Monday, March 02, 2015

Can you let go of bad evidence?

I often think of some verse to support a point I want to make, and when I look it up, think, "Oh, shrubbery! That wasn't what it was talking about!" And then I have to look further to see whether what I want to say is really supported. I sometimes have to abandon things I was going to say. 

Nobody expects an ironic exposition!  

In a Facebook discussion, a lady wanted to show an example of a Christian apologizing to others. She gave as an example, (2 Corinthians 12:13)
"For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!"
Nobody expects irony in the Bible. Read it again. During his mission at Corinth, supported himself, working (according to tradition) as a tent maker. In the context, Paul supports his apostolic authority and his sincerity by reminding the Corinthians that he worked with his own hands so he would not have to ask them to "send in your tithes and offerings." Paul was not apologizing. Rather, he was using irony -- more specifically, sarcasm, a form of irony. To support his sincerity (and to break the pride of his audience), he was using mild sarcasm. Yes, sarcasm has its place.
To further show the need for forgiveness, the lady also cited Matthew 6:14-15.
"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
The Jews thought they could earn salvation through self-righteous works: the Ten Commandments, plus another 600-plus commandments in the Old Testament.
Jesus often used irony to bring religious Jews to repentance. 
  • "Forgive, or you won't be forgiven;" but nobody is perfect in forgiveness. 
  • "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect;" but nobody can be perfect. 
  • "If your eye offends you (causes you to sin), pluck it out;" but is it really God's will that we should destroy every offending member of our bodies? 
Very quickly, we would run out of hands with which to cut off our other members.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...." But "we love God because He first loved us." We should forgive, but God first forgave us.
See the pattern?
The Law says forgive to be forgiven, but God's mercy says receive forgiveness and then forgive because you have been forgiven.
So the message here is, watch out for irony, especially in teachings that took place prior to the cross. You don't want valid points attacked just because you used the wrong verses to support them.

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