This morning I looked at Twitter, as I do every morning. I always like to have a little glance at the trending topics of the day. Usually, there’s nothing much that catches my eye, but today was different. #ThingsJesusNeverSaid is trending today, so I thought I’d have a look at it. It’s the kind of topic that brings out all sorts of comments, from the profound to those intended to insult. I decided to offer my own attempt, which got me thinking. Here then, are three things Jesus never said. Let’s start with the one I tweeted.
Occasionally my wife and I go into Birmingham city centre to do some shopping. When we do, there is usually someone standing in the street preaching at people as they go by. Let me say now that I don’t have a problem with street evangelism – in fact, I’m going out to do some this Sunday. What bothers me is the message that is being preached.
On one particular day the preacher was a very angry man, who was shouting at everyone passing by,
“You can pray all you want, but God won’t listen to you because of your sins. He’ll listen to me, but he won’t listen to you.”
Wow. On another day I saw a man shout in a woman’s face about her sin, and as she walked past him, quite shaken up, he turned and checked her out!
The Christian message is called the Gospel. That word means “good news”. I firmly believe that every Christian should share their faith with people around them. I also firmly believe that the way they do that should make it clear to people that it is indeed good news.
Here is the quote that I wrongly paraphrased:
“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
To “make disciples” means to encourage people to follow Jesus. I’m not sure there are many people who would want to follow someone whose representatives start by telling them that they’re a horrible sinner. Christians, let’s not do that please.
2. “I hate you.”
This is similar to the first one, but it’s so important that I think it’s worth addressing separately.
Somehow Christianity has gained a reputation for hating people. This is at least partly due to the kind of preaching I’ve already talked about. Over the years, people within Christianity have misrepresented Jesus as being focussed on specific moral issues first and foremost.
Let me be clear here: there is such a thing as sin. The Bible makes it clear that God hates sin; he can’t stand to be around it. However, Jesus never said that he hates people who sin. If he had, there wouldn’t be anyone around that he didn’t hate!
Probably the most famous example of this misrepresentation would be Westboro Baptist Church’s iconic (for all the wrong reasons) “God Hates Fags” placards. WBC make a point of picketing any event they can, including (or especially) funerals, waving this hateful banner in people’s faces. All it takes is a cursory reading of just one of the Gospels (accounts of Jesus’ life) to discover that this is not the message he came to preach.
St. Paul, who wrote a large part of the New Testament, gives an excellent summary of Jesus’ message:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Jesus doesn’t hate you. He loves you so much that he took the punishment we all deserve, so that there would no longer be any barrier between us and God.
I’ve spoken to people in the past who have said that they couldn’t possibly become a Christian because they weren’t a good enough person. I can totally understand where they’re coming from.
I’ve been around Christians my whole life. I was brought up on the teaching of the Bible. I would say that I had a good understanding of what it meant to be a Christian by the time I was a teenager, although I didn’t commit to being one until my late teens. However, even now I feel like I’m not good enough. The reason for that is simple: I’m not.
Like I said above, we all sin. Nobody on earth is perfect. Therefore, none of us are good enough to become Christians. Thankfully, that’s the point; being a Christian is not based on how good we are, but on how good God is. That is why Jesus came and died. He didn’t just come to impart some wisdom, although he did that very well. He didn’t just come to shake up the established religious hierarchy, although he did that very well. He came to sacrifice himself – to take a punishment that we all deserve – so that we don’t have to strive to be “good enough” any more. Here’s what Jesus actually said:
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
If you’ve ever felt like you’re not good enough for God, think again. I encourage you to try talking to him. Christians call that prayer. You don’t have to use any special or flowery language, just talk to him like you would normally talk. Tell him what you’re feeling and thinking. Ask him to reveal himself to you. If you do, and you want to find out more about what that means, you can contact me using the form on the homepage of this site.
Those are just three things Jesus never said. I’d love to hear ones that you’ve thought of and why you’ve thought of them. Let me know in the comments!