There is a strange phenomenon among choosy Christians. They choose Sam. (I am using Sam as a fictitious name for an author or speaker who is human and not Jesus Christ.) In other words, Christians prefer to read, learn, quote, talk about, listen to, follow, and promote things written by and thought up by humans rather than Jesus. Sam may be a good Christian and may talk about good Christian things, but Sam is on a much lower level than Jesus and he does not teach the teachings of Jesus (even though he may claim to).
Choosy Christians initially chose Jesus Christ. That is what makes them Christians. But somewhere along the way they stopped choosing Christ and started preferring what Sam said.
Pat loves to read. She has read books written by many of the great church fathers as well as Christian books written today. She always has a Christian book in her hands but she seldom reads the Bible.
In Sunday School, Sister Brunning asks the class to get out their copies of the latest best-selling Christian book and follow along as she reads from it. This book may have quotes in it from the Bible but it is not the Bible.
As they discuss the chapter, Mr. Jundt speaks up and starts the same spiel that he gives almost every Sunday, "Man is totally depraved. He cannot do anything to be saved. I was such a bad sinner that God had to drag me to Himself." This may sound Biblical but Jesus never said it. Someone in the Calvinist camp said it a long time ago and people have been repeating it ever since insisting it is Bible. Calvinism is Sam-made and Arminianism is Sam-made.
In the Worship service, Pastor Sturn preaches on a topic that he has preached many times before. It comes from one or two verses in the Bible. Many good preachers preach on this topic and insist it is Biblical but it is not something Jesus taught.
In a church across town, Reverend Habiger stands in the pulpit reading a sermon with a catchy title, eye-popping PowerPoint slides, and a five-minute video. He got this sermon from a sermon service he subscribes to. He receives a new sermon pack in his Inbox every week. All he has to do is read it to his congregation and play the slides. This is good for Rev. Habiger because he does not have time to read the Bible and come up with his own sermons.
At a Wednesday night Bible study, it is Jon's turn to share. He starts out by holding up his Bible and saying, "The King James Version (KJV) is the best and only version of God's Word...." This KJV Only stance is actually relatively new (if you consider that the KJV has been around since 1611). It's beginning can be traced back to 1930 when a Seventh-day Adventist author, Benjamin G. Wilkinson, wrote a book mentioning it. Many have followed his teaching thinking Jesus would do the same thing if He lived today. Would He? What they don't realize is that there were at least five Greek versions of the Old Testament in Jesus' time. So, yes, there were different Bible versions in Jesus' time. Jesus quoted from several of them but He never insisted that one was better or that only one was right. KJV Only is a Sam-made belief. There are many more Sam-made beliefs saturating our churches.
Most churches have doctrinal statements and beliefs that can be traced back to human authors, not to Jesus. Even the churches that yell loudly that they are Bible believers have many Sam-made teachings.
Many good Christians post Christian sayings and quotes on Facebook. They are good quotes but Jesus did not say them.
Most choosy Christians take it for granted that all of their beliefs came from Jesus. They are ignorant of how many actually came from Sam.
Am I crazy to suggest that Christians should choose and read Jesus' teachings more often?
Jesus said that He is the Door. Those that enter through Him are saved. Those who go in and out through Him will find pasture (John 10:9).
Christians are not going in and out to pasture through the door, Jesus. They have a different book open. It is Sam's book. They are going in and out through Sam to find pasture. "Amen, amen, I tell you, the person not going through the door into the yard of the sheep, but climbing up some other way, that person is a thief and a bandit." (John 10:1 BV) "The thief does not come except so that he might steal, kill, and ruin." (John 10:10 BV).
"...the sheep listen to His (the shepherd's) voice.... ...the sheep follow him because they know his voice. Another person they will not in any way follow, but they will run away from him because they do not know the other person's voice." (John 10:3-5 BV)
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians are following a stranger's voice, Sam's voice. How sad.
Listen to what else Jesus said, "And if anyone listens to My statements and does not observe them, I do not judge Him. You see, I did not come so that I may judge the world, but so that I might rescue the world. The person disregarding Me and not receiving My statements has something judging him: the message that I spoke. That will judge him in the last day because I did not speak from Myself, but the Father who sent Me, He has given Me a demand, what I might say and what I might speak" (John 12:47-49 BV).
Jesus actually said a lot more on this topic. Jesus knew people (yes, even good Christians) would choose Sam over Him.
The words and advice of Sam come from a human being. The Sams that lived hundreds of years ago are no different. Sam does not know everything. In fact, he doesn't know much. Sam is not God. Sam is millions of times smaller and dumber than God.
On the other hand, the words and advice of Jesus come from God. Jesus knows everything. He is God. He is millions of times bigger and smarter than all the Sams put together. Jesus knew what He was talking about when He spoke the words recorded in the gospels. We should read them and listen to them.
Jesus' words are divine words. Sam's words are human. There is a big difference between the two.
DO NOT explain away what Jesus says. DO NOT read the words of Jesus the same way you read the words of Sam. DO NOT say that Jesus' teachings do not mean what they say. DO NOT say that the words of Jesus do not apply to you. DO NOT ignore what Jesus said.
DO treat the teachings of Jesus as higher and more important than all other teachings. DO read Jesus' words daily. DO read them as divine words.
How to read divine words: Read a teaching of Jesus and then read it again. Think about it. Ask questions about it. Try doing it. Read it again. Memorize it. Think about it. Try doing it again. Model your life after it.
Jesus' teachings have depth. You will understand more and more about them the more you read them. They may seem impossible to keep but at least attempt to keep them. It may be years before you are able to keep them. That is because they are divine words.
Do this with each teaching of Jesus until you practice them all or until you die trying. Unless you are perfect (you're not), the teachings of Jesus must always be on your mind.
Why do you treat Sam's teachings better than Jesus'?
Do not make Jesus take a back seat to any Sam.
Be a choosy Christian that chooses Christ.