Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never go hungry, and those who believe in me will never be thirsty."
~ John 6: 35
Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone concerning a story in the Bible? Well, I have. I will be the first to admit, the older I get, the less I like conflict, especially when it comes to things in the Bible. Frankly, sometimes I wish that I had been present with Jesus, walking along dusty roads, and asked him directly about different things.
While I lived through the, "WWJD...What would Jesus do?" fad, and rebelled by confusing the issue with sharing that we should actually ask, "What would Mary do?" since Mary was fully human and Jesus was also Divine, I must admit, lately I have found myself asking, "What would Jesus say?"
I still hold to my Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) reminder that, "Where Scripture speaks, we should speak, and where it is silent, we should remain silent."
I know people who swear by the "red-letter," versions of scripture that leave me wondering, "Who the heck had a red pen in those days?" I am grateful for the long discussions that we would have in both my Hebrew and Greek classes in seminary that often would leave us questioning scripture more, than truly providing answers.
Nowadays, most of these arguments seem to live on social media. That's the place where I had my last "Biblical showdown." I will admit, I just reached a point where I erased all my comments, left the conversation, and figured that my time could be spent on something more productive. Like world peace.
The discussion didn't end there. The next thing that I received was a text from the person asking if I had deleted my comments (which I did), and then the person wanted to know if I wanted to "talk further," to which I said, "No, not at the moment." I really needed time to think about what the person had shared, why he shared it, and how I could sit "at the table" with my Biblical enemy as the Psalmist declares we will one day.
Don't get me wrong. I love it when the children of God find themselves at odds with scripture. It actually provides for moments where growth can happen. Unfortunately when our brother or sister is dead-set on how a particular scripture is to be interpreted, without room for the Spirit of God to speak to the current situation, then I am left feeling like I don't want to do anything but walk away.
I want to ask, "What would Jesus say?"
When I see the Amazon burning. The death of an iceberg. A child sitting in a cage. A man calling out, "I can't breathe." A woman knocked to the ground because she doesn't see the need to wear a mask in public. A father picking up a child from school with a gun strapped to his leg where a school shooting has just occurred. When fingers of judgement point, and people are persecuted. When we fail to see the image of God in the face of the stranger. On and on, I want to ask, "What would Jesus say?"
The calming factor in all of this is the reality that Jesus is actually closer to us now than he was to his own friends when he walked the dusty roads. Today he is present in an intimate way. He resides within. His words exist among us, even when we disagree. But through the ages he calls and reminds us to respect one another. To allow for us to pull the timber from our own eyes, before noting the splinter in others. To sit in the presence of those we don't care for, and break bread. But most of all, to challenge us to love one another, even when we disagree.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.