It’s probably safe to assume that any time the “religion vs. Jesus” thing comes up, I’m going to wind up annoyed. Some Christian gobbledygook of this persuasion popped up in my Twitter feed the last night, this time on how to use the Bible—find out what it says and follow that, or find out how it points to Jesus and follow him.
Now, before I go any further, I agree with the whole “do vs. done” element of the general argument. And I also firmly believe you should absolutely read the Bible with an eye to how it points to Jesus because he is the one we not merely follow, but worship as God. If you don’t read your Bible this way, you’re not reading it as a Christian (he says, preaching to the choir).
But this whole “follow the Bible” vs “follow Jesus” thing… Can we just not, please?
Let’s be honest, this sort of either/or—either follow what the Bible says or follow Jesus—isn’t really all that helpful. It’s actually kind of dumb. Let’s not forget:
Jesus followed commands in the Bible. Jesus was a devout Jew. Devout Jews kept the Law. Jesus kept the Law perfectly, as no one else did or could.
Jesus gives us commands. It’s true. “Follow me”, and “abide in me” are commands. Not only that, he tells us to pray (and even says “like this”), to love others, to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s… He even says “if you love me, you will obey me.” Those don’t sound like suggestions, do they?
The commands Jesus gives us are in the Bible. At least, that’s where they were the last time I checked. (Yep, still there.)
We are expected to do what we’re told in the Bible. When we read that we are to “love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself”, it’s not a suggestion. It’s an imperative, which means we are to do it. Repent and believe? Yep, that’s another one we are expected to do. Make disciples? That one too. Submit to one another out of love for Christ? Ditto. Have nothing to do with false gods? You know it. These are things we are to do, as obeying the commands of God[1. And please assume all appropriate caveats about extracting principles from particulars are in place, ‘kay?] is evidence of our love for Christ.
Pitting Jesus against the Bible comes across like a kid trying to pit mom and dad against one another. The only one it’s going to go badly for is the kid.
If we could never do that again, that would be super.