Christians can say the most silly – and unhelpful – things at times:
The reason I have an irregular series of articles on dumb memes and posts is because there is a never-ending supply of dumb memes and posts. And here I refer to Christians. One would expect a non-believer to get theological and biblical matters wrong, but it is amazing how often Christians can as well.
If you are on the social media for example you will see this stuff all the time. It is quite shocking the sorts of silly, illogical and just plain wrong posts and memes one comes across on a daily basis from other believers. Sure, it is the nature of a meme to be short and sweet, and often be rather general in nature. So it cannot convey all truth properly. But still, great care should be taken when seeking to use them.
Here then are six more quite unhelpful memes and quotes:
“Be the reason someone loves Jesus, not the reason they hate Christians.”
Well, yes – to an extent. Do we want people to love Jesus because of our witness? Of course. But try as we might – with the help of the Spirit – we know from Scripture and church history that things do not always work that way. Consider the early disciples who of course perhaps best represented Christ, having spent three years with him.
Did everyone end up loving Jesus because of their witness? Well, many did. Many were converted and became on-fire disciples of Christ. But as we know, many people hated these disciples and rejected them. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus and they wanted nothing to do with his disciples.
Indeed, we can go back one step. Who was the most loving and gracious man to walk the face of the earth? Jesus of course. Yet not everyone responded to his love and grace in a positive fashion. Many hated him, and they ended up killing him. The point is, when you tell people the truth about themselves (that they are lost sinners heading to a lost eternity, and so on), many will get angry and resentful and will want nothing to do with you.
The moral of the story is this: try as we might (with God’s help) to be the most loving and kind Christian witness around, the responses of some will be anger, resentment and diabolical rage. And that is just what Jesus promised would happen to his disciples.
“The same God who helped David defeat a giant…
And made a way for Moses when there was no way…
Is going to give you the victory in your situation.”
The implication here of course is that every time we get into a jam or a predicament, God will automatically get us out of it. But that of course is not always the case. Often he allows us to go through the hardship and suffering, not delivering us from them, but giving us grace to go through them.
One could share a meme such as this which would be even more accurate:
‘The same God who allowed most of the disciples to die a cruel death for their faith…
And allowed devout believers like Bonhoeffer to be imprisoned and executed…
Is able to give you real grace when you go through dark times and deep waters.’
Had this meme ended with the words ‘Can give you the victory…’ or something like that, it would have been more biblical and truthful. Yes God CAN deliver us from the lion’s den and the like – if it is his will. But such deliverance may not always be his will for us.
“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology?”
The full meme goes like this:
How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he said he was. No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No Shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words. No haze machine, donuts, or coffee in the entrance. Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.
A main implication of this is that the thief on the cross did absolutely nothing – he couldn’t – yet was saved. Yes, justification works exactly this way: we are saved by grace through faith, and not by any works of our own. But of course most of us are not thieves hanging on crosses. Instead, we become a believer, and then for the rest of our lives we grow in the faith. And that includes our knowledge of Scripture and basic theology.
Paul for example complains about how the Corinthians are but infants, still dining on the milk of the Word, and are not ready for the meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). We are to grow into maturity, and that includes in our understanding of the Bible and theology. I have often written about these matters. See here for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/07/08/five-hallmarks-spiritual-maturity/
“Predestination is a lie from the devil. Jesus, the grace of God, has come for all people. ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offer salvation to all people.’ (Titus 2:11; NIV).
This is a quite silly and unhelpful meme, given that the Bible through and through speaks of predestination. How we are to understand that biblical doctrine is another matter of course. See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/…/predestination-election…/
And to see how useless this meme is, simply take one – of many – biblical quotes, such as Romans 8:29-30: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” So Paul was of the devil when he affirmed predestination?!
Too often some believers have a theological bee in their bonnet, and they will keep pushing it, no matter how unbiblical or unhelpful it may be. That helps no one of course. I will stick with what Scripture teaches, instead of running with those who are obsessed with their particular pet peeves.
“God has called us to love people not change people.”
Once again, yes and no. If by this the person means God ultimately is the one to change people, and not us, we can agree. Only God can change the human heart of course. But Christians are to be agents of change. Real love is all about wishing the highest good of the other. If you love another person you DO want what is best for them, and if they are living a dangerous and harmful lifestyle, you WANT to see them change.
That is what biblical love is all about. And even non-Christians know this to some extent. If they have a close friend who is a drug addict, they love him enough to want to see him change. They want him off those dangerous drugs. That of course is the loving response we should have.
So the biblical Christian DOES want to see change in people. He wants to see lost sinners changed into reborn saints. He wants to see people set free from various addictions. He wants to be salt and light in general and see society changed for the better. Willing the highest good for the other person – which almost always involves change – IS what biblical love is all about.
“The word REPENT cannot mean ‘turn from sin’ because in the King James bible God repents more than any other person! And we know GOD HAS NO SIN. Repent simply means ‘a change of mind’.”
This is a very bad post. And it is exactly why no thinking Christian should slavishly stick to just one human translation of the Bible, since other versions can bring us much closer to what it actually seeks to say. The truth is, languages are not static but dynamic: they change over time, and words that meant one thing hundreds of years ago may not mean the same thing today.
Thus most recent translations of verses like Genesis 6:6 rightly say this: “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings.” That is a much better rendering of what the Hebrew says, and it helps people today much better understand what God was trying to communicate.
The point is, the mere etymology of a word is not all that we need to understand what it in fact means. Simply knowing a bit about the various Hebrew and Greek words being used here will show us this. And it is clear from throughout Scripture that repentance most certainly does mean and entail turning away from sin and self and turning to God. But see much more detail on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/03/11/is-repentance-merely-a-change-of-mind/