‘Like Jesus said, love the sinner, but hate the sin.’
‘But Jesus never said that.’
‘Yes He did.’
‘No He did not, it was Gandhi, and if you were getting your money’s worth at seminary you would know that.’
And that’s how what almost turned into a shouting match started between yours truly, and a seminary student.
Nobody likes it when certain things which they never said are attributed to them, and that includes Jesus. I’ve had my fair share of ‘brother Mike said’ moments in life, to make sure I document, confirm, and double-check before I attribute a phrase, a saying, or an idea to somebody.
Sometimes the most difficult thing is defending yourself against something you’ve never said. It catches you so off-guard, you don’t know how to react, and that split second you take to process what someone said you said when you didn’t really say it is as confirmation to that person, because, well, you’re acting squirrely, and you wouldn’t be acting squirrely if you hadn’t said what they said you’d said.
So, a few days ago – in fact the day before my flight to Romania – I walk into my favorite local coffeehouse, since chain anything whether department stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, vitamin stores, restaurants, or coffee shops give me the heebie-jeebies, and as I’m ordering my coffee I overhear a conversation between two obvious seminarians.
Admittedly, I was dressed in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, so I didn’t give off the spiritual authority vibe, but the two clean cut, khaki-wearing-with-the-polo-shirt-tucked-in young men, screamed seminary through and through.
Yes, we have a Baptist seminary down the road from where I live when I’m in the States, in cosmopolitan Watertown Wisconsin, so it wasn’t overly difficult to put two and two together.
I had walked in mid-conversation, and the first thing I heard was the tired cliché, attributed to Jesus, of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’
Since minding my own business – especially when it comes to things of a spiritual nature – isn’t really my forte, I turn my head and say, ‘but Jesus never said that.’
Who’d have thought that little ole’ me would stir a hornet’s nest by such an inoffensive comment?
‘Yes He did!’ The obviously older of two boys said with such certainty, that for a second I almost believed him.
‘Show it to me in that leather-bound Bible you carry, and I’ll apologize’ I said, handing the girl behind the counter a crumpled five dollar bill.
I waited as the girl made my coffee, keeping one eye on the boy who was violently turning pages left and right. The girl finally called my order, I picked up my cup and took a few sips, and as I walked out, not being able to hold my tongue I said, ‘you can stop looking. The person to whom that particular quote is attributed is actually Gandhi. If you were getting your money’s worth at seminary, you would know that.’
So what’s the point in retelling this story?
The point is as simple as it is profound. As believers, as followers of Christ, and children of God it is important, even paramount that we know what Jesus did say, as well as what He did not say.
We cannot attribute words to Christ just because the words seem to support our preconceived notions, nor can we take away from what He said because His words might be misconstrued as offensive to unbelievers and those who do not yet know Him.
When we utter the words ‘Jesus said’ we’d better make sure He did say what we purport He said, because ignorance is a booming industry. The world is overflowing with experts in theology, men who readily reinterpret, add to, and erase from the word of God without a second thought. The seminaries are cranking out a new batch of bright eyed and bushy tailed molders-of-the-future every year or so, who are as ignorant of what Jesus said as they are of what it means to be a true Christian, but to the last they know how to take an offering, and feign an altar call.
We are the epitome of superficiality, possessing a faith absent obedience, desiring forgiveness absent repentance, and even those who pay good money to be taught in the ways of God remain blissfully ignorant of truth.
Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
That, Jesus did say!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.