In high school I had a friend who only knew one Bible verse. Can you guess which verse it was?
Don’t remember that one? You must not love smoking pot. Because my friend did and here’s what he would say to me:
“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t go to seminary, so I’m not completely sure on the translation, but I’m almost positive that verse isn’t about marijuana. But that was my friend’s favorite verse because he was pretty sure it was.
The funny thing to me is that, as silly as it was for my friend to pick a single verse and twist it to his purposes, sometimes we Christians do the same thing. Especially with Jesus.
Sometimes we a la carte Jesus, finding a single verse or a single story to justify something. Here are my three favorite examples of that:
1. The temple clearing.
Remember how Jesus cleared those 15 different temples? He was constantly swinging in through wooden shutters like the Bethlehem swat team. Next to journaling, getting angry and cracking some skulls was Jesus’ favorite activity. A lot of people don’t know this, but MMA originally stood for “Messiah Martial Arts.” Look it up. It’s Luke 19. What’s that you say? The whole thing is only 3 verses? Don’t make me clear your temple!
2. The whitewashed tombs.
Here’s the thing. I know my rebuke felt harsh to you. I really let you have it, didn’t I? Initially, I thought about going the whole route that I think James or Matthew prescribes. Talk to you first, then come with someone else, and then eventually go to the church. I was going to do that, but then I remembered in Matthew 23:27 when Jesus calls the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs.” And the more I thought about it, the more I realized my problem with you is almost identical to the problem that the son of God had with the religious leaders of the day. So I decided to publicly rebuke you in front of the largest crowd I could find. Don’t blame me. Take that up with Jesus.
3. The water into wine.
Two words: “Wedding miracle.” I don’t want to debate alcohol with you. The second you even ask me about it, I’m going to say, “Wedding Miracle,” and then I’m probably going to do this little “Water into wine” dance that I’ve been working on. It’s kind of like the water show that Cirque du Soleil does in Vegas. It’s very fluid. Lot of dramatic movements with my arms and torso. I’ve never read anything significant into any of the other miracles Jesus did throughout the Bible, but that water into wine one is my jammy jam!
Those are the three I see most often and the ones I’ve done myself.
I’ve definitely stretched or exaggerated or amplified single verses or stories. I’ve taken things out of context. What’s that you say? I should read the whole Bible? The New Testament and the Old Testament in concert?
Uh, I’m pretty sure Jesus told us to have faith like a child. And kids can’t read. Soooo…