Everybody knows what a “one liner” is. It’s a condensed version of something bigger. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” That’s not an easy one for some folks, but you get the point.
When it comes to the Bible, the reviews are mixed. There are some really good ones that express something bigger in one line. I like Jesus saying, “You strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.” You get the picture. Gnat, little, camel, big. You don’t even have to know that both of them were unclean to the Jews to get the point.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has some really good ones. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” “The eye is the lamp of the body.” “No one can serve two masters.” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” You get the point.
The difference between these and other “one liners” folks pluck from the Bible is that these are directed at the individual to teach an individual lesson. However, when it comes to the plucking of scripture from its context, it is always, without exception, a reflection of the person’s preconceived theology about life and others. They provide easy answers to difficult problems, and in the process allow the person to remain aloof.
That’s one of the reasons I’d pass a law preventing any politician from quoting scripture in a public speech. First, they might get it right, which only those who already agree with them would value, while their detractors would say was misplaced. Secondly, such use is in effect saying what they are saying is underwritten by God. Again, their followers would agree, their detractors would not. A smart politician can speak to moral and Biblical principles without quoting the Bible as proof.
On the other hand, Bible people are terrible when it comes to plucking one line scripture to set a foundation for a larger belief.
I can still remember sometimes in 1964 or 65, when a very good, generous, well-healed Christian woman said, (I don’t remember the situation, but you can guess) “Well, the Lord said we’d always have the poor with us.” Jesus did indeed say that. However, I remember thinking that I was among the “poor” because of the salary I was getting. I also remember thinking she was more or less expressing her view of “them” and “us.” I don’t blame her, she only reflected the way she’d been taught to use the Bible.
Jesus did say that in three of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark and John. Neither Matthew nor Mark mention Judas’ role in the story. However, Mark (bless his heart) adds a line with real significance. He has Jesus also saying, “and you can help them (the poor) any time you want.” It is John who says Jesus was speaking to Judas.
Context! What is the context? Jesus has just been anointed with some pricey perfume by Mary. Some of the disciples, Judas in John, complains about the waste and Jesus says to Judas, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Oops, we forgot the whole line, as well as considering what Jesus said in Mark.
The passage has been used over and over to say any attempt to eradicate poverty is a pipe dream of liberals.
CONTEXT! Jesus, according to John, is responding to Judas’ complaint. Judas, John says didn’t care about the poor, but was a thief who stole from the treasury. Jesus says to Judas, “You will always have the poor, but not me.” Jesus was no doubt reflecting Deut. 15:7-11. It’s too long to quote here, but about the poor it says, in v. 10,11, “Give generously to him (the poor) and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you and all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” This also involves the idea of the jubilee year, which would certainly reduce poverty.
Poverty may always exist, but the Bible does not give that as an excuse to do nothing. In fact, quite the opposite. Neither am I so short-sighted as to think in the wonder of time and space, that the earth cannot be managed in such a way so as to be able to provide adequately for its inhabitants. Even Isaiah envisioned “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.”
CONCERNS: Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is making good progress after a stroke. Gary Overstreet is now at home. Melisha Scruggs asks prayers for a co-worker named Jeanie, who has a child with several health issues. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray & Darnel Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim & Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 5-10
Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 66:1-20
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 12-17
Monday: Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Tuesday: Matthew 5:17-48
Wednesday: Genesis 1:1-31
Thursday: II Samuel 12:1-15
Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
Congratulations to Dr. Del Bolin. The following was posted on Monday:
Dr Bolin has been promoted to the academic rank of Professor by the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee and the Board of Directors of VCOM. From the first time he stepped in front of a classroom of undergraduates as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Illinois in 1988, he knew teaching was in his blood. He has been recognized with several teaching awards over the years at various institutions, but this new designation of “Professor” is more than a title to him. It is the culmination of 29 years…13 of them at VCOM.. of passionate dedication to educating. Congrats, Professor Bolin.
Jokingly we were told his official title is Professor, Dr. Dr. Bolin, since he has an MD and a PhD. Del will keep his Roanoke office as well.
FROM DR. STEINWEG
Dear Pastor Wagner,
I am writing as one of the advisors for our Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine Christian Medical & Dental Association Chapter. Our students are still talking about the special gift your church family gave us last month for our graduation celebration.
Mike Branch recently sent our student rep. (Andy Plaster) a list of church members who supported the event. God knows each one of them so I won’t list all 14 here…just know that we are so deeply grateful for your church’s expression of love!
REMEMBER JUNE 18
Not only is Sunday, June 18th Super Sunday, but it is also the day we will get to hear about Mike Branch’s experiences while on his humanitarian trip to the Sudan. Plan to be here.
JUNE BIRTHDAYS: 13-Mike Branch 13-Susan Jordan 21- Wayne Flora 23-Betty Billings 29-Joni Beach
JUNE ANNIVERSARIES: 1-Garrett & Erma Williams 9-Wayne & Alisa Flora 25-Lyn & Susan Jordan
26-Dillon & Laura Hogan 27-Bill & Betty Branch