“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” Luke 1:51-52 (NIV)
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Jesus Christ was a radical. He was blunt and often harsh. He seemed out of his mind to his family. (see Mark 4:21)
Many people have a different picture of Jesus. They think he was a fount of wisdom, calmly proclaiming the word of God like a Greek philosopher. They see him as a person whose sympathy was always present, and gentleness was eternally available.
How did our picture of Jesus change so much from the portrait that the Bible paints? Our hymns are partially responsible as the line, “no crying he makes” indicates. Our theologians teach us that Jesus is sinless. We have determined that sinlessness is never getting angry, and we grow uncomfortable at those passages that describe his anger. Almost everyone sees Jesus as the wise teacher, so we skip the passage which tells us that his family thought that he was out of his mind.
This change from the Biblical picture of Jesus to the contemporary one tells us that we must read passages as they are written. We need to read the Biblical text as it is and not as we think it should be or the way we want it to be. If we do not do this, we never allow the Bible to change the way that we think, feel, or act. If the Bible only confirms our biases, it cannot transform our lives.
I encourage you to read the Bible with fresh eyes. Drop your beliefs about what God is calling you to do or be until you have read what the Bible says during your fresh reading. Consider what it means to follow the Jesus who lives in the text that you just read.
Of course, scripture reading does not end there. You must read other passages so that you can learn from the whole Bible and not one part of it. You have to consider what the church has always taught, and you must read the passage believing that God wants to increase our love of God and neighbor. But don’t neglect the first step of considering an individual passage as it is written, so that it can witness to Jesus Christ and change your life in its unique way.
If you wish to mail a check, you can use the following address: First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 69, Schaller, Iowa 51053, or you can drop the check off at the State Bank of Schaller.
Please pray for our leaders. I do have an appointment with Mayo’s Long Covid Clinic and ask for your continued prayers to discover answers. Pray for the people of Gaza and Israel. Pray for Kirk’s knee and Denise’s medical issues. Pray for Steve Schaeffer as he continues therapy at Methodist Manor. Pray for our schools. Continue to pray for the people on our prayer list. Pray for our Purple Gang program. Let us pray for our troops who are still deployed overseas and for those who are struggling with their wartime experiences.
May God bless and keep you,