“God breathed” – on Paul’s words versus Jesus’ words

People have used Paul to justify Paul to me. Paul says that “all scripture is God-breathed”. (From Timothy 3:16-17) They use this as proof that whatever Paul says is from God.

The problem is that Paul wasn’t talking about his own words. Paul was writing letters to other people. His words weren’t considered Scripture at the time he wrote them. That was many years later.

Scripture is indeed God-breathed. It is inspired, in-spired. To “respire” is to breathe. We get the word Spirit from that root – spirit and breath are the same. It means the same thing. So the Holy Spirit is the breath of God.

It is what makes humans different. When God created Adam and Eve, God breathed into Adam to give him life. God didn’t do this for animals.

Some of what Paul says is helpful, but some of it is divisive. Some of his words go against the basic command of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is nothing uplifting or loving about telling women to shut up. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) There is nothing loving about telling gay people (or anybody) that they are going to hell. (1 Timothy 9-10, among others)

Judging people isn’t our job. Our job is to look after ourselves. Paul says that we are to nicely tell off other people in order to correct them (1 Timothy 5:20, among others).

Jesus tells us otherwise. Jesus says that we should look out for the plank in our own eyes and not the speck in our neighbor’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5, among others). Jesus tells us that whatever we use to measure others will be used to measure ourselves (Matthew 7:2). Thus – don’t judge at all.

It is important to always compare the words of anyone who says they act on the behalf of God with the words of Jesus. If what they say isn’t showing love to God and to all of God’s children (everybody), then what they say isn’t in fact “God breathed.”

“But I’m not judgmental!”

People will say “but I’m not judgmental!” in the same way they will say “I’m not racist!” and then tell a racist joke.

They say they aren’t judgmental after saying that they are against someone because they are gay. I know a lady who refuses to go to a certain denomination of church because it has an openly gay bishop. She doesn’t go to any church, and is living with the father of her child. They are not married. So “being gay” is worse in her mind than what she is doing.

I asked this lady “What does Jesus say about homosexuality?” She stammered “You tell me”, because she didn’t know. The answer – “Nothing”. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, but He said a lot about not judging others.

He said “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.

He said to not point out the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but examine the plank in your own.

He said that whatever measure you use will be used against you.

The role of the Christian is to be like Jesus, and Jesus was about radical acceptance. Jesus took in all that came to him. We are to be examples of that love by how we live our lives. We are to be welcoming. We are to be servants.

We are not gatekeepers or guards. We don’t get to decide who is on or out. We don’t get to tell people off.

The funny part about being part of the Body of Christ is that we are members with prisoners and tax evaders and alcoholics and wife beaters and the average everyday jerk.

That is kind of hard to accept for some people. They think that being Christian is like being part of some elite social club, where only the cream of the crop get in.

Their logic goes something like this – “If Jesus lets “them” in, then that means we are just like them, and we don’t like the idea of being just like them, because they are sinners. We don’t want to be associated with them.”

Then the reality sets in.

Jesus came to heal the sick, not the well. We are all sinners. And we are all redeemed. There is room enough for us all. Once we become Christian, we don’t stop being us, with all our faults. We don’t start being perfect. We just start realizing that we are all loved the way we are because that is the way that God made us.

Jesus calls us when we are broken, not when we are perfect.

Jesus erases all lines of “them” and “us”. We are all one.

It is our job to make people want to come to this healing, this forgiveness, this acceptance. We are to welcome all in the name of Jesus. They won’t come if we are pointing fingers and calling down the wrath of heaven on them. Think back to what drew you to Jesus. I bet it wasn’t someone yelling at you that got you there.

This doesn’t mean that we need to water down the message of Jesus – not at all. This means that we are to live it.