I wonder how much we misquote Jesus without even realising it. Could it be that we have ideas of what Jesus said, but for some reason have got the wrong end of the stick? Someone once said to me, as Jesus said: “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. Taken aback, I double checked my Bible to make sure. Turns out Jesus didn’t say that. I remember being told in another instance that, “God helps those who help themselves”. I quickly told them: “God helps those who can’t help themselves”.
There are many weird and wonderful ‘phantom’ quotes or ideas people either say or live by without realising they are not true and not helpful. Think about: “God works in mysterious ways” and: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, they sound religious enough, but actually aren’t. Let’s look at some other things Jesus never said…
1. Jesus never said: “You have to be cruel to be kind”.
I’m so pleased that God really isn’t like this. If God were to behave in that manner towards me I would be in a real mess. If we think about it, we often live by this idea without realising it’s in direct contrast to God’s grace. If someone isn’t thinking straight or behaving in an unhelpful manner, then we might think that by letting them experience their own mess they’ll sort themselves out. In reality Jesus behaved in the opposite manner. He received ultimate cruelty from us on the cross so that we wouldn’t need to. Jesus takes on cruelty itself so that we might receive His kindness. Jesus isn’t cruel to be kind but perfectly loving to be kind. This doesn’t mean we let people get away with bad behaviour, but neither does it mean we let them destroy themselves in the hope they might repent.
Jesus actually said: “Love and show mercy to be kind.”
Luke 6:27: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
2. Jesus never said: “You’re too far gone to be saved”.
In a classic episode of Friends Joey turns to Chandler and states: “You’re so far past the line, you can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to you.” It’s not something I’ve ever heard someone say to another person (seriously), but I heard people say it to themselves. We might think that we’ve sometimes pushed it too far to ever be loved by God again. Have you ever said to someone: “But if you knew what I had done?” The point of grace is that we’ve all gone too far yet God still comes to get us. There is nothing we could ever do that is too far. The truth is that God’s in the business of reaching and finding those who have gone too far.
Jesus really said: “You’re never too far gone”.
John 1:16: “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
3. Jesus never said: “Follow me and everything will be ok”.
Jesus never made a promise that following him would be easy. In fact, He promises it will be difficult. The gospel message isn’t that things will be easy, but that God will be with us when it’s not ok. When things fall apart it’s not that God’s left us or abandoned us, but that the world is a mess and we make daft decisions with consequences we don’t like. God never made a promise to airlift us out of trouble. Instead He promises to parachute Himself in.
Jesus actually said: “Follow me and I will never abandon you”.
Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
4. Jesus never said: “I love you if you do as I say”.
My love is very much conditional. I will love you until you stop agreeing with me. After years of being a follower of Jesus, I’ve realised that God’s love is fundamentally different to mine. To compare them would make no sense. God’s love never comes with strings or a catch. God’s love is freely given with no small print. God loves us, His love is perfect and can’t be ‘turned up’ depending on our good behaviour. Sadly, in religion we think that if we pray more, study the bible and be good little boys and girls then God will love us more. This is rubbish and toxic for any relationship. We don’t pray, study or attend church to gain God’s love, we’re first loved and therefore we want to respond back by investing into this loving relationship.
The real thing Jesus says is: “I love you even though you don’t do as I say”.
John 15:9: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”