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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: Deep Thought Thursday ~ Literally?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Deep Thought Thursday ~ Literally?

Today I would like to talk about a book. This particular book is probably the most controversial, misinterpreted, and misunderstood book in the world. In fact, it's not even a book at all, it's a library of books, but it takes the form of a single book. It's full of stories, both fictional and non-fictional, poetry, songs, genealogies, parables, prophecies, letters written to entire cities, wise sayings, teachings, forthcoming events, and even a book about sex. It's called the Bible, and the word Bible even translates to the word library. So perhaps we should call it "The good library" rather than "The good book". I went to a restaurant in Baltimore's inner harbor called UNO's. They had a book in the center of the table called "The good book". I picked it up and it was full of desserts. It was indeed a good book.

Anyway, there is so much I could talk about concerning the Bible, but I want to focus on the fact that some people take the entire Bible literally, and I don't think it was intended to be taken that way. Of course much of it is to be taken literally; Love God, love all people; do not murder; they're not drunk, it's only 9 in the morning; yadda, yadda, yadda. That kind of stuff is pretty straightforward. But there is a lot of poetry, stories, and analogies in the Bible as well that may not be literal, but they do point to the truth.

Take a look at what it says in Mark 9:43-47:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.

Geez Louise! Literally?! Honestly, if I were to cut off every body part that caused me to sin then you'd have to throw me in a giant blender and hit purée! There is a popular saying that goes something like this "People should know you are a Christian as soon as you enter a room". Take that saying with the verse above and then imagine people sitting in a waiting room at the ER. A man enters the room. He's missing one hand, only has one eye, no get the point. A little girl looks at her mother and says "Mommy, mommy, what's wrong with that guy?" and the mother replies, "Oh, don't worry dear, he's just a Christian. He comes in here all the time, probably cut off another body part." People should know we are followers of Christ because of our love, not because we are missing body parts.

Let's go back to some earlier verses in Mark 9, verses 38-41:

"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."
"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

Even though this man was doing things in Jesus name, he may have done them a little differently than Jesus and his disciples were doing them, but Jesus said it was okay because he was doing it in Jesus's name. This happens too many times in the church. Let's say the people who go to church A do things a little different than the people who go to church B. This makes church B upset because church B thinks that they've got it all figured out, that they are the ones who are absolutely right and that anything different, even slightly different from they way they do things is the wrong way. The people who go to church B need to be a little more open-minded. That's how it is in some churches though. The people think that they have it all figured out, a few hundred or a few thousand people of a congregation think their way is the right way and the rest of the world's population is absolutely wrong because they don't go to the same exact church building they go to. It's ridiculous.

Rob Bell said "If we become too dogmatic or too absolutly sure that our particular view is the only one, then something dangerous happens to the mystery of the divine." You see, it's not about our way, it's about Jesus's way. The problem is that too many people have formed Jesus into what they want him to be. I think we all do that to some degree. Let's get to know the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus that Bob or Linda or Fred made up to suit their own selfish needs. (No offense to anyone named Bob, Linda, or Fred, I was just randomly picking names.)

So, I think that's all I'm going to say for now, there's more, but I want to go in a different direction next week. Have a great day, and I literally mean that.

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