Friday, December 01, 2006

Jesus Was Not Polite

Many years ago, after an eight week course of practical Christianity, three hours a day, five days a week I suspected that one of the students had not learned much of practical Christianity. She had come from a Christian home, grew up in good churches, Christian education including a degree from a famous Christian College. For years I had listened to people’s awful stories. I thought and they thought that I could not give a Biblical solution unless I understood all of the awful mess. One day I realized that I was giving the same solution regardless of what the story was. I did not need to listen to the stories. I also narrowed down to two of the causes that were common in all of these stories.

1. It had been a long time since the person had read all of the New Testament.
2. The person had one awful, distorted or truncated view of God, very different from the right catechism answer. They had Satan’s caricature of God. It was one awful lie.

I began to ask for the person’s gut view of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I could write a book of the awful answers I have gotten to these questions. In summary, Jesus normally ends up with as much character as the Father.

Well, I asked this young woman these questions.

How long has it been since you have read all of the New Testament?

Her answer was, “All of it?”

Then I asked her of her gut view of God, the Father.

She gave a surprisingly good answer. When I asked her of her gut view of Jesus her answer was something like this, “Jesus was supposed to have died for our sins, but I don’t think He was very polite.”

I did not know why the answer shook me, because I already knew He was not very polite. Why did it bother me? It bothered me because she thought that politeness was the highest virtue. If Jesus was not polite then He was not sinless and could not have died for our sins. Politeness to her was more important than anything else.

Since that event more than twenty years ago I have seen and sensed that belief in many Christians. It colors all of their communication. The gospel is avoided or sanctified so that there is no chance of anyone taking offense. And these Christians think it is a virtue. It really is the enemy of truth.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Notice that we are to speak the truth in love. It does not say “speak the truth in politeness.” They are not the same for three reasons.

1. politeness is not a synonym for truth
2. politeness almost always leaves out the truth
3. sometimes politeness inserts a lie

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