Is Jesus Overrated?
Is Jesus overrated?
I read an article the other day, where the author thinks so and said so. After he questioned whether or not the Bible was inspired, he said he'd read his Bible "pretty good" and set out to show why Jesus is overrated.
He started by quoting Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." and he concluded that Jesus tells his followers to hate their families. I thought at first that he simply missed the point entirely, until he listed his point #2.
He quoted Matthew 10:37, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." He then commented that Jesus basically has no right to "insist" that his followers love him more than anyone else, including their families. Seems he understands the command, he just disagrees with the authority behind it.
Thinking that this fellow still is missing the bottom line entirely of what Jesus is teaching, he accuses Jesus of being dismissive of other people’s feelings toward their families also. He used Matthew 8:21-22, Luke 9:59-62, "And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
I'm wondering if while reading his Bible "pretty good" if this fellow kept reading as Jesus explained, if he kept reading to see why Jesus said these things in the way He did. I'm wondering how he missed the overall theme of scripture that requires God to come first. I'm wondering what scripture he read that he felt Jesus was unworthy to require us to love Him in this way.
Then, in his point #4 (he had 21 but I'll save the others for another time), I began to understand why he was missing the point. He said Jesus commands people to "mutilate themselves." That's right, his exact words were "He encourages his followers to mutilate themselves to avoid hell". To justify what he thinks this scripture says he quotes "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off ... And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off ... And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." - Mark 9:43-48.
This fellow seems to think these teachings are a bit harsh, irrational, and unreasonable. And if you just had them, and them alone without understanding who Jesus is, what He has done for us and our place in relation to Him, perhaps you could reach the same conclusions this fellow did from some distorted legalistic approach. But are they harsh? Are they unreasonable? Matthew 22:37 quotes the very words of God Almighty, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ Jesus then says, "This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’"
In keeping that command, the love we have for our families must take a back seat to our love for God. He isn't commanding us to hate, he's putting things into perspective. If we must neglect our family's desires for us in order to adhere to Jesus' commands in order to save our soul, to be a committed follower of His, then He indeed expects that but He never teaches us to neglect our family's physical or spiritual needs. Likewise, if we have to cut off our hand to stop sinning with our hand, if we have to pluck out our eyes to keep from sinning with our eyes, if our feet keep carrying us to trouble, then we need to be ready to do whatever extreme and drastic things we must do to stop sinning, and follow Christ.
It's unfortunate that this fellow in reading his Bible "pretty good" missed the part that if we will commit to Jesus properly, if we will make him LORD of our lives, if we will submit to His rule and His ways, we will love and appreciate our families so much deeper, we will place other's interests and needs (including our family's) above or ahead of our own, we will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. If we will commit to Jesus, there will be no need to "mutilate ourselves", as our hands will find good works to do, our eyes will see clearly to help others, and our feet will be a blessing as they deliver "good news" (Rom 10:15).
Jesus' message is one of love and peace, of consideration for other people far above what our world believes is proper. Jesus' message is about doing and not just talking a good game. Jesus' message, when understood properly, is one that offers us and those around us the best this life has to offer, because day by day we become more and more like Him. Our LORD lived a life of compassion, loved the unlovable, forgave the unforgivable, taught the disinterested and gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. If doing that doesn't show love and mercy, please, tell me what does? And, Jesus wants us to take on those characteristics as well.
I'm sorry this fellow just hand picked some verses that he could use to argue his distaste for anything Jesus. He somehow missed who Jesus really is and what He's really teaching in his "pretty good" opinion of what the Bible says. But in reading his opinion, it became clear to me that he is another prime example of why we need to continue to..."let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16) This guy is a Bible "reader" apparently, but still needs to see "the light". May the Lord lead him, and us all, to a better understanding of His Word and will.