Before you hit “unfollow” or reach for the pitchforks, let me clarify what I mean by this statement.
Most Christians do not greet one another with a holy kiss, although Paul commands Christians to do this four times in the New Testament.
Most Christians do not forbid women to cut their hair, nor do they consider long hair on men to be sinful; something Paul appears to command churches to enforce in his letter to the Corinthians.
Most Christians would not approve of slave-labor, even though Paul affirms the practice of slavery and tells slaves to remain with their masters and masters to be nice to their slaves.
Most Christians today would not endorse polygamy, even though the Bible nowhere speaks out against the practice.
Most Christians don’t gather with signs at the County Court House to protest divorce, even though Jesus specifically speaks against it and equates it with adultery.
So, obviously, these same Christians who make bold claims about “believing everything in the Bible”, outright dismiss many things that this same Bible tells them to do, or not to do.
That means, Christians really don’t believe everything in the Bible, even if they claim to believe that the Bible is the “Word of God” and infallible.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to argue that Christians today should take a “God said it, I believe it and that settles it” approach. Not at all. I think it’s a wonderful thing that we’ve continued to think about what the Bible teaches in the light of who Christ is, rather than holding blindly to the letter of the Law.
The driving factor here is the indwelling presence of Jesus. We’re not left with a book to guide us. We have the living Spirit of Christ – the actual “Word of God” – living within us.
In other words, over time the Church has slowly begun to see more truth as it is continuously revealed through the eyes, character and heart, of Jesus.
Our Lord commands us to love God and to love others as we love ourselves, even to love our enemies and do good to them. So, in light of this radical way of re-thinking everything, we find ourselves realizing that loving people means not owning them as property, and loving one another means not condemning people for their brokenness, and faithfulness to our spouse means not bringing anyone else into the relationship, etc.
There was a time when society owned other people and treated them as property. Christians in the South could even quote New Testament scriptures to justify owning slaves. But, as the church began to draw nearer to the spirit of Jesus, they realized that everyone is created in God’s image and no one should be bought or sold. The spirit of Christ transformed the letter of the Law to reveal the heart of the Father.
So, does this mean that Christians can start ignoring parts of the written Word they don’t like? No, that’s not what I’m saying. The pattern I’m pointing to involves drawing nearer and nearer to Jesus and allowing Him to guide us into all Truth by His Spirit. As we experience an increase of light from the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we find ourselves being led away from rules and laws [“don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”] and closer to the heart of who Jesus is – and who He is calling us to be.
My point is that Jesus is the Truth. He is the Way. He is the living “Word of God” which was made flesh and has come to dwell among – and within – us.
If we have the living Word of God inside of us, we can discern whether or not slavery, or polygamy, or short hair on women, etc. is “an abomination” or not. We are not bound by words on a page, we are set free by The Word in our heart.
Everything we believe must be processed through the person of Jesus. If it does not align with who He is, then it is in direct opposition to the “Word of God” and must be conformed to His image.
Please, join me at one of these upcoming events:
*Organic Church Conference with Neil Cole, Ross Rohde, Dan Notti and Keith Giles on Saturday, May 12 in Long Beach, CA. Register here>
*The Nonviolent Love of Christ: How Loving Our Enemies Saves The World, with Joshua Lawson and Keith Giles on Saturday, June 16 in Portsmouth Ohio. Register here>
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.
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