Jesus Did Not Say That

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Our thinking and conversations are often filled with sayings we attribute to Jesus that he didn’t say. My own theology gets skewed by such well-intended but misapplied sayings.  Here’s a list of five things Jesus did not say (and five things he actually said). 

1. Follow your heart.  How often have we heard someone say this, or perhaps said it ourselves? “Go for what your gut says. Your gut is your heart.”

What Jesus actually said was “ Follow me.”  

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

2. Be true to yourself. If I did everything that was for myself, I’d be elevating myself over Jesus.

What Jesus actually said was “If anyone would deny himself”.

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him 

deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

3. Believe in yourself.  Believing in myself apart from God places me at the center of life, not him.

What Jesus actually said was. “Whoever believes in me.”

 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may

 not remain in darkness.” John 12:46

4. Live your truth. Living my truth means I am the standard, not God. 

What Jesus actually said was. “I am the truth.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

5. As long as you are happy. Happiness is circumstantial. It focuses on what’s my current situation.

What Jesus actually said was. “What will it profit you if you gain the whole world…?”

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Here’s what I find interesting about these five statements we associate with Jesus. They are all about self. Me. We live in a very self-focused culture. It’s all about self-benefit. What’s in it for me? We seek Jesus when we can benefit from him. We attend church looking for what’s in it for me. If we think the pastor is boring, perhaps it’s not him, it’s my mindset that is blocking me from hearing from God. 

Tracing that attitude- way of thinking back in history, we find an interesting connection from the Hellenistic world (Alexander the Great to Augustus Caesar (circa 320 BC to about 31 BC; just before Jesus was born)). According to Bible teacher Marty Solomon, the Hellenistic era was the first Me-centered culture the world had ever seen. Before then, gods were the highest in the universe.  But with Alexander the Great, man became the center. Mythical gods were not eliminated. Where gods had power, man did not. So, the mythical man-gods were created so man could rule the world. 

There were four great pillars of the Hellenistic era:

  1. Education– where we get our universities.
  2. Healthcare– where we get our hospitals.
  3. Entertainment– where we get our arts and theatre.
  4. Athleticism– where we get our sports.

Not that any of those four pillars are wrong, but they have influenced how we think about faith and Jesus.

Jesus didn’t die to make our life better, he died and rose again to be our life. (Galatians 2:20)

One of the challenges growing up in the Western culture that is heavily influenced by the Greeks (Hellenism), is we conclude life is all about self-improvement and Jesus must cater to me.  Thus, those five statements, and others, permeate our faith conversations to our detriment.

Next time you are talking about what Jesus says, replace any tendency to claim Jesus said those with what he actually said.  

Your faith will grow stronger because of it.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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