The theme of this morning’s church service was Jesus as teacher. The Call to Worship in our bulletin contained the following exchange:
Leader: What have you come expecting?
People: We want someone to tell us what to do and think.
My jaw almost dropped! “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do and think,” I thought to myself. That’s an aspect of Christian evangelicalism that has long repulsed me: people dogmatically and rigidly telling me what to do and think.
But part of me would like to be told what to do and think. I’d like guidance. My deeds and thoughts don’t always work out that well for me.
What I’d prefer to receive are suggestions, not commands. That’s what I like—-suggestions! I was thinking this to myself during the service. Then I heard my pastor preach about the Gospel reading, which said that Jesus spoke with AUTHORITY! Eek!
An aspect of Jesus speaking with authority is that he taught us the right way to live. It’s wrong to hate, for example, even though so many of us fall short of that command. I believe that the principles that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount are true principles. Applying them, however, may be complex. Plus, I do not reduce Christianity to the Sermon on the Mount, for there is also what Paul said about how the law cannot save us, for we are carnal human beings in need of grace—-not just forgiveness, but also divine empowering to do what’s right. We need more than commands, whether that be the Torah or Jesus’ teachings. I’d say that we need Jesus himself.
Try to make sense of that, if you will! I’m off to do some homework.