We like choices. In every area of our lives, we like choices. Even in our religious life, we like choices. We shop for churches in much the same way we shop for toothpaste – we evaluate the choices and pick the one we like best.
We do the same with the Bible. We pick and choose. We make choices. It’s the rare person who even makes the attempt to integrate the Bible as a whole into her or his worldview. The usual path is to pick the parts we like and ignore or minimize the rest: we make choices.
And we do the same with Jesus. We pick and choose. We make choices about what parts of the Jesus story we focus on. We make choices about what parts of Jesus’ teaching we will take seriously. And when we do, we come away with part of the Gospel.
The parts of Jesus’ story that make us most uncomfortable are when Jesus steps out of the role of loving, caring shepherd. When he gets his back up. When his words get pointed and severe. We don’t have much use for that Jesus.
When he says, “love your enemies” we shy away. When he confronts the hypocrisy and corruption of the religious people of his day – we get uncomfortable. When he says, “take up the cross daily and follow me” – we start to waver. Its too severe. Too hard to hear. Too restrictive. Too unloving. Too sacrificial.
And then we remember …. we can just ignore that part (please note sarcasm)! And concentrate on the parts we like: “Pass me not, O Gentle Savior!”