what percent of Jesus’ words are figurative, hyperbole, or sarcasm, and what percent is literal.
“Do Not Let Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Is Doing”
If Jesus were around today, he might say “Don’t let your Facebook status know what you are doing.” Why would we ever jump on a cause, try to make a difference, or do a good deed, if we can’t advertise it to the world with special Twitter avatars and Facebook updates? What’s next? Praying in a closet where no one can hear us?
“Do Not Worry About Tomorrow”
Actually, I take this teaching very seriously. I’m not worried about tomorrow. Because I have insurance…and a bank account…and a retirement plan. Yep, I’m doing okay there. Check “don’t worry about tomorrow” off my list.
“Do Not Judge”
Obviously, when Jesus said that, he didn’t mean never judge people. Sometimes, you have to call people out on their junk. And by “sometimes,” I mean “all the time.” And by “call out,” I mean “berate mercilessly.” And by “junk,” I mean “every conceivable point of disagreement.”
So what Jesus meant to say was, “Judge people all the time by berating them mercilessly on every conceivable point of disagreement…”
“…And lo, your brother who has a speck in his eye, ye shall beat him senseless with a plank from thine own eye.” Or something like that.
What’s your favorite of Jesus’ teachings to ignore or not take literally? What else should be on the list?