There's one thing that will always be true -- people will believe what they want about the Bible. They will cling to certain scripture, manipulate the messages, and come to their own conclusions.
Clearly, however, there is a difference in the Old and New Testaments. The OT of course covers creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Moses, Samson, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his wife, and a lot of historical stories. There are a lot of laws in the OT that seem very strange to us today, for example: not shaving your beards or killing disobedient children.
We all know the NT is about the coming of Jesus and His dying for our sins. But Jesus was here for roughly 33 years and spent several of those years teaching multitudes of people, including the twelve disciples to one day become apostles, so there was a lot more to it than just dying on the cross.
Where many Christians become confused is in what this all means as far as living a righteous life today and following the NT messages of Jesus. Some religious leaders will tell you that the OT is still to be followed today. That becomes really confusing considering the odd and violent nature of many of the ceremonial laws of the time.
Some religious leaders will tell you that it's only the moral laws that apply from the OT, and that the definition of sin has not changed at all. What was a sin then is a sin now.
I agree with that. In fact, if anything, Jesus added sins, or at least made them tougher to avoid. During the Sermon on the Mount, He said that not only is murdering someone a sin, but now just being angry with someone is a sin. He said not only is having an affair a sin, but now just thinking about it is as well.
But none of these things warrant the visit from Jesus and his subsequent dying on the cross. All of these things He could have phoned in. So why the visit? What was the message that He spent years delivering? What are we supposed to do differently as Christians today that the people of the OT did not have to do?
Believe it or not, the answer can be summed up in one word. Unfortunately it is the most misunderstood word in the English language. It is simultaneously the most fragile and the most enduring trait of human nature. It is... Love.
Every message Jesus taught can be summed up with this word. He even instructed us to love our enemies. Love is not judgmental. And Jesus gave specific instructions for us not to judge others.
Yes, some people will cling to John 7:24 and tell you that Jesus says it's okay for them to judge as long as they do it with righteous judgment. They are wrong. The fact is everyone who judges anyone or anything believes they are in the right. That is the essence of judging. That's like saying it's okay to speed because you are a good driver.
We don't get to judge -- period! We don't get to point out other peoples' sins. Jesus said not to look at the sawdust in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own. I've heard religious leaders claim that means you can't point out the same sin in others that you are guilty of yourself. They are wrong. Jesus clearly differentiates the sins by calling one "sawdust" and one a "plank." He means that we all sin, so we can't ignore our own sins to single out others -- period!
So what does all this mean? You're not going to like it, but here goes. It means you have to love and accept everyone and not judge anyone on the planet -- ever.
The young kids with their pants down below their buttocks -- love them. You might not dress that way, but that's not the point.
The scientists who present findings that conflict your faith -- love them. The Atheists who don't believe in God at all -- love them. The people who worship a totally different god -- love them. The people who vote differently than you -- love them. The people who try to sneak into our country illegally -- love them.
Oh no, what about people who support abortion? Yes, love them too. No one said being a Christian was for the weak. You don't have to have an abortion. You don't have to support it. You can recognize it for what it is and be against it. But you cannot judge those who support it or those who have one.
And yes, you're probably already worried about where this is heading, the people who have different sexual preferences than you do -- love them. You cannot take a stance against this one issue and follow the path Jesus laid out for you. It would be the same if you made judgmental comments about gossipers or liars; you know, i.e., those people on the pew next to you.
That's all you have to do. That's all you get to do. You cannot point out anyone's sins and claim you're showing them "tough love." You are wrong. You are judging and pointing at sawdust with a huge plank in your own eye.
If these messages of Jesus are too tough for you, I understand. Jesus set the bar high. It goes against human nature. But if you can't abide by His teachings and feel the need to lash out at Muslims, gays, liberals, immigrants, or whomever, please stop pretending the Bible told you to do so. Please stop claiming you're doing your Christian duty, because -- you're wrong!