Thursday, 12 August 2010

Outrageous behaviour
I have come to realise just what an outrageous book the bible actually is…. It’s full of outrageous stories of outrageous people doing outrageous things for an outrageous God and often getting into trouble as a result.

But it’s only when you read it with the context of the time the events happened or were written that you start to realise just how outrageous these people of God were in their time.
When you read in context you start to realise just how outrageous Jesus was in his time and place on earth. A quick example of Jesus being outrageous…

Slap of the cheek

Taking the well known saying of Jesus “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also”. Let’s understand this in context. In Jesus time on earth you would use your Right hand to slap someone. The left hand was used for toiletry purposes.
If you use your right hand to slap someone on their right cheek which part of your hand do you naturally use? Try it. (back hand). A back hand slap was an insult. It was meant for someone lower than you. So Jesus says if someone insults you in this way offer the other cheek. Try it again. What do you use? (front of hand). This was a slap of contemporaries, a dual if you like. Do you see how outrageous Jesus was being? If some one insults you with a back hander, offer them the other cheek as well, forcing them to treat you as an equal.

People often get the wrong idea of the bible because they read it literally as if it were written last week. It’s accussed then of being anti-women, judgemental, and exclusive and we as Christians haven’t always helped change that view.

I want to suggest that when we understand the context of the times of these event this is an outrageous account of a God who is constantly on the side of the oppressed, constantly involving others whose place in society was of little value. It’s an outrageous account of a God who values all people regardless of gender, age, race, sexuality, religion, disability, background, and learning ability. Far from being judgemental and exclusive (as it becomes when read literally as if it were written last week), read in the context of the day, this is outrageous stuff and a cracking equal opportunities statement.