What did Jesus really mean?

I’m tired of hearing myself, as well as others, ask the above question as an attempt to soften the blow of what the Bible often tells us to do.

Case in point:  How many of us would actually do this?

Could it be that there actually is a way to live that is counter-cultural – that cuts across our unevaluated biases that we possess?

Maybe Jesus was on to something, and we would be wise to take Him at His word.

Fellas: what keeps us from doing this ourselves?  Thoughts, comments or other provocations…please.

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6 thoughts on “What did Jesus really mean?

  1. Hey great questions. I encourage you to keep wrestling with this issue. Also, great story about the mugging. You might be interested in reading my own story here:

    http://lifeinquip.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/unprovoked-unqualified-and-undeserved-love/

    There is a great quote by Kierkegaard that I think you might like:

    ” The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, wea re obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bile coming to close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

    From Provocations, 201

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  2. I have no idea whether that story is really true. It’s a great story regardless of one’s beliefs. I am an atheist and am still impressed by it. Now, since so many people in the U.S. are Christian, I wonder how many will take the next step to being really Jesus-like.

    A story such as the one you quote touches few lives. Even if it is spread around on the internet. How we vote touches the lives of many. Yet, many of the religious Christians in this country vote consistently away from the way Jesus would vote.

    I hope some of your readers will be encouraged to read my post on how Jesus would vote if he were alive and in the U.S. today, assuming of course that he did not immediately get picked up as a subversive by homeland security and made to disappear before anyone ever even knew he was here.

    HWJV?

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  3. Pingback: “Give Him Your Cloak (Coat?) As Well” « Confessions of a Seminarian

  4. “Stupid is as stupid does”

    Maybe all of the good news that Christ was bringing, taken hard core, and lived out like reckless abandon isn’t irresponsible, or as you put it, naive or stupid?

    In my life this week, I put in numerous hours repainting a friends house. Saturday, I made a few phone calls and there were 6 of us along with my two friends who are selling their home all out there together in the hot weather, raking and taking fallen limbs and loads of leaves off to the landfill.

    Since then, my wife has said that she is sore and worn out. At the same time, she knows that there was no better way to spend a Saturday. The only reason to share all of this is to say first hand, that giving your life away is difficult, by never as difficult as trying to save it.

    Thanks for the challenge on being Jesus-like, Misanthropic Scott. I accept.

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  5. I have an appreciation for Kierkegaard second to none, but I do think he goes too far in the quote above. There have been two many Christian scholars whose scholarship has motivated them to radical obedience. Did Martin Luther’s slavish devotion to trying to understand Romans 1:17, for example, serve as a stiff-arm to obedience? And the bible itself says that some of its writings are NOT easy to understand (II Peter 317ff.). Christian scholarship is legitimate and not to be denigrated. Also, why does Kierkegaard always pick on the New Testament and never the Old Testament? That has always seemed strange to me.

    Still, once the shock of over-statement washes away, you have to appreciate Kierkegaard’s point, especially given his own historical context in nomimal, apathetic Denmark. We do often say, “but what does that mean in context?” or “I would be curious to check the Greek on that verse” when the most basic meaning is clear, and we just don’t want to obey it. This should be a perpetual check on Christian scholarship – its not a book written for an esoteric group of scholars. Its for laypeople, and even a child can understand the basic message it gives. “I praise you, Father, for you have revealed these things to little children.”

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  6. Hey guys,

    Really great thoughts here. I apologize for not responding sooner; I haven’t even touched or read my blog in about a week.

    Dean: thanks for sharing your own story and version of this principle. I found it greatly challenging to my own life.

    Scott: I want to thank you for linking that article on your blog. I found it very stimulating and definitely refreshing. I want to agree with your conclusion, that Jesus wouldn’t vote Republican; but I don’t think he would vote Democrat either (or independent). In fact, he wouldn’t vote for any one party at all. Rather he would vote for in line with his own Kingdom Values – that which reflects his desire and intention for a redeemed and renewed world order.

    I’m processing a couple of other thoughts from your post, and hope to respond to them both here and on your blog. Overall, I can say that you did a good job looking at the Bible and seeking out what Jesus’ Kingdom Values were, and on those I can say a nice hearty “Amen” to them – about 90% of everything you list I agree with and support. I do find a couple of your points to be off or misguided, and hope to engage those in a fair manner shortly.

    Stephen: Thanks to you for also contributing your thoughts and sharing your story, as well as engaging the other commentors.

    Gavin: Always a pleasure seeing your thoughtful comments about various writers from by-gone days (How do you read so much??? I’m envious).

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