Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Gordan Runyan
Religion columnist 

Bible reading good, but dangerous


October 11, 2017 | View PDF

A man came to me after church and said wistfully, “Imagine how much better off we’d be if everyone kept asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Wouldn’t that be a great thing?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that nothing would change at all. But maybe he’ll read this and hear me out.

First, I need to tell a little story. I met a man when I was in the Navy, who had recently become a Christian. I asked him how that happened. He told me he picked up a Bible (as an unbeliever) and began to read the New Testament. He started at the beginning, Matthew’s Gospel. When he got to the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5, and the famous passage we call “The Beatitudes,” (nine statements of blessing — blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, and so on) a sudden, weighty thought entered his brain that he could not escape.

That thought was: No mere man said these things. The Beatitudes fly in the face of everything the world thinks. This Jesus opposed “common sense!”

A little more reading and the truth became inescapable. Jesus was indeed no mere man. Rather, He was the God-man, appearing in human flesh to reveal the invisible Creator to us, that we all might be saved.

This, in short, is why the world would not change at all if people started asking what Jesus would do. They have no idea, and would be offended by it if they did.

It has been my experience that most professing Christians really do not know what the Bible teaches. They don’t read it for themselves. They trust the paid man in front to tell them the important stuff. But the Bible is a big book, and even a faithful preacher can’t teach all of it.

Christians who are not studying on their own can begin to assume that the Bible agrees with them on every issue. After all, they basically agree with the pastor, and they’re pretty sure he agrees with the Bible. So, by the associative property of theology, the Bible must agree with them.

Reading it can be traumatic. It will challenge what you thought you knew. It can be shocking and infuriating.

That was the experience of the Pharisees and Sadducees. These “church men” built their lives on the confidence that God agreed with them. Then, in walks Jesus of Nazareth, who had the temerity to point out what the Scripture says. He turned their world upside down, and they killed him for it.

If only they had stopped to ask themselves, “Wait. What would the Messiah do?”

The answer was obvious. Surely, he would do what they already thought.

A pastor once confessed, “If Jesus showed up at my church and had to sit through a Sunday service, he would vomit.”

This man was not far from the kingdom of God. People who don’t study Jesus will invent and believe in a Jesus who is just like them.

What would Jesus do? Probably something that upsets your whole, comfortable existence.

Welcome to discipleship, Christian. It means learning, over time, how to be more and more OK with that.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:



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