When I was in 7th grade my life science teacher got a scientific thing completely wrong.
This was the height of the AIDS hysteria of the 1980s. AIDS, or more accurately HIV, was all over the news because of its deadly nature and horrible symptoms. My science teacher told the class that we could catch AIDS from sitting in the same chair with someone with AIDS or drinking after someone with AIDS or shaking hands with someone with AIDS. I was scared to death. What if an AIDS victim breathes on me in the line at McDonalds’s or touches a grocery cart that I use later?
I thought it was inevitable that I would contract HIV and die of AIDS.
But, my teacher was completely wrong. The most likely way of contacting HIV then and now is through sexual contact, using virus contaminated needles, or some kind of transfer of blood. My teacher’s fault wasn’t that she got something wrong (we are all capable of that) but that she let her place as a person of authority be a launching pad for her wrong information. Jesus once said, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” My teacher was a blind guide with the potential of not only harming herself but also all of her students.
I have noticed that so many Christians outsource their thinking to teachers and individuals that claim to know certain right behaviors and teachings but totally twist the message of Jesus or worse, ignore them all together.
It is not like you and I are not without hope to ever understand the true Christian message. That it is all a mystery. Read the Sermon on the Mount or Jesus’ teaching on love or his command of taking up your cross. There are a few small interpretation issues but overall Jesus is straight forward – love your enemies, pray, be a servant, abide in me, forgive, make disciples, the last shall be first.
Jesus had no patience for teachers that would steer us wrong. In the Matthew version of the verse above, Jesus says, “Leave them, they are blind guides of the blind.” So how are we supposed to know who is a blind guide and who is a trustworthy guide?
First, we have to start with Jesus. He is adamant that we follow his teaching. Jesus says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” The expectation is that Jesus’ words would be put into practice. So, we read the gospels and start to follow his lead and study the things he taught, the things he did, the way he served, the way he approached others. With this knowledge we can then start to lay the Jesus Way next to any alternative and see where it aligns and where it differs.
Another thing we need to do is watch our own personal preferences. As selfish people, it will not be natural for us to bless those that curse us, sacrifice our time and energy on behalf of others, and deny ourselves. We are going to take the path of least resistance 90% of the time. That philosophy doesn’t seem to mesh well with Jesus’ words of surrender and the call to follow him. If the teaching we are getting is feeding our own bias and not challenging us to love more, sacrifice more, and Grow Up then we are probably in danger of settling into a less than Christlike life.
Take today to look at what you are reading, what you are listening to, who you are letting guide your life and then compare that to the Gospels and see if you need to make some changes and start listening to the only one that has the authority and means to bring us a good life, a life in the kingdom.