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Jesus Teaching

My mother was a teacher almost all of her life. She loved teaching and for a big part of her career she was an English teacher. Those of you whose mothers were also teachers may find this hard to believe, but she brought that home with her.

“Young man…” she would say to me, “if you say something to someone and they don’t understand you, it’s not their fault; it’s yours. If you want to be understood and taken seriously, then you must speak clearly and accurately.” I heard it a thousand times. She was right of course, though I grumbled at the time.

In her wisdom, she taught me a lot of things that I thought were just a teacher’s ramblings when I was little but have discovered, as I get older, how important they really are. One of those wise nuances is that sometimes what one DOESN’T say is just as important as what one does say. The way we’re used to seeing that is something like: “Did so and so play well in the big game today?” (Not noticing that so and so is sitting behind them feeling bad about the game and can hear them.) Response: “So and so did his best, yes.”  However, I’m talking about a simpler idea… something like: “When you get to the light, take a right.” That doesn’t mean that every time you come to a light that you have to turn right. It also doesn’t mean that you can only turn right at lights or that you cannot turn right UNLESS it’s at a light. It means exactly what it says and nothing more.

Understanding Jesus’ instructions to us is like that.

Sometimes our decisions about behavior and morality can get muddled with a lot of voices and conflicting opinions. It would be easy to contend that this is the reason there so many denominations and variations in churches; each assigns Jesus’ instructions different implications. And in some general terms, that’s fine. If that helps them understand their faith, so be it, up to the point where it turns the nature of Jesus’ instructions into behaviors that are not positive or good.

For example, if we judge others because (in our opinion) they have done something wrong in the eyes of God. We were told not to judge others. That instruction doesn’t include any participial clauses (my mother would be so proud) like… don’t judge others – unless they do something really, REALLY bad, or – their behavior makes me uncomfortable. We are also told not to seek revenge, that vengeance belongs to the Lord. It didn’t specify how mad we have to be in order to ignore that instruction or how cheated or deceived we have to feel before the law becomes null and void. Revenge is not ours to take. That’s it.

Finger Pointing

Now, let’s get down to the brass tacks here. Jesus said that ALL who believe in him will have everlasting life. He DIDN’T say – unless they’ve not been coming to church regular, or unless they don’t tithe enough or even – unless they drink alcohol. He said ALL who believe. Now, please don’t misunderstand, it is good for us to come to church and he also said that we are not to be drunkards. Let’s just not make his instructions out to be something they are not. Let's not take something that was given to us perfect and turn it into something to use AGAINST one another.

So, on your way through your journey with Christ, don’t let the rantings of the world deter or confound you. Consider Jesus’ teachings, just as they are. That's how he took us. Remember, Jesus told us that we don’t understand enough about what’s going on around us to swear to anything. That also means we don’t know enough to change what Jesus said with innuendo.

It can also go the other way, too. We can take a good command and find some way to ignore it. Jesus told us that we are to love our neighbor. He didn’t mention that you have to like them for this rule to apply. He didn’t say that we also have to like the way they look or what color their skin is. He said love each other.

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