I continue into the series of introductory excerpts from book Right Parables Wrong Perspectives. These are used with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. You can get your discounted copy here or on Amazon. Today’s excerpt from pp. 15-16 talks about the implications for the modern readers in terms of what Jesus taught in Luke 6.43-49.
The present teaching by Jesus implicates the modern faith community. Recent news tells us that one former Christian band member quit Christianity altogether and declared himself an atheist. While we can’t judge his faith journey, his reason for quitting was due to the fact that the organized Christian religion has such stringent rules that mask struggles. He has a point here. Jesus prefaced the present teaching with a discussion about accurate judgment that makes allowance for the judge to be wrong. The wrong judgment that hasn’t been born of correct vision will inevitably lead to a community built on ground without foundation. When hard times come, such a community will crumble. Indeed, many segments of organized Christianity have fallen on hard times. Even though many churches are getting bigger, the number of Christians hasn’t really increased in many parts of the West. Many Christians think that the problem is secularization. Perhaps they’re half right, but quite often, the church needs to look at what Jesus said. Poor judgment would destroy the community. If the church has been living in ignorance and apathy during easy times, then when hard times come, she will crumble. Jesus’ teaching speaks to today’s church because the church has suffered bad PR for quite a while by selective morality without a broader and more comprehensive obedience.
One of the mistakes preachers and Bible study leaders make is to see the set of teachings as merely about listening and doing. When it’s all about doing what Jesus said, the preacher dooms Jesus to the role of a moralistic sage and nothing more. Another mistake some preachers make is to harmonize the present set of sayings with Matthew 7:15–27. While it is possible to see crossover meanings from the two passages, Luke’s teaching differs in emphasis. Matthew was talking in general term in the concluding lines of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Luke’s story is more specifically about the urgent oppression in the troublesome near future. In some ways, Jesus’ words point to a future when hard times would come. When hard times come, the church could crumble, not because of the hard times but because she had not created a culture or lifestyle of understanding and obedience to Christ. Thus, instead of blaming the hard times the church can’t control, the blame should be placed on the church culture. The greatest enemy is internal. If a preacher wants to tackle this text, one good way is to put the storm at the end in the same way Jesus did it so that the emphasis is not so much the what, but the why of obedience.