Updated: Jul 30, 2019
A lot of Christians like to take single Bible verses out of context and wave them around at people like kids that just got their first water gun and can’t wait to use it.
They point these verses at the LGBTQIA+ community, non-Christians, and those that have the audacity to believe that women should have leadership roles in the church, home, and the world.
We can play that game all day:
“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.”
“I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
“You cannot serve both God and money.”
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
For every verse that is used to harm people, there are five verses that talk about compassion and how to treat those who are oppressed. There are over 2,000 Bible verses that talk about poverty and justice. So, if your church is not talking about injustices that impact the world, is your congregation faithfully engaging scripture?
But I believe Christianity in the 21st century should not be playing this Bible Verse Game ™. I think God is tired of people tossing Bible verses around like water balloons.
What if … stay with me now … what if we as Christians looked at the Bible and looked for themes in the life of Jesus and tried to live as he did, tried to follow his leadership.
For some people, I think that could be difficult.
Because if we were to actually follow Jesus, we would:
• Have to stop blaming the poor for being poor. (Come on, do you really think Jesus would try to take away people’s food stamps?)
• Welcome in the refugees with open arms — Jesus was a dark skinned man and refugee after all. If he were alive today, he would get stopped in the airport all the time and he would most definitely get picked up by ICE.
• Pause and listen to those who are different from us rather than assume because they are different, they are bad.
• Respect the leadership of women because, yes, Jesus had women disciples and the women were the first people to proclaim the Gospel.
• Make sure everyone had access to healthcare, even if that meant those who can afford healthcare had to pay more.
And if Christians are going to follow Jesus, they most definitely will have to hold those in power accountable when people are being treated unfairly.
It is a clear theme in the Gospels that Jesus spoke out against the Roman empire and the religious leaders for the mistreatment of the poor, the sick, the hungry, the prostitutes, the widows, and all those who were deemed unworthy. The people who Jesus stood up for in 30 AD are the same kind of people who today get blamed for the problems in our country, get detained, get told to go back where they come from, and go through bankruptcy because they don't have health insurance.
And because he spoke out, Jesus was killed. Jesus was a poor brown man who was lynched and hung from a tree because he stood up for those on the margins.
So, I am done throwing Bible verses. If we are going to call ourselves Christians, it is time to act like our leader, Jesus.
It is time to talk about the issues we do not want to talk about.
It is time to show up.
It is time to live out what we believe.
I don’t know what that exactly looks like for you. Or for the church, or for the big Church. I am confident that we can make a change because Jesus has promised to be with us the whole time.
I am hopeful for what the future brings. For if we dedicate our time to following Jesus, we can’t fall.
And if we do fall God’s grace will be there to catch us.