I remember hearing a story of a dad reading Matthew chapter 7 to his 4 year old son. While reading the son began to snicker and then broke out laughing. The dad was somewhat serious and wondered what was up. His son imagined in his mind the preposterous picture of a man with a big beam in his eye trying to remove a speck in someone else’s eye. The little boy instinctively knew a big beam couldn’t fit into someone’s eye and just the thought of it caused him to laugh.
While humor and sarcasm can be hurtful, used in a right way they can make excellent points. Jesus used both humor and sarcasm. This is contrary to the picture people often present of Jesus walking on the earth as an emotionless Zombie (except for anger) who lacked any sort of personality. Jesus often used sarcasm to both offend the self righteous as well as making points of truth.
I had the great privilege years ago of inheriting a book from my wife’s grandfather that is no longer in print called “The Humor of Christ” by Elton Trueblood. He did a masterful job of showing both the humor and sarcasm used by Jesus to make important points. It is a pretty ridiculous picture to see a camel on it’s knees trying to squeeze through a small opening in the city wall of Jerusalem “the eye of a needle” (Lk 18:22-27, Mt 19:24, Mk 10:26). How about “choking on a small bug while at the same time trying to swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24)?
Jesus also used offensive sarcasm when directly confronting religious people who were trusting in their own version of what it means to be right with God. He called them names like “brood of vipers, snakes, devils, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, and murderers” Mt 3:7, 12:34, 23, 16:23).
A satirical evangelical Christian website, the Babylon Bee, released a humorous article that strikes at the heart of a problem among self identified Christians. It was aimed at Christians who think following Jesus and living according to His word is somewhat optional. Simply believing in Him and living by one’s own version of what is right is good enough. This is in contrast to the 25 clear calls by Jesus in the Gospels to “follow Me and live according to My word.” He only called people to “believe in Me” 4 times. There is a clear emphasis that real belief entail’s following Him and seeking to obey His word.
John 8:30-31 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. (31) So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word (believe and live by it), then you are truly disciples of Mine, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
“Jesus of Nazareth always comes asking disciples to follow him–not merely “accept him,” not merely “believe in him,” not merely “worship him,” but to follow him: one either follows Christ, or one does not. There is no compartmentalization of the faith, no realm, no sphere, no business, no politic in which the lordship of Christ will be excluded. We either make him Lord of all lords, or we deny him as Lord of any.” Lee Camp
The website reported on a fictitious meeting in which progressive evangelical leaders met to affirm a doctrine of “Sola Feels.” It was an obvious spoof of the great doctrinal truth that came out of the protestant reformation from the Latin phrase “Sola Sciptura.” It means God’s word is our only objective basis of faith and practice above traditions or our feelings. “Sola feels” means that our feelings are the only proper way to interpret what is true which is how our culture, even many self identified Christians live their lives. The article puts it humorously well.
“Quite simply, ‘Sola Feels’ means that all spiritual truths only become true once they’re filtered through and accepted by our feels—all the feels,” popular author and speaker Jane Hansen told reporters after the meeting. “Thus, things that make us feel bad, those are wrong. The things that give us all the happy feels, those are true, right, and good.”
What is true is what feels right more than what God says is right in His word. This is the current mantra both of our culture as well as many self identified Christians. The word of God is optional and subjected to what our feelings and/or the culture around us dictates. Anything that opposes “feels” is seen as oppression.
The movie makes a point
There was a satirical movie in the late 70s, Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” that had a scene that was a very revealing about some of the current cultural confusion as well as that among self identifying Christians regarding “Sola Feels.” The story line of the movie is almost prophetic as it was about someone who was mistaken for Jesus then attempted to start a Christian movement around this falsehood. Sounds like believing but not following or obeying Jesus’ word (John 8). It is an alternative Christianity that often favors things Jesus clearly said He is opposed to.
There is a great scene in the movie called “Loretta” that is eerily similar to some of the confusion today (I don’t recommend the whole movie as it has a couple of bad parts in it). The scene is about whether they are going to give place in their movement to a man who wants to be a woman and have a baby. The point is debated among 4 followers and the last line is prophetic as one person says it’s, “a struggle against oppression,” while another man says it’s really, “a struggle against his reality” (God’s design). For disciples it has to be “Sola Scriptura” not “Sola Feels.”
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