Few people have been as quoted as Jesus. Just about everyone uses Jesus’ words to show how He supports a view they hold. But the popularity of Jesus’ words has led to more than a few people misquoting Him. Often it’s not that His words are intentionally misquoted, rather they are taken out of context. We insert our own bias and fail to look at what Jesus was actually saying. All this leads us to believe things that Jesus never said.
When we read the Bible out of context we can make it say pretty much anything we want. And that’s what many have done. Too often the context of Jesus’ teaching is ignored in order to support an ideological, political, or moral view. This leads to views that are diametrically opposed to the Kingdom Jesus came to establish. And that needs to change.
So, let’s look at 6 things Jesus never said but that Christians often believe.
Things Jesus Never Said
America First (Nationalism Is Okay)
Nationalism: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups. Merriam-Webster
Nationalism: identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. Oxford Dictionary
Increasingly I hear Christians loudly and proudly proclaim their nationalism. The problem is I can’t reconcile the above descriptions with the Gospel. The two just aren’t compatible. The call of Christians is to place others’ needs above their own. Nationalism does the opposite.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t support your country or that you can’t love where you live. What I am saying is that as a Christian your ultimate allegiance isn’t to the flag your country flies. It’s to God. And there will come a point where what’s in the nation’s best interest is contrary to what God says is best. In those times you have to choose who’s first in your life.
Jesus established a Kingdom that has no borders and is full of people of all nationalities. The Bible makes clear we are citizens of another Kingdom (Ephesians 2:19-22) and that our mission is global (Matthew 28:19-20). Our allegiance is not ultimately to the success of the country we live in. It can’t be.
A huge conflict of interest arises when a Christian supports nationalism. As a follower of Jesus, you cannot value your country to the exclusion or detriment of another. That’s the opposite of the Gospel.
Your Sin Isn’t THAT Big Of A Deal
We often view our sin as a simple mistake. We just missed the mark. Not really a big deal. But that’s not how Jesus dealt with sin. After all, He left heaven and willingly went to the cross to pay the price for our sin. Would Jesus do that if sin wasn’t a big deal?
We greatly downplay the seriousness of sin. But it’s consequences for us are dire.
Shane Wood describes this in his book Between Two Trees like this, “When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they were not merely disobeying a command, although indeed they were. They were not just committing an indiscretion, although indeed they did. The action was more dire, the result more severe. For sin is willful union with something or someone other than God.”
Our sin has brought us into union with death. We are one with death. We are on a course for eternal separation from God. Sin is more than a simple mistake.
That’s why Jesus took the drastic action He did. He was determined to restore His creation back into a right relationship with Him. Jesus took sin seriously. It’s by what He did that we have the hope we have. We don’t need to be burden by our sin, but we also should taken it lightly.
For more about sin, check out my aritcle: What Is Sin? (why it’s more than missing the mark)
That Person Got What They Deserved
Karma is an increasingly common belief in western culture. Even many Christians believe in some form of karma. But Jesus played by a different set of rules.
Karma says you get what you deserve. Jesus says I will give you what you need.
That’s what grace is. Grace is getting what you need, not what you deserve.
The reality is we all deserve death. That’s what we chose. Through our sin, we have willfully chosen something other than God. We deserve, by our own choice, death. But by God’s grace through the work of Jesus, we receive what we need and He takes what we deserve.
When Jesus encountered people that had sin in their life, He didn’t write them off because they “deserved” it. Instead, He showed them grace. And before you go leave a comment… Yes, He also told them the truth. But His grace was felt before His truth was heard.
As Christians, we should leave behind karma and instead embrace the grace and truth of Jesus.
I Will Bless You If You Pray Hard Enough
Now there’s a little truth in this. God will bless us. But often we think of a blessing as getting something we want. If I just pray hard enough for this job, marriage, health, money, or whatever then God will have to give it to me. If I just believe and ask enough. If I just name it and claim it.
This belief has caused immense harm. I’ve seen people walk away from their faith because this is what they were taught, but then realized it wasn’t true. Imagine being the parent that was told if they just prayed enough and had faith their child would be healed. But what does that mean when their child dies? Their faith crumbles.
Jesus never taught us to pray like this. Yes, we should ask for our needs and our wants. But He taught us to pray ultimately for God’s will not our own. And let’s not forget that when Jesus asked through the anguish of sweating blood for a different path than the cross, God said no. That was the path He had to endure.
The same will be true for us. Yes, God wants to bless us. But not the way that many of us may want. We will still have tough roads and difficult days. The promise of the Gospel isn’t an easy life, rather one in which we do not have to walk alone.
I Will Make Your Life Easy If You Follow Me
For decades most living in the western world have had a pretty good life. We enjoy many modern conveniences, have money (at least compared to the world), and enjoy religious freedoms. I know there are exceptions, but the average Christian has it made in the shade.
But that’s not the case for many Christians around the world. Many face daily struggles and persecution because of their faith.
Following Jesus isn’t the promise of an easy life. He actually promised the opposite. He promised that His followers would face struggles and challenges. We follow a crucified savior who’s commanded to us is to pick up our cross and follow him. That’s not the calling of an easy life. It’s a call to a life on mission.
God never promised an easy life. He promised He’d be with us and give us what we need to get through it. God won’t make our life easy, but He will give it meaning and purpose.
I will Answer Your Prayers On Your Terms (and fast)
We often approach prayer like a kid sitting on Santa’s lap. We give God a list of perceived needs and wants. Fully expecting that He will understand and give us exactly what we ask if we just pray hard enough and keep asking. But that’s not the purpose of prayer.
Prayer isn’t getting from God, it’s about connecting with God.
That’s not to say God doesn’t care about our needs, He does and we should tell Him what’s on our heart. But we shouldn’t miss the primary purpose of prayer, it’s about connecting with God.
Again just look at Jesus. In the garden, He asked that the difficult path ahead of Him would be removed. But it wasn’t. He didn’t get what He “wanted”. Instead, He got what we needed. Through that prayer, He was strengthened to go through what lay ahead of Him.
Don’t use prayer to get what you want. Use it as a way to connect with the creator of the universe.
It’s easy to take Jesus’ words out of context and make them say something they don’t. We do it all the time. But in doing so we’ve ended up with many twisted and often dangerous views. These things that Jesus never said have caused great harm to our faith and our witness to those around us.
When we read Jesus’ words we need to put aside our own bias and read what He said in context. Look at the verses before and after and see what He’s really saying. Let the Bible change you rather than twisting it to support views. It’s better that way and will lead to a growing and flourishing faith.
For more about reading the Bible in context check out: Stop Taking The Bible Out Of Context (and what to do instead)
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