DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH FACTS – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
This statement used to be laughable. Today it is, if I dare say it, “factual.”
“Facts” are rapidly fading into oblivion. If you don’t believe me check social media.
Fact or fiction? I don’t know. But you’ll get the point. A story went around about an old woman who was told we had landed a man on the moon.
When she heard about it, she said something like. “I pray to God it isn’t true, and if it is I don’t want to know about it.” What that poor woman, bless her heart, didn’t know was that it all took place in an aircraft hanger in the Arizona desert in a place known as Area 51.
I was reading a column by Leonard Pitts where he discussed how little truth matters today, or we could say “facts.” He referred to an article he’d written about a World War 1 African American soldier named Henry Johnson, who though wounded 21 times, fought off a company of Germans. (Do a google search)
Pitts received a response from a guy who said it was all a lie. Actually he called it something else. Pitts had his assistant do all the research and sent it to the guy. He was unmoved. Pitts went on to say, “What struck me wasn’t so much Ken’s ignorance. Rather, it was how impervious his ignorance was to corrective fact. That was when I first fully understood that we had entered a new era wherein facts – those things that once settled arguments conclusively – carried all the weight of goose down.” Ouch! He went on to list a number of “fact checking” sites. I was reminded that a family member heard someone say, “Well, who checks the fact checkers!?” Goodbye facts.
I admit I’ve almost given up on facts. And yet facts are the rocks on which we hope to build our lives.
As a Christian and a preacher, I’m always looking for facts (rocks) on which to build my understanding of God and Jesus. I am well aware that my rocks aren’t the same as someone else’s. However, what each one ends up with is a theology or philosophy of God. In other words, what we perceive to be facts shape our religious lives. And while there are those who are sure they have the absolute true facts about the Bible, they are surrounded by people who believe their own differing facts are the just as true.
In many cases this matters very little. But in each case an attitude is developed that becomes a guide for that person’s understanding of God. And that’s a fact.
To follow Jesus we each have to decide who he was. We primarily use the New Testament, especially the gospels. However, we rarely if ever, read the gospels without prejudice. Most of us read them with a background of teaching. Someone has told us who Jesus was and what he meant before we got there.
I remember a Sunday School teacher saying Jesus was able to go in and out of his body, because it said in the KJV in Luke 4:30, concerning their desire to kill Jesus, “But he passing through the midst of them went on his way.” What’s the big deal? Well, this Jesus isn’t like us and that influences how we think of his humanity. Is he human or not? Also, was Philip teleported to Azotus in Acts 9? If you check the internet you will find as fact that he was. However, newer translations indicate other understandings.
I recently saw an article (which I now cannot find) about Jesus and the Syrophoenician women. Without me going into the details of why it was written, he said something like, “It is plain that Jesus was testing the woman.” Well, that’s one explanation. The problem comes when we find something another writer tells us about Jesus that doesn’t fit our preconceived ideas. We don’t want Jesus to call anyone a dog, a common Jewish term for Gentiles.
Let’s examine the “test” idea in Matthew 15:20ff. Why would Jesus test her? Where did he ever test anyone who asked for healing, especially for a child? If it were a test, why would Jesus tell her he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel? Was that the truth or a lie? If it was a test, is it all right to lie when it’s a test? Is it all right in a test, for Jesus to call the woman and her daughter dogs?
I see this as a moment in Jesus’s life when he realized he could not be who God sent him to be and not open God to the world beyond Israel.
It does not offend me that Jesus learned something more about his purpose from a Gentile woman. Why do I see it that way? Because it fits what I understand the scriptures say about him.
In Luke 2:52 it says Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. It is the writer of Hebrews who makes the strongest case for Jesus learning more and more about his ministry. In Heb. 4:15 it says Jesus was tempted in every way as are we. In 5:7-9 it says he “…offered up prayers and petitions with cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” And that “…he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” What you think “once made perfect” means will reveal your view of who Jesus was.
For some the issue is that if Jesus learned it meant he sinned by not knowing. However, learning does not automatically mean what is unlearned is a sin. If Jesus’ statement about dogs came from common usage, it doesn’t mean he sinned by using it. It means he learned it was not a term that rightly and properly defined the Gentiles.
Will my “facts”change anyone else’s facts? No. This is just my attempt to understand and follow the one Peter told Cornelius about. “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
Facts may be hard to come by, but when we find them they should change us. Can we start by saying doing good is in fact a good thing? It’s a start.
CONCERNS: Martha Foy is recovering well after hip surgery. Abby Keeting is still being treated for leukemia. Judy Hall is having eye problems. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is being treated for cancer. Ben Robertson had an interview in Blacksburg, and another in New York. Remember these in continued prayer: Tolly Nicklas, Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, Josh Thirston, Melisha Scruggs friend, Jeanie, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Amber is paralyzed from the neck down. Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 15-24
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 23-28
Monday Exodus 3:1-15
Tuesday: Matthew 9:14-34
Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 12:1-14
Thursday: II Corinthians 5:11-21
Friday: II Samuel 11:1-27
Saturday: Psalm 121:1-8
THE SERVICE TODAY
The service today will be arranged and conducted by Mike Branch. Our thanks to him for sharing his thoughts with us today’
This is also Super Sunday, Please stay for the fellowship meal following the service. If you are a visitor consider yourself our guest.
There will be no steering committee meeting today unless a need arises.
THE PEAKS HIKE AND PICNIC
Because of changes within the congregation, as well as scheduling conflicts, we have canceled the annual Peaks Hike and Picnic. Instead, Bill and Martha Albert have invited us to their home on Smith Mountain Lake next Sunday. Martha will need some help getting things ready and some have already volunteered.
The plan is to enjoy a picnic style late lunch because it gets dark so much faster now. However, if you need to eat after the service, come and eat some more!
The fall colors on the lake should make for a lovely evening, as well as the warm weather we have been having.
Martha wants us to spend some time singing as well. Plan to come next Sunday afternoon.
Once again we have several members away this weekend. James and Megan Downing are on an anniversary trip. Lyn Jordan is displaying his pottery at a Craft Fair. Leena and Del Bolin are in Beaufort SC enjoying some time together, Connie Crites is in Charlottesville, visiting with Kelly and her family.
New email? Let Keith know.