The Words of Jesus (and What They Tell Us)
There are a lot of thoughts and beliefs about the bible. My belief is that, if we read the bible, God will speak to us in His own unique way in a way that works for us. God created us and knows just what He wants to say specifically to us. The bible helps me in many ways. For one thing, it seems like every time I pick up the bible to read something, I get the urge to write. I get ideas. So, the bible helps me to conquer writer’s block. The bible has also comforted me. In times of grief, and especially during times of heartbreak, I have found the words of God comforting and uplifting.
There are some complications about the bible. For one thing, everyone can agree that many people interpret the bible differently. This is because God speaks to each of us individually. Many people interpret the bible in their own way and insist that others should believe the things that God has told them.
In the past, when I have attended faith-based movies in the theater, I have listened to conversations around me, and I have heard comments such as “this movie wasn’t 100% biblical.” In my humble opinion, LIFE is not 100% biblical. We are imperfect human beings. We can try to be moral, upstanding, pure, reverent, obedient, and everything else. But we will fail, because we are human.
For me, it boils down to this. The church is filled with sinners, and I am definitely in that number. That’s why I need Jesus. If you are not a sinner, you do not need Jesus. Jesus died for sinners.
I often hear that we are supposed to live like Jesus did, but what does that even mean? To some, it’s to live the way they are living, because that has worked for them and that’s their interpretation of biblical living. But everyone’s walk is different. God speaks to all of us and tells us how to live according to the plan that HE has for OUR lives. And this is between God and each of His children. God doesn’t want people living cookie cutter lives, He loves us each in our own unique way, and He wants us to live the way He created us to be.
Of course we want to be as much like Jesus as we can. And the only way we can know how to be like Him, is to know Him. The way to know Jesus is to invite Him into our hearts and to listen to His words.
How can we truly listen to Jesus speak to us? The other day I was thinking about how complicated the bible is. Not all of us are scholars. There are a lot of learned scholars who interpret the bible differently. When we questioned scripture at the seminary, the professors always had an answer about “context,” and about differentiating between the culture at the time and modern culture. Women covering their heads in church would be cultural, but what about women not speaking in church? Denominations differ on interpretations of that – some allow women to be pastors and to preach and some don’t. Some allow women to do a little bit of ministry with limitations, and some allow full ordination. It’s all based upon individual interpretation. There are parts of the bible where women are told not to speak in church, and there are other passages in the bible that clearly show women in ministry and leadership roles.
I have written all of this as a framework to begin my exploration to rediscover what it means to be like Jesus. I have decided to journey through the bible studying only the words of Jesus. I started on this a long time ago, but I abandoned it. Since then I have come across a book by David Tait, who is making this much easier for me. He wrote a book that contains the words of Jesus with the verse references in chronological order. I am going to use this book as a guide to explore the words of Jesus. I’m using the New Living Translation of the bible. You are welcome to join me on this journey. You may or may not agree with my interpretation, but as I wrote above, this is what I am getting from God, if He speaks to you, He may be saying something different, and that is OK!
Jesus knew what His calling was from his birth. He knew exactly what God wanted Him to do. Very few of us have a strong knowledge of what we are supposed to do with our lives. Some of us go to college right after high school and become doctors, lawyers or other professionals. Some join family businesses. Some take time off to discover themselves. I would think that many of us stumble into jobs and stay, either growing in our careers or showing up every day for a paycheck so we can pay the bills. Some of us are fine with that, because their lives have other purposes. There is a difference between a calling and a purpose. People can be perfectly happy working at jobs that pay the bills, while discovering their true purpose in their family lives or by volunteering. Others find their calling and will climb every mountain and conquer every obstacle to make their careers happen. We are all different.