If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
– St. Augustine, Sermons
But I believe everything in the Bible. I take the Word as it is. The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.
The truth is that we are far more selective of the Bible verses we adhere to than we would like to admit, and tend to reject much of what Jesus said. We ignore some parts and highly favour others. This is not a good thing. Especially when it comes to the words of Jesus.
As Peter said, only Jesus’ words are the ones with eternal life (John 6:68).
You would think we would be better about listening to all of Jesus’ words then, but we are terrible for picking and choosing.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Now, everyone, please, honestly tell me that you do not worry. Ever. About anything at all.
We’ll quote this verse. We’ll talk about how good God is that he provides all the time. We have so much, so many blessings.
And then we worry and stress and lose sleep over, agonize and torment ourselves and fret about money, work, our relationships. We completely forget about what Jesus said and try to solve, try to figure out, try to establish a plan to solve all our problems by ourselves.
(I am preaching to the choir. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I struggle with worry.)
This is a perfect example of picking and choosing verses. Picking and choosing Scripture that we want and don’t want. Picking and choosing what we want, when we want.
Not that worry is a small thing, by any means, but there are so many other things that we pick over and choose to ignore.
Loving our neighbour, the immigrant, the distinct other race of people in our community.
Giving to the poor, whether that be financially or by giving them opportunities to compete and be at the same level as other people.
Finding your treasures not in the possessions you have or your neighbour has, but seeing the stuff and junk and garbage of a consumer-driven society for what they are.
Basically, reread the Sermon on the Mount.
Look at what Jesus said. Think about how many things Jesus specifically called us out of, what he called us towards.
There is a lot that we pick and choose. And considering Saint Augustine’s quote, there is a lot of us in our beliefs, and not nearly enough Jesus. Not nearly enough gospel for how Christ-like or Christian we claim to be.
Let’s ask ourselves; what do you believe from the Scriptures, and what do the Scriptures call you to believe?
This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.