Duration 8 Weeks
All that glitters isn’t gold” is as true for jewelry and bobbles as it is for words of wisdom. We have heard many sayings, that seem full of wisdom, attributed to the Bible or Jesus. Regularly these sayings aren’t found in the Bible, and sometimes, they are contradictory to the teachings of Jesus. In this sermon series called Jesus Never Said That, we explore some popular sayings and find what Jesus would have really said.
When we read what Paul was telling the Corinthians, we can see that he wasn’t trying to tell them that they would only ever get trials and temptations that they could handle. He was telling them, and specifically them: “buck up.” They (the Corinthians) aren’t experiencing wildly different trials. Others have gone through similar things. These tests are regular enough to be common. But we shouldn’t expect that this test, or any other, is within our means to handle. We are sinners and are very capable of creating situations that are beyond our ability to navigate. In fact, the very notion of sin puts us into a debt with our LORD that we cannot overcome. Thank God for Jesus and His unending grace.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Bad things happen in the world. When they happen to us, sometimes we can put God on trial. We conclude that because God is Just and Fair and All Powerful, He shouldn’t have let this happen; it’s unfair. There are also some who decide they will live by their own rules, living by the motto “no one can judge me but God.” Human judgement would be lighter. We don’t have the mind of God, which is why you wouldn’t want to be judged by Him. He knows all about us. Our thoughts, our words and our deeds. He knows what didn’t happen because we would let it. His judgment is much more severe, taking into account every possible outcome. God’s judgement is so much more than any human’s judgment could possibly be. But He gives grace. Grace isn’t fair. Grace is unhinged and off balance. It is given without compensation. It is given freely. It is given repeatedly to the point of being ludicrous. Our Lord is not fair, thanks be to God!
John 11:32-44 (NRSV); Acts 10:34-40 (NRSV)
The problem with this often-recited trope is that it removes personal responsibility. How could we fight against God’s will!? I guess we should let cancer ravage our bodies. We should let warlords continue pillaging and destroying. This way removes God from the world. He sent His Holy Spirit into the world to guide His people. Not that their free will be limited but rather that they might be harnessed (yoked) for the good of the Kingdom of God. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes the reason is I’m a moron.
Romans 8:26-30 (NRSV); John 9:1-11 (NRSV)
First used by Euripides, in the fragmentary Hippolytus Veiled (before 428 BC), it mentions that, "Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid.” Later, it was made popular by America’s Benjamin Franklin who used it in his Poor Richard's Almanac (1736). This saying speaks to the American ideal of individualism. That we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and in so trying we will be aided by God. This saying is not in the Bible. It could even be interpreted as heretical (Pelagian)! But we still hold onto the idea. We like that we can have control. We can activate God to our cause by initially working toward our end and God will agree to our desires and see them through. It is appealing. There are settings and situations where we can’t help ourselves. Addicts, refugees, destitute and dominated. Our world is full of situations in which we find ourselves hopeless. But the LORD God is God of the hopeless. He is God of grace. He sent His son to help precisely because we could not help ourselves.
Ephesians 2:1-9 (NRSV); Luke 6:20-31 (NRSV)
Much like the snake in Genesis 3:3 who over exaggerated the prohibition from God about the fruit, this saying becomes over blown. “All money is evil!” Such an exaggeration neuters the truth and blinds us to the real threat as we reject the saying because it's impractical. Money is not the problem. Love of money is always a problem. Loving money is loving a thing that would take the place of God. This idolatry leads the wayward to decisions and lifestyle choices that seem reasonable but are, in fact, evil. Money is a tool and a very effective one. It allows for the smooth trade of goods and services so that our society can function, but it is not the goal of a life well lived. It is not the arbiter of what is the best course of action. It does not love you, know you, or care about anyone. It is limited in its power. We know money has power and we can either use it, which is good and as God intended, or fall into its grasp.
I Timothy 6:6-10 (NRSV); Matthew 6:19-24 (NRSV)
If it feels good, do it; if it doesn’t, don’t. These are the words of wisdom that many hear and think of as truth. Emotion, however, is not truth. Emotions are gifts from God to pay attention to things in our life. To help us experience, recognize and enjoy the events of this gift of life. But they aren’t the deciding factor. Imagine if Jesus didn’t feel like mounting the cross? What would have happened if the Israelites actually did turn back to Egypt? How would our faith look if Paul continued in his anger after Ananias restored sight? We are the master of our emotions. God gave us all these as gifts to use; let’s make sure we use them well.
Mark 9:17-24 (NLT); Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
All Christians are nice, always. Yes. And if you believe that, there’s some ocean-front property I want to sell you in Kansas. There is no way a Christian, or anyone else, can be nice all the time. Christians, like everyone else, are allowed to have different emotions. We are allowed and expected to use and experience all those emotions. Jesus Himself wept, and overturned tables in anger. What a Christian is supposed to do is not plot against others. We are to seek their well-being and make the concerns of others our concerns.
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 (NRSV); Matthew 23:23-28 (NRSV)
“I love you, but…” The love of God is unconditional. God loves us warts, sins and all. Anything less than unconditional love is not the love of God. We, Christians, are to reflect God’s love in the world, and that love is not stipulated. God’s love is not truncated, it has no caveats or asterisks. So we love like God loved us. What is more, we can recognize that He loves us with our sin. We can identify our sin and see that others have their own. We don’t need to be judgmental about another’s sin because we are not perfect ourselves. Jesus never says “love sinners.” He tells us to love everyone. In the loving of everyone we will sweep up all the sinners. There is no need to worry about which sins they perpetrate. There are no sins that Jesus let slide and others that He can’t abide. We don’t need to point out those sins which are not socially acceptable. We can love ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.
Romans 12:9-18 (NRSV); John 8:1-11 (NRSV)