Have you ever wondered if the Lord leans over to the Father and laments, “I wish My Church would stop putting words in My mouth”?
“Few people have been misquoted as often as Jesus,” says Michael Hidalgo. It’s easy to say stuff and attribute it to people when they’re not around. Such a ploy helps lends credibility to the speaker, or enables them to manipulate the listener or even, at times, pass the buck.
“I didn’t say it, they did.”
No wonder the followers of Jesus love this strategy. It’s been shaping and honing the Church for generations.
At the end of this post I’d love it if you’d contribute to my list by adding one – or a few – of your own.
God will never give you more than you can bear
Pray this prayer and you’ll go to heaven
God helps those who help themselves
You need more faith to be healed
The Republican Party will solve all your nation’s ills
Why, of course He will. And He’ll do it for the very good reason that He’s after your trust. He wants you to fall under the weight of life so you’ll turn your eyes upward and cry, “Lord, I can’t but You can!”
Lord, I believe (you are able)! Help my unbelief ( because this is so hard)!
He thrives on being your Savior. Rescuing you never tires Him out. He loves being a Good Father to you and your responding to Him in faith. He gets a kick out of it.
Sorry. Not in there. The essence of saving faith is – as we just saw – ongoing faith and certain hope in Christ’s saving Love. When the New Testament addresses “faith” or “belief” (πιστεύω) in the context of being saved, it doesn’t quantify it as a thing but as a repetitive condition of the heart.
Sometimes such faith looks like: “Lord, I’ve done it again. I’m such a screw up! Help me out of this…I turn to You!” Sometimes it’s little more than, “I’m sorry.” At times, “I can’t do this without You!” resonates as mustard-seed faith to Him.
Yes, I know. Faith is in a Person, not an idea or spiritual mirage. The gravitational pull of Saving Faith is in Jesus the Christ, in His finished work and in His ongoing ministry of sustaining grace, sanctification and the perfecting of our weak faith.
And yes, my own faith story began with a crisis of belief where I cried out for Him to save me – I may have even prayed the classic “sinner’s prayer”* – but my salvation from bondage to sin and self-godship to Christ and His Life is due to a participial love affair. His Love toward me is exceedingly more perfect than mine to Him, but He knows My heart. And He’s merciful and intimately close to screw-ups who turn to Him.
I think this ones on everybody’s list. You can find its origins in Aesop’s Fables, a variant in the Quran (13:11) and in a Benjamin Franklin attribution, but it’s not in scripture. So…moving on.
Actually, God would say…
Yikes, be careful here, Scotty-boy…
God (might) say:
I help those who come to the end of themselves.
Oh boy, have I – a paraplegic – heard this, almost as much as Romans 8:28 (which is true, but still) from various well-meaning saints in 33 years of disability.
When the disciples were feeling convicted about a certain teaching, they responded with “We need more faith for this, Lord!” He didn’t say, “You’re right fellas.” Instead He told them, in essence, to act on what they knew and believed and they’d grow into this too. When it comes to healing, sometimes He healed based on the afflicted person’s (weak) faith, sometimes when He saw (hopeful) faith in others, and sometimes just ‘cuz.
Who decides how much faith is enough? Not you, not me. So stop that nonsense and putting obligations on people when Jesus died and rose again to free us from all that!
He heals…when He’s ready. And when He’s ready, I’ll be ready.
And I’ll probably lose some followers here, but it’s worth taking a shot.
Okay, here goes.
Jesus also never said – or implied:
Well, obviously He didn’t reference a political party that wouldn’t come into being for another eighteen or nineteen hundred years yet, but still.
The hope of America is not a republican super-majority in Congress with a sitting president from the party of the elephant. I mean, I’d like those things because I’m a ‘steadfast conservative’ according to the recent Pew Research poll, but still.
The hope of our nation is…are you ready to hear it? The hope for this country is for the Church inside her to be a true City on a Hill.
What does that mean, you ask?
The phrase is taken directly from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14. At first blush it’s important to know the “you” is plural and suggests that a “city” of unified (not uniform) followers of Christ will be noticed in its cultural setting by living by the law of love and spiritual liberty – with each other, and those outside their faith as well.
When the Church in America practices righteous justice (for the poor, defenseless and innocent) and self-giving love to all, the nation will be blessed.
Okay, off my soap box.
I saw where Scot McKnight made his own list over at Patheos and ended with, “Jesus didn’t say, ‘You are my friends if you do what I didn’t say…'”
Don’t forget: use the comment box below to add to this list of Things Jesus DIDN’T Say. Comment now, comment often…and you might end up with a free book at the end of the month! (See sidebar at bottom)
*Classic sinner’s prayer:
Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and am deserving of hell because of my sins. But I know you died and rose again to save me, so I’m asking You to forgive my sins, come into my heart and save me, and take me to heaven when I die.
The main point I make with this is that saving faith is a relationship built on ongoing trust and belief, not in a prayer uttered once upon a time, but in a Person you believe is your Hope and Stay.