The last couple of years, I've become reacquainted with the "red letters" in the Bible. Particularly Jesus' teachings in "The Sermon On The Mount" (Matt. 5-7). It's not that I hadn't read them before. It's that I hadn't really believed them before. I hadn't practiced them before. They were for someone else. Another time. Another place. I was taught that Jesus had said these things only to prove to people that they couldn't live up to God's standards. They were ridiculous to try to obey. He had only said them to overwhelm us.
Well, I've read and re-read Jesus' "Sermon On The Mount" a number of times this last year. I can't get past what He says as He closes His sermon. In Luke's version, called "The Sermon On The Plain", Jesus finishes up by saying "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?" For how long have I called Him "Lord, Lord", but ignored His words as though they were for another group of people at another time or never meant to be followed anyway?
I can see why many of Jesus' words have been locked up in the vaults for so many years. Someone recently referred to it as "putting Jesus on a leash". His words are shocking. They threaten our comfort. They threaten our politics. They threaten our safety. They threaten our wallets. They threaten our right to be right. If we can just keep Jesus leashed to the area of salvation, then maybe He won't interfere with our sanctification.
One thing I've found is that many people who don't follow Jesus do know many of His teachings. Bill Maher, a famous atheist, noted about Christianity, "If you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you're not a Christian. You're just auditing. You're not Christ's followers, you're just fans." Now, we can get upset about those kinds of comments and ignore a guy who is proud to say he does not follow Jesus. Or, we can sit and take it. Let it sink in. Do you know Jesus' words as well as an atheist like Bill Maher? Do Jesus' words inform your decisions and worldview? If so, how? Don't let this blow past you. Take a minute and think about it.
Jesus' teaching (often in red letters in our Bibles) shows us that murder can be an attitude. Adultery can be carried out in our minds. Treasures are in Heaven, not in our bank accounts. We should deal with our own sins before pointing out someone else's. And mercy is to be directed even to our enemies. If these don't sound like celebrated truths to you, it may be because Jesus' words have been locked away from you. His leash allowed Him to extend far enough to save you, but not to change you. It's time to be changed.
I invite you to reconsider Jesus' words. Let Him change your mind. Let Him change your attitude. I recommend you read Matthew 5-7. It's time we all see "red".
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
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