I’m going to be real candid. There are some passages in scripture I just don’t like.
It’s probably because they force me to be the person God wants me to be and not the person I have a tendency to be.
To be clear, I most certainly believe the Bible is inherent. And I believe that everything in the Old and New Testament is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
But if I took a Jeffersonian view of the Bible, I’d cut out many passages that make me uncomfortable. For instance, I’m thinking of Proverbs 6:6: “You lazy fool, look at an ant…let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions.”
Great point. Even one of God’s smallest and simplest creatures understands, in some antian way, that it’s best not to consume everything in front of you. Saving for later is a sound idea. But clearly, the writer never enjoyed the delicious wonder of a Thin Mint from the Girl Scouts. You store them in the fridge, and they’re just a little bite of heaven. When a box of those irresistibles land on my desk, it’s hard to resist pounding down an entire sleeve in one sitting. And yet Proverbs repeatedly speaks to deferring gratification, avoiding gluttony, and considering the long-term view.
Another verse that’s on my list is also from Proverbs 6: “So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed?”
Now having raised five children through the teen years, I can assure you I’ve said those exact words ad nauseam. But what the writer didn’t include was a suggestion I’d paste at the end of the verse: “…except when it’s a rainy, cool Saturday morning and Where Eagles Dare is on Turner Classic Movies.”
One last one that’s a real stickler.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus Himself issued this command: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
I’d have to say that following this imperative is really difficult. At times I’ve been able to forgive people who have intentionally hurt me, and it usually requires a good deal of time to salve the wounds of hate.
But when I think about the battles raging in Iraq and a group of fanatical ISIS rebels who hate me, hate us, with a passion, that’s another thing. How do we love people who fervently want to see the overthrow of every western country, none the least of which is “America: The Great Satan.” It’s completely incomprehensible to me.
Love them? Really? These people are killing our brothers and sisters in Christ. They’re torturing anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do. Their hateful venom is spewed across the Internet, demonstrated by horrific acts of murder, intent on terrorizing us.
Well, I’m grateful for Christians who are responding to that call of Jesus in a very practical way. I’m not sure I could. Samaritan’s Purse is expressing the love of Jesus to the people facing ISIS oppression. It’s no small feat and not without a good deal of danger.
I certainly applaud the work of Samaritan’s Purse. And I’m grateful for other ministries prompting and mobilizing others to support the effort. I’m also amazed, as always, at how the body of Christ responds to those affected by a host of tribulation all around the world.
That’s the way being a Christian should work. And I’m glad the call to “love our enemies” wasn’t cut from the pages of Scripture!
Jim Sanders serves as the Executive Vice President of Ambassador Advertising Agency. This article originally appeared on AmbassadorAdvertising.com.