GodReflection: It’s Jesus Friday
Six authors penned the New Testament letters. The truth is I believe each of them. A second truth is that I don’t know the circumstances or the culture into which they write.
The six writers—Paul, Peter, John, Jude, James, and whoever preached the sermon to the Hebrew church—often sound like one-sided conversations since I understand very little of the culture that surrounds the specific situations they address.
One of my prize possessions is a rather large box of letters written from my mother while I attended college and during my years in South America.
When she mentioned Second Street, the mines, the little store, the shop, Junior, or a myriad other names and topics, there was little explanation needed. I knew the subject matter that flowed from her pen.
That is not the case when I read New Testament letters. I miss most of the texture and context of many situations.
Here is when my focus lacked clarity in thought most of the years as a follower of Jesus.
Like many in my church tribe, I wrongly saw the Letters and the local church as the focal point of the New Testament rather than Jesus and the Gospels from which the church was to flow.
I think back over the highlights of my earth walk.
I met fuller understanding of Jesus’ grace at Junior College. My salvation was in Christ alone. I could not purchase it nor could I repay the gift. It was too good to be true. However, I couldn’t deny its reality
I didn’t have to go forward to the front of the church service every six months to clear my slate of sin. Trust in Jesus cleaned sin.
Right doctrine doesn’t make right Jesus. Right Jesus makes right doctrine.
Living under the canopy of the grace of Jesus I can make mistake after mistake in my thinking and still live as secure in the Body of Christ as a puppy snuggled within a blanket in front of a warm fire.
I am grateful for his grace for my spiritual ancestors and for me. His grace covers wrong thinking when lived under his allegiance.
I’ve read cover-to-cover 15 of the 18 books in my library that deal with the history of my church tribe. Some, I’ve read more than once. Of the remaining three, I’ve randomly read enough of the material to get a flavor of each book.
I emerge from my reflective reading cocoon with numerous observations and attitudes toward Jesus and toward my church tribe.
Here is what I think.
- My founding tribal leaders share my Adamic genes as more often they were wrong than they were right.
- As victims of the culture frontiers, North American tribal leaders carried their survival weapons into their theology with quick draw words ready to cut. Battle was a lifestyle.
- Somehow, to be like Jesus was absent from writings and sermons.
- To their credit, they held God and the Bible in high esteem.
However, through the difficulty of living among the readings from the warriors of my Adamic tribal ancestry, I came away with a sense of awe and gratitude.
- While my historic tribal leaders engaged in verbal battle, churches and homes overflowed with common people whose concern was to worship and serve God.
- Common people lacked skill and platform for theological combat. They lived and worked to teach their children to love and respect God, to be honest, and to be obedient to the Almighty. I doubt that few could verbalize their actions. However, unbeknown to them they lived life under the grace of God.
- Like my parents and my grandparents, I am a descendant from warrior and pew.
- From the warriors I admire their commitment to God and to their understanding of His teachings. I live from their heritage in the belief that God inspires all Scripture.
- However, I most admire past generations of the pew. Those who perceived the divine obligation to pass on to their children the teaching of Jesus—even as the “holy battles” or should I say “unholy battles” raged.
Past generations of my church tribal history leave me with two great questions.
One that was asked: “What does the Bible say?”
And, one that should have been asked more often: “In light of Jesus’ life and teachings in the Gospels, What would Jesus do.”
For me the sad reflection is if my church tribal warriors had only caught the spirit and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels most of the warfare generated from their understanding of the letters would have evaporated into the more important realization—it’s Jesus.
My task is to learn from the past. Better still—my task is to learn from Jesus.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Doctrine Flows from Jesus.