2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
At this time of year, I always chuckle at the special programs which some cable channels broadcast about the Bible and Jesus. They usually advertise the programs with teasing titles like ‘Secrets of the Bible’ or ‘UFOs in the Bible’ or ‘The Real Jesus.’ I must admit that I've watched some of them through the years, but what they usually present are just old obscure ideas that were rejected by the Church ages ago because their origins were unreliable.
Along with these ‘recently discovered scriptures,’ the programmers roll out some college lecturers who want to make a name for themselves by being controversial. They are just like the paid examiners in high profile trials, who trot out what their legal sponsors expect of them. In return for their fifteen minutes of fame, these religious lecturers relish creating a controversy that some people sadly buy into, and end up causing them to cast aside their simple faith.
Long before cable and television were invented, the Apostle Paul had to deal with the same sort of controversial stuff. In today’s passage (2 Corinthians 11:1-11) he deals with a similar situation where rogue preachers have come into an established Christian community, preaching a different Gospel and Jesus from what was originally expressed. Paul gently berates the community of the faithful for embracing these new and highly questionable ideas about Christ. The Corinthians community is embracing the novelty of a new Christ, instead of holding on to their faith in the real Christ that Paul had introduced them.
With so many different methods of receiving information, people can be easily persuaded to accept something as Gospel truth these days without questioning either the sources or the ideas. In every generation, the Church has had to face this problem and fight for the Truth. And in every situation, the simple answer is still the best solution: people need to get back to the basics of actually reading the Bible.
Questions for personal reflection
What is the source of my knowledge about Jesus? How often do I actually read the Bible?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your words and ways have shaped this whole world for almost two thousand years. We thank You for the Gospels and for the messages which continue to captivate our hearts and minds. Keep us focused on Your teaching and protect us from those who would divert our attention, distract our devotion, and diminish our understanding of Who You really are. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.
Today’s image is John’s latest Nativity drawing. It’s called “Mumbai Madonna” and is an Indian artistic interpretation of Jesus and Mary. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3679/11039323083_c96ac02b69_b.jpg