As I read through the New Testament – which I do on a regular basis – I always note something new or see something in a different light than the last time I visited the story or the passage. It has been true this time as well. As I have been reading the four gospels and the story of Jesus’s birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection I have noted how tough some of His comments and commands really are. And, how crazy-sounding some of them are.
It seems to me that those of us who have grown familiar and even comfortable with the teachings of Christ may have allowed His teachings to lose their edge. So much of what Jesus taught makes no sense from the human perspective.
- Love your enemies
- If you want to be great, first learn to be a servant
- If someone smacks you across the face, turn your head and let him slap you on the other side
- If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt as well
- If you want to live, you need first to die to yourself
The complete list of Jesus’ crazy-sounding teachings is a lot longer than that. But, you get the idea. A little insane. A completely different perspective from the way the world lives.
To me, the most startling thing Jesus ever said was when He assigned His followers the task of going out in pairs to share His good news with lost people. He said that He was sending them “as sheep among wolves.” Still, He expected them to prevail. In the history of the world, no sheep has ever won a fight with a wolf. The very idea is insane. Yet, it was a direct command and Jesus expects His followers to be obedient to His commands.
We often don’t deal with these statements that Jesus made. They appear not to relate to us or to our world and so we are able to discount them or simply ignore them. But, we should not push our questions and our struggles out of sight. In fellowship with other believers who love us and in the local house church where I attend and belong – it is safe to deal with these ‘insane teachings’ the Lord has left us.
This one comment in the midst of many “insane teachings” leads us to ask ourself:
- Can God truly overcome evil?
- Is love really more powerful than hate?
- How can a person maintain even a small hope in a dark place?
- How is it possible for faith to survive in an insane environment where war rages and radical religious fanatics follow their own destructive disregard for human life?
- How can someone live the abundant, victorious life that Jesus promised in our world’s hardest places?
- Can Christianity work outside of western, dressed-up, well-ordered nations?
- If so, how?
- How does the Christian faith fit into the insanity of evil, the inhumanity of people, and the pain of loved ones dying needless deaths?
- Is the good news of the gospel powerful enough to overcome the forces of evil in our world’s darkest places?
- And if it is, why do we see so much ‘crucifixion’ and experience so little of the resurrection?
I work hard to answer these questions and others because although we are sent out as sheep among wolves we don’t want to be or have to be stupid sheep among wolves.
Never be afraid to ask yourself and others the hard questions. They need to be answered and can be answered as we take our faith into all the world and make disciples.