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Freedom From Complaining

The Weight of Scripture

by Susan Irene Fox

So Jesus said to those who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

This is a difficult post to write. Not because of the subject matter, but because I needed to write it in a way that humbles me into abiding in the words of Jesus, and into following the words I write here.

Let me begin by saying that I am always disturbed when I read vitriolic attacks by Christians toward other Christians, particularly when these attacks are toward someone’s faith in Christ. Particularly when Scripture is used to fortify or justify anger, hatred, judgment or division.

In my humble opinion, quoting Scripture is vastly different than abiding in Scripture. It is a weight we must measure carefully.

So when I began to read about a few blogs calling for a boycott of the Son of God movie, I wondered why, and I began to read. And read. And the more I read, the more profoundly sad I became.

These blogs didn’t simply critique the movie, which in my mind would have been legitimate. There were some things in the movie done for dramatic effect – it’s a movie! Yes, Jesus says to Peter, “We’re going to change the world,” instead of, “We’re going to be fishers of men.” And that one line, taken out of the context of the entire movie appeared to the bloggers to tell and entirely different gospel message. When taken in context, however, the gospel message is there, very loud and very clear. And the producers’ intent was to spread the gospel to those who would not have ordinarily have been exposed to it.

However – and it’s a big however – the bloggers, and one in particular, questions the lifestyle and integrity of the producers (Mark Burnett and Roma Downey) and calls into question their Christianity, even criticizing them for choosing an overtly attractive actor to portray Jesus.

Any Christian who has been to Sunday service, who has been to a Bible study or has studied the Bible at all, and anyone – Christian or not – who has seen the movie, The Ten Commandments, understands the concept of gossip, grumbling and complaining. It was why the Hebrew people who, when they got into the wilderness when the Promised Land was only an 11-day walk, were forced to wander for 40 years in the desert.

We are called to love one another, to refrain from judging and gossiping, we are warned by Jesus, his apostle Paul, and his brother James from using our tongues as a weapon. We are told we need to forgive each other and that we would be known as Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. We are called to unity, yet we continue to make the same mistakes our ancestors made after God delivered them from the captivity of the Egyptians. Yet, they continued to bind themselves with the chains of gossip, complaining and division.

As long as we continue to quote Scripture to do the same thing, we are still in chains. There’s a big difference between deliverance and freedom.

Christ shed his blood to set us free. Brothers and sisters, until we break our own chains, until we stop focusing on the splinter in the eyes of one another and ignoring the logs in our own, we will never live in the promised land of the freedom of grace Christ so freely gave us.

Heavenly Father, I pray for myself and for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, that you give us humility and discernment to state our opinions in love, to include and embrace each other as your followers, to seek your wisdom in all things, and to strive for unity and inclusion in all matters regarding you.